Higher Education

What You Need to Know When Going Back to School as an Adult

Working Adult College Students

It’s never too late to obtain a degree, but going back to school as an adult can be difficult. As an adult, you may have many other responsibilities that your (much younger) fellow students don’t have, such as a full-time job, career or parenting responsibilities. Even if you can devote yourself entirely to being a full-time student, you may still feel like a duck out of the water. Whether you’re jumping into a four-year degree program, or you think it might be a good idea to take some online classes. Here are three things you need to know when going back to school as an adult.

Talk to an Advisor before Registering or Enrolling

As an adult, your educational needs will most likely be strictly academic rather than both academic and social. While an incoming college first-year student might benefit from living on campus and staying at one school for all four years, your best option might be to take online classes at a community college before enrolling at a four-year institution. Speaking with a college admissions counselor may help.

Also, Collegewise counselors are passionate about “creating customized plans and setting deadlines to ensure that students complete their applications and essays thoughtfully, effectively, and early.” 

You May be Exempt from Some Classes Based on Experience

Adults have the benefit of work experience that most first-year college students do not possess. Another way college admissions counseling can help you is in determining if any of your applicable work experience might exempt you from having to take certain classes. The fewer classes you have to take, the sooner you can obtain your degree and the less that degree will cost you.

It’s Going to be a Big Change

Working adults who become college students must alter the lifestyles. How often do you need to take your work home? If often, then you may find it difficult to set aside time for research and homework after you arrive home from work. Although it may seem unmanageable to work a full-time job and attend college, you can manage both. With careful time management and dedicated preparation, you can do it. Think of the goal at the end to keep yourself in high spirits, and try to enjoy the shift in the atmosphere of the classroom versus the workplace.

Remember, receiving academic advising from an experienced higher education professional is critical to a first-time student’s success. While effective college admissions counseling isn’t the sexiest topic, it can make the difference between satisfying college experience and an unsatisfying one.

Dr. Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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3 Tips to Afford College in the 21st Century

Affording College

(Photo Credit: Iowa Lakes Community College)

It’s expensive to attend college in the 21st century.  The average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year public university was $8,893 for the 2013-14 academic year, according to the College Board. Average private school tuition was $30,094, while out-of-state tuition at public schools averaged just over $22,000.  None of these figures include room and board.  Unless you’re a great athlete, a 4.0 student with a near-perfect SAT or ACT score or independently wealthy, you’re going to need to find funding sources beyond Pell grants.  In this piece, you’re offered ways to help you to afford college that you may not have considered.

Participate in Medical Studies

Research for new drugs, psychological treatments and other medical procedures are mostly performed on university campuses.  University of Nebraska journalism student Elias Youngquist told Al Jazeera America he needs money for college expenses and to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring.  He discovered that Celerion, a clinical research firm in Lincoln, Nebraska was in Phase 1 testing of a new anti-depressant and needed human subjects for the trials.

Youngquist spent a few hours at the company’s laboratories for two weekends, despite being warned of side effects ranging from psychosis to suicide.  He ended up earning more than $1,000 for a few hours of time and a little discomfort.  Tommy Dornish, another University of Nebraska student, said he’s earned $20,000 in four years being a guinea pig for Celerion.

Check with your university hospital for upcoming paid research trials on campus.  You can also inquire with the psychology, chemistry and biology departments.  Just Another Lab Rat and ClinicalTrials.gov can help you find paid trials in your area.

Become an Egg or Sperm Donor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12% of married couples have fertility issues in one form or another.  Groups such as Single Mothers By Choice advocate passionately for sperm and eggs from donors.

Sperm donors can earn as much as $1,000 per month by simply donating three times per week at places like Northwest Cryobank in Spokane, Washington and Missoula, Montana.  Generally, the only requirements are that you’re STD-free, above a certain height (generally 5’10 or above) and drug-free.

Due to the fact a vast majority of recipients are white couples, most donors must also be white.  The largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos International, is even more picky.  It stopped accepting sperm from redheads in 2011, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Egg donors can earn significantly more.  The Center For Human Reproduction in New York has a total compensation package of $8,000.  The process takes about one month and can produce anywhere from five to 35 total eggs.

Bootstrapping

This term, bootstrapping, is generally applied to entrepreneurs exhausting every avenue to come up with startup capital for their new business.  College is a de-facto business investment, and students can use many of the same methods entrepreneurs do.

