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College Isn’t Just Getting More Expensive, it’s Getting Really Expensive.

This post serves as an update to these two previous  posts on the higher education bubble, and the increasing cost of education.    Here’s a chart I found a few mornings ago that you should analyze closely if you’re  following these topics.

Specifically, take a look at the red line on this recently released graph from DoubleLine Funds:

(data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Consumer Price Index)


Everyone seems to dwell on the cost of oil, what about the rising cost of college?  Why isn’t this a bigger issue?  Education costs are outpacing the inflation of the cost of a new car by over a multiple of 10!

This trend simply isn’t sustainable and it’s a clear indication that the value of a college degree is going to “crash” at some point in the future.

Where Does Your Child Learn About Money?

Some parents, usually wealthy parents, send their kids to money camp.  That’s right, money camp.

What 8th grader doesn’t like money? … And camping is ultra-marvelous.  What could be better than sending your kids to a money camp?

Money camps are one of the things that wealthy people do differently.  I’m all for it, and why not?   Ask yourself, “When do I want junior to start really learning about cash, when he’s 40, or when he’s 4?”

Now is a good time to start the conversation of money with your children if you haven’t already.  The earlier anyone starts learning a subject, the better they’re likely to be at it.  One of the most neglected subjects of importance in our public education system is finance.  It’s almost by design that schools don’t share the important financial concepts young adults will need to get ahead of the pack.

Money camps fill the void.  One of the most popular money camps out there is the “Camp Millionaire“, hosted by Creative Wealth Int’l.  Their financial wisdom program offers financial literacy curriculum and events for both kids and teens.  Creative Wealth believes that they must bring money and kids together while they are young so they can have enough time and practice to develop a healthy relationship to it and wise financial skills with it.

Lessons include, “Money Games”, classes, and lifestyle learning programs that feature principles like…

1) Financial Freedom is your choice

2) Financial Freedom is your responsibility

3) You are the CEO of your own life

4) Financial Freedom comes from investing in assets that creative passive income

These are fantastic lessons for anyone, and the value is evident.  Similar camps are springing up locally or regionally as parents become aware of the financial education deficit.  The Money Academy, for example, offers 7 camp locations near Austin, TX.  They have a similar format to the others and serve grades 2- 8.  These camps aren’t all hocus-pocus, they feature expert advisory members, money management fundamentals, and solid business lessons.

These camps help provide money lessons that the k-12 system is currently missing.  With a growing number of them developing, prices on this extra education should become more competitive and the services should become more valuable.

Money camps are great, but they’re only one tool available to parents who want to teach their kids about money.  You don’t have to spring the $1,000+ price tag of these camps to teach your kids about money. Loring Ward Financial, a San Jose, Calif-based RIA, recently published “The Parent’s Guide to Kids & Money” (visit for a free pdf/ebook)  Read this, or one of the many other books on the topic.  The more you teach yourself, the better prepared you are to help your children learn.

Share your own money experiences with your kids.  Have them help with the household bill paying, shopping, saving, or even figuring out the tip the next time you eat out.  It’s less about how your child learns about money, and more about when.





Will Your College Go Broke Before You Graduate?

You’re graduating high school this year, next comes the predictable rite of passage of frantically sending out college applications. You’re just hoping to get accepted into your favorite school. You’re focused because you know that a college degree will lead to a good job.
With your mental focus set on enrolling in school, it’s rare that you’d even consider an institution’s financial viability.

Colleges are one of the cornerstones of our economy and we’ve always held them in our minds to be noble, reliable, and stable places of business. Do the words “to big to fail” come to mind?
After all, with the skyrocketing cost of tuition, our nation’s universities should be a pillar of financial strength, shouldn’t they?
Sorry, this might not be the case. A recent report, released by Bain & Company, analyzed 1,692 colleges and universities unveiled some alarming data.
The Bain & Company report found that almost 30% of higher education establishments are simply spending more than they can afford. That means that almost one third of universities are losing money at a break-neck pace. Another 28% of colleges are in the red zone and at risk of also becoming unsustainable. If you’d like to check to see if an institution you’re considering or already attending is on this list, Bain & Company put together a handy tool you can use at: http://www.thesustainableuniversity.com/ (The chart will let you search by specific universities, or by “school type”).

The translation: Institutions have more liabilities, higher debt service and increasing expenses without the revenue or the cash reserves to back them up.

I reviewed the projected tuition levels based on historical trends and the increase of student debt load. The numbers are clearly on course with past economic bubbles. Similar to the housing bubble of the mid-2000’s this education bubble is fueled by two things:
1. The perceived value of obtaining a college degree is on an upward trajectory. Perhaps you’ve heard that college graduates earn a higher lifetime income. I equate this to “home prices always go up” in housing bubble parlance.
2. Financing a college degree has been easy and inexpensive for decades, allowing the bubble to fill at for many years. I relate the growth in student lending to easy money for home finance: ARM’s, liar loans, no-doc loans, and NINJA (no income, no job, no assets) mortgages.

