Online Degree Rankings and You: What Does it all Mean?

Jan 12th, 2010

Rankings have become a way of life: we rank music, movies, and most importantly online degree programs as we become more technologically advanced.  This gives us a forum of feedback if we are involved in the ranking process or gives us a research tool for discovering what many people consider to be the top ranked online degree program or top ranked professor.  With sites popping up all over the internet that cater exclusively to rankings within the online education world, it has become essential to understand the ranking process as a potential distance learning student. 

Online degree rankings rate the many different types of degree programs that online schools now offer.  Ranging from liberal arts programs at University of Phoenix to a brand new nursing program in a newly created institute, the ranking system offers valuable insight to the possibility of growth within the school and the notoriety it has received from outside sources.  While history is typically the prominent indicator of a school’s worth (because an older school has typically built up a more impressive degree program), this is not always the case and many newly created schools have blown older schools out of the water with their advanced degree programs. 

Rankings for online degree programs are based on a variety of topics including the type of courses offered, the number of students who graduate from the programs, and the success of past graduates.  Most ranking sites piece all of these options together in order to come up with the most viable options for a potential student.  This cuts down on doing much of the research yourself, but further research must still be done to determine the exact online degree ranking of each specific major and course if you want to ensure the best possible success.  Online degree rankings are by no means an exact science and are open to their own interpretation, which is why some degree programs fluctuate within different ranking systems. 

However, the best choices for schools usually make it on most Top Ten lists, regardless of the degree program.  The fact that the school itself is constantly ranked high is a clear indication that their degree programs are all found to be exceptional.  Ranking systems have been around for decades and will continue to be utilized throughout the online education evolution as more schools pop up from the interwebs and new degree programs open up every semester.  This system has proved its worth on a number of times and online degree rankings have proven to be a vital source for many students of online colleges. 

 

5 Reasons to Study Abroad

May 1st, 2009

By Ashley Brooks

Studying abroad is one of the most enjoyable parts of a college career.  If you have the opportunity to do so, you should eagerly take it.  Studying abroad allows for a number of different experiences, and the opportunity to live in a different country without searching for an overseas job or being forced to learn a new language.  Most locations for studying abroad are situated within areas in which English is a common language, or the community has a basic understanding of English. 

Location, Location, Location

Whether you decide to study in Brazil or France, each location has its own specific motivational pull.  Many students who have already traveled to Europe prefer different types of locations such as South America or China, while students who have never left the country typically vie for locations in Europe.  Either continent presents a set of new encounters which cannot be experienced within your home community.

Culture

Every culture has its own mesh of customs and beliefs which is crucial towards grasping a firm understanding of foreigners.  We tend to believe that our views are right in the world, without researching into other cultures further; however, actually living in a different community allows you to be face-to-face with a culture different from your own and grow through this proximity.

Languages

Learning new languages is an arduous task, yet rewarding overall.  Nothing is more impressive than becoming a polyglot, even if you may only know bits and pieces of various languages.  Living in a foreign community for a few months is the best way to learn a new language.  It almost forces you to become intermeshed within the society, and in order to live a bit easier, you must learn part of the language.  However, not every study abroad location will force you to learn a different language; it is only recommended that you take this opportunity to immerse yourself within the culture.

History

The United States is a relatively young country in the scheme of global locations, and this becomes increasingly clear as you travel to European and Asian countries, where the cities are rich with the culture from hundreds and thousands of years past.  The United States cannot begin to compare to the Wall of China or the architecture of ancient Rome.  It is an amazing experience to live in a region where great moments in history have taken place and are remembered as such for decades. 

Different Perceptions

We all know that the United States and every country for that matter, has its own version of historic events.  Studying abroad, and actually living in a different culture, allows you as a student to achieve full accounts of history from a different perspective.  Not only that, but it also allows you to witness in what ways their world views differ from our own.  We know that many countries do not agree with many of our actions in the Middle East, but it is much more interesting to view first-hand what the country’s nationals are saying about various situations.  Additionally, it is amazing to travel to another country and take note of how much global politics dominate international affairs, and additionally realize how deceptively small a role the United States plays.  This experience in general is very eye-opening and necessary for the younger generation who no longer question historic events and world perceptions.

