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Political Mayhem Wreaks Havoc on Higher Education

Nearly a year ago, PBS published an article that examined the concerns of the pending fiscal cliff and the need for the President and Congress to agree on numerous budget cuts and tax adjustments. One of the concerns at that time was the impact of the fiscal cliff on education. Well, it is a year later and although the nation was able to defer the doom associated with the fiscal cliff, we still find ourselves in a situation where the status quo in Washington has placed the education of many in doubt. 

Education and Politics
American citizens are constantly reminded of the manner in which politics and education are inextricably bound. Last year it was the fiscal cliff that had educators fearing the worst – now it is a government shutdown. As politicians play there little games in Washington, they leave their constituents grasping for air as they struggle to maintain. Thousands of government workers are left without jobs indefinitely. College students are being confronted with the possibility discontinuing their studies due to the financial impact of the government's failure to sustain itself.

The Education Department and Beyond 

PBS's article pointed to the fact that the strain placed on educational institutions and students went beyond the budgeting issues directly associated with the Education Department. For instance, the lack of funding in other government programs such as after school care program funding, as well other subsidies that allowed students to attend higher education institutions despite current hardships.

As students experience these hardships it has a broad reaching impact on their studies. If a single mother has to come out of her pocket for daycare that was being subsidized by the government, it could mean that she would be forced to work more hours to cover the cost or be forced to drop out of school because of the lack of adequate childcare.

An Uneven Playing Field

Higher education is supposed to be the great equalizer. It has the capacity to empower those who come from substandard socioeconomic conditions to compete with those who come from more affluent backgrounds. Unfortunately, this shutdown disproportionately impacts those that are fall below the poverty line. Studies reveal that more than 70 percent of college students that are living on their own live below the poverty line. This means that they are not in a position to take up the slack caused by the lapse in funding that the government shutdown has created.

While politicians continue to point the finger at one another, students are being forced to face some painfully tough decisions. Some students have very few options. While some have the option of taking out a personal loan from family members that can be paid back without interest, others will be forced to either take out more student loans – putting them deeper in and debt and further behind the break-free curve – or to drop their studies until the resources are available.

Viable Alternatives

While students search for resolutions to the dyer situations they face, one simple alternative stands at the forefront of all the madness. Some students have the option of withdrawing from major universities and on ground campuses and enrolling in online campuses. Online schools such as Vista College are designed to meet the needs of those students who are facing the type of challenges brought on by the government shut down.

The online environment creates flexibility for the single parent that has lost their daycare support; it also allows the student to work at their own pace – relieving some of the tension that can be associated with an on ground campus. Vista College also has the resources to help students with tuition assistance. In many cases, there a special scholarships that will not require repayment. There is so much uncertainty involved with the government shutdown, but schools such as Vista College provide a viable alternative.
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Public Relations Degree

After getting a public relations degree, you may be at a loss for exactly what you want to do. What are some of the most common jobs that people get when they have a degree like yours? How do those jobs fit into the things that you already know and love? The answers to these two questions can help you find a job that you will be good at, that you can love for many years to come. You just need to find a job with many openings that already relates to something that you enjoy, helping you be happy and content in your new career. 

Many companies hire PR teams to talk to people whenever anything goes wrong. They deal with customers who have had problems and they help them find solutions. For example, a car company is going to have a PR department that will get involved if there are recalls on some of the vehicles. The team will contact people who have those vehicles to tell them about the recalls and what they will do to fix the problem. They will also field calls and email messages from people who have broken cars and who want to find out what their options are. 

Another example of work in this industry involves working with celebrities. Many football players will have a PR team. This team does two things. First, it helps the player connect with the fans. This could include simple things such as running a blog, or it could include things like throwing charity events or football camps that children can come to. Secondly, the PR team helps to make sure that everything that the player does or says to the public will reflect positively on that player. This could include screening the blog to ensure that something is not said in a moment of frustration that will cause people to turn against them. 

As you can see, there are two very different sides to public relations jobs. The third side is to work on a social media team. This can be done for companies right around the time that they are going to launch a new product. You could be in charge of making videos, writing website content, and generally just spreading the word about the product. You will be trying to get in touch with people who may potentially be interested in making a purchase.
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Studying Far and Wide: The Shock of Culture

No matter where you go in the world to study, whether it’s to the other side of the globe or the other side of the country, there is bound to be some form of culture shock in one way or another. Going to study abroad in another country can be an incredibly exciting experience, and when it is make sure you treasure those moments. However, there will be times when you realize that you’re not at home anymore. Things you thought would be new, exotic and original have the possibility of becoming maybe a little bit too different and leaving you a rather frustrated and homesick. Every continent, every country, even every state is different and getting used to it can prove difficult if you’re not prepared. When you take that first step into a new country as a young student everything is bound to seem a little strange: the food, the transport as well as your studies and new college. Obviously, if you’ve grown up and lived in the same town for your whole life, you are used to the values and ideals of that particular culture, so trying to adapt to foreign culture can create a mixture of emotion. 


Differences across the world are varied, whether they are huge differences between the U.S and Asia or simply smaller differences between states or moving from a small town to a big city. Firstly, and most obviously, the language barrier can be a huge shock. It is the main thing that separates the world, and most people see language as a beautiful thing. However, if you are not studying a particular language, you may often find yourself a little bit stuck. Trying to talk to locals or trying to figure out street signs on your way to class is bound to start off a little awkwardly, that is until you start to know your way around and start picking up some simple phrases to get by. 


Even if you are going to study in an English speaking country, the reality of other cultures can also be a surprise. Standard and way of living can differ greatly country-to-country; you can never expect the same ways of life no matter what language they speak. Food is another main difference across the world, as it is unlikely for you to find home comforts once you’re away from home. Trying local cuisine is a must to be able to become more familiar with a different culture, but your favorite home-cooked meal is unlikely to be found. Instead, just dig into some of that real Italian pizza or French cheese. 

Phases of Cultural Adjustment:

There are various phases of adjusting to different cultures once you’ve chosen to study in another country. It begins with the initial euphoria, beginning with the excitement of arriving in the new country and ending as the excitement eventually wears off. The irritability phase is introduced if certain aspects of everyday life become difficult to get used to, as everything still feels new and different and, well, foreign. You will begin to focus on simply the differences between home and your new country, and sometimes even the little difficulties will appear major to you. Therefore the culture shock can be a little bit too overwhelming and difficult to handle for some. When things do become too much, it may be easy to take a wrong turn if you are unable to deal with the pressures of culture shock alongside the pressure of further education. No matter what you have turned to, returning home is always a possibility due to the number of recovery programs in California and across the U.S. However, if able to progress through this phase, then gradual adjustment and adaptation can be achieved. The differences will minimize, and you will begin to be fascinated with your new home, enjoying the culture, cuisine and learning the language. 

Easing Cultural Shock:

Most people will naturally experience some form of culture shock in a variety of proportions, but mostly you will be able to handle the differences from home and adapt to your new country with no problems. Travelling with a genuine interest in the culture that you are staying in for your studies is imperative, as if you have no interest then you will be more reluctant to try new things; so an open mind is imperative to begin an unforgettable experience. Also, as long as you are prepared for things to be different and you are not expecting everyday life to be exactly the same, then any differences you come across will not be as drastic as they first seem. Studying abroad should be an amazing and exciting experience, and the thought of culture shock should not put you off trying something new.

by Jennifer Mann
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