Sound familiar? Remember when companies like Countrywide, Washington Mutual, and many other banks were lending money hand over fist to homebuyers and home prices shot up artificially high? What happened next? The bubble burst and the 2008 financial crisis began.

With the Bain report showing nearly two thirds of colleges in financial trouble, it is possible that the tuition bubble could pop as well. Imagine how many children could attend college if it wasn’t for grants, student aid, and student loans? Imagine if you had to pay cash for tuition. I am willing to bet that enrollment would be whole lot less than the number of students enrolled in the 2013 school year. A recent article in “The Guardian” shows how schools in England (England has also seen similar increases in tuition and fees that we have here in the US) are already showing a decreased number of applicants. The parallel between England’s poor economy and their education trends can be easily seen.
College tuition is seems to keep rising and for decades we’ve kept these schools floating on a pile of newly borrowed money year after year. The majority of American families are experiencing decreasing or stagnant incomes, reduced home equity, smaller savings accounts, and an increasing anxiety about job security. With the financial pressure of our current recession, it’s difficult for this author to see how we as a nation will be able to afford ever-higher tuition, especially if student loans and other forms of financial aid are reduced in the future.

13 Ways to Stay Jobless

I’m sure you’ve already heard a few of these advice bullets at some point in your career, but missing even one could keep you from being hired.

If you’re  in “I need a job” land, here are 13 common mistakes to avoid making:
1. Have a Bad Resume – Not that simply sending a good resume will get you a job, but a bad resume will put the odds in favor of your competition.  If your resume is not standing out, it’s not standing out.  If you’re sending out a poorly written resume, you’re wasting your time.

2. Have a Bad Cover Letter – A good cover letter is a bit underrated.  Many people go generic, basic, and safe.  A good cover letter is addressed personally, not generically.  The cover letter should talk about the value you present to that unique employer.  It should have the most interesting piece mentioned first and be sure that it and references your attached resume.

3. Don’t Know What You Want to Do – If you don’t know what you want to do, you’re more likely to do nothing.  If you don’t know what you want to do, then you can’t confidently communicate to employers that you want to work for them.  As soon as you know what you want to do, you have something to say.  Knowing what you can or want to do, is a better strategy to promote yourself as a valuable member of the team.

4. Ask About Vacation/Benefits Before Meeting in Person – Don’t pick apart the position before you’d been made an offer.  Assuming anything upfront can appear as entitlement.  This is a personality trait that most hiring managers find unattractive.   If you practice classy negotiation skills, lock down the job first, then the extras.

5. Be Negative – If you’re jobless, being negative about your position will only help keep you there.  Start being positive now, make it a choice every morning.  Make it a point to only communicate with prospective employers with a positive tone, it’s difficult to do, but it will make you appear more desirable.  Positive people have more physical energy and can even think better.  Force yourself to smile during phone interviews,  really mean it,  it cans still change the tone of your voice.

6. Play the Blame Game – If you want to be interpreted as a responsible person, you must take responsibly.  When talking with your future boss, or anyone for that matter, don’t blame  your failures on others.   The last thing a hiring manager wants to hear about is how dumb your last employer was for firing you.  If it’s to be said, let them say it.  Any blame, or negative talk will work against your from a hiring manager’s emotional perspective.

7. Say the word: “Honestly,” During an Interview –  Don’t tell the employer you’re being honest about anything, it makes you look false.  It’s an undesirable phrase, and it should be avoided at all costs.  If you represent yourself professionally, and keep your lie cues to a minimum,  it will be assumed that you’re honest.

8. Be Predicable – When interviewing numbers of people, it’s amazing how many people will respond to the same questions with the exact same answers.  Interviews start to tire you out with pure boredom.  Sometimes, just being different and refreshing will increase your changes of being hired.  Before you’re hired, you’ll need to be considered.  Before your considered, you’ll need to be remembered.  The more common you present yourself, the easier it will be to forget you.  Don’t be predicable, be remarkable.

9. Give Stiff or Limp Fish Hand Shakes – The handshake plays.  It’s not a power-play, it’s not a chance to induct them hypnotically, it’s a social gesture.  Make sure you’re ready to shake hands, and you’re not too tight or weak with your grip.  Smile, eye contact, and think something positive to put emphasis on this physical communication.  I personally like to think the words, “Done Deal”.

10. Know Nothing About the Job or Company You’re Applying For – Blindly sending out your resume (if it’s well written) can sometimes land you an interview.  It’s your responsibility to research the company you’ll have an interview with as much as possible, otherwise you’re wasting your time.  If you don’t know, it will show, you’ll be asking a bunch of questions that will make you look like an idiot to a prospective employer.  Not only will they not hire you, but they’ll be likely to hold contempt for your poor manners.

