New Pew Study Reports Student Debt Repayments Needs to Be Easier

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Eighty percent of Americans want the federal government to make it easier to repay student loans.  

This statistic is from a new study from the Pew Charitable Trusts. It conducted a telephone poll this past August, interviewing more than 1,000 people about their opinions on student loans.

It’s important to note, the study only referred to federal student loans and not any additional personal loan or line of credit students may take out.

Many students searching out the answer to what is a personal line of credit know they may have to supplement student loans when their financing falls short. But Pew turns its spotlight away from these personal products to shine a light on the student debt crisis.

Now a record $1.6 trillion, the debt crises has gotten its fair share of ink at the nation’s biggest online news outlets — from the New York Times and the Washington Post to CBS News and CNN. It even hogs much of talking points in the 2020 Democratic debates unfolding this fall. 

And now, thanks to Pew, the average American can share their opinion, too. As it turns out, the country has a complicated relationship with student debt.

Repaying Loans is a Challenge

Although it’s possible to strike debt clean from your record, most people recognize it’s not the easiest thing to do. 

A whopping 89 percent of respondents said they agree borrowers have a hard time paying back their student loans. 

The average graduate owes roughly $30,000, which puts the average monthly payment of a standard repayment plan somewhere between $304 and $333

Picking away at debt in these sized installments means it will take you roughly 10 years to pay off what you owe. 

Of course, this $300 is on top of any personal line of credit payment, rent, and utilities you may have. 

A decade of balancing your books this way may be a hardship. And for some 7 million borrowers in default, it’s impossible. 

Student Loans Are a Drain on the Economy.

Pew reports 69 percent of respondents agree that borrowers who struggle to repay their debt have a greater impact on the economy. 

And they have good reason to believe this. 

More than 45 million people shoulder a collective $1.6 trillion debt load. This means nearly a little over 13 percent of the population share a significant financial burden. 

If they aren’t in default, they’re funneling a lot of each paycheck into their monthly repayments, along with other bills that keep their household running. 

Basic things like covering rent, a line of credit balance, and utilities become the priority

Less dire spending, like unnecessary yet fun services and products that help boost the economy, are put on the backburner. 

They’re also postponing major milestones that may have a greater impact on the economy later on. Unlike generations before them, millennials are waiting to start a family, putting off homeownership, and failing to save up for retirement. 

Federal Government Needs to Step Up

It may come as no surprise then that many of the those surveyed — or 58 percent — strongly agree the federal government needs to take action. They believe the government should make it easier to pay off student debt.

What Does Federal Action Look Like?

What the poll fails to make clear is how these survey participants expect the government to address this problem. 

Is it something like Bernie Sander’s plan to cancel all $1.6 trillion of debt by taxing the top 0.1 percent of Americans? 

Or is it something closer to Elizabeth Warren’s sliding scale of relief, which promises to forgive up to $50,000 of debt for those households earning less than $100,000?

Or perhaps, it involves much less progressive proposals, like Joe Biden’s bid for income-driven repayment plans or Julio Castro’s time-based forgiveness.

The answer to this question may have to wait until July 2020, when the Democratic Presidential Nominee takes the stage at the National Convention. 

And of course, let’s not forget the results of the November election, when the country chooses between another Trump government and a fresh start. 

While the Democrats debate canceling the debt, the GOP has moved in the other direction. During Trump’s presidency, his administration has loosened restrictions on loans, put sharp limits on repayment options, and ended loan subsidies and forgiveness programs. 

Next year proves a momentous year for the future of student loans and the economy. Time will tell how and if American concerns over the debt crisis will impact how they mark their ballots. 

However they vote, Pew proves that student loan debt and the repayment system weighs heavily on the minds of most Americans. If it does the same to yours, vote carefully. Find where the nearest polling station is to campus, and make sure you’re registered.

Qualification Exams Cause Headaches for Teachers and Students Alike

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Standardized testing is such an ingrained part of life in public and private schools, all the way through graduate school and beyond, that we’ve begun to take for granted the profound impact that they have on our personal and professional lives. Meanwhile, the scope of these tests has been widening, and the consequences for passing or failing can be far-reaching and life-altering. Prospective students understand this dilemma all too well; just past the midway point of their high school careers, students around the country must study for a day long process of examinations and essays, the scores of which will determine their future trajectory through life in major ways, affecting college admissions and thereby future job prospects and salaries. But there is usually only a day or two given to the testing itself; students must still struggle to stay on top of an already demanding educational curriculum, and some sections of the test will likely focus on material they haven’t even covered yet.

