University rankings used to take into account little more than the obvious factors: grants, research facilities, professorships, and the average success of its graduates, financial or otherwise. These days, the judges are looking at yet another facet: student diversity. Demographics have come to mean more than skin colors in the classroom; indeed, how diverse your school is can have an impact on your eventual job opportunities.
Accessible technology, fast travel, and an increasingly “flat” global marketplace have made it a must to be able to interact in different environments with different people. In other words, if you went to school with people from all over the world, you’ve got an edge over a graduate whose school has less student variety. It’s not quite as telling as your grades or your experience, but in a job market dominated by global-minded companies (or companies that like to think they are), it’s a plus that’s worth looking into.
The Society for Human Resource Management, a professional association based in Virginia, reports that 69% of American companies put a premium on diversity. Among other things, this means that they make it a point to ensure that all employees are able to take in different cultural backgrounds. If it isn’t already, in the next few years it might be quite common for interviewers to bring up school diversity when screening candidates.
So what exactly constitutes diversity? To be considered diverse, a college or university should aim to take in students from a broad range of backgrounds, whether it’s economic, ethnic, religious, political, or educational. The same applies for faculty members and other employees, although it’s not as pronounced. Diversity can also be reflected in the types of student organizations, campus events, internship opportunities, and student exchange programs on offer.
More than the job opportunities, however, a diverse institution makes for a much more rewarding school experience. Working with people from all walks of life allows a student to encounter different ways of thinking, as well as out-of-the-box approaches to problems ranging from calculus equations to taking a stand on tuition fee increases. Several surveys have shown that students from diverse universities have better satisfaction levels, both socially and academically.
If you want to learn more about diversity in your school or want to take it into account when choosing one, visit the school’s cultural affairs office (or the equivalent) and see what services are offered to different communities. It may not seem to matter when you’re knee-deep in papers and exams, but you just might be thankful for it down the road.Read More
The typical college graduate exits school with bleak job prospects, no thanks to a tanking economy. No wonder so many people are looking into graduate school; if there are no good jobs to be had, might as well use the time to make themselves more hireable. The catch, of course, is that university doesn’t come cheap–and most graduates are already burdened with student debt to begin with.
One attractive solution is to look abroad. There’s little doubt that American and British universities are among the world’s best, but they are notoriously expensive. Other countries have equally strong yet much more accessible educational systems–the kind that lets you pay your tuition in full, with more than enough left for food, rent, and even a little travel. Here are some places you may want to look.
Spain (and the Hispanosphere)
A full-time graduate program at a Spanish university can cost around $2,000 a year, roughly a fifth of what you would pay in the U.S. The University of Barcelona and the University of Madrid are among the best in the country. In South America, the University of Sao Paolo in Brazil is a consistent top-notcher; in Mexico, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) is a source of international acclaim. These schools are especially strong in history and the social sciences, and are fairly open to interdisciplinary interests.
The French take pride in their intellectual culture, and they have the educational tools to prove it. Foreign grad students pay as little as EUR200 ($265) for a year of internationally renowned education. The École Normale Supérieure de Paris is ranked 28th in the world and offers master’s programs in 50 areas, including arts and literature, social sciences, science, health, and law.
There’s a reason Singapore has become the favourite destination of Asian grad students. The best universities charge under $5,000 per year of graduate study for foreign students; this includes Singapore National University, which ranks just behind the École Normale Supérieure de Paris in world rankings. Selections outside Asian studies and history may be limited, but travel opportunities are cheap and abundant.
Education was one of the first things to bloom in South Africa after the apartheid, with locals more than ready to enjoy their newfound intellectual freedom. Johannesburg, the capital, and the tourist city of Cape Town have the strongest offerings in the country, with international student tuition averaging $4,000 a year. The cost of living is also quite low, which is why a lot of graduate students seem to spend as much time on the beach as they do in the library.
It’s a daunting task for parents to take their children’s education into their own hands. But more and more people are doing it: about 2 million students in North America are homeschooled, and that’s only counting those whose parents have registered their kids with school boards. The real number could be a lot bigger. But what makes parents decide to homeschool their children?
The reasons vary from the practical, such as the lengthy trip to school and the constant threat of teacher strikes, to situation-specific, as is the case with children who show promise in art, sports, or other areas outside the curriculum. Some parents simply enjoy the experience and want to monitor their child’s progress with things other than grades. There’s no universal rule as to whether or not a child should be homeschooled–it’s a decision that should take into account several factors, including the child’s learning style, the parents’ commitment, and the many implications it can have for the child’s future.
The first thing you should ask yourself is whether you have the time and energy for homeschooling. It takes more than a couple of hours of spelling and math on the kitchen table; you need to follow a curriculum, prepare lessons, give and grade assignments. You should also be careful not to take the ‘home’ in homeschooling too seriously: a child needs to get out of the home and learn from things other than schoolbooks. Trips to the park, museums, and local libraries are essential to rounding out a homeschool program.
Next, make sure you can afford it–you may not have to pay tuition or buy as many school supplies, but it’s a given that at least one parent will have to commit to the task full-time. If you’ve lived with two incomes for a while, this may take some getting used to. Compare the annual costs of sending a child to school to the income you’ll be giving up if you decide to go this route.
The most important factor, of course, is whether your child is ready for it. Some children simply thrive better with parents as teachers, but others will feel they are missing out on things like making friends, learning from a variety of mentors, and getting to know other people. It’s often a good practice to take it one year or one semester at a time, and leave a door open so that your child can go back to traditional schooling any time they want.Read More
Much as we’d like to believe otherwise, some kids are born luckier than others. Studies have consistently shown that children enter school with different strengths and weaknesses, and some strengths, such as math and spelling skills, just happen to be more desirable and measurable than, say, social skills.
Grades aren’t everything
So how do you manage kids with different strengths in the classroom, or even at home? Experts agree that it starts with looking beyond grades. It’s long been known that grades aren’t a good indicator of ability or effort. A child who gets a C after hours of studying deserves just as much credit as one who coasts through school with straight A’s. Parents and teachers should reward not the grade, but the achievement.
Set different goals
The easiest way to do this is to set individual goals. If getting A’s is easy for one child, give him or her a goal that helps them work on a weakness; for example, teachers can monitor relationships with peers and reward them for making more friends during the school year. Likewise, if a child is actively involved in school plays but works only hard enough to get a C, a more appropriate goal would be to move that up to a B, because getting the lead role would not be much of a challenge. In other words, schools and homes need to accept that a one-size-fits-all approach to education doesn’t work.
Offer realistic rewards
Another common false assumption is that all children respond to the same rewards. It’s easy to take for granted that all kids like candy, but there’s always that one child who doesn’t–and this child can miss out on the learning and development opportunities offered by a classroom reward system. It’s important to take time to find out what your child likes, and figure out how to use it for encouragement. For example, if your kid doesn’t like the movies but loves going to museums, reward him or her with a trip to his favourite one when he reaches a target grade or achievement.
The grade system isn’t ideal, but it’s the best way we currently know to put an educational system in place. The challenge for teachers and parents is to help children realize that while grades are important for a stable future, having fun and learning without pressure are vital to making the most of their childhood.Read More
Physical therapy assistants are one of the many allied healthcare jobs on the rise in the face of high demand for medical care. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, employment in this field is expected to grow above the average rate, and qualified workers have excellent job prospects. The median wage in 2008 was $46,146 per year, with the highest bracket earning upwards of $63,000. The lowest earners were paid around $28,000 that year.
As the name suggests, a physical therapy assistant helps a physical therapist deliver services to patients. This can involve teaching patients how to use support devices, offering tips on rehabilitative exercise, and administering procedures such as electrical stimulation and massage. They also record patient progress and responses, and write up reports for the therapist. This sets them apart from physical therapist aides, who do mostly physical work (such as transporting patients between rooms) and clerical work (such as answering phones and distributing forms).
In most areas, physical therapist assistants are legally required to have at least an associate degree in the field. The program takes about two years and includes a mix of on-the-job experience and academic courses. Students learn anatomy, physiology, and psychology alongside general education courses such as English and algebra. Hands-on training requires clinical work, where students are introduced to first aid, cardio-pulmonary resuscitation, and emergency field treatment. They are also taught on-the-job skills such as interpersonal relations and counseling.
Physical therapy assistant schools are accredited by the Commission on Accreditation in Physical Therapy Education, part of the American Physical Therapy Association. As of 2009, there were 223 accredited physical therapy assistant programs in the U.S.
Before practicing, physical therapy assistants usually need a license, certification, or registration, depending on the state they intend to work. They must also pass the National Physical Therapy Exam, and sometimes a separate State Exam. Some states also set parameters for maintaining licensure, such as taking additional courses or continuing education credits. These rules are set by the state’s licensure board.
Many physical therapy assistant schools offer these courses as a way for students to boost their qualifications and therefore their job and salary prospects. The APTA gives additional credit to those who have certifications in specialized physical therapy, such as pediatric, geriatric, cardio-pulmonary, neuromuscular, musculo-skeletal, and integumentary (skin, hair and nails). Some students also expand their knowledge in non-clinical fields, such as managing healthcare centers or joining the academe.Read More
These are the kind of projects that are so well-known that even the students know what is going to happen. And when that happens, the students are not learning anything, and their performance suffers during the presentation portion of science fairs because of it. Science fair judges have gotten bored with these types of projects, and that’s a big problem for students who endeavor to win prizes in their science fair. In the end, this kind of project is only really good for the parents, and surprisingly, these kinds of projects are not even particularly cheap!
What you need to find is a unique science fair project, or at least something that beats those tired old projects. Not only will this help your child learn more, it can give them a much better chance of winning the science fair. Often, these competitions can include a scholarship or a nice cash prize, and even those that do not can often lead to a science scholarship later on down the line. That’s a nice benefit, and aside from the grades, the knowledge, and the experience your child is getting with their participation, it gives you a great reason to try and do something unique.
So what kind of unique science fair projects are there? The internet seems like a decent first option, but given the prevalence of use, you can guarantee that large science fairs include a duplicate project, especially if you took your idea from a popular science fair blog or website. Even in a small science fair, or an in-class science fair, you have to guess that there are more than a few people who are visiting the same websites that you are, including the judges and the teachers who are grading your students. Duplicate projects mean trouble for the judges and the teachers, as it negates the true benefit of science fairs: having an exploratory experience. They want you to come up with something unique, on your own. In addition, you have to think about what kind of experience your child is having. A science fair is a chance for them to express their own creativity and interests, and plucking an easy or cheap project off of a website isn’t helping them out any.
You can try visiting the library for books, or looking at news sites as well, but these sources often provide out-of-date, boring, or incredibly difficult projects.
Have the child come up with something of their own, or if that doesn’t work, then have them add their own input into some aspect of an interesting and more unique science fair project. You can take some help from the internet, especially from the “members only” sites on the internet that have really solid projects, and books or suggestions with more unique ideas, but make sure to add something to them!
If your child needs help with their science fair project and you lack computer skills or scientific knowledge, don’t be afraid to look for help. Many of those members only sites will offer helpful downloads like ready-made charts and spreadsheets for your child’s use. You can also get help from online tutors, who are usually science majors in college who can help you out with some simple advice.
By: Robert Watson
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