11. Don’t Attend Job Fairs – Job fairs are a place where companies who are hiring will be looking for prospective candidates.  If you want to meet people, of “network”, it’s in your best interest to addend these events.  Even if you don’t want to work for a particular company, meeting people who work in the hiring field can benefit you down the road.  Treat attending a job fair like an interview.

 12. Dress Like a Slob - First impressions are made within only a few seconds.  Even the most non-judgmental of people will make a determination about you based on how you look.  If you don’t think that appearances matter, then you probably don’t understand how your subconsciousness mind works either.  Over 70% of our communication with other people is non-verbal.  Look in the mirror before you leave, what is your presence saying?

 13. Don’t Follow Up- When you meet people at the job fair, out in public, or during an interview you need to follow up.  Face it, you’re easily forgotten, just another face applying for “the job”.  Reduce the odds that you will be neglected and looked over by being present.  Every time someone recognizes your name, it’s more likely they’ll recommend it.   Keep a record of everyone you talk to, and schedule follow up calls for down the road for the best contacts.  If you’re really savvy, use a free CRM tool like zoho.com, and then collect as many business cards as you can.  Leveraging the power of a CRM, you can continue to follow up with your contacts and not have to remember everything.


Who’s an Education Activist?

Wikipedia.org says that Activism is an integral part of the process of democracy and consists of efforts to raise public awareness and to promote social change.  Coupled with the word Education, the definition of “Education Activist” should now make sense.

Why be an Education Activist?

When you’re presented with information that inspires you to take responsibility, you act.  When you find an idea that’s both interesting and important to you it’s “worth it”.  That being said, I’m compelled to do everything I can to influence positive change within my field.

This doesn’t eliminate my personal opinion from the equation or really describe my day job, but it’s an overall  intent I’m making public.  Contact me if you’d like to join the effort.

A few examples of other education activists could include Dale J. Stephens, Nikhil GoyalStudents for Education Reform, or Doug Porter.

Here’s a list (featured with permission from OnlineUniversities.com)

The Top 25 Education Activists in the US Today:

(Featured Post From OnlineUniversities.com)

1. John Hunter: John Hunter has dedicated his life to working with children, as a musician, teacher, filmmaker, and most famously a game designer. He is perhaps best known for creating the World Peace Game in 1978, which has taught thousands of children how to collaborate, use critical thinking, and solve problems in a peaceful manner. Hunter knew early on what many educators are just starting to embrace today: that games can be the vehicle that gets students excited about and engaged with learning. Hunter shares his personal explorations into peace and philosophy with students, and his game is the subject of a recent film, World Peace and Other 4th-Grade Achievement.

2. Michael Bennet: This Colorado Democrat served as Denver’s superintendent of schools before being appointed to one of the state’s empty Senate seats in 2009. His connection with education hasn’t weakened since moving to DC, however, and he’s been a powerful advocate for education policies with legislators on both sides of the aisle. Bennet cosponsored the DREAM Act, which amended the Illegal Immigration Reform and Immigrant Responsibility Act of 1996 by giving residency to aliens enrolled in higher education programs or serving in the military. While it has been a controversial piece of legislation, Bennet is pushing for further reforms that will help both domestically born and foreign-born students achieve their educational goals. His is a name to watch in education policy especially as the election draws nearer.

3. Catherine Bellinger and Alexis Morin: Bellinger and Morin share a place on this list because most of their work with education activism has been done jointly. The duo started Students for Education Reform (SFER) while they were still undergraduates at Princeton in 2009, hoping to rally students behind a number of educational issues at both the college and K-12 levels. The group has taken off since it began and now boasts 71 chapters in 28 states, with an additional 70 applications from schools looking to form chapters on their own campuses. Bellinger and Morin have recently put their own educations on hold to focus on the group full-time and are looking to push support for the group the hardest in four key states they think will shape educational policy over the next few years: New York, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Connecticut.

4. Steven Brill: Anyone who thinks journalism is dead doesn’t know the work of this hard-hitting writer. His 2009 article in the New Yorker about New York’s so-called “rubber rooms,” places where teachers accused of misconduct simply hang out for up to eight hours a day as their cases wind their way through the system, exposed a previously overlooked area of wasteful educational practices that shocked many New Yorkers. His success hasn’t slowed his drive for investigative reporting, and he is currently working on a book about education reform that may just change how many view the process.

5. Matt Damon: Actor Matt Damon is using his high profile and celebrity status to help his mother, who teaches early-childhood education at Boston’s Lesley University, protest many of today’s education reform initiatives. Damon and his mother have spoken out against No Child Left Behind and even refused to accept an award from the National Education Association because its president coauthored an article with Teach for America founder Wendy Kopp, another organization the Damon family has railed against. Damon has also publicly criticized President Obama for his education policies. Yet not all are on board with Damon’s opinions, and many feel he is working against issues that teachers support, having little experience in the field himself to guide his activism. Right or wrong, there’s no doubt that his voice is a passionate and high-profile one in the education debate in the U.S.

