Barbara » -- The Way Education Should Be

Find Out How a Childhood Game “Lit” Up Awareness About an Important Campus Issue
November 20th, 2015

Giant game of Red Light, Green Light to raise awareness of sexual consentRemember playing the game Red Light, Green Light in the neighborhood cul-de-sac as a kid? It was probably everyone’s first lesson in understanding that green means go and red means stop.

A recent highlight for George Washington University in Washington, DC was its week-long campus-wide conversation about their fraternity, Zeta Beta Tau’s record-breaking game of Red Light, Green Light. (more…)

Students at This College Have Been Experiencing Life in Cuba for the Past 15 Years!
October 28th, 2015

Hampshire College study abroad in CubaAlthough domestic travel to Cuba just recently became more accessible and widespread, students at Hampshire College have been immersing themselves there for years through a unique program. In fact, November will mark the 15th year of Hampshire College’s Cuba Study Abroad Program. (more…)

When “Facts” About Online Education Don’t Add Up
January 12th, 2011

As a writer, I enjoy reading about other writers who have made the news for their fiction or journalistic endeavors. Of course, there are times when writers are in the headlines for plagiarism or other forms of literary discourtesy. For those unfortunate incidents, I still read the news, but not with any enjoyment.

However, the latest case of journalist fraud that was in the newspapers was one that I read with great relish. Why? Because the subject in question was online education, and in trying to expose the supposed dark deeds behind online programs, the writer did a dark deed of his own and made up a good portion of the article by fabricating sources and quotes.

The writer, Rob Sgobbo, is a recent Columbia j-school grad, so he should know a thing or two about high tuition bills. And yes, there are online programs that have been exposed for less-than-ethical recruiting tactics. But as in many other things in life, it’s not fair that the majority is punished because of the mistakes of the minority.

A college education certainly can be an expense, but it shouldn’t also come at the expense of being scammed. This latest lie in the news is just a reminder to us all that there are often multiple sides to a story (including made-up ones) and that it’s important for us to formulate our own opinions when it comes to things that are important to us, like education.

So, should you still tread carefully when researching online programs? Yes, just as you would if researching traditional on-campus programs. Ask about program accreditation. Request information on tuition costs and financial aid. See what alumni have been up to. If you ask the right questions, you’ll get the answers you’ll need to make your decision, rather than let shoddy journalists (he was fired, by the way) make the decision for you.

–Barbara Bellesi

Study by University of Michigan Shows Online Programs Can Foster Interaction
December 8th, 2010

If you are wondering whether students can truly interact in a virtual classroom, consider the results of a recent University of Michigan study, in which social networking teamed up with physical fitness.

Led by Caroline Richardson, M.D., an associate professor of family medicine at the University of Michigan Medical School, the study involved the addition of an interactive component to an online walking program. Though the walking program obviously encouraged people to be active and get away from their computers, the interactive community engaged participants into logging on to motivate each other during the 16-week program.

The results are impressive: 79 percent of walkers who participated in the online community completed the program. For those who did not take advantage of the virtual community, only 66 percent completed the program. Yet even that is a promising conclusion, because it shows that people can and will be successful in an online environment. Translate these results to the world of online education, and there’s strong evidence against naysayers who believe online schools are the fast track to apathy in the classroom.

In a press release issued by the University of Michigan, Dr. Richardson said, “Brick by brick, we have been building a model of how to change health behaviors using online tools. We can see that social components can help to mitigate the big downside that Internet-mediated programs have had in the past, namely attrition.”

While it may seem unlikely that sitting in front of one’s computer can encourage one to be more active, that’s exactly what happened in the Michigan study. The power of social media is at work, and whether the topic involves getting fit physically or mentally, it seems like people are ready and very willing to interact.

–Barbara Bellesi

Why We’re Thankful for Online Education
November 24th, 2010

As roads begin to clog up with traffic and new TSA procedures at the airports make us blush, it can only mean one thing—the holiday season is upon us.

It makes you realize that online students have quite a bit to be thankful for this holiday season. Don’t worry—we know you’ve got family to entertain and turkeys to baste, so we kept our list short–though we know that you probably will have more reasons to add to the list:

1. You’re already home. Yes, we know some of you might be hitting the road to see relatives, but as an online student, you don’t have to worry about getting home in the first place—like all those poor, tired students who are cramming onto trains, planes, and buses as you read this.

2. No forgotten assignments. Ask any student whose home is far away from campus—it is NOT fun to realize that you’ve forgotten to turn in that term paper that is sitting on your dorm room desk. With online education, all you need to do is resend an assignment to a professor and be on your way.

