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Education survey results!

March 31, 2010

The following data represents the results of the survey, The state of the twenty-something: Education, as of March 31, 2010.

1. What is the highest level of education you have completed?
4-year degree 57%
Master’s 14%
High school or GED 14%
2-year degree 14%
Ph.D. 0%
2. Are you currently enrolled in school?
No 71%
Yes 29%
3. What kind of college or university do you (or did you) attend?
Public 71%
Private 29%
4. If you attend(ed) college, do you, or did you, rely on student loans in order to pay for your education?
Yes 71%
No 29%
5. If you attend(ed) college or beyond, were you able to receive any scholarships during that time?
Yes 57%
No 43%
6. Considering your education and goals, did (or do you) find the education you received/are receiving to be worth the miscellaneous costs and tuition?
No, I do not think the tuition and costs (including any scholarships or aid) are/were reasonable 43%
Yes, because the tuition and costs (including any scholarships or aid) are/were reasonable 29%
Yes, despite the tuition and costs 14%
No, despite the reasonable tuition and costs 14%
7. How do (or did) you obtain most of your textbooks? (7 total answers obtained)
Bought from an on-campus store 2 3
Bought from an off-campus, non-internet store 0 1
Bought from online 1 3
Bought in a private exchange 0 1
8. If applicable, do you (or did you) find your experience at the college or university you attend(ed) to be enjoyable?
Yes 71%
No 29%
9. Which of the following features do you think is/was the WEAKEST point for your college or university?
Teaching staff, classes and your department 43%
Opportunities available (e.g. internships, study abroad, job prospects) 29%
Cost value 14%
Social opportunities and events/the ease of making friends 14%
Sports or clubs 0%
10. Which of the following features do you think is/was the STRONGEST point for your college or university?
Social opportunities and events/the ease of making friends 43%
N/A 14%
Cost value 14%
Opportunities available (e.g. internships, study abroad, job prospects) 14%
Teaching staff, classes and your department 14%
Sports or clubs 0%

Interview with College Student X, Part 2: Life in returning ed

March 28, 2010

Written by keito.

Student X, age 29, received two undergraduate degrees in two different fields of science.  The first, a B.S. in Marine Biology from a small, private university, left her unable to find work in her field.  After working at fast food restaurants and bakeries, Student X decided to go back to school and get another B.S., this time in Environmental Studies, from a large, public university.  She now has a job in her new field.

This chat-interview with keito is part of the March 2010 Higher Education issue of The Talking Twenties.

Keito: It must not have been easy to leave Marine Biology…What finally spurred you to change fields and go back to school?

Student X: I’m not really sure.  I had a lot of influence from my family to keep looking for jobs other than slinging burgers.  But I finally decided I would try graduate school and maybe teaching.

Unfortunately, the public school, because they are so large, has the liberty of being very choosy and takes roughly 8 grad students into the program each year.  That and my average from my undergraduate was about 0.02 short of their cut-off.  They did send me a very nice letter saying they would have considered me…if I was one of their chosen eight!

K: So a second bachelor’s was more accessible and could get better results for the money?

X: Yes, definitely.  And luckily, the majority of my previous classes were transferrable, so I finished a 4-year degree in about a year-and-a-half.

K: How long was it in between your first graduation and your first Environmental Studies class?

X: 2-3 years I think.

K: What was it like being older than the typical undergrad and starting at a new school?

X: Actually it wasn’t much of an age difference.  There were a large number of people around my age in an undergraduate program at the public school, not just grad students.  In fact, one of my first classes was with a former co-worker of mine.  We had both worked at a donut/sandwich shop as bakers and used to trade stories about our lives up till then, since we had similar experiences.  She had a Marine Science degree and also was unable to find work as anything other than a baker, and in the end she too went back and got another undergraduate degree at the same time I did.

There were also quite a few students who were older than myself.  I was just in the middle age group.  The private school [where I got my first degree] didn’t have the returning ed groups. Read more…

College field trip: Understanding Yasukuni Jinja, Tokyo, Japan

March 24, 2010

Photo Essay/Editorial by keito.

Though Yasukuni Jinja (Shrine) is technically a national site, it is a shrine for Shinto, a native religion of Japan.  It is also quite possibly the most controversial place in Japan.  During study abroad in Tokyo during my senior year of college, I had a professor who felt we should see the source of that controversy with our own eyes.  Above, a gigantic torii, the signature gate of Shinto shrines, marks the entrance to Yasukuni Jinja.

The grounds of Yasukuni Jinja are filled with imposing statues of historical figures.  The shrine houses the kami, or spirits, of those who gave their lives serving the Emperor of Japan since its founding in 1869.  This includes Class-A war criminals from World War II and men from nations colonized by Japan who were forced into service. Read more…

Reform’s immediate effects for American twenty-somethings, explained

March 22, 2010

A note from the Editor

How does health reform anger affect us?

Image by keito. No resemblance to any congressman intended or achieved.

According to Presidential Historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, congressmen brought pistols to Congress meetings during the 1850’s anti-/pro-slavery debates and physically assaulted one another.  The healthcare reform debates also resulted in what can be best described as bad behavior by members of the national legislature and public, even to the point of racial slurs.

I recommend Kearns Goodwin’s interview for some interesting thoughts and perspective on just what’s going on in the USA.

…and for further reading

See eNews Park Forest for a list of the immediate impact of health reform as outlined by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi

With healthcare reform squeaking through the United States Congress by 7 votes, American Talking Twenties readers may be wondering what effect the legislation will have on their immediate futures, since only certain aspects of the reform will begin immediately.  So, will it really effect you within the year?

The answer depends not only on your health, but on the state in which you’re living.