6. John Danner: Silicon Valley entrepreneur John Danner is using his high-tech skills to help students in some of America’s toughest school districts. Danner moved to Nashville when his wife took a job as a professor at Vanderbilt University, a move that would change his career drastically. It was there that Danner would become a middle-school teacher and develop a passion for education reform activism. When the couple moved back to California, Danner founded Rocketship Learning, a network of public charter schools that use technology to engage students in basic skills and practice, saving teacher interaction for support and higher-order discussions. It might not sound revolutionary, but it’s been a godsend to cash-strapped California schools that have been able to save roughly $500,000 a year at each of the Rocketship schools. In 2010, Danner’s project won the John P. McNulty Prize and the organization just received a grant from the Broad Foundation to expand.
7. Arne Duncan: Not everyone is a fan of this controversial Secretary of Education, but no matter where you stand there’s no doubt that Duncan is a powerful voice in education reform. He’s part of a growing movement in the United States that’s pushing hard for teacher pay based on results. Duncan is advocating for stringent teacher evaluations, with 50% of a teacher’s evaluation related to student achievement data, 35% on student growth, and the other 15% based on other measures of student achievement. Many teachers say this isn’t a fair way to evaluate them and penalizes those in districts with few resources and poorly performing students, further driving away the educators they desperately need. Whether these kinds of hard-nosed reforms will help or hurt education in America is yet to be seen, but either way Duncan is likely to remain a major player for years to come.

8. Bill Gates: Microsoft magnate Bill Gates has pledged billions to education through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and has been a very outspoken voice in education reform over the past decade. Gates is opposed to cutting funding to education as a way to close budget deficits and has publicly chastised states for this short-sighted view of education. In order to improve education, Gates has said that schools need to help teachers develop and grow, then reward excellence in the field. Some of his views have been controversial with teachers, as he disagrees with raises based on experience and education and doesn’t think small class sizes are the best for students, stating that the best teachers should be paid to take on more students. Gates may be right or he may be wrong, but he has the money and the influence to make major changes in American education.

9. Mark Emmert: Mark Emmert runs one of the most controversial education-related organizations in the U.S.: the NCAA. In the wake of recent scandals many have questioned whether sports should play such a big role in education or if they should be allowed at all, as they can detract from academia and cost schools money that could be spent elsewhere. Most recently, Emmert was behind the ruling at Penn State that has sidelined the school’s football team for the next four years, a punishment that itself has been highly controversial. As head of the NCAA, Emmert will have to play a major role in the coming years in reigning in college athletics, some of which have more power than university presidents and other school officials.

10. Aimee Guidera: Data mining is no passing fad in education, and Aimee Guidera is at the forefront of the movement that’s looking for new ways to collect and analyze information that schools, districts, and teachers can use to make better decisions for their students. Guidera serves as Director of the Data Quality Campaign, a group that’s responsible for much of the data-based educational initiatives over the past decade. As head of this organization, Guidera will undoubtedly play a major role in much of the education policy and curriculum developing in the coming years, helping schools bridge the gap between standards and student performance.

11. Kaya Henderson: Her old boss may have had a higher profile (see Michelle Rhee, also on this list), but this new DC Chancellor of public schools has just as ambitious of plans for the public schools. Henderson has created a five-year action plan to transform the district’s troubled public education system. Among the goals she has in her sights are increasing enrollment, improving struggling schools, increasing the graduation rate, and raising test scores in math and reading. Henderson has to do all of these while dealing with a strange teacher evaluation system, a cheating scandal, and competition from charter schools. It’s a tall order, but this education heavy-hitter plans to power through, avoiding some of the major mistakes of her predecessor along the way.

12. Ariela Rozman: Ariela Rozman is the CEO of The New Teacher Project, an education nonprofit that believes that effective teachers have a greater impact on student achievement than any other single factor. In recent years, TNTP has exposed poor teacher evaluations and HR inefficiencies in urban schools through a series of reports, having a major impact on educational policy nationwide. While the investigative research TNTP does is valuable, it performs a service that’s even more important: offering teacher training programs at the local and state level. These two functions of the organization have made big leaps in helping to improve the education in poor and predominantly minority districts, and have helped numerous teachers gain valuable skills and improve their performance.

13. Ron Tomalis: This Pennsylvania Secretary of Education served in George W. Bush’s Department of Education, is leading the governor’s education reform efforts, and has played a major role in the development and reform of a number of education policies. In short, he’s a major player in education legislation and reform. One of the biggest issues rocking the education debate in Pennsylvania right now is school vouchers, the outcome of which could set a precedent for states nationwide. Since he’s been in office, Tomalis has reached out to parties on both sides of the aisle, looking for ways to compromise and improve educational outcomes in the state.

