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online education classes(NAPSI)—Whether you’re a first-time college student or well into a degree program, chances are you have considered taking an online class. You’re not alone. According to Pew Research Center, more than three-quarters of college presidents say that their institutions offer classes online and an estimated half of all those who graduated college in the last 10 years say that they have taken an online class.

Online classes offer flexibility and access to rigorous academic programs for students whose schedules make it difficult to be in the physical classroom. So how can you make the most of your online learning experience?

It comes down to personal commitment, said Nicole Cabrere, Ed.D., senior vice provost for Strayer University, which offers online undergraduate and graduate courses to students worldwide.

“It’s amazing what can be taught online; courses from business to writing, even biology and how to dissect frogs,” said Dr. Cabrere. “As a society, we’re adapting to rapid advancements in technology, and our education reflects that.

“The key is to apply personal commitment and recognize that online programs require the same focus and discipline as campus-based classes.”

Dr. Cabrere offers three tips for making your online learning experience a success:

1. Manage your time. In addition to the time you spend reviewing course materials and preparing assignments, you may have to build in time for live online discussions, viewing taped lectures and interacting virtually with classmates. It’s important to understand the various requirements of your class and work them into your schedule.

2. Participate. “The fact that you are not in a classroom setting shouldn’t take away from your active participation,” she added. “To ‘raise your hand’ virtually, e-mail thoughtful questions to your professor regularly, participate in online chats and distribute helpful articles or other resources.”

3. Network. Get to know your classmates and professors. Hold study sessions virtually through video chat services or in person with classmates in the area. Strayer University lets students connect with each other further by hosting Facebook pages for various communities such as writers or geographic areas. Your fellow students can share insights into occupations you’re interested in. Be sure to add them to your professional network.

Before enrolling, Dr. Cabrere suggests, students should become familiar with the computer and space that they will use to take their online class. “Unless you are in a highly technical program, you will need basic computer skills to navigate an online class. If you run into trouble, don’t be afraid to ask for help and raise that ‘virtual hand’ at any point.”

For information about Strayer University’s online and on-campus academic programs, visit www.strayer.edu.

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(NAPSI)—To compete in the world economy, U.S. businesses will need millions of new college graduates for the next decade’s new jobs. Can today’s colleges and universities develop future workers with the skills they will need for tomorrow’s jobs?

A new book by Dr. Tracey Wilen-Daugenti, “Society 3.0: How Technology Is Reshaping Education, Work and Society,” details how colleges and universities are still evolving ways to provide the workforce skills that companies will most need to innovate and grow in the 21st century.

“Traditional classroom learning no longer matches the way today’s students learn and complete coursework,” says Dr. Wilen-Daugenti, a former Silicon Valley executive who is the vice president and managing director of Apollo Research Institute. Major societal trends, such as degree acquisition later in life, social mobility and greater need for intercultural awareness, will dictate the content and delivery of higher education.

Yet many colleges and universities struggle to keep pace with these trends and enrollment rates over the past decade have been stagnant. As one solution, Dr. Wilen-Daugenti proposes greater use of distance learning programs, where online coursework and class participation supplement or replace face-to-face learning. “Distance learning helps brick-and-mortar universities add learning capacity while allowing working students to take courses on their own schedule,” she says.

Producing millions of new graduates will require multiple stakeholders for success. “Individuals must become lifelong learners to keep their skill sets current with marketplace demands across longer careers,” says Dr. Wilen-Daugenti. Educational institutions need to keep pace with technological and social developments in the skills they promote, the way they deliver instruction and the range of students they serve.

According to Dr. Wilen-Daugenti, businesses must adapt their workforce planning and development strategies and collaborate with higher education institutions to ensure that future skill requirements are aligned with relevant curricula and instructional delivery systems. Likewise, she says, the federal government must make education a national priority, to provide citizens with the skills most suited to building a sustainable future.

“The future of higher education is tied to innovation, technology and an adaptive knowledge of society’s emerging trends,” says Dr. Wilen-Daugenti of the teamwork needed to produce tomorrow’s resilient, skilled workforce. “The importance of education to career longevity and success has never been greater.”

For more information about Society 3.0, visit www.apolloresearchinstitute.org.

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Collaboration with professor to help increase stormwater control area success.
The North Carolina Department of Transportation and N.C. State are combining forces to improve stormwater control in an area affecting N.C. State, Meredith College and the N.C. Museum of Art.

“By combining our resources with the renowned research capabilities of N.C. State University, we are developing innovative solutions for improving water quality – and in turn, helping to protect one of our state’s most valuable resources,” said Matt Lauffer, program manager for NCDOT’s Highway Stormwater Program, in a press release.