Studying abroad is truly an experience in which you can grow immensely within the span of a few months, as well as increase your knowledge of the world and global affairs.  This is one of the life-altering moments in college, and is highly recommended for any college student or even graduate student. 

 

What You Need to Know Before You Change Your Major

May 1st, 2009

By Ashley Brooks

Some of us have our whole lives planned out from the moment we’re able to think for ourselves while others are happy to go with the flow. And then there are the in-betweens, the ones who are undecided even after they’ve made a decision. Some of the choices we make in life have consequences beyond the immediate, consequences that have the potential to affect us both positively and adversely. Choosing a college major is one such major decision that we have to think over when we’re contemplating a degree, and in case we opt for something that we don’t like, it’s time for a change. There are certain things that you should keep in mind when you’re considering a change in your major, such as:

•    Try and choose a new major that’s a little related to the one you’re in now so that you can transfer any credits that you’ve earned.

•    Before you settle on a new major, take a few classes in the subject and see if you like it before you commit to it. As I said, you cannot keep changing majors as and when you like it. 

•    Talk with your college adviser to see if you’re making the right decision or if you need help in making a choice.

•    Look at your job prospects when choosing a major. You may have an affinity for a particular subject but it may not be enough to land you a good job that pays well. What with the recession and the way the economy is, you’re better off choosing a field where jobs are always going to be available.

•    Talk to the seniors in your preferred choice and find out what the coursework entails and how good your teachers are.

•    If you’re hesitant about changing your major, remember that it is something that has to be done if you find your current major uninteresting, difficult, or just not right for you. College is all about choosing the courses you’re comfortable with and going on to graduate with great grades.

•    Think long and hard before you fill in that application form and submit it to the concerned personnel so that you don’t end up regretting the decision you’ve made and feel the need to change majors again.

 

The Ultimate Guide to Kindle 2.0: 100 Tips, Tools, and Resources

Feb 25th, 2009

By Laura Milligan

Amazon’s Kindle aimed to convert even reading purists to the convenience of e-book readers, and the 2.0 version, slated to release in late February 2009, boasts new features and plenty of hype. Read on for 100 hacks, support resources, tips and news stories about Kindle 2.

New Features

Check out Kindle 2′s new and improved features here.

  1. Lightweight design: Amazon maintains that its new Kindle is only 10.2 ounces, lighter than a paperback.
  2. Battery life: Kindle 2.0 has a 25% longer battery life, so you don’t have to get up to charge nearly as often, interrupting your reading.
  3. Charged: Kindle 2 can be charged in four hours, from your computer or the Kindle power adapter.
  4. Page turning buttons: Page turning buttons are located on each side of the device, "flex[ing] inward to prevent any accidental page turns when picking up or handling Kindle."
  5. Nationwide coverage: Kindle 2′s nationwide coverage extends to all 50 states. Large cities receive high-speed EVDO, while smaller towns get lower-speed 1X connection.
  6. No hidden costs: Your only costs come from your downloads; there are no wireless bills.
  7. Holds 1,500 books: Kindle 2 has the capability to store 1,500 books.
  8. High resolution screen display: Readers will notice that Kindle 2 boasts 16 shades of gray for high-res reading.
  9. Text-to-Speech: When you’re tired or just want someone else to read you a good story, turn on the Text-to-Speech feature, which saves your spot whenever you switch back to reading.
  10. Automatic backup: The automatic library backup feature stores a copy of each of your books at Amazon.com, in case you need to re-download them. Re-downloading is free.
  11. Personal Documents: Send, store and read personal documents in PDF, HTML, TXT, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP and more with Kindle when you set up your own e-mail address. It costs just 10 cents per document.
  12. No glare: Kindle 2′s no glare feature reflects light, so you don’t need to adjust your position when the sun hits your device.
  13. Built-in dictionary: Use the built-in New Oxford American Dictionary to look up words while you read. The dictionary holds over 250,000 entries.
  14. Newspaper friendly: Kindle 2 boasts a five-way controller, making it easier to flip between articles and clip your favorite stories.
  15. QWERTY: Add your own notes to Kindle with the QWERTY keyboard.