14. Geoffrey Canada: Many know Canada for the attention he received in the documentary Waiting for Superman, and since then he has become one of the most well-known faces of education reform in America. Since 1990, Canada has been president and CEO of the Harlem Children’s Zone, an organization dedicated to improving high school and college graduation rates among students in Harlem. Canada is also on the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation and the Chairman of Children’s Defense Fund’s Board of Directors. He has written a number of books about violence in the education system and has been the recipient of numerous awards for his activism and work in education.

15. Randi Weingarten: Teachers’ unions have been taking a beating from all sides all over the nation, as states look to cut budgets by slashing teacher benefits and salaries and creating policies that are especially hard on teachers, many of whom are already overburdened. Weingarten has been at the forefront of that battle in recent years as the former head of New York City’s United Federation of Teachers and current president of the national American Federation of Teachers. In that role, she is perhaps one of the most powerful players in education reform and teacher advocacy in the nation. Weingarten will have a challenging battle ahead of her in the coming years as she has to revamp the image of teacher’s unions in the U.S. and balance the interests of numerous teacher and educational groups in the United States, who don’t always want the same things.

16. Michelle Rhee: As former chancellor of the Washington, D.C. public schools from 2007 to 2010, Michelle Rhee was one of the most well-known and infamous education reformers in the nation, taking a slash-and-burn approach to the failing D.C. area school system. While she no longer holds that position she remains a controversial figure in the field of education due to her aggressive style of reform, what some believe to be anti-union sentiments, and her unsubstantiated claims about what she accomplished during her tenure as chancellor. Still, few can argue that she hasn’t had an impact on education activism in America, both as chancellor and as the founder of StudentsFirst, a nonprofit political advocacy organization that works on education reform issues such as ending teacher tenure.

17. Mike Feinberg: In 1994, Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin started KIPP (short for the Knowledge is Power Program) in Houston immediately after completing their Teach for America commitment. This program would go on to be one of the most successful programs in low-income areas in years. Within the first year, two-thirds of students, many of whom were still learning English, would test at the gifted and talented level. To date, more than 80% of students from the original KIPP academies have gone on to college (only 25% of students from the larger community do the same). While KIPP programs have spread nationwide and have made a difference in many students’ lives, they aren’t without criticism. Some say the screening processes weed out students who really need help, selecting those who are already highly driven. There is also a very high attrition rate for low scorers and while many more students go to college, not all of them graduate. The program is also hard on teachers, who are expected to work unrealistic hours, creating a system that is prone to burnout. Still, it’s hard to argue that the KIPP program hasn’t had some serious benefits and Feinberg, as a result, has become a major force in educational activism.

18. Jonah Edelman: Edelman heads up Stand for Children, an organization that advocates for children’s education causes. It was founded in 1996 but in recent years has gained momentum, pulling in more than $3.5 billion in public funding for K-12 programs throughout the United States. The group has helped to push through policies that have had a marked impact on education in places like Oregon, Colorado, and Illinois. Edelman has proven to be a powerful leader of this grassroots operation, changing the focus of the group from rallying behind children’s issues to actively changing the public education system. Edelman has drawn criticism in recent years, however, as he is a supporter of charter school expansion, the evaluation of teachers based on test scores, and the elimination of seniority protections for teachers, which, predictably, has raised the ire of teachers’ unions and teachers themselves.

19. David Coleman: You may not have heard of David Coleman, but you’ve undoubtedly heard about his work on the Common Core Standards that will soon be the prevailing modus operandi for public schools in 45 states. Coleman is a classicist, enamored with ideas and reading, things that have had a major impact on his development of the Common Core Standards. The new standards focus on getting students to better analyze what they’re reading, though some have balked at how they downplay fiction and poetry in favor of nonfiction texts. Starting in October, Coleman will become the president of the College Board, the group that administers AP courses and the SAT, as well as supporting a number of education advocacy issues.

20. Kristin Richmond and Kirsten Tobey: This dynamic duo founded Revolution Foods, an organization that provides healthy school lunches to low-income students in a number of school districts around the U.S. The women are part of a growing movement to provide healthier options in school cafeterias, with the goal of reducing obesity and helping students develop healthy habits as they grow into adults. Since 2010, the organization has gone from serving just 30,000 meals a day to a whopping 120,000 and has recently begun offering students access to health-focused vending machines. Their business may see a boost in the coming years, as states look to give schools incentives for providing healthy meals, and as youth obesity rises, the services offered by these entrepreneurial women are only going to be more in demand.