The project aims to benefit the House Creek watershed, an area that collects pollutants from cars and other ground sources when it rains. House Creek is one of several stormwater control projects NCDOT monitors annually. The construction is taking place near the intersection of Wade Ave. and Interstate 440.

Dr. Bill Hunt, assistant professor and extension specialist with the Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering, will be working with NCDOT to develop methods to reduce the amount of pollutants.

Dr. Hunt has assisted since 2000 with the design, installation, and monitoring of over 90 stormwater best management practices (BMPs), including bioretention, stormwater wetlands, innovative wet ponds, green roofs and permeable pavement.

Julia Merchant, NCDOT communications officer, said this is not the first time NCDOT has partnered with N.C. State. Past collaborations involved, among others, breakthroughs with biodiesel research conducted by the University.

According to NCDOT, for the $300,000 House Creek project, funded through the Highway Stormwater Program, engineers will use stormwater filtration methods such as a bioretention basin, which will use sand to filter out pollutants in the water.

After installation of the stormwater control measures is completed, which will take approximately three weeks according to NCDOT, N.C. State researchers will continuously monitor the system’s effectiveness at improving the House Creek water quality.

SOURCE:Technicianonline.com

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(NAPSI)-Figuring out how to pay for your child’s education does not have to be stressful or confusing. Regardless of your family’s financial circumstances, the following tips can help simplify the process.

“The key to paying for college is to take charge of the process: Investigate aid options, contact your prospective colleges’ financial aid offices for more information, and keep track of deadlines,” says Linda Bell, director of financial aid at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa. “Keep a file for each college during the search and retain the folder for the college you decide to attend until you graduate and repay your loans.”

She offers this advice:

• Start saving now. Whether your child is 6 months or 16 years old, your savings can reduce the amount you may have to borrow later, and some savings plans, like 529 plans and Coverdell Education Savings Accounts, offer tax benefits. Contact your financial adviser for more information.

• Expand your college search. Private colleges and universities value geographic diversity and often have more resources to devote to financial aid. While your local state college or university probably has lower tuition and fees, out-of-state private institutions may offer more generous financial aid packages.

• Complete the FAFSA. Regardless of your income, complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1. The FAFSA determines your eligibility for federal and state grants, work-study and federal college loans. Some private colleges also require the CSS/PROFILE. Check with the financial aid office.

• Apply for scholarships. You can find information about federal grants and scholarships in the Student Aid Guide on the Department of Education’s web- site (http://studentaid.ed.gov), and at your prospective college’s financial aid office. Check websites like www.fastweb.com for private scholarships, and don’t forget about scholarships that your employer or community organizations may sponsor.

• Be proactive. Keep track of the deadlines and required application materials. If you have any questions, contact the school’s financial aid office. E-mail is the best form of communication because it’s easy to keep track of. Financial aid offices and the Department of Education should be able to help you for free.

For more information, visit www.lehigh.edu/assistance.

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Teens: Join Twilight’s Nikki Reed to ‘do something’ good this summer

(ARA) – Are you a teen that is going to camp, hosting a neighborhood block party, or playing baseball this summer? Are you a parent who wants to encourage your child to do something good for others or get more involved in their community? This summer, join the Do Something 101 school supply drive: www.dosomething101.org.

Each school year, many students go back to school with little more than a plastic bag and a used notebook. It’s often the smallest gestures that make the biggest difference. By donating a pack of pencils, a spiral notebook or even a dollar, you can help a student start the new school year off right. It’s easy to get started. Ideas include encouraging fellow campers to start a school supply drive or hosting a movie night at your house and charging a school supply as the price of admission.

Launched in 2008 by DoSomething.org and Staples, Do Something 101 is a campaign to help students in need. Nikki Reed, star of the popular Twilight movie series, is helping to promote the cause this year. The campaign encourages teens to collect school supplies and drop them off at their nearest Staples store, from July through September. In addition, customers can get involved by donating $1 at any store with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting local teens in need.

“It’s so important that students have new school supplies to begin each year successfully,” says Nancy Lublin, chief executive officer of DoSomething.org. “Our goal with this campaign is to make it easy for teens to help a student in need. We’ve provided products to hundreds of thousands of students to date, and are encouraging others to get involved to help us continue to make a difference.”