The disconnect between a student’s real life situation and the expectations of standardized testing are starting to become a subject of hotly contested debate in areas where the standards are changing. And the testing doesn’t stop after high school; for many college majors there are required professional certification exams in order to fully qualify to work in any given field. Depending on the field or specialization, the level of certification can be genuinely mind-boggling. Physicians studying sleep medicine, for instance, have a 12 to 15 year educational term before they even have a chance to become board certified in that one specific area of expertise, usually amassing a wide array of general and specialized knowledge in a variety of different medical fields along the way. 

The path to success on a certification exam can be fraught with difficulty and confusion as well. There are myriad groups offering many different kinds of assistance with preparation for these exams, and prospective test takers have few ways to evaluate their quality for jumping in. A prospective fitness trainer studying for the NASM test will be presented with dozens of outlets offering study materials. Some are more trustworthy than others, and materials can go out of date quickly as the test makers change the nature of the examination at the behest of the groups that regulate certification in any given field.

The woes of standardized testing seem to only intensify after students leave high school or college and enter the professional world. Common sense seems to dictate that professionals in training should be evaluated mostly by their mentors and teachers, class grades, and the quality of their coursework, project work, and dissertations, if applicable. But certification exams can play an inordinately large role. Teachers are among the professionals most affected by certification requirements that can change drastically, with consequences even for teachers that have already been working for years.

The issue of certification and qualification exams for teachers is one that certainly seems to lack a consensus. Some claim that the tests are too easy, resulting in a low quality of teachers across the board. These detractors point out that most people have fond memories of only a handful of inspiring teachers across their educational career, meaning that there is a lot of dead weight likely hanging around as a result of lax testing standards, but this view ignores the reality of a drastic shortage of teachers of all levels of experience and talent, while most teachers currently working are woefully underpaid and overworked. Nor is inspiration necessarily a benchmark for educational success; no one feels inspired when their doctor explains to them what’s wrong with their heart, but they still come away in the best scenario with a fundamentally better understanding of their medical condition than they had going in.

The problem for teachers and certification exams is that changes to requirements can force teachers to re-certify themselves and undergo testing again, resulting in a potential loss of employment if they fail to meet the new requirements. This complaint is at the heart of a lawsuit against Pearson on behalf of teachers in Florida. The teachers claim that the test itself is unfair, while the failure rate is exorbitantly high (earning money for Pearson as teaching students have to pay to retake the exam) and the grading process unnecessarily opaque.

In some areas, failure rates are startlingly high. Failure rates on the elementary level teacher exam are higher than 50%, and most teachers complain that they are tested on content above their level (and the level of their students), while their classes mostly prepared them to understand different teaching methodologies and classroom dynamics. This disconnect results in potentially high-quality teachers being kept out of the system entirely in some cases.

This disconnect between true ability and what is measured on a certification exam results in losses for everyone involved in the educational system, and increased scrutiny may result in some changes in the future.

The Inductive Reasoning Test

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Inductive tests were introduced as an aptitude examination for potential employers to assess the suitability of a candidate. The rise of its popularity has also seen an increase in online inductive reasoning test practices. These tests are able to measure a person’s cognitive abilities and the capacity for thinking both conceptually and analytically, which is why it has become a go-to tool for many businesses.

In order to prepare for one of these tests, one should familiarize oneself with what it entails. From seeking patterns and determining the consecutive image in a sequence of three pictures, to choosing the odd pattern out, it is a test of logic and mental capabilities. It also goes by the name of Abstract Reasoning Test.

The objective is to identify the pattern as quickly as possible and the way to do this is to compare each image with each other. Look at the information provided – size, color, location, shape? Determine what is constant and what is changing and figure out the rules to the pattern. There are no hard and fast rules, nor are there any written data or information to help you along. The main purpose is to test how quickly you grasp the concept without instruction – which shows potential employers whether you are able to think on your feet and how intuitive you are – and it also pinpoints how well your problem solving and decision making skills are. All three of which are traits of what employers hope to find in their employees. It may even help with the job.