21. Jay Mathews: Jay Mathews is an education columnist for the Washington Post, penning a column for the paper itself and also writing a blog on its website called Class Struggles. Mathews has been perhaps one of the most outspoken voices in education-related writing over the past decade, both in his work for the Post and in his own publications. In 1999, Mathews won the Benjamin Fine Award for Outstanding Education Reporting for both features and column writing. He has also published a number of successful books on American education, including Class Struggle: What’s Wrong (and Right) with America’s Best Public High Schools, Supertest: How the International Baccalaureate Can Strengthen Our Schools, Escalante: The Best Teacher in America, and Work Hard. Be Nice. Mathews has also developed a national ranking system for high schools, called the Challenge Index, which is published on the Washington Post website.

22. Sam Chaltain: This DC-based writer and education activist works with schools, school districts, and public and private sector companies to create healthy, functional learning environments. He is currently the National Director of the Forum for Education & Democracy, an education advocacy organization, and the founding director of the Five Freedoms Project, a national program that helps K-12 educators create more democratic learning communities. Chaltain draws on his experience as an English and history teachers in New York and Brooklyn in his work, penning education-related articles that have appeared in publications like the Washington Post and Education Week and writing a number of books on education and education policy (especially as related to the First Amendment) in the United States.

23. Joe Rogers: Joe Rogers wants to help young black and Latino men see reading literature as something that’s cool, normal, and positive. That goal is a big part of the work being done through his education and youth advocacy group, Total Equity Now. Recently, Rogers led a march and book donation event in Harlem called “Literacy Across Harlem,” which brought out many residents who paraded their favorite reads donated them at the Harlem Book Fair. So far, the event has collected 250 books, a good start for the community leader’s goal of promoting literacy is the troubled neighborhood. While Rogers is still mostly a local player, look for him to push harder and on a bigger platform for education reform in Harlem in the coming years.

24. Jonathan Kozol: Writer, educator, and activist Kozol is best known for his books on public education in the United States, work that has helped cement his role as a powerful education advocate and activist. Kozol began his career as a teacher in the Boston Public School system where he was fired for teaching a Langston Hughes poem, an experience he documented in his first book, Death at an Early Age, which won the National Book Award. Kozol is currently on the editorial board of Greater Good Magazine, and during his career he’s held two Guggenheim Fellowships, has twice been a fellow of the Rockefeller Foundation, and has also received fellowships from the Field and Ford Foundations. His books, among them Savage Inequalities: Children in America’s Schools, Amazing Grace: The Lives of Children and the Conscience of a Nation, The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America, have helped to expose some of the worst problems with America’s education system, especially in documenting the vast inequities between rich and poor areas.

25. Diane Ravitch: Former Assistant Secretary of Education under George W. Bush Diane Ravitch has undergone a bit of a reversal in recent years. Once a champion of tough accountability measures, national standards and testing, and school vouchers, she was hated by teachers and educational groups alike. Yet since her tenure in D.C., Ravitch has changed her stance on nearly all of those issues, winning her wide favor and support. Ravitch has been a vocal critic of nearly every aspect of modern school reform and the architects behind these reforms, airing her concerns on her blog and in national publications. She has become the go-to source for critical analysis of all things related to education policy and will likely play an important role in key election issues this year.





Random Thoughts on Meta-Pedagogy and Self Induced Adaptation

Let me recite what history teaches.  History teaches. – Gertrude Stein, “If I Told Him

There are various opinions on learning, but most agree that it’s a discipline.  As with any formal discipline, there’s a silo effect, self-positioned experts are the authorities on their specific subject. Traditionally, individuals who are interested in becoming subject matter experts themselves are forced to subscribe to the narrow and knowledge limiting disciplinary learning structure.

The rule has been that you have to learn from the experts in an arena of knowledge because they are the gatekeepers. Trans-disciplinary learning systems are being developed, but haven’t really strayed too far from the silo model. If you take a particular subject matter, view it through the lens of cubism, and then try to create something new, you’re still bound by the existing subject matter.

Over and above generating your own knowledge (figuring stuff out for yourself), you only have access to others knowledge through media or direct contact.  Even when you’re “figuring it out for yourself”, you’re still relying on what you’ve learned from everyone else. I’m not saying that traditional pedagogy doesn’t have any value, but trying to re-invent this wheel is like wandering an endless maze.  You’ll keep coming back to the same format.  You’ll have to read a book, see a video, talk to an expert.  How can I learn different/better than everyone else?  What’s the way to learn that no one has though of yet?


Synthetic Memory/Learning

In the movie “The Matrix” Neo learns complex martial arts moves by having the memories “placed” in his mind by a program. The generation of a synthetic memory trace has already been accomplished in mice through designer drugs. A Boston University post-doctoral fellow designed and implemented a method using decoded neurofeedback to induce memory activation patterns.  Drugs and advanced visual programming are examples of how we may learn faster in the future, but that content is still a form of media.  It doesn’t transcend the current pedagogy.