Use websites like Scholarships.com and Fast Web to search for demographic and major-specific scholarships you may qualify for.  Students who inherited annuities from their grandparents may be able to sell their future payments to J.G. Wentworth or a similar company.  You can even create a campaign on crowdfunding sites like Campus Slice and see what happens.

College is getting more expensive with each passing year.  By thinking creatively, you can experience greater success in reaching your financial goals.  This will require you to think beyond the traditional funding sources, however.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

College is Expensive So Cut Costs and Save More

College Expenses

(Photo Credit: Original People)

Nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Of that number, 60% borrow money to cover the costs.  Footing the bill for a higher education can be daunting, and the last thing you need to be worrying about while blazing your career path is how to fund the next four years.  This piece offers some fairly painless ways you can cut costs and earn extra money while remaining on top of your already overflowing to-do list.

Start a Business

Starting your own business can help you manage costs while you’re in school and if done well, could even become your full-time career.  A funding site like Kickstarter can help generate interest and funding for your product without having to go door to door peddling your wares.  To date, the site has helped fund 55,000 creative projects with $950 million in pledges.  Therefore, depending on your craft, you can obtain substantial support to finance your venture while keeping ownership over your creativity.

You can also secure funding for your business through other means.  Look for assets you can liquidate. For example, if you receive regular structured settlement payments, you may be able to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.  You could then use the money to build capital toward your enterprise.  You can learn more about selling your future payments at J.G. Wentworth’s Facebook page.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

CNN reported in June of 2013 that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but financial analysts recommend everyone build a six-month cushion of savings.  A budget will aid you in saving for your future.

Start by calculating all your expenditures for a month.  Once you’re aware of what you spend, you can resolve where you can cut costs.  For example, instead of indulging in eating dinner at restaurants every Friday, consider having more candlelight dinners at home with tasty appetizers.  Use a budgeting app like Mint.com to help you track your spending.

Cut Costs

  • Instead of purchasing brand new textbooks, take advantage of used bookstores and e-books. Sell your books once the semester is finished.

  • For transportation, carpool, take the bus or subway or check out whether Zipcar services are available in your area.  Check if the Student Services office offers students who commute any options to reduce their gas bill.

  • Food costs can be tackled by thinking ahead.  Clip coupons, make shopping lists and stick to them—this way you won’t impulsively buy food you don’t need when you get to the store and blow your budget.  Thinking ahead will also help when you are deep in the throes of a cramming session the night before an exam and hunger rears its ugly head.  Instead of ordering takeout, you can rely on your well-stocked refrigerator for a perfect snack.

Begin to transform your spending habits to save money and become the fiscally conscious citizen you aspire to be.  In time, you will be able to spend more extravagantly, knowing you have a thriving savings to see you through the tougher times.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Baby Boomers Head Back to College: Common Concerns and Solutions

Non-traditional Student

(Photo Credit: The Guardian)

Attracted by better opportunities and the chance to embrace learning, baby boomers are returning to college in droves, and even those who aren’t interested in enrolling in classes are moving to college towns for the intergenerational communities, diverse culture, and lively atmosphere.  One of the many boomers who has enrolled in college for a second act, sixty-one year old Alan Moore, walked on to the football field at Faulkner University two years ago and became the oldest person to ever play college ball, according to The Week.  Although few of his peers are playing ball, the transition to college is one that takes as much bravery and skill as football.

If you’ve just decided to embark on this journey, know that you are not alone.  The rest of your generation is right there with you, and it has many of the same concerns and worries that you have. Questions about lifestyles, moving, getting an adequate amount of guidance, and understanding the terminology can be daunting.

Lifestyle

Just because you don’t plan to rush a frat or ever do a keg stand doesn’t mean that you cannot find a comfortable lifestyle in a college town.  Many college towns are designing communities to meet the needs of baby boomer students.  AARP has a detailed list of retirement communities located on or near campuses in towns all over the country.  You’ll find communities near top universities like the Holy Cross Village at Notre Dame, University Place at Purdue, and The Forest at Duke.  You’ll discover dedicated retirement communities near numerous state higher education institutions as well.  Before moving, contact the student services department at the institution you plan to attend and ask someone about living options.

Moving

Saddled with debt for years, many boomers are selling their homes and moving to college towns, as The New York Times reports, but this trend isn’t the most affordable option for everyone.  Some boomers who have paid off their homes or who enjoy their communities need to stay put, and this can make attending college a bit more difficult.  Locating a program at Collegeonline.org allows you to complete your degree without having to move or sacrifice any of your current financial stability.