Here are some tips on how parents can encourage children to get involved in community service projects:

1. Research available opportunities that your child will find interesting and fulfilling. Help guide them toward a volunteer experience that will get them excited.
2. Get involved in your own charitable cause. If they see you doing something good, they are more likely to want to participate in a similar campaign.
3. Make it a family event. By encouraging everyone in the family to join the cause together, everyone will be motivated by each other and will have fun at the same time.

New for the 2010 back-to-school shopping season, Staples is also launching a line of DoSomething.org-inspired products to help students get organized and learn about important issues impacting their communities. These new products – including planners and notebooks – inspire youth to take action and make positive change. In addition to the cool designs, they also include background on social issues and offer suggestions on how students can make a difference.

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(NAPSI)-One of the latest developments in the computer field is already benefiting many students and teachers. Tablet computers seem to be finding a home in both the traditional and the electronic classroom.

Students say that by using tablets they can collaborate easily with their peers. Teachers find they can use tablets to monitor students’ grasp of the material that has been covered.

For example, with software such as DyKnow Vision, teachers can send a “status request” during a lesson to gauge each student’s level of understanding, without the embarrassing raise of hands. “I’m not using canned examples from a textbook any-more. I’m using real examples immediately pulled from the student’s tablet,” says computer science professor Roy Pargas at Clemson University.

Like many smartphones, tab-lets have touch capabilities built into the screen. Students can touch the screen on tablets to manipulate, interact and share content with one another inside and outside the classroom, which can foster an interactive environment.

With pen-based tablets, such as the HP EliteBook 2740p, students can take digital notes in their own handwriting as well as download and annotate slide presentations during lectures. Once outside the classroom, students can revisit their notes to study alone or share their notes with classmates.

Professor Dave Berque of DePauw University and his students use HP tablets with Intel Core Duo processors and DyKnow Vision software to take notes, solve problems and share solutions in his computer science class. They can also replay notes after class. As a result, he saw failure rates drop from 14 percent to 1 percent. Said Berque, “Tablet PCs make the classroom an interactive environment, and that tends to give a lot of feedback to everyone involved.”

Tablets are more than an interactive tool; they can also save time. Instead of spending hours after class grading papers, teachers can mark papers electronically and then transfer the scores into an electronic grade-tracking system.

Many believe that with tablet PCs, the classroom can become a more interactive environment. Teachers and students alike can find success in all the touch capabilities that tablets have to offer.

To learn more, visit www.hp.com/go/hied or call (800) 888-0262.

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Emerging careers in science and health care

(ARA) – Growth in technology is contributing to career options at an increasing rate. Many industries, from information technology to environmental science to health care, benefit from new and enriching career opportunities afforded by rapid advancements.

Ten of the 20 fastest-growing careers are health care-related, with 26 percent of all new jobs created falling into this category, according to the U.S. Department of Labor’s “Career Guide to Industries, 2010-11 Edition.” New career possibilities are opening for individuals with vocational training, college diplomas and advanced degrees.

Growing demand for health care professionals

“In terms of health care, the speed of change is anywhere from two days to six weeks. Knowledge is doubling faster than in the 1990s when IT was producing software on average every few days,” says Micki Holliday, director of career services at Brown Mackie College – Kansas City, located in Lenexa, Kan. “In addition to knowledge expansion, research indicates that the aging population is pushing science and health care to the forefront in needs. New people, new habits and skills and new orientation to the world are bringing in new opportunities.”

The unique baby boomer population represents a large demographic that, despite growing older, is staying active longer. “It isn’t just young people jogging and exercising today. It permeates all generations. Technological advances in medicine are helping people stay active longer. We’re building bodies better,” she says, referring to the ability to replace hips, knees, and organs with more advanced technology. “The demand for a higher quality of life through technology drives innovation. Most things involving health care are considered a boom industry.”

While scientists and doctors are in demand, it is critical that health care facilities hire correctly trained support staff so that others can do what they do best. Doctors need others to provide care. Entry-level employment opportunities arise at hospitals, doctor and dentist offices, rehabilitation facilities, nursing homes and home health care companies, says Holliday. “Industry can’t move forward without trained professionals. They want to hire workers with education, knowledge and certifications.” Health care positions in growing demand include all types of medical and lab technicians, as well as insurance, financial and administrative professionals.

Advancements in science spawn new opportunities

Growth in the science and engineering sectors feed the health care boom. The biotech industry is huge and growing in every area, from operations and manufacturing to clinical research and quality control. This opens the door for a myriad of trained professionals to find employment. To learn more about health care career opportunities, visit www.brownmackie.edu.