How to Use

Better understand how to use your Kindle 2 here.

  1. Whispernet: Use Whispernet to take advantage of Sprint’s 3G high-speed network, allowing you to retrieve books, magazines and newspapers in under 60 seconds.
  2. Cheaper downloads: Downloading a New York Times bestseller or newly released book onto Kindle 2 is usually just $9.99, much cheaper than full-price hard-copy books.

Availability

Learn about Kindle 2 availability and content availability here.

  1. Kindle 2: The new device will be available for sale February 24, 2009, but can be pre-ordered from Amazon.com now.
  2. New York Times bestsellers: Currently, Kindle 2 users can download 105 of 112 books on the NYT bestseller list.
  3. Total books: Kindle 2 can download from a listing of over 230,000 books.

Resources

These resources will direct you to the Kindle Store, show you how to make the most of your Kindle 2, and more.

  1. Kindle Store: Here you can browse books and other reading material for your Kindle or Kindle 2.
  2. Amazon Kindle 2: 10 Things You Should Know: PCMag.com’s Lance Ulanoff explains why Kindle 2 is too expensive, too narrowly focused and doesn’t offer anything new.
  3. CNET News: Amazon Kindle 2 Launch: Watch a video of the Kindle 2 launch and get commentary from CNET reporters.
  4. Kindle Buzz: This site tracks the evolution, release and reviews of Kindle and Kindle 2.
  5. ZDNet Definition for: Kindle: Read about the history of Kindle here.

Customer Service and Support

Connect to customer service and support with these guides.

  1. Amazon Kindle Support: Find out how to use your Kindle and get customer support from this site, which is sure to update once Kindle 2 is out.
  2. Customer service and support for Kindle: GetSatisfaction.com has a page devoted to Kindle, letting you ask questions, share ideas and report problems.
  3. askville by Amazon: Find answers to questions related to Kindle 2, warranties and more on this site.
  4. Amazon Customer Service Phone Number: This blogger shares tips and experiences regarding Amazon customer service. Latest posts focus on the Kindle.
  5. Kindle Helpdesk: This website is devoted to "Kindle help and news."

Reviews

Read reviews of Kindle 2 before shelling out the few hundred dollars it’ll cost you in the beginning.

  1. Hands on with Kindle 2: what a difference a screen makes: Ars Technica writer John Timmer reviews Kindle 2, noting its wide margins, faster flip times and keyboard.
  2. Amazon’s Kindle 2: No iPod for Books: Doublas MacMillan of BusinessWeek explains why the Kindle should not be compared to the iPod, and wonders if the price will ever go down.
  3. Amazon Unveils Kindle 2: Thinner, Better Battery: HispanicBusiness.com reviews Kindle 2 here, praising its text-to-speech feature.
  4. Should you buy Kindle 2.0?: This review neatly lists high points and low points of Kindle 2.
  5. Amazon Kindle 2: PC Mag offers a short review and reader input for the Kindle 2 here.
  6. Kindle 2 First Hands On: View photos of Gizmodo’s experimental usage of the new Kindle 2 to see how it performs.
  7. 2 Kindle 2.0 Polls: Take these polls to share what you think of the whole Kindle 2 hoopla and to find out what others are feeling.
  8. Review round-up: Amazon Kindle 2: The Christian Science Monitor reviews Kindle 2′s upgraded e-ink screen, Whispersync, the read-to-me feature and more.
  9. Amazon Kindle Real-Life Review: This review of the original Kindle tests out the device in bed, on an airplane and on the toilet.
  10. E-reader Battle Royale: Kindle 2 vs. all the rest: Here, the Kindle 2 is compared to the Sony Reader PRS-700, Astak EZ Reader, iRex Digital Reader, Plastic Logic, and other e-readers.