Genetic Memory/Learning

Genetic memory is knowledge that you’re born with, your “instincts”.  All animals have an inherent inclination toward particular behaviors, but most of the actual “learning” seems to be on the sub-conscious level.  Drives, instincts, and reflexes cover this type of learning that’s apparently encoded in our genetic makeup.  Harvard Stem Cell Institute researchers have conducted independent studies on how cells remember, but we’re light years from taking that information and then cloning memories to be offered as a “mind upgrade”.  It’s possible that we’re learning now, and teaching future generations.  Will future generations become sub-consciously hungry when they see a McDonald’s logo?  The idea is that your child would be born already knowing how to speak, accomplish advanced motor functions, and gifted with a head start on the traditional knowledge gathering.


Knowledge/Learning Adaptation

Maybe it’s not about knowledge acquisition, but about knowledge adaptation.  What if you could internally grow your own knowledge?  How do you stimulate your mind to “just know”?  Some could argue that knowledge is simply memories and information.  Ideas are formed from this stored information and applied to either solve a problem or participate in a collective.  At the end of that day, most of what you know, someone else knows.  Most of what you’ve learned, you learned the same way as everyone else.  There’s different ways to make this existing process better, but it’s still all the same.





Seniors, Ready to Lose Your Social Security to Garnishment?

Some seniors don’t have enough money to pay for their medicine because they’re still paying off their kids students loans

According to a recent article on MSN Money, Americans age 60 and Over Owe $36 Billion in Student Loans:

 ”Roughly 2.2 million student loan debtors were 60 and older during the first quarter of 2012, and nearly 10% of their loans were 90 days or more past due, up from 6% during the first quarter of 2005, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. “It’s really a unique problem we haven’t had to face before, and it’s only going to grow,” says Robert Applebaum, the founder of Student Debt Crisis, a nonprofit advocacy group in Staten Island, N.Y”

The recession isn’t the only factor fueling this “debt bomb” education crisis, it’s also being pushed by rapidly rising tuition rates, and the fact that you can’t discharge this type of debt obligation through bankruptcy.  If you want to avoid being part of the student debt bomb crowd, you’re going to need to make sure your investing wisely when making the choice to borrow money for college.

With the cost of college outpacing the growth of wages, you’ll need to make much more money from your job  to break even.  This trend is very likely to effect how career decisions will be made in the future.  Instead of asking kids what they want to be when they grow up, we should start asking them how much money they’ll want to make.

Interviewed On Real Money Radio

David Holland | Real Money Radio

My soon to be published book “The College Unicorn” was recently featured on the Real Money Radio Show with David Holland.  I’m still very excited to have had this opportunity and I genuinely enjoyed my interview with Mr. Holland.  We discussed career choices, cost of tuition, college debt, career planning, and college return on investment.  If you’re interested in tuning in, the show will be aired tonight and tomorrow on the following radio stations:

  •  5:00 am on AM1300 WMEL Cocoa Beach
  • 9:00 am on AM1380 WELE Ormond Beach
  • 9:00 am on AM1340 WROD Daytona Beach
  • 6:00 pm on AM1300 WMEL Cocoa Beach
  • 6:30 pm on AM1240 WFOY St. Augustine
***If you missed the show, you can download a recording here: http://realmoneyradio.com/shows/06192012.mp3

During my preparation for the interview I researched Mr. Holland, his show, and current financial planning in general.  I even went so far as to order and read one of David’s books, “Confessions of a Financial Planner”  Which is an excellent book full of common sense retirement planning and financial advice.

The more I learn about my own retirement planning, the more commonalities I’m discovering between college and career planning and retirement planning.  Both subjects take a fair amount discipline, understanding or advice, and diligent planning.

After all, without a solid career, what type of retirement performance could one expect?  In the retirement planning advice circles, the mantra is “start saving early”.  The earlier you do anything, the more time you’ll have to accomplish it better.  The same is true for career planning, but it seems that we’ve been failing to completely connect the two subjects.  I think it’s possible to cover both if you focus on the umbrella that covers both, Lifestyle Planning.  Basically, from early on, it would serve us best to focus and design our ideal lifestyle.

When you approach major life decisions from the perspective of lifestyle design, retirement and career planning become one in the same.  The end goal is living a better life so your career and financial habits will play in that accomplishment.  It’s really the same as what most successful people are doing now, only from a slightly broader perspective.

How much would someone’s plans change if they looked at the bigger picture?  What type of return might a student expect if they invested the money their parents had allocated for college into their own retirement fund?  What might happen if you started planning your retirement your junior year of high-school instead of looking at college alone?

7 Tips on “Talking College” with Your Teen

A common challenge with college planning is starting up the conversation with your child.  As you might already know, correctly navigating the first career decisions after high-school will have a huge impact on your teen’s adult life.   It’s important to start the college conversation  early so that your student is best prepared academically, expenses can be better manged, and they will be more confident in their aim.  Before their Junior year is best because that’s when they’ll be taking the PSAT as preperation for the SAT and ACT standardized tests for college entry.


