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Americans Badly Lack Knowledge of Civics

Here’s what I think is one of the most embarrassing things about the U.S. educational system at all levels, and a true educational crisis — the ridiculously low level of knowledge that Americans in general have about civics.  This includes a working knowledge of American history, the government, international relations, and economics.  This is all information that citizens need to make informed choices about who to vote for and what stand to take on elections.

Thus, as reported by USA Today, it’s no surprise that on a recent Civic Literacy test, Americans scored failing grades.  The average score on this test was 49 percent.  Perhaps even more depressing was this statistic: college educators scored only 55 percent! (more…)

Number of Smokers is Down on College Campuses

Here’s some encouraging public health news.  According to a recent study by the American Lung Association, smoking is at an all-time low on college and university campuses across America.

On the other hand, warns the ALA, the news isn’t all good.  One out of five students still smoke.  Moreover, back in the early 1990s, there was a huge spike in college smoking after the percentage dropped down near its current 20 percent — so there’s reason to be nervous about another spike.

The ALA further reports that Big Tobacco is as aggressive as ever in promoting smoking on campus, spending a whopping $1 million a day on events and giveaways to promote their products.  Perhaps this isn’t surprising, since these companies can’t promote products directly to high school students — so they target college students instead as the “next best thing,” since virtually all smokers pick up the habit when they’re young.

The ALA offers some great recommendations to college campuses for fighting back against Big Tobacco.  These include prohibiting smoking on campus, refusing research dollars from tobacco companies, stopping the sale and advertising of tobacco on campus, and providing smoking cessation programs.

Making Good Use of Fall Break

While college students may get the next week off, or a little longer, high school students will more than likely only get off starting Wednesday. Although this may not seem like a very long break, five days can actually seem like quite a long time once it rolls around!

Not only is this break meant to give time for students to spend time with family, it is also meant to serve as a time before finals to relax and enjoy themselves for a few days. I know for my friends and myself, this break couldn’t have come at a better time. With the way things are going and school work piling higher and higher with each passing day, it’ll be nice to have a long weekend to relax but also complete college applications.

During the break would be a great time for seniors to start finalizing applications. Especially the applications due December 1. I have a few applications due and thankfully I have those applications done, but I want to have all my other applications done by the time Christmas break rolls around so that time can be used for total relaxation!

So take advantage of fall break! Whether its catching up on lost sleep or college applications or school work, use your time however you want and enjoy the long weekend!

Happy Turkey Day!

I must say Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays, mainly because it gives me the freedom to eat how ever much I want without feeling too much like a cow. But of course, there is so much more behind Thanksgiving than mashed potatoes, turkey, and stuffing.

Thanksgiving is a time not only to obviously be thankful, but also a chance to spend time with the family. Myself and most of my friends spend Thanksgiving with family, eating, talking, and just spending time together which can be rather difficult in today’s world. Our busy schedules and hectic lives seem to hardly allow for quality family time. Thanksgiving, like many other holidays, allows you to take a break from your crazy schedules to just relax and spend time with your family.

Of course, Thanksgiving is also a time for to reflect on what you are thankful for. Whether you are thankful for the awesome cheese potatoes your grandma makes just for you every year on Thanksgiving, or you realize how thankful you are for your family and how much they mean to you, Thanksgiving is a day that makes you realize a lot of these things. I remember in elementary school how we would get the assignments in class asking us to write down the things we are thankful for and why. And although this assignment may have seemed like a pain to do back then, it made me realize what the true purpose of Thanksgiving was.

So Happy Turkey Day! And remember to count your blessings!

6 Ways to Get Ready for Finals Over Thanksgiving Break

If you’re a college student, I’m guessing the title of this blog doesn’t sound so appealing.  I can hear you protesting, “But it’s Thanksgiving break!  What part of break do you not understand?”.

Well, yes, of course you should enjoy your break, spend time with family and friends, and concern yourself with things other than school.  But here’s an unfortunate reality check:  final exams are coming up very soon.  If you devote just a little time over Thanksgiving to do some preparations for finals, your life maybe quite a bit easier when those exams roll around.  And hey, if you’re bummed out about studying over Thanksgiving break, keep in mind that winter break is right around the corner — and you won’t have to do any studying at all then!

Here are some tasks you can accomplish over Thanksgiving break.