Accessories

Protect your Kindle with these covers and bags.

  1. GelaSkins: Get a protective GelaSkins protective skin for your Kindle 2 for $19.99.
  2. 2-Year Extended Warranty: The two-year extended warranty is currently $65 and is available for U.S. customers.
  3. M-edge Platform Jacket: This sleek platform jacket is made especially for Kindle 2 and comes in a variety of colors.
  4. Mighty Bright XtraFlex2 Clip-On Light: This reading light clips onto your Kindle 2.
  5. Kindle 2 not too young for new accessories: Check out some of the colorful new accessories waiting to be snatched up as soon as Kindle 2 is officially out.
  6. Jauntify your Kindle 2 with jaunty jackets: Check out the M-Edge jackets and booklights here.
  7. Colorful Kindle 2 accessories announced: Read more about the pretty Kindle 2 jackets here.
  8. Protect Your Amazon Kindle 2: Learn how to keep your Kindle 2 protected and stylish.
  9. Amazon Kindle tradition leather case: This Noreve case signifies "haute couture for" your Kindle.
  10. First official Kindle 2 Accessories: View Cole Haan cases and other sleek Kindle 2 accessories here.

News and Guides

Keep up with the latest news stories and user guides for Kindle 2.

  1. Kindle 2 Might Have Applications in Our Classroom: Find out how Kindle 2 may be able to help special needs students and learners.
  2. Kindle 2 details leaked: BlogKindle.com gives an overview of the new features of Kindle 2.
  3. The Kindle Chronicles: This weekly podcast features tips, news about the Kindle 2 release, and more.
  4. EduKindle: Will DeLameter is a former English major and high school English teacher who shares tips and insight for using the Kindle in the classroom, as well as for personal use.
  5. Amazon’s Jeff Bezos on Kindle 2.0, its cost, touch, business and more: Brier Dudley’s Seattle Times blog covers an interview with Jeff Bezos during the Kindle 2 launch.
  6. Amazon Kindle 2 e-books its way to BGR: View photos of the Kindle 2 at the Boy Genius Report.
  7. New Kindle Audio Feature Causes a Stir: Read all about the controversial, and possibly illegal, read-to-me issue at the Wall Street Journal.
  8. Feedbooks Kindle Download Guide: Learn about downloading Feedbooks for the Kindle here.
  9. Kindle 2 user guide and vista: Amazon’s forum helps users learn more about their device.
  10. User’s Guide: Amazon Kindle: Watch this video to better understand the basic features of the Kindle.

Hacks

Below are insider tips for making your Kindle 2 work even faster.

  1. Adjust text size: Choose from six different font sizes on Kindle 2 for optimum reading.
  2. Audible: Download audio books and radio shows from Audible.com onto your Kindle.
  3. Download blogs: PC World recommends downloading blogs and surfing the Internet from your Kindle 2 via the built-in Sprint network.
  4. The Kindle Reader: Let this blogger show you how to conduct better book searches and get the most out of your Kindle or Kindle 2.
  5. Feedbooks: Learn how to download Feedbooks directly to your Kindle here.
  6. Amazon Kindle 2 Review: Watch this video to find out exactly how you’ll be able to use the Kindle 2. Filmed by CNET from the Kindle 2 launch.
  7. The Amazon Kindle 2: A Good Tool for Business?: Find out if the Kindle 2 is actually a good business hack.
  8. Kindle hacks: Rick Klau shows original Kindle users how to make using their device easier and more convenient.
  9. Reading PDFs on Kindle and Converting documents for free: Learn how to read PDFs on your Kindle here.
  10. Reading feeds on the Kindle for free: This post teaches you how to access free feeds on your Kindle.

Free or Almost Free Books and Periodicals

Fill up your Kindle 2 with free or seriously cheap content.