For instance, it is a way of analyzing information. If you find online practice tests repetitive, you can also look at raw data of your relevant field and try to process that. Perhaps financial statements for accounting firms, statistical tables for a company or even how people use social media. You could also invite your friends to participate in such tests with you and treat it as a fun way to train both your reflexes. This will also train you to be more time-sensitive and help you finish the assessment in a timely fashion. The quicker it takes for you to complete a test, the more capable you will seem. It will ultimately help you sort through data a lot quicker and you will be able to process it faster. This can also show your potential employer your penchant for the job and your determination.

It might seem a bit unfair that after all the time you have spent at university, sitting for exams and preparing for the “real world” that you should be met with another examination before you are able to lock in your dream job. However, according to Huffingtonpost, aptitude and psychometric tests are becoming commonplace in the workforce as it helps employers weed out candidates as efficiently as possible. From logic, to numbers, to verbal and abstract, all of theses tests are designed to find the most suitable candidate.

They do not care that they might accidentally eliminate a potential talent which might have become an asset to their company. They care more about hiring one that will be entirely suited to their company through his level of skill, qualifications and personality. Some of these tests can even determine whether an individual has the same vision as the company (or if they are able to align easily).

There are a few things that one should bear in mind when sitting for such a test. Pace yourself, and since it is time-sensitive, do not get stuck on any question. Come back to it if you have the time after you’ve finished the entire paper, but certain questions are hard on purpose – that is a test in itself to see how you will act under duress or stress. Having an unfinished assessment speaks worse than one that only have one unanswered question, so be smart about it.

If you are more confident regarding your interpersonal skills, it might be a good idea to have a sit down with your potential employer beforehand and communicate with them on how you view the test. There are individuals who simply do not do well on examinations but may have a slew of skills that are beneficial to any company that decide to hire them. Do not let performance anxiety get in the way, especially if you are confident that you are able to sell your skills and what you can bring to the table well – there is clearly no test in the world that is able to encapsulate one’s charisma or confidence when it comes to pitching proposals. Who knows, if you are truly good enough, you might be able to talk your way out of sitting for the assessment at all.

Thousands of students are drawn to overseas study

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The modern approach to education is one that, quite frankly, is still taking shape. The modern era that we now live in is one that has, without a doubt, taken hold of modern marvels digitalisation and technological advancement. We are more interconnected than ever, and a large part of the reason why that is, centres around the truth that technology has changed life as we knew it. Today, every aspect of modern life – including, as it turns out, education and travel respectively – is changing significantly, and the transformations are far from over. In the education industry, one of the most prominent evolutions is the introduction of mainstream abroad study. While students have been studying overseas for a while, this is a concept that has only relatively recently taken flight, becoming a mainstream sensation all around the globe. Making the decision to study overseas is not a decision to take lightly. Temporarily uprooting your life to maintain your studies while simultaneously exploring a new part of the world takes courage, guts, and determination – but alas, it is a trend that is continuously on the rise.

It is not uncommon for a student to want to quite literally run away when they are stressed out of their minds, thinking “I wish I didn’t have to write my research paper at this same old desk, in this same old place”. What has been uncommon, at least up until recently, is the number of students who actually take action on that thought, researching and then applying to study overseas for a change of pace and a life experience that will inspire them to continue to work hard towards their degree. Now, it is more surprising to encounter someone who knows nobody who has taken on abroad study – even if it is not they themselves. Around the globe, more and more eager and bright-eyed students are taking on the challenge of taking their studies across the ocean for a semester or two. There is an undeniable appeal in travelling abroad that seeks to expose students to a whole new world, while allowing them to live and continue learning (essentially, giving those students the best of both worlds, both collectively and respectively).

The appeal of studying abroad is one that continues to attract the attention of students from all over the world, but why exactly is that? At the end of the day, there is something profoundly exciting about going on an academic endeavour that seeks to give you the chance to better yourself in every sense, while allowing you to continue flourishing academically. Students who study abroad are often the very same individuals who are willing and able to jump out of their comfort zone and take a leap of faith to explore something exciting and fresh. And what could be more exciting and fresh than experiencing a new part of the world while you simultaneously work towards the future you have been building up to through your studies? As if that were not appealing enough, there is a definitive appeal in doing something different than your peers, while maintaining the same level of course content – what better way is there to be inspired by your studies than to study in a beautiful inspiring setting?