1. Make it About Them – Say Out loud, “We are not going to college, you are going to college”.  Don’t push your teen to any subject or agenda.  To help guide/advise your student you’ll need their buy-in, and the only way to do that is to keep your ego out of the conversation.  This is your teen’s future, their experience, they will need to take the action.  You should plan on having them physically do all of the work, because you will not be able to do it on their behalf.  Help them discover on their own what you already know.

2. Educate Yourself - Start educating yourself during their first year of high school.  Check in with their high school to understand their process and what help they might offer in the college application process.  Look into pre-college education opportunities.  Study the current labor market, read college guide books, and knowledge up on your teen’s prospective career interests.  Some schools have access to “college fairs” where Juniors/Seniors can scope out local campuses without having to impress anyone.  The more educated you are, the better advice you can give.  If you’re a trusted resource it will also be easier for your teen to listen.

3.  Take Field Trips – If you know there’s a few colleges that might be on the radar, take a few days off high school and drive your teen there during their sophomore or junior year.  Tour the grounds, visit with the staff.  Doing this “test drive” is a great catalyst to discussing the subject of college.  Take this time to learn about your child’s perceptions of college and evaluate what features will be of importance when making the investment.

4. Schedule  Conversations – If talking with your teen about their upcoming college plans creates any tension sometimes it helps to schedule it.  Ask when they’d like to talk about it.  For example  you could both set aside every other Thursday night at 6:30 – 7:00.  This does two things, it adds formality to the conversation and scheduling introduces a time limit.  This way you can avoid having every conversation turning into one about school.

5. Design a Career/LifeStyle Plan – Ask your teen about their future plans:

  • Where do you want to live?
  • Do they want an apartment or a house?
  • How big will their property be?
  • What kind of car do you want when you’re older?
  • What do you want to be when you “grow up”?
  • How much vacation do they plan on taking? (Where, What will you do)?

These are fun questions because the answers will determine the cost of their planned lifestyle.  Lifestyle costs demands could impact end career interests.  You’ll also want to discuss employment rates and other factors that could impact their choice of majors.  When you have a clearer career plan, the college (or “no college”) plan starts to take care of itself.  Your student’s career focus will help drive the college conversation initiative.

6. Present “No College” as an Option – If you don’t go to college, what will you do?  Maybe you won’t go to school the first year after graduation?  Good questions to open are, Where will you live, how will you advance your career plan, and what would make you consider college?  Ultimately, it’s their life.  You may regret focusing diligently on their success during the last few years they’re living with you when you could have talked about something else.

7. Know The Job – After your teen has fully committed to a particular career path it’s useful to dig in.  There’s nothing worse than investing money and time into a career that isn’t a lifestyle fit, isn’t available, or just isn’t you.   Use LinkedIn or another source to find someone doing the same job that your teen wants to do.   Look at that person’s profile, what is their education, past job experience?  Try to interview someone in the field.  Nail down the best education source to get qualified for that position.  Make a list of companies that might hire for that position.  Research the companies, start the networking process.


More Evidence to Support an Upcoming Education Crisis

Everyday there’s more news supporting the strong probability of a “higher education crisis”.  Maybe it’s already here, if so,  it seems that it’s still getting worse.  A recent article in USA Today summarized the US Department of Education’s annual look at college affordability.  Between 2008 and 2010 the average tuition at a four-year public university has climbed 15%.  At this rate, if the trend continues, the cost of college will double in the next 10 years.

A 2011 report which was release by “The Project on Student Debt” indicates that the unemployment rate has drastically impacted the ability of students to pay back these enormous loans:

“In the current economic climate, recent college graduates who borrowed for their education face particular challenges in paying back their student loans. The unemployment rate for young college graduates rose from 8.7 percent in 2009 to 9.1 percent in 2010, the highest annual rate on record.”

Student debt has recently hit a trillion dollars.  The average debt for graduates in 2011 was $23,300, with 10 percent owing more than $54,000 and 3 percent owing more than $100,000, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports.  All this while the average cost of raising a child has climbed to around $300,000 (Not Including College)

Affording college has nothing to do with getting the student loan, it has to do with paying that loan off.  Both students and parents need to first know what the education costs are, then understand if their choice in career/school will provide enough college ROI.

The awareness of this obvious problem is growing and actions to help have already started.   A new law enacted in 2008 required the U.S. Department of Education to provide better college cost information to students, parents, and policy makers.  The answer to that law was CATC.    The College Affordability and Transparency Center  includes information about the current costs at America’s colleges and universities.  They provide objective access to actual data and other tools like “Net Price Calculator”, “College Navigator”, and “State Spending Charts”.