Category Archives: Student Loans

Communication breakdown

Another day
Photo by: Marshall Astor

Do you get up each day wondering how you will make it through another day of repeating the same steps you repeated the day before?

Did you drop into bed the night before wondering why something just doesn’t seem to be “clicking into place” or that certain moment isn’t happening in your life?

Your “moment” may be different from someone else’s and what may seem repetitive to you may not to someone else but what is lacking more and more in society today is genuine interaction, conversation, listening, being heard and that feedback from someone on a level that is not only listening but being heard and really being tuned into to what is being said.

Genuine interaction with friends
Photo by: Philm

No, this is not an ad for Match.com but our society is changing everyday and with those changes come many benefits but also struggles if there isn’t the ability to adapt. However, is there always a way to adapt an entire society to an ongoing cycle of change?

Let’s look at one part, communication.

How many ways could one communicate 40 years ago?

Write a letter, make a phone call, telegram, or face to face pretty much.

"Old fashion" ways of staying in touch still do exist....
Photo by Muffet

Many people knew people in their neighborhoods, communities, schools, families and kept more in touch with the people around them on a more personal level.

Today, we have grown in the ability to have a much larger number of ways to stay in contact, at anytime, with nearly anyone, all over the world, even meet complete strangers.

We have the Internet which has given us numerous social medias like FaceBook, Twitter, Tagged, messaging, email, live chat, Skype, multiple online dating services, and countless ways which I am not intentionally leaving out. The fact is, the ability to communicate via the Internet is huge!

We have cellphones which allow us the ability to receive and make calls from anywhere and to anywhere which, even if it may seem rude, could mean a quiet movie theater, the bathroom, or in the middle of “nowhere” (can you hear me now?).

Contact ability goes everywhere we go....
Photo by: Anthony Quintano

Plus, with cell phones, there is texting…lots of texting! I’m not so sure if that counts as “communicating” but there are words being exchanged…so I am including it here.

It almost seems old fashion to mention the fact someone can send a Fax but it is a way to communicate….

So, here comes another point. It seems today there is less actual communication. There is far less listening and the ability to communicate and reason a point seems to be going down the drain.

Relationships are being built on the Internet, carried out through texting, and more of what was once built face to face is lost. That emotional connection, expression is becoming more of a lost part in our society.

Again, I’m not just talking about dating relationships. I mean real relationships with friends, family, people with similar experiences.

How well do you really know those you are “in touch” with?

How well do you know your neighbors, schoolmates, coworkers, distant family? Do you just keep up with their FaceBook, Blog or text here and there? Do you ask them questions?

Most of us have become very accustomed to today’s way of life. It’s easier and more suited to our busy schedules.

Our kids have the same way of life. Seriously, we text each other in the house (I have!)

But, we can’t let go of the need to sit down face to face and communicate, really let things go for a while. Ask people how they are doing and about their goals or what they are facing.

Discuss issues at work or social events
Photo by: Gelatobaby

People right next door or at our job may be facing hunger, a death in the family, domestic violence, loss of their home, divorce or a crisis but without asking or showing concern, the day may pass by, a week or a month and just the same, “I’m fine” until one day, they just aren’t at work.

In our country, we are facing some of the toughest times ever. This is not the time to say, “It’ll pass,” and just leave everything up to our leaders in Washington.

These problems started a long time ago. It is not a party problem or a political problem. This is a communication problem.

As many of us have lost close contact with those in our workplaces, schools, communities and even our own families and may not be listening to what is always being said, these leaders aren’t listening either. How can they be making sound and solid decisions without hearing what their constituents, the voters are really calling for, asking for and needing? This is causing consequences for everyone and needs to be understood and addressed. Each person taking responsibility for their own actions and what they have been given the opportunity and trust to uphold.

Here’s an example. As an adult, you have a choice of whether to go to work or not. You can choose to never go. There will most likely be very strong consequences for you choosing not to go and they will probably go into effect pretty quickly.

However, when an elected official in Washington has a job to get done and keeps procrastinating and all of America is on pins and needles, it is okay for them to put it on hold, bicker back and forth like babies and continuously act as though they can’t decide on whether it is more appropriate to help keep funding for those who need it or those who can afford to give up some breaks?

Either way, no matter what, their job isn’t on the line, their pay isn’t on the line, the health care isn’t on the line and their homes aren’t up for foreclosure.

Do they talk face to face to the people who are going through these things or do they just go by reports being fed to them by those working for them? Have they lost the ability to listen or be genuinely immersed in a conversation and have that desire to do something that matters or is it just more important to win?

Washington shouldn’t be about winning. It was supposed to be about representing but you can’t do that if you can’t listen to those you represent.

Instead of just using the phrase, “What the American people want,” maybe it would be to everyone’s benefit to find that out again by actually learning to communicate the old fashion way.

Talks, talks and more talks but who are the discussions about and who are they listening to? How long is this acceptable?

Recovery for America Pt. 2 – Education Reform

The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was last reauthorized in 2002 as No Child Left Behind (NCLB). Although the NCLB has sparked many controversies due to its tests and the time spent on test preparation vs. time spent on education in other necessary areas of learning, it did shed light on the achievement and opportunity gap in our nation’s schools.

Students should be able to face the future when leaving school and they should have the best opportunity during their early education through their High School years. It should not depend on where they live, their family income or their circumstances.

In America, education is an equal opportunity. It should be.

The question for a High School student should not be, “Can you read?” That should be an expectation in elementary school and middle school. To be competitive in the world, the U.S. needs to ask more of its students which means the educational system needs to be more innovative, diverse and competitive itself, always moving forward.

Can U.S. students form an opinion about something they just read and justify their opinion? Can they create solutions when faced with problems? Are they prepared for college? Do they know what is going on in the world around them? Students of today are leaders of tomorrow, business owners, doctors, scientist, inventors, parents, and teachers. It is up to today’s leaders, teachers and society to help prepare them for their future.

On February 17, 2009 President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

The ARRA provides $4.35 billion for the Race to the Top Fund, a competitive grant program designed to encourage and reward states that are creating the conditions for education, innovation and reform. Click the above link to read more about how this Race to the Top fund is expected to change education.

Although some programs come in and seem to work while others don’t and some bills can easily get passed through Washington while others get held up or turned down, the fact is not everything goes as planned or as promised.

During the 2008 campaign, Obama reached many college students. One of the goals he proposed was to raise the $1800.00 tax credit for college students to $4000.00. However, through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the existing law currently has the tax credit set at $2500.00 for college students.

As of July 1, 2010 all new federal student loans will be originated through the Direct Loan program, instead of through the federally-guaranteed student loan program. The Direct Loan program is a more reliable lender for students and more cost-effective for taxpayers. This bill will increase the maximum annual Pell Grant, expand the Perkins Loan Program, simplify the application process for federal student aid and boost support for community colleges.

The United States has continued to lose ground in education worldwide over the last 20 years. For the U.S. to gain this ground back, students must be able to do more than just basic studies. They need to be able to use those skills and apply them to real life situations, show the ability to think, reason and problem solve. The educational system needs to provide them the atmosphere to grow and learn.

Students need the ability for further education and the desire to pursue higher goals. Family and community involvement, with the help of schools, will better promote an environment in which a student is able to seek support and focus on their studies.

By being involved in local schools, school districts and knowing what is going on with upcoming pieces of legislation, a person can vote on important matters that will be in effect for many years to come. Education is the key to the future.

“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela