Monthly Archives: December 2016

Common Misconceptions about Study Abroad Programs

With over 100,000 college students studying abroad every year, there’s bound to be all kinds of tall tales, urban legends, and misinformation swirling around.  While there may be grains of truth in some of these stories, below are some common misconceptions about study abroad.

Misconception #1: Studying abroad is very expensive.
Truth: In most cases, it is actually cheaper to study abroad.  Let’s say the tuition at your school is $5,000 per semester and room and board is another $4,000.  Now add in the additional fees you have such as health insurance, books, and laundry.  You are now well over $10,000 for the semester.  Well, all but one of our programs in Spain is under $10,000 per semester and that includes everything except your airfare and spending money.

Misconception #2: I can’t use my financial aid to study abroad.
Truth: In almost all cases, your federal aid (Stafford loans, Pell grants, etc.) can be used to study abroad and in some states, you can use your state aid as well.  It is also not uncommon for your federal aid to increase when you study abroad since some of your school scholarships may not transfer.

Misconception #3: Host families are all poor and just do it for the money.
Truth: The last thing any study abroad company wants to do is have an unhappy student on their program.  The goal is for the students to be happy so that they will tell their friends what a great time they had.  If we were putting students in bad families, in dangerous neighborhoods, then no one would ever recommend us to their friends.  Since the number of universities that endorse our program doubled over the last year, it’s a pretty sure bet that students are happy with our choice of families.

Misconception #4: I’ll be so busy with schoolwork that I won’t get time to see the country I’m in.
Truth: This one is hysterically funny since your average study abroad student comes home with about 400+ photos from a long list of countries.  Students have plenty of opportunities to travel and we even take our students on trips to give them a better feel for the country they are in.

Misconception #5: I might not graduate on time if I go abroad.
Truth: If you have already used up all of your elective or general education courses, then it’s true that you might need to bulk up on courses before or after you go abroad.  If you plan ahead, however, and leave some electives open to you, then you should be fine.  The clear majority of students who study abroad still graduate in four years, despite being away from their home campus for a semester or two.

Misconception #6: Most of the world hates Americans, so I won’t be safe.
Truth: There’s no doubt that there are a lot of people who don’t like the American government, but that has nothing to do with the American people.  If you compare the violent crime rate in the United States to that of European, Australian, or Asian countries, you will see that the United States is actually far more dangerous.  There are some areas of South America and Africa that are not especially safe, but there are also many countries on those continents that are incredibly safe.  Go to the U.S. State Department website and check out the crime statistics on the country you are interested in to see how safe it is.

Studying abroad is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that every college student should take advantage of.  Before dismissing it due to the bad experience of one friend or rumors you have had heard, speak with your study abroad advisor and get the facts.  I guarantee that once you look at all that studying abroad can offer you, you’ll be hopping the first flight abroad.

One organization that help ensure that you have safest, unforgettable yet affordable study abroad experience is Academic Studies Abroad.    Here are some of our very popular study abroad programs in the following countries:
-Study Abroad Spain – Academic Studies offers study abroad programs in Barcelona, Madrid, Salamanca and Sevilla.
-Study Abroad England- Academic Studies offers study abroad programs in London.
-Study Abroad Italy – Academic Studies offers study abroad programs in Florence.
-Study Abroad France – Academic Studies offer study abroad programs in Aix-en-Provence and Avignon.
-Study Abroad Ireland – Academic Studies offers study abroad programs in Dublin.

Ask Yourself Before Taking Your First Online Class

Just a few short years ago, the idea of taking a college course through the Internet was something online “techies” considered. Now that people realize how convenience it is to take a class without leaving home, more and more people are taking advantage of using their computer to learn.

But while the technology used for online classes is so simple just about anyone can become an online student, you should ask yourself the following 5 questions first – and save yourself a lot of stress!

1) Do you have the time?
Many people think – mistakenly – that online courses are “easier” than traditional campus classes. But most online classes require regular participation. So, you must have the time to “log on” to your course several times each week, complete the assignments and do your homework, and interact with the other students.

All of this takes time…and, you have to account for the time you would normally have spent in the classroom. If you have the time, you will find taking an online class to be very convenient!

2) Do you have the discipline?
Sure, most online classes don’t require you to be on the computer at a specific time (although some do). So it is up to you to make sure you check in on your class several times each week. With a busy work schedule, sports, hobbies, housework, kids, it’s easy to put your class low on your priority list. And that could mean big trouble when it comes time to get your grade.

It’s not the teacher’s job to remind you to keep up with your work – that’s your responsibility. A simple way to make this work is to create your own schedule, so each week you know exactly when it’s time to “go to class”!

3) Do you have the money?
While there are many free or low-cost online “self help” courses available, college courses almost always cost the same whether you take them on-campus, or online. Colleges have to buy the software, train their faculty, and offer student services after hours – so expecting online courses to be less expensive is not reasonable.

On the other hand, the same financial aid is often available for online classes, just as with campus classes. So, money should not stop any student from furthering their education!

4) Do you have the right technical skills?
Fortunately, you don’t have to be a computer “genius” to take an online class. The technology has become very simple for students and teachers to use, so that students who can “surf the Internet” and use email usually have the necessary technical skills.

Before getting started, the school offering the course should have a sample course, tutorial, or other training to help you determine if there are any skills you need to learn, so you can become a successful online student!

5) Do you have the right computer equipment?
Since most online classes are taught through the Internet, students usually don’t need any special computer equipment. However, most online classes require students to have reliable access to the Internet, an email account (and the knowledge to use it), a word processor (such as Microsoft Word), and antivirus software. Check with your school to see if there are any other requirements.

A high speed internet connection is usually not required, but if instructors use graphics, videos, audio lectures, or other big files, a high speed connection (such as DSL or cable) will help you open the files, and do you work, more efficiently!

Are you ready now to take your first online class? Then it’s time to contact your local college, or search the internet for an online class directory, and see what online courses you can take!

Colleges vs. Technical Schools

College is not for everyone, but that does not mean you shouldn’t pursue some sort of higher education or job training. When you think about your future, what do you envision? Are you doing something you love, or are you just working for a paycheck?

If you are one of the many who is trying to make a decision about where to spend your money and invest your future, read on. This article provides a comparison of 4 year colleges and technical schools. Which one is right for you?

How to choose between 4-year colleges and technical schools:

-Ask yourself these questions and then consider the benefits and disadvantages of each type of school.
What are your goals? Do you have a specific career goal? What are your educational goals? Do you want to learn as much as you can about a variety of subjects? Do you want to learn as much as you can about one specific topic (become an expert)?
-What are your strengths? Weaknesses? Would you benefit from a shorter more targeted program?
-Lifestyle. How will school fit into your life? Would you benefit from non-traditional scheduling such as online, evening, or distance learning? 4-year colleges and technical colleges both offer such options, but it varies by school so check with any schools you are interested in attending.
-What do you need? Realistically, what sort of degree or training do you need to pursue your dreams? Research your desired field–know what the requirements are and how they compare to the programs you are considering. The US Department of Education website offers resources for career and training research.
-Be a consumer. Check equipment; is it new and up-to-date? How does it compare to the equipment you will be using on the job? Trust me, this can be tedious but it is quite important. After graduation I realized I should have taken more time to research the computer programs employers expected me to know for technical writing jobs. Had I been better informed, I could have taken extra courses dealing specifically with those programs.
-Investigate the following: campus size, current and former students, faculty and staff;
Find out if the school is accredited and licensed; Do they make extraordinary claims? Will your credits be transferable?

4-year Colleges

Some people like to learn just for the sake of learning, while some are more focused and driven and use school as a steppingstone for job advancement. If you are interested in more scholarly pursuits a traditional 4-year college might be your best option.

-Benefits: liberal arts training applies to many fields, diverse topics to explore, prestige, “college life”
Disadvantages: expensive, time consuming, may get degree in area you no longer wish to pursue, high admission standards and prerequisites, job market may be slower upon graduation-may require additional training

Technical Schools

If college was for everyone, technical schools would not exist. Some people may feel a stigma is attached to technical schools. In a society where attending college has become standard, we lose sight of the value of skills training. People feel abnormal and may be angry if they don’t want to go to college but feel pressured to do so anyway.
Benefits: shorter duration, focused programs, easier admission standards, flexible scheduling, certifications not necessarily offered at 4-year colleges, hands on training

-Disadvantages: may be viewed as less prestigious, can be expensive, may be less room for exploration of other subjects, accreditation, for-profit institutions

Many of the fastest growing jobs do not require a bachelor’s degree but do require post-secondary education (education beyond high school) These jobs include:
•    Medical Assistants
•    Social and human service assistants
•    Home health aides
•    Medical records and health information technicians
•    Physical therapist aides
•    Physical therapist assistants
•    Fitness trainers and aerobics instructors
•    Veterinary technologists and technicians
•    Hazardous materials removal workers
•    Dental hygienists
•    Occupational therapist aides
•    Dental assistants
•    Personal and home care aides
•    Self-enrichment education teachers
•    Occupational therapist assistants
•    Environmental science and protection technicians, including health
•    Preschool teachers, except special education
•    Respiratory therapists

For more information on job growth statistics see the Bureau of Labor Statistics webpage.
Remember, the best way to determine what is right for you is to simply know yourself and be informed.

Find The Best Online University For You

Online degree programs have growth rapidly in conjunction with the high demand of online education. Today, getting a university degree online has become a practical reality for people who cannot spare the time and commitment just to go back to regular university for earning a degree. You may find it confusing and hard to make a decision on so many online degree program choices. Although it is a hard decision, making the right choice that will suit your schedule, your learning style as well as your education goal is of prime importance.

Depending on your specific needs and goals, here are 4 tips to help your find an online university that best suit your needs:

1. Know your education goals

Different people have different needs for getting an online education. Some people enrolled into an online degree program just to sharpen their knowledge in certain area whereas others may hope to make a career switch by earning a degree in the area they are interested in.

Hence, you need to know what you are your purpose of getting an online education. Before you begin considering your options on various online degree programs, do some self assessment on what kind of education you are looking for, how much time and effort you plan to invest and whether it is personal fulfillment or career advancement that you aim to achieve through the course.

2. Do research on your options

Most online universities provide free information on their online degree programs and many do provide online chat session with their academic advisors so that you can ask any related questions and getting the necessary information needed before you make up your mind. Take your time to gather as much information as you can from various online universities that offer the education program that within your education scope. Ask the academic advisors for further clarification for any doubts; make sure you have a clear idea of the program being offered before you invest your hard earned money and time into any one of them.

3. Beware of online degree scams

Online degree scams or mostly know as diploma mill is a college or university that operates primarily to make money; such schools are not properly accredited and issue degrees without ensuring an education occurs. You need to be wary of these degree mills when doing your searches for the right course; make sure your are enrolled with online university that offers legitimate courses with proper accreditation. Fake degrees and credentials are plentiful and you will only be wasting your time, effort and money if you go with one of them.

4. Look for online degree program with recognized accreditation

Accreditation of the online university that you enroll in is vitally importance. Accreditation provides assurance that the program in which you are enrolled is engaged in continuous review and improvement of its quality and it meets nationally endorsed standards in the profession, and that it is accountable for achieving what it sets out to do.

If the reason you are pursuing further education is to advance your career, the degree you will be earning needs to be recognized by your employers or prospective employers. A degree from an accredited online university is one of the important consideration factors by many employers.

In Summary

It’s easy to find an online degree program in your area of interest as almost all degree courses offered by regular universities are now go online. But you need to make some research in order to find an online degree program that really meets your education goals.

Easy Ways To Learn English

Now, you decide to learn how to speak English. There are many online resources that can help you improve and practice you English. Now if you are like most other ESL students reading this article then you already have a fairly good notion of the English language. You most likely are looking for a place to practice and enhance your English skills. So, here are four easy steps to do just that.

1. Preparation
There is no need to start from the beginning, since you already a fairly good notion of English. Take stock of your current skills and find out where you are weak. Once you know what you need to learn…all you have to do is learn it.
So, pick out something from your list of things that you know you need/want to learn. Take a few minutes to analyze why you want learn this information, and make sure you focus on that particular point while studying. It is super easy to get side-tracked onto other topics.

If you do see something of interest while you are on your search for information…make sure to take note of it so you can come back at a later time. But for now…FOCUS on the task at hand!

2. Practice
Now that you know what you know what you want to learn, jump over to Google or Yahoo and do a quick search on your chosen topic of interest. From there you should be able to find sites that will provide you with tools and resources such as audio files, video files, exercises, and tests to practice what you want to learn.

3. Use
Alright! You are ripping, raring, and ready-to-go! You studied what it was you wanted to learn, and now you need to put it into use in real life situations. Use what you just learned on your friends and acquaintances. Hit the forums and try out what you now know. Try to use it at least thirty times to really assimilate it well and make it a part of you.

4. Evaluate
Once you are done for the day, sit down for a few minutes and evaluate how you did. Did you learn everything that is required? Are you still weak in certain areas of this topic?

If you have a strong determination to learn English, take note of these things. Start making plan now and start practice it tomorrow. Make sure to do these four steps everyday, and you will steadily see your skills progressing. So now…just go do it!