  1. Feedbooks: Here you can search for and download free e-books for your Kindle.
  2. RSS Feeds and Newspapers: Feedbooks also turns RSS feeds of your favorite sites and newspaper blogs into files that work on your Kindle.
  3. Munsey’s: Browse categories like horror, liberal arts, classic, science fiction and more.
  4. FreeKindleBooks.org: This site has thousands of Kindle-compatible books.
  5. Project Gutenberg: Students on a budget can access free e-books from Project Gutenberg here.
  6. Fictionwise: Fictionwise helps Kindle users download books, set up direct e-mail to their Kindle accounts, and more.
  7. Podiobooks: Use this site to find audio books.
  8. Free Amazon titles: Here you can find free titles at Amazon.com.
  9. Kindle eBook Library: A subscription cost of $8.95 per year grants you access to over 500,000 books in PDF.
  10. eBook Searchr: Use this resource to find eBooks on over 340 sites.

Controversy and Issues

Learn about the negative issues, legal debates and controversies surrounding Kindle 2.

  1. Kindle fans upset that Kindle 2 drops SD slot, replaceable battery: Find out why Kindle users are missing these two features.
  2. Kindle Forum Kindle 2.0 Social Network: Vent or share praise for Kindle 2 on the forums.
  3. Kindle: Amazon’s Wireless Reading Device forum: This forum is sponsored by Amazon and lets readers connect about customer service, book prices and more.
  4. Kindle 2.0′s "Read to Me" Text to Speech feature under attack + video: Find out why The Author’s Guild and Association of American Publishers are unhappy about the Text to Speech feature on Kindle 2.
  5. Kindle 2: Should you stop buying all those iPhone eBooks?: VentureBeat’s MG Siegler wonders about Kindle 2′s high price in a bad economy, the convenience of the iPhone eBook reader and more.
  6. Amazon’s Kindle 2 leaked: CNET’s David Carnoy considers whether or not Amazon will develop a European Kindle 2 and examines the new American version.
  7. Legal ruckus over Kindle 2′s text-to-speech feature: Yahoo! Tech further explores The Authors Guild’s claim that Kindle 2′s text-to-speech feature is illegal.
  8. Kindle 2 tops Amazon’s bestseller list despite complaints: This article reveals that users are unhappy with the Kindle 2 because battery replacement is expensive and inconvenient.
  9. Amazon’s Kindle 2 a Disappointment to eBook Industry: BooksOnBoard CEO Bob LiVolsi calls Kindle 2 "a disappointment" because of its technological shortcomings.
  10. Kindle 2: Still Expensive: Portfolio.com laments the still too-high cost of Kindle 2.

Miscellaneous

These Kindle 2 links and resources will continue to acclimate you to your new e-book reader.

  1. Stephen King to launch Kindle exclusive: Stephen King plans to launch a novella called UR exclusively for the Kindle 2.
  2. Sony Reader: The Sony Reader is one of Kindle’s biggest competitors. Learn about the different features here.
  3. Used Kindles: If you’re not ready to spend over $350 on your new Kindle 2, consider buying a used, slightly cheaper version of the original Kindle here.
  4. Kindle 2 vs Oprah Effect – Comparing Kindle Buzz: Consider the legitimacy of all the Kindle 2 hype here.
  5. Kindle 2 – Good Gift?: Before buying Kindle 2 for someone else, consider whether or not it’s worth it.
  6. Sharing Two Kindles, How does it work?: Mick West aims to hack one of the pitfalls of Kindles: the inability to swap and share books with friends.
  7. What’s new with the Kindle 2: TechCrunch compares the old and new versions of Kindle.
  8. Why Amazon Kindle 2.0 won’t suck like 1.0: Scobleizer has higher hopes for Kindle 2.
  9. Amazon’s Kindle 2.0 could have better screen, longer battery life, sleeker design: The LA Times Technology blog isn’t as enthusiastic about Kindle 2.0.
  10. Why Amazon needs Kindle 2.0: ZDNet laments Amazon’s near monopoly on e-readers, at least for the moment.

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Feb 5th, 2009

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