Many states, including North Carolina, have High-Risk Pool insurance already.  North Carolina now calls it Inclusive Health, which, according to the website by North Carolina Health Insurance Risk Pool, Inc., (NCHIRP) “provides affordable, individual health insurance for North Carolinians who buy their own health insurance and have a pre-existing medical condition, are exhausting COBRA or are eligible for HCTC benefits.”  35 states have some degree of a similar program.

And it’s nothing new, either.  The National Association of State Comprehensive Health Insurance Plans states that the first high-risk pools were created in 1976.  The new health reform bill will set up an interim high-risk pool for the entire nation immediately.  Individuals who have been without insurance for a certain amount of time, or who have been denied because of pre-existing conditions, may qualify for this national pool.

You will also now be able to remain on your parents’ health insurance until you turn 27 — which, if you live in New York, are single and live at home, you can already do.  29 other states have varying laws, ranging from coverage until age 23 in Wyoming to New Jersey’s coverage until age 31 (if you are single and still a dependent, of course).  One other caveat: just because you qualify doesn’t mean you won’t pay a price.  When I checked out the already-existing option for myself as a resident of New York State, my premium would have been over $450 a month.

If you are currently on COBRA, which allows you to continue health coverage out-of-pocket after you otherwise lose eligibility for your plan (such as by aging off of your parents’ plan, or losing a job), you will be able to keep your coverage until the insurance “Exchange” program begins.

Also, under the new legislation, your insurance provider cannot drop you for reasons other than fraud.  This might not seem like a big deal for most people in their twenties Read more…

Interview with College Student X, Part 1: Large university versus small, public versus private

March 21, 2010

Written by keito.

Student X, age 29, received two Bachelors of Science degrees in different fields.  The first, a B.S. in Marine Biology, came from a small, rural private school, while the second, a B.S. in Environmental Studies, was from a public university in a large, urban setting.  She agreed to do an anonymous chat-interview with keito for the March 2010 Higher Education issue of The Talking Twenties.

Keito: So, why choose two bachelor’s degrees?

Student X: Well my first undergraduate degree was very specialized, which was something my advisor and the department heads encouraged with all the students.  Only we ended up being too specialized and I wasn’t able to find work in my field.  Actually, no one I graduated with was able to find work in their field within the first 4 years, other than a part-time position or unpaid internship.  So after a few years of working fast food/bakery positions I went back to school and got a second undergraduate degree in something that was more marketable and just as enjoyable for me.

To give you an idea — my specialty was the captive breeding of clownfish, with an emphasis on Ocellaris Clownfish.  Another person from my class focused specifically on blue sharks.

K: Your first degree was from a small, private university in a remote area, and your second was from a very large public university.  How did the experience with your second degree differ?

X: My second degree was more hands on — I did fieldwork that was more useful to the major, i.e. learning about ecosystems hands-on, identifying animals and plants that exist in these environments.  While I did fieldwork for the first degree it was mostly self-serving for the department.  We had a research trip to the freshwater springs system of Florida to study Florida manatees.  While the research experience was wonderful to have, it was completely unrelated to all other courses we were required to take and was more an excuse to take a trip to Florida on the students’ and department’s money.

Also, with the second degree, I had options for what classes I wanted to take.  With the smaller school we were given a list of the mandated classes and when we could take them. You pretty much had only one option each semester and the rest were all specific classes with no other options.

K: So you felt like the private school’s field research was more flash and less substance? Read more…

Textbooks reach an epic epoch: rent or own?

March 13, 2010

Written by Julienne

Photo by Julienne

But is it right for you?

“…The bookseller is offering students a chance to lease their textbooks, but this isn’t just a quasi-library system. Barnes & Noble is attempting to recover lost profit through an innovative method.”

Take the Poll now!

And for further reading…

US News & World Report: Barnes & Noble Enters Rental Market

In August, I explored the issue of the overpriced textbooks peddled to students by on-campus bookstores.  In Part 2 of my Textbook Exposé, I’m exploring the new phenomenon of Textbook Rentals.  Is this simply an overpriced library system, or the way of the future?

Barnes & Noble is one of the major textbook retailers in the United States, and is found on over 600 campuses.  They recently started a textbook rental program at schools like George Mason University, University of Maryland, and various SUNY campuses, and they are expanding it to more colleges across the country.

Here’s how it works: students enter into a rental agreement with Barnes & Noble that lasts for the length of the semester.  Barnes & Noble rents the textbook for 42.5% of its original cost, meaning that a $70 textbook would rent for $29.75.  The renters are permitted to make notes & highlight in the book as if it were their own, but they agree to return it in saleable condition at the end of the term.  They even have the option of purchasing the book if they so choose.  Sound familiar?

Toyota Financial Services is the official payment guide website of the Toyota car company.  Through the site, they offer consumers information on leasing and purchasing a car – and tools to determine the right choice for each individual.  Their language is quite similar to that of the Barnes & Noble website.  Phrases like “Drive the Toyota of your dreams – For Less!” and “…cost-effective and useful option for students” are filling the pages.

But is Barnes & Noble really encouraging students to save money and lease their textbooks?  Have they actually listened to the call for fairer prices?  Yes and no.

Yes, the bookseller is offering students a chance to lease their textbooks, but this isn’t just a quasi-library system.  Barnes & Noble is attempting to recover lost profit through an innovative method, and they are saying their program is unique in that it offers students the chance to complete the textbook rental online.  Regardless of whether they claim the premiership, one thing is obvious – they didn’t come up with the idea.  To that end, they are not the only ones utilizing the World Wide Web. Read more…

Today is World Day Against Cyber Censorship

March 12, 2010

Take a moment today to think of the freedom you enjoy in being able to browse blogs, log in to Facebook, and post your thoughts and opinions. And to remember those who are denied that freedom (and are even jailed for it), you can check out the Reporters Without Borders video campaign on YouTube.