And then there is the professional edge that studying abroad gives you. Having a real-world experience on your resume throughout your academic career makes you stand out to potential employers once you graduate, and it does not get much more “real-world” than opting away from the traditional education experience and instead gravitating towards the more unique academic journey. You meet people you never would have otherwise, you exponentially expand your global network, you see the world, and you grow not only academically and intellectually, but personally. All these reasons and more are the bread and butter that ultimately make studying abroad such an appealing approach to modern education. If ever there was a take on education that perfectly balances between traditional ideals and modern perceptions, it is without a doubt studying abroad study. Amid the rise of a modern era that is paved with good intentions and technological enhancements, it should come as no surprise that the world we live in today is more interconnected than ever.

Practically every industry there is – including, as it turns out education and travel respectively – has undergone its fair share of transformation. In education, one of the most prominent (and ongoing) transformations thus far is the mainstream introduction and ongoing rising popularity of studying abroad. Students have been choosing to study overseas for a while, but in recent years it has become a global sensation, with thousands upon thousands of eager students applying to study somewhere new and exciting for a semester or two. Studying abroad is not for the faint hearted, but for those who do take the leap of faith, it is more rewarding than you could ever imagine. The rise of abroad study continues to surge, and there are no signs of it slowing down.

Heavy use of social media is linked to mental illness

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We live in the digital era, and in this digital era modern innovations rule. One of the most prominent modern innovations there is, is social media. Designed to be a network of global virtual platforms that allow for instantaneous and easy communication around the world, social media has more than lived up to the hype that has propelled over the years. But on the flip side of that same coin, is the dark undercurrent of social media. That decidedly negative undertone is hinged on the reality that social media has heavily impacted mental health – and not in the most positive of ways. Social media is an environment that emphasises the appeal of honest and open communication and connection, but it is also an environment that can be incredibly toxic for people to invest their energy and time into. And it all comes down to the comparative nature of social media, and how that impacts those that are struggling with themselves. This is an important issue, and finally it is getting the attention that it has always deserved. As the world hinders on the verge of a mental health crisis that borders on epidemic standard, this conversation is more important than ever.

The complication with social media is while it is intended to boost communication, it also sometimes inevitably isolates individuals from the real world and their real connections. The more energy and time that one invests in the social media landscape, the more disconnected they become with the real world around them. This is where problems often arise. Social media can be a dangerous, even fatal environment, and the reality is that there simply is not enough awareness surrounding this truth. Because of the comparative nature that has evolved over the history of social media, users can feel an inclination to mould themselves into what the social media platforms appear to find the most widely appealing aesthetic, body image, or way of communicating. This often leads to inauthentic representations of the self, which can obviously lead to some very serious health implications. The pressures of social media warrant a type of mental health strain that, quite frankly, is unparalleled to anything else.

There is a massive pressure in the landscape of social media platforms. Individuals can feel pressured to buy likes on Instagram, or try to change how they look to fit into the standard perception of what social media deems to be the most appealing aesthetic or approach. Additionally, they can spend hours and hours investing energy, time, and even money into ensuring that the representation of themselves they give out via social media, is one that puts their best [virtual] foot forward, so to speak. And while this can work for some time, it nearly always comes to a point where it becomes more of a problem than a distraction from the true self. The immense pressure to not only concede to those perceived ideals online, but to maintain those ideals over time, can be quite taxing. This is where cracks tend to appear, and if left unchecked, these cracks can bloom into dark bruises that become more and more difficult to contain. And just like bruises, it becomes obvious too often after the damage is done, that there is even a problem.

The links between mental health and social media are becoming more and more pronounced the more that studies and research focus on this topic, and the more that awareness becomes more prominent. When individuals spend so much time on their social media, they inevitably drain themselves emotionally and mentally. It can be exhausting to constantly see what is perceived as many people living the perfect life – especially if their own life does not feel even close to what their perceived ideal idols and friends live online. While it is easy enough to tell someone to remember that social media is often (if not always) a highlight reel of someone’s life, a snapshot of what really goes on, it is quite another to tell that to someone who is struggling with their mental health because of that reason. Mental health is a serious issue, and it is one that, quite frankly, is not given nearly as much attention as it should be. There is a very real sense of isolation that goes hand in hand with heavy use of social media, and it is important to pay attention to not only your own use of social media, but those close to you, and to do your best to let them know you are there if they need to reach out.