  1. Make a schedule for the next few weeks. This may be the most helpful thing you can do for yourself. Before things get really hectic, do some serious time management.  Make a list of everything you have to do before the end of the semester, and map out when you’re going to do it all.  Trust me, if you do this well, it will make a difference in your performance and sanity during finals!
  2. Catch up on the reading. Now, if you’re thousands of pages behind, this might be a lost cause.  But if you’re behind just a little bit here and there, do the reading now.  You might want to catch up selectively and read the things that you think are most important.

Salaries of University Presidents are Under Fire

Gordon Gee, the highest paid public university president in the U.S.

Gordon Gee, the highest paid public university president in the U.S.

The average salary of a public university president is more than $425,000 — and many university presidents make quite a bit more.  E. Gordon Gee of Ohio State University is the highest paid public university president — and earns more than $1.3 million a year.  The top third of public university presidents make more than $500,000 a year.  Overall, the salaries of college university presidents have gone up 7 percent in the past year.

Sound like a reasonable salary?  Compared to life in the corporate world, yes, this doesn’t sound like outrageous compensation.  But when you think about students struggling to finance their educations, and the growing reliance on adjunct faculty who teach courses for peanuts, and that professors’ salaries are increasingly below the rate of inflation, well, those numbers seem a bit out of whack, to say the least.

Should the Government Bail Out Private Student Loans?

As part of the $700 billion government bailout, Secretary of the Treasury Henry Paulson wants to use some of the money to purchase private student loans. Is this a good idea?

First of all, it’s important to distinguish between federal student loans and private student loans.  Federal loans are guaranteed by the U.S. government.  Students become eligible for these loans by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form.  According to the San Antonio Express, federal student loans have not been affected by the financial crisis, and there’s a good chance things will stay that way.  Since these loans are guaranteed by the government, they’re about as low-risk as you can get as far as banks are concerned, so hopefully, the federal student loan system is secure. (more…)

Importance of Off-Season Conditioning

Ever since last softball season ended I have been awaiting the start of my senior season. After our first couple of softball meetings, my least favorite part of softball came up: conditioning. When coach started discussing conditioning with us, you could hear each girl in the classroom let out a groan. Although conditioning may not be a very fun part of a sport, it’s a great way to not only get in shape before season, but allow for team bonds to form quickly.

Being in good shape before season is always a great thing. By getting yourself into shape before your sport’s season starts, you are able to then focus on learning more and working on skills related to your sport rather than spending time on exercises that are not related specifically to your sport. By getting into shape before the season actually starts, this will allow you to get off to a much quicker start when it comes to your season starting.

Also, conditioning with your teammates allows you to form team bonds in a quicker manner than just showing up to practice and finding it slightly awkward the first couple of practices. By conditioning early with your team, this will allow you to both get to know them and get a general idea of the skill level your other teammates are on. Also, those who show up to conditioning are normally the ones who are more serious about the sport and are extremely dedicated to making themselves better and the team better.

So if you are considering conditioning, do it! There are many benefits that can only help you as a player when you go through conditioing, both on a personal level and a whole different level with the rest of your teammates!

The Link Between Education and Health

Is there a link between getting education — especially higher education — and health?

CNN inferred there was a correlation between the two in an article about the healthiest cities in the United States.  The healthiest city –according to the Centers for Disease Control — is Burlington, Vermont, and the unhealthiest city is Huntington, West Virginia.  These two cities are strikingly similar when it comes to demographics, except for one thing — over 40 percent of residents in Burlington have at least a college degree, while only about 15 percent of the folks in Huntington do.

In a report that seems to confirm the hypothesis that there’s a correlation between health and education, the National Institute of Aging has repeatedly found that there’s a strong link between longevity and education, and that, in fact the only factor that had a stronger correlation with health was smoking.

Interesting, huh?

5 Ways To Prepare For Final Exams

If you are anything like me, you realize that finals are right around the corner. That thought scares me. I have always envied the schools that don’t have finals for the kids that have a passing grade in the class (I believe for most schools its an A), or have less than so many days missing school. As finals approach though, there are a few things to keep in mind that I believe most students (or at least high school students) will find helpful when preparing for finals.

1. Know your stuff- Look over old tests and old quizzes to see what you don’t know or where your weakest points are. Once you know where you are weakest, you can begin by studying those things, since they are the most important. This doesn’t mean you should overlook what you already did well on. Be sure to also spend time on things you know well, a little review never hurt to make sure you know your stuff!

2. Talk to your teachers- If you have any questions concerning the final or materials, ask your teacher! That’s what your teachers are for, to answer questions you may have. So if you want to know what’s on the final (if they will tell you!) or just want some extra practice with some subjects you find rather difficult, talk to your teacher. (more…)


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