3. No (or at least less) awkwardness with the family. For many traditional students living away at college, coming home for Thanksgiving is often the longest time they’ve been home in months. Family members might have to get used to having them around again. But for online students, well—you’ve been home.

4. No need to rush your time with family. As an online student, chances are you’ve already got a good schedule of school vs. family time. So consider the extra time you now have away from your computer as a bonus and enjoy!

5. Thanksgiving leftovers are within reach. Need we say more?

Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy!

–Barbara Bellesi

Post-9/11 GI Bill Also Covers Online Education
November 11th, 2010

Today is the day to honor our brave service men and women who work every day to secure our freedom. One of the ways in which the U.S. gives back to members of the military is through the Post-9/11 GI Bill, which offers tuition benefits to those who have served their country.

According to the United States Department of Veterans Affairs website, “The Post-9/11 GI Bill provides financial support for education and housing to individuals with at least 90 days of aggregate service on or after September 11, 2001, or individuals discharged with a service-connected disability after 30 days. You must have received an honorable discharge to be eligible for the Post-9/11 GI Bill.”

The Post-9/11 GI Bill is available for eligible students pursuing undergraduate and graduate degrees, as well as vocational and technical training. The schools, colleges, or universities at which a student enrolls must be approved for GI Bill benefits—a school noted as an Institution for Higher Learning (IHL)–so you must also check for this when you are checking for a school’s accreditation. Under the Post-9/11 GI Bill, tutoring and licensing or certification tests are also reimbursed.

So how much tuition money are we talking about? The tuition and fees covered by the Post-9/11 GI Bill are determined by the highest in-state tuition at a public college or university, though the actual financial support granted depends on where the person lives and what field of study they will be pursuing. Should the tuition at a student’s chosen school go above the indicated in-state level, the Yellow Ribbon Program can help to cover the difference in cost.

The one benefit of the Post-9/11 GI Bill that is NOT available to online students is the Basic Allowance for Housing, as online programs have no campus or dorms for students.

It’s exciting to know that the GI Bill has evolved to benefit service men and women looking to further their education in a modern world. They are a pride to our country today and always.

–Barbara Bellesi

Students from For-Profit Schools Rally for Choice in Career Education
October 6th, 2010

Last week, hundreds of students and employees from for-profit schools met at the U.S. Capitol for a rally organized by the Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities. Their mission? To let Washington know that they are serious about career education and want their freedom to make their own choices left alone, please.

Harris N. Miller, the association’s president, said the rally was coordinated “to proclaim the absolute need for student choice in selecting a college or university.” The crowd represented 26 states and included some from as far away as California.

Student rallies are not at all uncommon when it comes to schools that have traditional campuses. And since many for-profit colleges and universities offer exclusively online programs, it’s easy to assume that students at an online college or university would miss out on the opportunity to gather with classmates on campus in support (or protest) of an issue simply because, well, there is no campus.

You know what happens when you assume…

For-profit colleges have not exactly been the darlings of the press lately, but last week’s rally shows that many of the students who attend said schools are happy with the choices they have made. These students have decided that a four-year degree is not necessary for their career choices, though education certainly is.

When it comes to career education, people should have the right to choose where they can enroll. The writing is on the wall… and the tee shirts. Many rally participants wore tees that said “My Education. My Job. My Choice,” which also turned out to be the motto that was chanted throughout the day.

It’s understandable that the government wants to step in and protect people from the few rotten apples in the bunch, but most for-profit schools can be excellent choices for vocational- and trade-minded people. Flexible options? Career-focused education? On-the-job training? Sounds like a good plan.

-Barbara Bellesi

Job Outlook Is Good for Class of 2011
September 22nd, 2010

Good news for college students—employers are looking to hire you when you graduate.

Years ago, before the Great Recession, this would have been an obvious statement. But with the state of the economy and dismal unemployment numbers, even college graduates have had it rough. So it now comes as a happy—and very welcome—surprise that college graduates are back in the game.

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), the employment outlook for this year’s graduating class is very positive for all four regions of the United States: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and West.

The West is projected to see the largest increase in the hiring of college graduates, with a 23.5% change from last year. The Midwest is in second with an increase of 20.2%, followed by the Northeast with 13.1% change and the Southeast with an 8.3% increase in college hiring. The number of hires for the Class of 2010 was 19,445, and the NACE projects 22,080 hires for the Class of 22,080, an increase of more than 13%.

If you are thinking about going back to school, or have just started a program, your chances at employment after graduation might be even better, considering that there will be more time for the economy to heal itself before you start pumping out the resumes.

–Barbara Bellesi