The digital era is absolutely rife with exciting innovations and revolutions that have changed life as we know it, in many different ways. One of the most globally renowned innovations of all has been, without a doubt, social media. A revolution initially created to serve as an all-new frontier of instantaneous global communication, social media has since ballooned to become so much more over time. While in many ways, social media is an immensely positive space, it can also be a place of dark undertones that can be difficult for some individuals to deal with. The comparative nature of social media today has resulted in the realisation that, for some, social media activity can have a devastating impact on their mental health. This is an issue that, up until recently, was given nowhere near the amount of attention that it warranted, but now that the world is bordering on a mental health epidemic, action is finally, at long last, being taken. Social media can have devastating effects on users, and it is important to pay close attention to the signs that people are struggling. Lives literally depend on it.

Interaction Design Foundation paving the way for new frontier in education

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When it comes to understanding the fragile state of higher education as it stands today, and the impact having access to that education can have on eager learners, Interaction Design Foundation have a distinctive lead. This is an institution that is wholeheartedly dedicated to creating a new frontier in Ivy League-level education that is not only globally accessible, but far more financially inclusive as well. Originally started back in 2002, this is a non-profit organisation that, in the years since (and still even now), has effectively created a low-cost, high-quality approach to education that transforms how individuals learn to master the art of design. Historically speaking, design school has always been one of the most coveted fields in academics, and while this is still the case, this is a company that is leading the way to a new frontier in understanding and perfecting a more wholly inclusive approach to education.

Interaction Design Foundation is a company that is revolutionising what it means to have ample and fair access to design school. Using online UX design courses to provide students with top-quality information and materials, the aim of the game for this awe-inspiring company is to lower costs while raising the standards of inclusive design education to Ivy league expectations. To many people, it sounds like the ultimate paradox, and perhaps it is in some ways, but at the end of the day, the goal is humble as it is ambitious – strange as that may sound. The founders and the people behind the scenes at Interaction Design Foundation have this goal in mind, and that goal is hinged on the ability and desire to create an approach to design academics that encapsulates the high quality of the top tiers of education, while making it available to the many people through cost-effective online education foundations.

The nature of Ivy League education today is shrouded in exclusivity and expense, and it is these very barriers that Interaction Design Foundation seeks to break down for its design students. While the Ivy League is exceptional, even remarkable, in many ways, it lacks diversity in practically every way that matters, and companies like Interaction Design Foundation break effectively fill in the gaps and create a more wholesome approach to education, that does not seek to sacrifice quality on any level. That is made possible by the introduction and utilisation of online design courses. Costing a fraction of what traditional education costs to administer and bolster, these courses are more cost-effective for students to undertake as well. Members (i.e. students) have access to free design-related textbooks and mother materials, as well as comprehensive, instructor-led online courses. It is a revelation. 

While Interaction Design Foundation is an organisation dedicated to the art of design education, the hope is ultimately that it will not only continue to change the global standard for design education everywhere, but also education as a whole. Dedicated to the pursuit of quality education at inclusive levels, on every level, this is how this institution is striving – and succeeding handsomely – in making a tangible difference, and working to create a new frontier in design education (and education in general). Students the world over are now able to access cost-effective courses and course materials for a fraction of the cost of traditional education. In addition, they are also given unlimited access to professional instructors who can guide students through the material and give them all the assistance they need along the way. A marvel in modern standards in higher education, this is just the beginning. 

Interaction Design Foundation was built to kick-start and continue growing something special, that sought to change the way design students learn and absorb information. Never has there been an approach to design education that is as exciting, as inclusive, and as wholesome as that of the Interaction Design Foundation. An all-new frontier in design education, this is just the beginning for everything this company stands for, and what its constructs can teach higher education (and education in general, for that matter) about providing both learning and teaching methods and models, at high-quality and low-cost innovations. If this is just the beginning for the new era in design education, there is no telling just how big and bright it will continue to flourish and thrive into. 

Interaction Design Foundation is a non-profit organisation that was originally founded in 2002, with the goal of building a low-cost, high-quality approach to education that rivalled the Ivy Leagues, without the exclusivity and high expenses associated with Ivy League institutions. In the seventeen years (and ongoing) since, Interaction Design Foundation has famously cemented and expanded upon a reputation for itself that has come to be known all over the world, as well as boasting one of the largest UX design communities in the world. It is an accomplishment that is worth its weight in gold, and it is even still working wonders to create a new frontier in design education that not only changes academics for design students, but hopefully becomes a catalyst for educational standards everywhere in the near future.

Does Australia Have The Best Student Loan Repayment Program In The World?