Seeking Help

Not all baby boomers are headed to college on an educational lark.  Many are pursuing degrees to give themselves a leg up in the employment arena during the last decade and a half of their working years. Without the right support, this endeavor can be overwhelming.  Programs like the Plus 50 Initiative are crafted to aid working boomers to complete a postsecondary degree.  Thus far, Plus 50 has helped more than 24,000 students retrain for postmodern careers, according to Plus50.aacc.nche.edu.

If your institution is not involved with the Plus 50 program, it may still have resources to support you. Rather than letting older students get lost in the shuffle, higher education institutions are concentrating on attracting and assisting them, as divulged by University Business.  Kim Larson-Cooney of Arapahoe Community College posits that the sheer volume of boomer students makes it important to cater to them, while Robin Ambrozy of West Virginia University sites the generation’s unbeatable work ethic as the primary reason that colleges should work with these students.

Terminology

One of the hurdles many boomers face is understanding college language itself.  From “FAFSA” to “interdisciplinary,” the college landscape is full of new and strange concepts.  According to TheFreeDictionary.com, some of the most critical terms that you need to understand are defined as follows:

FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – Before starting your program, you must fill out this form to determine your eligibility for grants or low interest loans.

Certificates vs. Degrees – Certificates are typically offered by community colleges, and they certify that you have an adequate amount of technical knowledge about a particular subject.  A degree indicates that you have studied a broad range of subjects with a focus on one.  Whether you need a certificate or a degree depends on your career objectives.

Transcript – This is a record of grades and courses from your previous schools.  If older students cannot obtain old high school or college transcripts, some institutions will let them bypass that part of the application.

Interdisciplinary – Rather than offering courses than can be clearly defined as history, math, or biology, colleges are now offering interdisciplinary or hybrid courses that mix different subjects together. At many schools, you can even make up your own interdisciplinary major.

Work-Study – Work-study programs offering on-campus jobs for students who need an extra financial boost.

Prepare to hit the books; the schools are ready for you.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity’s Unremitting Hypocrisy and Discrimination

Black Greek Lettered Organizations

(Photo Credit: Mase TV)

On October 28, 2013, Erica Green, a writer for The Baltimore Sun, reported that a Morgan State University undergraduate student, Brian Stewart, asserted that he was rejected membership into Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. because he is openly gay.  When it comes to discrimination based on sexual orientation, Kappa Alpha Psi arguably has the worst record of all Black Greek Lettered Organizations.  Brian Stewart has an impressive academic record and a demonstrated record of service.  Kappa Alpha Psi was founded for the sole purpose of achievement.  Unfortunately, many chapters of the Fraternity are not living up to its founding purpose.

Brian Stewart’s case is not an anomaly—it’s exponentially becoming the norm. 

Many Black undergraduate and graduate males who have outstanding records are being denied membership into Kappa Alpha Psi for bigoted reasons, especially if some Kappas know or suspect that they are gay.  This Fraternity was founded in response to the unsettling racial discrimination experienced by Blacks on the campus of Indiana University in 1911.  Today, many of the organization’s chapters are embracing discrimination and employing it as a tool of oppression to prevent diverse candidates from joining.

While many Kappas claim that they are committed to achievement, they are voting against candidates who have strong records of demonstrated achievement, and they are voting for candidates who have poor academic records and limited community and extracurricular involvement.  Some of the fundamental reasons why these candidates with poor records are being voted into the Fraternity are they agree to be hazed, they are not noticeably or openly gay, they do not have records that make the corrupt members envious, and they represent the type of inadequate achievement that numerous extant members champion.

Many Kappas are devoted to the good of the Fraternity and do not discriminate against any candidate.  They vote based on what the Founders have delineated as the qualities of effective Kappa Alpha Psi members.  Those expressed qualities do not excluded candidates who are gay or who are thought to be gay.  Kappa Alpha Psi has numerous openly and undercover gay and bisexual members.  With this being the reality, why do many members in various chapters across the nation have such hostility toward gay candidates?  Are the heterosexual members of the Fraternity afraid that they will have sexual intercourse with new gay members? Perhaps.

Many current members of Kappa Alpha Psi were rejected for discriminatory reasons, including being openly gay or being suspected as gay, as undergraduates and had to find alumni chapters at other institutions to be admitted into the organization.  By no means does this indicate that alumni chapters do not discriminate—they do.  This means that the only way they became members was they had to locate an alumni chapter that did not discriminate. 

