Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Arizona State Makes College Credit More Attainable Than Ever

Last week, The New York Times published an article about a new online education initiative that just might change the way we approach getting a college degree. Arizona State University has partnered  with edX, a non-profit online enterprise founded by both M.I.T. and Harvard, to create a program that will offer one full year of university credit to anyone in the world with Internet access and a desire to continue their education. This "Global Freshman Academy" will consist of MOOCs, or Massive Open Online Courses, which have been offered by many colleges and universities before (Harvard and M.I.T. being just two examples). The difference this time is that Arizona State's MOOCs will now count for college credit and can equal up to a full freshman year under the school's respectable moniker. And the deal gets even better: Each credit hour will only cost $200, and students will not have to pay in full until they actually pass (and get credit for) the course. This means that, in total, a year's worth of college courses will cost less than $6,000.

For anyone who has wanted to continue their education but has lacked the means to do so, this offering is an ideal set-up. "Leave your G.P.A., your SATs, your recommendations at home," says Anant Agarwal, the chief executive of edX. "If you have the will to learn, just bring your Internet connection and yourself, and you can get a year of college credit." This concept of democratizing higher education comes in response to the concern of many individuals who are confronted with the exclusivity of higher education; many people feel that college is unattainable. The Global Freshman Academy with ASU has now turned that notion on its head, making policy experts hopeful that this could be the beginning of an entirely new educational era.

This isn't the first time that Arizona State has made an attempt to be more inclusive to students. Last year, they partnered with Starbucks to offer employees of the coffee franchise an opportunity to complete their degree online and free of charge at ASU using subsidies from Starbucks itself. It was always important to the university that their students would receive credit for whatever online courses they would be taking. Elite universities like Harvard offer hundreds of classes online for free, but no credit is given, and usually the students are people who have already completed their degrees; as a result, completion rates are statistically low. ASU and edX are hopeful that the Global Freshman Academy will attract a new class of student, one who is actively interested in pursuing higher education and earning a college degree, but who has, until now, been unable to do so.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Fourth Quarter - The Final Push

For middle and high school students, the fourth quarter of the school year is the most important; final exams usually count for a large portion of their grades, and now is their last opportunity to make sure they do their very best. Because of this, it is appropriate to add a little extra effort this quarter. Here are ten tips to help ensure things go as smoothly as possible during this otherwise stressful time.

1.) Use a calendar to write down final exams, due dates of projects, and everything else. This includes extracurricular activities, rehearsals, lessons, practices, and social and familial obligations. Shed what you can, at least temporarily, to make sure you aren't overextending yourself.

2.) Assess what needs to be done for every exam, paper, and project, and how much time will be involved for each.

3.) Make a plan to prevent cramming. Information is best absorbed in small chunks over several days or weeks rather than all at once. Your calendar can help with this!

4.) Talk to teachers about making up missed work, getting help with missed concepts, and what exactly to study for exams. Ask about extra credit too, if needed.

5.) Pursue active studying. Don't just read the material. Say it out loud, or have a friend or family member test you. Study groups are often helpful.

6.) Create your own study guide. It's always nice to have one from the teacher, but the kind where the student does his own research to fill in the blanks is more effective.

7.) To alleviate stress, incorporate regular exercise, time for fun activities, and short breaks while doing homework.

8.) Get an adequate amount of sleep to help keep the brain sharp.

9.) Reward yourself for time spent studying. Recent research shows that rewarding children for good grades does not work because the reward is too far in the future. However, a small treat after some solid study time might be more effective when urging students to complete their tasks.

10.) Get extra help. Be aware of which classes give you the most trouble, and therefore require more time and help. We at Tutoring For Success are always happy to locate subject tutors, test prep instructors, and time management coaches when needed.