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Earlier this month, the Australian Government announced drastic changes to its Hecs (Higher Education Contribution Scheme) repayment scheme that has some Aussie graduates quaking in their boots. The changes will see the repayment threshold dropped by a whopping 11 per cent, meaning any Australian graduate – or current student – earning over $45,881 a year will need to begin paying back their university debt, effective immediately. To add salt to the wound, fee-fleeing students seeking to evade the repayment scheme will now be ‘chased’ overseas, with new laws in place allowing the Australian Tax Office to pursue those debts overseas. The new rules apply not only to Hecs debt but also to Vocational Education & Training student loan (VSL) and Trade Support Loan (TSL) debts. As a university graduate who hasn’t paid a cent of her Hecs debt and who lives overseas, I am not unaware of the ramifications the new changes will have on my and Australia’s future graduates’ professional lives. Will it force students who until now might have breezed through university life – playing sports, drinking, earning a buck or two through cheap essay writing services or working at the local supermarket – to sit up and take their financial obligations more seriously? Or will it quite simply deter high school students from considering a higher education, as is increasingly becoming the case in countries with more burdensome repayment schemes, like the United States.

Until now, Aussie students have enjoyed a relatively stress-free repayment scheme. Two years ago, the repayment threshold was $56,000, and in 2018 it was lowered again to $52,000. Today the repayment amount is capped at $135,000 a year, with those earning this figure or above only required to pay 10 per cent of their earnings annually, and repayment amounts for those earning around $75,000 equated to just $3,375 a year or $65 a week. Still not bad, eh?

It’s no wonder the Tax Office is kicking itself into gear at last – Australia is renowned for running one of the most generous student loan programs in the world. Premised on an income-contingent loan approach which saves people earning lower salaries from needing to begin repayments, in cases of extreme financial hardship Australia’s scheme allows the deferment of repayment obligations altogether and at the same time saves students from accruing any interest on repayments. While it can’t quite compete with its Nordic counterparts, which charge little or no tuition fees in countries such as Sweden, Finland and Norway, Australia’s higher education repayment scheme ranks among the most generous in the world.

It trumps the United States by a long shot, where concerns about the rising cost of higher education and the $1.4 trillion stacked up in student debt across the country have garnered global attention. Earlier this week, Californian Senator Kamala Harris unveiled a proposed program for student loan debt forgiveness which would forgive debts for Pell Grant recipients in particular who start a business that “operates for three years in disadvantaged communities”. Could it pave the way for a more humane and understanding approach to the handling of student loans across the country? Let’s hope so because enough is, quite frankly, enough. We can’t have an entire generation of starters under financial distress before they have even begun because of the inability of the U.S. government and its educational institutions to balance a budget. That being said, we have seen multiple attempts by the government to address the student debt crisis: a $1.6 trillion plan recently announced by Bernie Sanders to forgive all student loans, a $640 billion loan forgiveness scheme for public school teachers, the list goes on…

In fact there already exists a loan repayment program in the States that forgives the student debt of those who can prove a decade of service working in government or nonprofit jobs. But the public service loan program, which was signed into law by President Bush in 2007, has to date been a whopping failure. In the 18 months following the signing of this bill, 99.3 per cent of those U.S. citizens who applied for the benefit were rejected. Wait… what?

We all look to Sweden for answers, since it is often regarded as boasting one of the best student loan repayment schemes in the world. But its students actually end up borrowing money for college just as often as those in the States, graduating with around $20,000 in debt on average. It is in Germany, where the expected cost of an undergraduate degree is a mere $2,160, where we arguably see the best model for higher education. But does it teach its students the right values? That of obligation, financial responsibility and the ability to budget? Your guess is as good as mine. 

Perhaps no country has developed the right model yet. Perhaps things need to get worse before they get better. Whatever the case, I just hope Australia figures it all out before my own kids are enrolling at university and that we never find ourselves experiencing a crisis as crippling as the student debt crisis in the U.S. 

Nursing one of the most valuable degrees in the world

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When one considers all the degrees and qualifications on offer around the world, across varying fields, there are many avenues to consider before making a decision. These avenues include (but are not limited to) passion, love, natural inclination, and importance to the world. On and on the list goes. There are some degrees that encompass all (or at the very least, most of) these ideals. Nursing, for example, is one of the most valuable degrees in all the world. Not only do individuals who become nurses head into one of the most rewarding careers there is, but they also do some of the most important work there is. In this way (and so many others) it is not at all difficult to understand exactly how and why nursing has come to be fondly considered one of the most valuable degrees in the world. For individuals who take on this branch of study, there is the realisation that they are working towards a career that is both challenging and rewarding. Nursing students are driven to succeed, and they are willing to endure the challenging aspects of the degree to enter a career field that is more rewarding than most (if not all) others.