One of the most unacceptable cases of an alumni chapter of the Fraternity discriminating against an exceptional candidate occurred at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.  The Madison Alumni Chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi rejected a candidate who had credentials that were superior to most of the members of this chapter.  Unfortunately, this great candidate is a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in a department with two professors who are members of the alumni chapter and who are also envious of this young man.  They worked tirelessly to sabotage his candidacy for membership by telling blatant lies about him, including that “he is gay,” “a crazy Marxist who will blow the building up,” “does not complete his work,” and “does not do good work.”  One of these two professors told the other that the candidate “was talking bad about him” and told him that the candidate said that “he cannot teach.” 

This lead to the two aforementioned individuals (with the help of another graduate student in the same department who is a Kappa) convincing enough members to reject this young man.  When this young man informed the National Headquarters of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. about what happened, he was told the Fraternity’s leadership would investigate the situation and contact him.  It has been over three years and he has not received a response, although he has contacted the national officers several times each year to follow-up about his case.

Similarly, the alumni chapter at Paine College in Augusta, Georgia rejected an excellent candidate for membership because enough members suspected that he was gay.  This candidate even had recommendation letters from a couple of the leaders of the alumni chapter, but they wrote the recommendation letters only to fool him that they were going to support him and vote for him.  This young man with a fine academic and community involvement record was rejected because he “looks like he’s gay,” “is feminine” and “acts like he’s gay.”

At Albany State University in Albany, Georgia, an undergraduate student with a remarkable record was rejected by the undergraduate chapter of Kappa Alpha Psi because “he’s gay,” “he already thinks he’s a Kappa,” and “he ain’t gonna pledge.”  All of these were assumptions made by some of the undergraduate leaders of the chapter who influenced enough people to reject him.

The aforementioned cases highlight the hypocrisy and discrimination that is taking place in many chapters of Kappa Alpha Psi across the country.  Without higher education administrators intervening to stop discriminatory practices used by many Black Greek Lettered Organizations, including Kappa Alpha Psi, this egregious discrimination will persist.  It’s time for higher education administrators to require that candidates for membership into Black Greek Lettered Organizations be voted on solely by national officers at their respective national headquarters.

More people who have been discriminated against by Black Greek Lettered Organizations should come forward and share their stories and evidence.  You can fight effectively against this discrimination by promulgating your experiences to higher education administrators and state and national politicians. 

Today, call upon Kappa Alpha Psi and other Black Greek Lettered Organizations to change the way that membership voting takes place.

Contact Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc.’s national officers right now.  Let the national officers know that no form of discrimination by any of their chapters and members is acceptable.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

A Brief History of Student Loans

Student Loans

(Photo Credit: BET)

Modern universities that require a sizable investment of resources have only recently become the norm for higher education.  A glance at the archives of University of Pennsylvania from the 1950s suggests generations of yesteryear paid a fraction of what students do today.  When did filling out a loan application become a requirement for completing a college application?

In The Beginning

American higher education systems take their model from European universities.  Some of the oldest universities, such as Oxford University in England, charged nothing for students to live and study behind their walls, since many students who went into a university intended to take up a religious order afterward.  Instead, they required these pupils to perform a range of diverse services, including food preparation and laundry, for instructors.

Financial Shifts

For several centuries, universities only accepted students with the intention of going into religious orders.  During the Renaissance, however, increasingly more universities competed with one another to attract the best teachers and students.  The Italian city of Bologna spent about 20,000 ducats on its university, which amounted to nearly half the city’s expenditures, according to Melissa Snell, About.com’s Higher Education Guide.  The increase in teachers’ salaries resulted in higher tuition for students.  Banks and lending institutions sprung up during the Renaissance to give financial backing for all types of investments, including education. These banks competed just as universities did, trying to entice better mathematical minds and to offer lower interest rates to customers.

American Universities

The first Ivy League schools founded in the U.S., such as Harvard and Yale, charged only a fraction of what they do today.  According to the Yale University Undergraduate Admissions offices, the university charges $60,000 a year for a four-year degree (although the university also takes great lengths to provide financial aid).  However, a few hundred years ago the cost of admission to an Ivy League school would have been only a few British pounds per year, back when an American colonist earned about 20 to 30 pounds per year.