“What type of people are needed to support biotech companies? Everyone from lab technicians and research associates to cabinet-makers who build lab-safety storage,” Holliday says. “One scientist I know of was about to culminate a two-year research project when a lab tech walked by with a test tube in hand and scratched his head. That single act negated the whole project. It is of the utmost importance for companies to hire people who are trained and certified in lab protocol.”

Biotech companies also need trained, entry-level people to fill positions in administration, billing and research. “You can contribute to this growing industry without becoming an engineer,” Holliday says. “The title isn’t new, but the work is new due to advances in technology.”

In all disciplines, health care and science industry employers need workers who are educated and are skilled in protocol. Schools provide the foundation for working in a specific environment. Companies and device manufacturers then provide additional training on the job. “That’s another career opportunity,” adds Holliday. “There is a growing need for trainers, too.”

Holliday’s father was a research assistant in the late 1940s. “Can you imagine what he’d think of today’s equipment? Tests taking minutes instead of weeks. Noninvasive surgery that enables patients to go home a few hours later,” she says. “Our students are contributing to these miracles of time and science by providing businesses with the manpower needed to run the experiments, provide the treatments and create the tools and remedies.”

Courtesy of ARAcontent

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Degrees that will make you indispensable in the workplace

(ARA) – From digitizing and analyzing America’s health records to developing the next big video game or hardware program, careers in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields continue to gain prominence in the work force. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts a growing demand for technological advances will result in a job growth of 22 percent for STEM occupations between 2004 and 2014.

As employment opportunities within these new and emerging industries continue to expand, educational institutions are taking a look at refining curriculums to provide career-focused higher education, and better prepare students for careers in specific fields.

To do this, universities are working directly with high-caliber employers to ensure their future employee needs will be met. DeVry University, for example, works directly with companies including IBM and Cisco to create these student programs. DeVry University graduates from the last five years have worked at 96 of the Fortune 100 companies.

“Students are looking to obtain the education and knowledge needed to succeed in the high-growth industries that continue to thrive,” says Donna Loraine, vice president, academic affairs for DeVry Inc., and dean, DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management. “Our academic structure is one that allows for swift implementation of new programs and curriculum once we notice a specific need, allowing us to better prepare students for these in-demand 21st century careers.”

According to the Center for Education Policy Analysis, technology is pervasive in almost every aspect of daily life, and as the workplace changes, STEM knowledge, skills and the ways in which problems are approached and solved in these subjects are important for a variety of workers.

DeVry worked closely with Cisco using the Cisco Networking Academy program to deliver curriculums that teach students how to design, build, troubleshoot and secure computer networks.

“Working with DeVry University to equip students with technical knowledge and hands-on experiences will help meet growing demand for skilled workers in a variety of industries ranging from broadband and wireless to healthcare and green technologies,” says Amy Christen, vice president of corporate affairs at Cisco and general manager of the Cisco Networking Academy. “Individuals that are trained in the latest technology careers today will be well-prepared for a variety of exciting career opportunities tomorrow.”

In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics is anticipating an approximate 45 percent growth in the computer software engineer and application occupations. Anticipating this demand, these student/employer partnerships aim to prepare soon-to-be graduates for these technology careers, while helping to fill a growing need for professionals in the emerging industries around the world.

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You can find money to pay for college

 You can find money to pay for college

(ARA) –  In a competitive job market, earning a degree can be the biggest single step one can take to enhance career value and earning potential. As many bask in the glow of making plans to increase their career potential, the prospect of paying for college is a sobering reality.

Few of us have funds set aside for this endeavor. In addition, the College Board’s annual “Trends in College Pricing” reports a rise in tuition costs at public and private institutions for the 2009-2010 school year. According to the report, annual tuition and fees at private four-year colleges rose 4.4 percent to $26,273, and public university costs rose 6.5 percent to $7,020.

Prospective students often don’t know where to start. But take heart; Darlene Violet, director of Financial Aid at Brown Mackie College – Akron, Ohio,  offers advice on funding your education. “The U.S. Department of Education distributes $96 billion a year in grants, work-study assistance, and low-interest loans,” Violet says. “Every student begins the process of seeking financial aid by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, known as the ‘FAFSA.’” Information submitted on the FAFSA form determines the amount a student may receive through a federal Pell Grant, which is based on financial need. The recent economic stimulus program increased Pell Grant funds by $500 per student. Financial aid is available for those who qualify.

Beyond completing the FAFSA, many turn next to student loans. “An education is always a good investment,” says Violet, “but many people don’t realize the loans must be paid back starting six months after leaving school. I advise students to seek out and apply for scholarships.” Wide varieties of organizations offer scholarships, from fraternities and sororities to community groups, foundations, and corporations. Winning candidates receive funds based on a vast spectrum of criteria, including ethnicity and cultural heritage. “Students just don’t take the time to find them,” Violet continued. “It can be a lot of work.”

The Scholarship Committee at Brown Mackie College – Akron hired a group of honor students to help others navigate through the many scholarships available, complete the application forms, and provide feedback on essays written for submission. “This allows students the security to delve deeper into the scholarship world. It’s well worth it,” Violet says.

Scholarship awards can be as important to the educational institution as they are to the student. Federal guidelines, known as the 90-10 rule, mandate that no more than 90 percent of the funds received by a college can come from Federal loans and grants. A minimum of 10 percent must come from outside sources, including scholarships, private loans, and the students’ own financial contributions.

Violet recommends checking additional resources as well. “Many employers will pay or reimburse tuition expenses, sometimes even for immediate family members. And the Veteran’s Administration offers benefits to those who have served our country,” she says. The Workforce Investment Act offers grants to those who qualify, and many churches offer scholarship opportunities. In addition, the Orphan Foundation of America offers scholarships to students who are wards of the state.

Further savings can come in the form of a temporary tax credit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit, included in the economic stimulus bill signed by President Barack Obama, can be worth as much as $2,500. People who earn $80,000 or less a year (or $160,000 or less for joint filers) can claim this credit on money paid for tuition, certain fees and course materials for higher education in 2009 and 2010. For complete details, visit www.irs.gov.

Once a student enters college, Violet advises making other financial considerations:

Ride public transportation. In addition to saving on fuel and parking fees, public transportation provides time for students to get a head start on assigned reading and homework.

Avoid credit card offers. However tempting the offer seems, credit cards charge interest on purchases and impose fees for late payments.

Work while attending classes. Many students work full- or part-time while earning their degrees. The federal work-study program helps eligible students find employment on campus.

“Taking the time to apply for scholarship funds is a step that can help now while they’re in school, and in the future when no bill comes due,” Violet says.

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Simple Ways College Grads Can Give Back to their Alma Maters

(ARA) – A college education does far more than give graduates a competitive edge when entering the working world. For many people, college marked a time when they forged friendships and romances that last a lifetime. Is it any wonder, then, that so many college graduates seek creative ways to nourish their bond with their alma mater years – often decades – after they’ve left the college’s hallowed halls?

From following their college’s sports teams to carrying the same school coffee mug from job to job, many alumni are passionate about their schools. In fact, 57 percent of college graduates say their college years were the best years of their lives, according to the MyExpression(TM) Alumni Survey sponsored by Bank of America. Nearly 50 percent still consider themselves college sports fanatics and 58 percent would like their children to follow in their collegiate footsteps, the survey found.

With prices rising on everything from gas to groceries, it can become challenging for some alumni to make cash donations to their colleges or universities. More than half (55 percent) of survey respondents don’t donate to their alma maters, and just 27 percent donate $100 or more per year. Of those who don’t donate, 38 percent say it’s because they just haven’t gotten around to it, or that it is difficult to juggle donations amid other financial and time obligations.

There are, however, creative ways to support your school without spending a dime. If you still live near your school, you can volunteer with programs and campus events, provide tutoring in your major field or donate your time and professional experience by speaking with current students. If you no longer live close to your alma mater, contact the student services department to find out if there are ways you can participate remotely – whether it’s offering tutoring services online or volunteering a few hours for the school’s student information hotline.

Another easy way to support your alma mater is through affinity banking products. Bank of America offers branded credit cards, check cards and checks that support a variety of alumni organizations, professional organizations and charitable causes through its MyExpression product line. For passionate alumni, every time a new MyExpression alumni checking account is opened and for every subsequent purchase made with a MyExpression check card, a contribution is made to the alumni organization featured on the card. Given that two-thirds of alumni own college-branded gear, and nearly 50 percent proudly don a college-branded sweatshirt, a college-branded check card that gives back may be just the hassle-free combination of pride and passion alums are looking for.

“People are always looking for easy ways to support what’s important to them.  However, prioritizing one’s college or university among so many other responsibilities – financially and otherwise – can be a tall order,” says Stephen Gillin, Affinity Banking executive.  “That’s exactly where the Bank of America MyExpression alumni accounts fit in. Alumni can easily convert their school passion into support for their school, simply by making their everyday purchases with their MyExpression alumni account.”  

Alumni and university fans can learn more about MyExpression Banking products at more than 6,100 Bank of America banking centers, or online at www.bankofamerica.com/myexpression.

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