Whether it is looking at the latest and greatest official nurse practitioner program guides, or completing one’s first or last practical course in the field, nursing education teaches nursing students a lot, not only in the classroom, but outside of it as well. Nursing students are required to take on active and consistent practicals throughout their academic journey, in addition to their regular course loads. It is during these practicals that nursing students are faced with their most challenging moments. This is the first time they administer a needle, the first time they read a patient’s chart, the first time they come face to face with the reality of life as a nurse. It is a humbling and rewarding experience, and it often spurs on the passion for the job even more, forging strong inclinations into stronger bonds for the career field and the patients that need the help of the nurses.

Nursing education is pivoted towards a life of helping other people. Whether they be addicts, pregnant women, people recovering from disease, or the elderly (or any many of individuals in between, for that matter), nurses are the people who support, encourage, assist, and empower them to take back their health and wellness as much as they can. It takes an incredibly special person to be a nurse, to the point where it is difficult, if not near impossible, to successfully make it through the academic journey if you are not entirely and without reservation dedicated to the cause. Their education is the first taste of their career trajectory that nursing students get, and it can often be a rude awakening that proves to be nothing short of sobering. The students that persevere enter the workforce conditioned to a point, and ready to tackle a career that will test and strengthen them, in every way.

nurse plays a crucial role in the comfort, recovery, rehabilitation, and overall support of their patients. When considering why they want to pursue nursing education, and then a career in nursing, the patient care aspect should always be one of the top priorities, the most important reasons behind the decision to throw everything into the career that helps the world and saves and preserves lives. In every way, nursing education is one of the most valuable academic pathways there is, and there is perhaps no degree more priceless than that of nursing. There is an immense load to bear when it comes to studying and then working in nursing, but that load is made much easier to carry with the knowledge and understanding that this is a pathway in life that give sand gives to other people, never necessarily expecting a whole lot (if anything) in return.

Nursing is without a doubt one of the most valuable degrees an individual can possibly obtain. In nursing, there is an overwhelming sense of accomplishment and reward for doing a job that genuinely changes peoples’ lives for the better, in addition to the knowledge that everything you are doing at work, or working towards in the classroom, will be for the greater good. Nursing education presents individuals who undertake it with a unique chance to wear multiple hats, all at once, throughout their average work day. There is immeasurable value in a career in nursing, and the education that paves the way to make that career possible is priceless in and of itself. Never has there been an academic or professional choice more innovative, life-changing, and genuinely valuable than nursing, and it is difficult to imagine a time where there will be one more impressive.

Better Education is the Key to Our Digital Defense Problem

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The past several years have brought many changes to the educational and political landscape, but none are potentially so severe and world-changing as the comeback of internet espionage and digital warfare.

The vulnerabilities faced in today’s cybersecurity

Just within the past five years, cyber-attacks have had a massive impact on international and local affairs, including everything from independent hackers demanding ransoms from entire cities for the return of their municipal data to governments attacking other governments, spreading propaganda, and stealing political information through the use of phishing attacks and the like. It’s an uncomfortable truth but increasing amounts of almost cold-war style proxy battles are being fought in the digital realm, and many are beginning to agree that the solution lies within the hands of higher education institutions.

Education rushing to fill the gap calling for professionals

Many are already beginning to respond to the growing need for trained and educated cyber security professionals, offering cyber security courses at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. Many experts and educational professionals are arguing that the only way to bolster national security in the digital realm is to focus more intensely on training and education, starting from the youngest ages possible.

For instance, in the United Kingdom, experts are talking about a proverbial “army of cyber kids,” thanks to a newly formed national program that intends to find and recruit young talent for the purpose of training these kids to be cyber security experts. Children are recruited around the ages of 14 to 18, then trained in a series of programs and educated about the possibilities of future employment in the field of cyber security. The aim is to build up a force of educated young people who can enter the field and bolster the industry, which at the moment is lacking in both quality and quantity of workers. 

The criticism faced by academic institutions

The focus on education has its detractors, however. Despite the fact that the number of jobs in the cyber security industry with no employees to fill them is expected to reach close to 2 million within the next few years, critics of the proposed expansions in the educational system to cater to cyber security needs point out that the overwhelming majority of current cyber security experts are, in fact, self taught. However, whether this is a result of a lack of opportunities for formal schooling in the discipline or for some other reason are still unclear. In any case, even the most fervent opposition presented by these critics is rather timid when all things are considered, and even they admit that a stronger focus on educational curricula focusing on cyber security would be beneficial for everyone.

Security risks start from the education system

In the meantime, the arguments for strengthening and funding a dedicated cyber security curriculum, along with attacks on various entities both public and private, have been increasing. Ironically, the education sector itself is a particularly vulnerable target for aspiring hackers looking for treasure troves of data to sell on the open market. The reasons are fairly simple: universities and colleges tend to have fairly relaxed cyber security protocols compared with similar targets like government institutions and hospitals, and universities store an incredible amount of data about their students, from social security numbers to home addresses, phone numbers, payment information, and even medical records obtained through the university clinics that are so common on today’s campuses. In 2014 alone, almost one million individual records were stolen from hacked university databases.

The value of data continues to fuel the hacking problem

Student information isn’t the only thing of value that can be obtained through hacks like these. The Equifax breach comes immediately to mind, whereby millions of Americans’ personal information was stolen and is likely still floating around, being sold back and forth. Universities are a massive target, however, and the more money there is in the university system, the more potential hackers stand to gain. Universities field millions of hacking attempts on a weekly basis, and potential targets (other than confidential student information) could range from test and homework answers to potentially sensitive research information.

Since the revelations that Russia had interfered in an election in the United States by providing hacked emails to a pseudo-journalism outlet called wikileaks, cyber security has become a much bigger focus of educational spending and discussions, while politicians grill the leaders of the tech industry on what they see as their role in the defense (or lack thereof) of critical institutions and demographics in the population. The hacked emails were obtained via phishing attacks that exploited human, rather than technical, weaknesses, impersonating official correspondence and tricking the target into clicking a link leading to malicious code.

It’s for that reason that many experts are targeting people who do not intend to be experts in the field, trying to form a base of general educational curricula that can be delivered as more of a life skill or as part of a continuing education program than a higher-level graduate or undergraduate degree focus.

The Rise of Online Tutoring And How It’s Bringing Tuition To The Mass Market

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The increasing usage of digital media has opened up multiple avenues for expanding the education sector’s reach. At a time where nearly most connected users shop, order groceries, book tickets and even consult doctors online, the education space has not taken a backseat. An increasing number of users are starting to bank on online tutoring services, be it english tutoring, subject-based tutoring or skill-based tutoring. The benefits of technology and online connectivity are trickling down to some of the most remote places, enabling them access to high-quality education. This removes the friction that borders and lack of infrastructure bring with it. Today, parents and students can access the best of educational resources through various platforms, ones that provide ample benefits including self-assessment tools, studying at the student’s own pace, access to tutors across the globe and the ability to tap into a supportive peer network. Better yet, most of these platforms come packed with inexpensive subscription options, free trials and sometimes even provide access to free resources.

This has helped provide multiple options to parents who are looking for better ways to improve their children’s score, particularly for students who are seeking a group study environment or for those who are lagging behind in their academics. A popular choice is to try out economical and creative methods of teaching their kids – mostly enabled through online tutoring services.

Personal attention is pivotal

More often than not, personal attention can play a huge role in transforming the way a student learns and approaches the subject. In a classroom setting, the kids to teacher ratio can be much higher, which does not give the teacher ample room to provide individual attention to each student’s needs and correct their learning gaps. With personalized online tutoring, it’s a different ballgame. Students have their time completely allotted to a single tutor, helping them gain a better understanding of the subject and cater to their issues surrounding the subject.

Enhanced study tools and methodologies  

One of the bigger advantages that come with online tutoring is the access to top-notch teaching methodologies. With technology, tutors are focusing more on providing advanced methods of teaching – stepping way ahead of the current traditional system followed in schools. Instead of resorting to rote learning, online tutoring methodologies can help them access concept-based learning. This carries huge perks for the student – better understanding of the subject, greater retention and it opens a world of opportunities for them. It helps them approach problems creatively, frame an effective solution and master the topic through highly productive methods.

Growth has not remained elusive in the market, either. According to market data, the annual rate of students who will be enrolled across online tutoring services is expected to more than double in the next couple of years and is forecasted to be worth a significant $120.67 billion by 2021.