Federal Loans

After World War II, the American government threw its weight behind the GI Bill in order to provide comprehensive education for soldiers returning home from fighting in Europe and the Pacific.  Federal involvement in student loans intensified with the National Defense Education Act of 1958, the Higher Education Act of 1965 and the 1972 Student Loan Marketing Association, according to The Huffington Post.  While these government-approved funds made it easier to get a loan, it also increased the money supply going into universities.

Today’s Students

Universities in the U.S. have elevated their tuition rates nearly every year for the past decade. This does not mean, however, that degrees are not worth the investment.  The degrees awarded by music production schools in California allow students to pursue a career in music production or management, giving them the technical and business tools needed for success.  Higher education is an investment that still has a payoff.  According to a recent report from the U.S. Census Bureau, the lifetime earnings of college graduates are still greater than non-college graduates.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Nihilists’ Assault on Albany State University President Dr. Everette Freeman

Everette Freeman

(Photo Credit: Rolling Out)

While Albany State University celebrated Homecoming last week, unfortunate news was promulgated.  Dr. Everette Freeman, the 8th and current president of Albany State University, was hired as the new president of Community College of Denver (CCD) in Denver, Colorado.  Freeman has served as president of Albany State University since 2005.  He instigated and implemented significantly positive reforms, and his record as president of Albany State University is impressive.  Other presidents of the university weren’t able to transform the city of Albany into a true college town, but one of Freeman’s greatest achievements is forging meaningful relationships with members of Albany, Georgia’s business community, leading to the city being an authentic college town, with Albany State University positioned as the leading higher education institution in town and Southwest Georgia.

Regrettably, throughout Dr. Freeman’s tenure at Albany State University, he faced tremendous opposition from a vociferous and active small number of change resistors.  Before and during his administration, there were people who did not embrace the essential reforms he was proposed and enacted.  Most of the folks who oppose Dr. Freeman are nihilists.  As nihilists, they don’t believe and support anything and anyone—no matter how great that anything or person is.  They simply want to keep up trouble for the sake of keeping up trouble.  Although there are more people who agree with the reforms Dr. Freeman championed and instituted, these nihilists are relentlessly peevish, acrimonious, and aggressive in their opposition to Dr. Freeman (and any other Albany State University President).

The most foolish and weakest protest in world history occurred at Albany State University.  A small group, primarily composed of nihilists, protested against Dr. Freeman and called for his resignation.  There was limited student participation in this protest.  Darin Edgecomb and Chuncey Ward were two student participants of the protest and both cited weak reasons for protesting and calling for Freeman’s resignation.  Shortly after the protest occurred, I had an opportunity to have a brief telephone conversation with Edgecomb, and I asked him to expound on why he participated in the protest and called for Freeman’s resignation.  He continued to repeat weak reasons and stated, “Tony, you just have to be down here and see what’s going on.”  If Freeman’s leadership was as horrible as Edgecomb and Ward contended, then they would have been able to give more substantive reasons for why he should resign.  They never proffered compelling reasons, however.

Although Dr. Freeman did not exercise wise judgment in throwing and hitting former Albany State University Vice President for Institutional Advancement Angela Getter with a small magazine during an argument, this is not a good enough reason to call for his resignation.  Some sources divulged that Getter had a history of being disrespectful to Freeman and was disrespectful at the time of him throwing and hitting her with the small magazine.  Regardless of who is right or wrong in this matter between Freeman and Getter, it’s not consequential enough to necessitate his resignation.

As the decision making process is taking place about who will be the next president of Albany State University, it’s clear that he or she will face this same opposition from nihilists at Albany State University and from some of the nihilists who are alums of the university.  Albany State University will be unable to be all it can be as long as nihilists are employed by the institution.  A number of people employed by the university are simply change resistors.  Dr. Freeman refused to allow change resistors to prevent the institution from continuing to move forward.  Under his leadership, Albany State University moved progressively forward.

For those who desire for Albany State University to be the best university it can be, they must get organized and engaged.  We cannot allow the nihilists and change resistors to drown out our voices with their venomous words and actions.  It’s time for those who truly love Albany State University to unite and take action to move our beloved institution forward.  Our collective action has the power to disintegrate the words and actions of nihilists and change resistors who are inside and outside of Albany State University.

Dr. Freeman is a true patriot for his great service and leadership at Albany State University.  While the nihilists and change resistors do not appreciate his service and leadership, many more people are proud and appreciative of his service and leadership.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison