Archive for July, 2012

15 Storytelling Techniques to Boost Your Career

Jul. 26th 2012

If the whole world’s a stage, everyone’s life is a story being played out. And there are no bad stories, just bad storytellers. Whether you are applying for a new job or are being interviewed for a promotion by your current employer, your chances of success can be greatly enhanced by transforming yourself from a walking set of skills into an unforgettable lead actor in your own play. To create compelling narratives that engage your listeners and write you indelibly on their minds while highlighting your best qualities, follow these 15 storytelling techniques.

  1. Don’t limit stories to your work life:

    Obviously stories about career accomplishments and performances are relevant to a job interview and can be very effective to share. But don’t limit your pool of story ideas to just the office; some of the best yarns come from your private life. Connections can easily be made to the office environment through tales of climbing a mountain, landing a big fish, or raising kids.

  2. Identify the quality first, then develop the story:Annette Simmons, the author of The Story Factor, recommends you first pick a quality about yourself you want to highlight, then think back on the story. She suggests drawing on four “reliable buckets” for good stories: a time you showed off that quality, a time you failed, a valued mentor, or a favorite book or movie with a character who displayed that quality.
  3. Let job postings be your guide:As for what skills you should highlight with your stories, Katherine Hansen, the author of Tell Me About Yourself: Storytelling to Get Jobs and Propel Your Career, recommends looking to job postings. Pick a dozen or so listings and find which required skills pop up the most. For each skill, come up with a relatively recent story from work or play that shows how you have displayed that skill in the past.
  4. Tell the truth:Simple, right? Yet still the belief persists that “everyone lies on their resume” and a little fudging here and there is expected. Your mission as a storyteller is to take what you have, warts and all, and turn it into a compelling narrative. This means, for example, not hiding unemployment gaps but sharing what you learned from the experience that’s now made you a better person and worker.
  5. Speak with your audience in mind:

    As John Steinbeck pointed out, if a story is not about the hearer, he won’t listen. So your story needs to be relatable at its core. Stories that might put off your listener because they are offensive, haughty, or completely out of the realm of everyday life may get you remembered, but not for the right reasons.

  6. Bring your story to life with vivid imagery:What makes a story stick in a person’s mind is the ability to mentally place themselves in your shoes and picture what you went through. You pull this off by describing some of the sensory details: the smell of the fresh-cut grass, the sound of the lawnmower, the feel of the golf club in your hands, the look on your friend’s face when you hit that hole-in-one.
  7. Get to the point:You know you’ve told an awful story when you finish and the listener says, “Interesting,” and moves on. You know you’ve told a truly compelling story when he’s bubbling with questions when you finish. And that’s exactly what you want from him: interest in you. So sometimes the best storytelling technique is to drop question-begging statements and speed right past them in the telling.
  8. Nail the opener:Women take a notoriously brief amount of time sizing up potential male partners, and you probably don’t have much longer to capture a listener’s attention with a story. Pique their interest by promising them something unusual or surprising. Throw out phrases like “brush with death” or “funniest thing I’ve ever seen,” anything that makes their ears perk up and gives you their complete attention. Just be sure to deliver once you’ve built it up.
  9. Make your cover letter stand out:The cover letter doesn’t have to be a drab, formulaic “To Whom It May Concern” affair. William Zinsser, the author of the landmark book On Writing Well, advises opening a cover letter with an anecdote or something like “One reason I want to work for you is I always remember something my father told me…” As it’s still a cover letter, keep it concise and use simple, conversational language.
  10. Follow a story formula:

    There are a number of storytelling formulas developed by experts in this field of career advancement that you should stick to when crafting your stories. All of them involve progressing from some sort of problem or situation to the actions you took and the results that followed. For example, there is Kathryn Troutman’s CCAR formula: context, challenge, action, result. Another formula is Fred Coon‘s SHARE: situation, hindrance, action, results, and evaluation.

  11. Think of a resume as “story lite”:Because resumes are supposed to be concise, it can be hard to tell a story with one, but not impossible. Hansen advises thinking of each bullet point as a mini-story, concisely worded, to be expounded on in an interview or cover letter. Rather than leading with what you did, start each point with the positive results of your actions first in order to grab attention.
  12. Jazz up a LinkedIn invitation:Storytelling is basically about making business communication more conversational. Don’t overlook chances to make your communication memorable and interesting. For example, instead of sending the default “I’d like to add you to my professional network” on a LinkedIn connection invitation, craft a little message that will stick in the invitee’s mind (and cause him to accept): “Loved your recent post. I shared it, along with others in the past, with several of my LinkedIn Groups. Would you like to connect with me here on LinkedIn? I feel like I already know you!”
  13. Create a story-based personal branding statement:Personal branding is the art of establishing yourself as separate from the pack. The best way to do this is to incorporate your story and your experiences, which are inherently unique to only you. In David Andrusia and Rick Haskins’ Brand Yourself: How to Create an Identity for a Brilliant Career, they recommend using the formula “skills + personality/passion + market needs = branding statement.”
  14. Practice makes perfect:Don’t make the interview the first time you break out a story or you’ll meander and search for words or names and generally do a shoddy job. Consider writing out a story you want to use, then read through it and edit it down, cutting superfluous information. Once you have that, practice telling it with a natural rhythm and with the appropriate pauses and emphases.
  15. Know when to make your exit:

    Part of knowing your audience is being able to gauge how busy they are. Of course, everyone is busy, but some potential employers are busy. You’ll need to walk the line between taking the time to tell your story properly and taking up more of your interviewer’s time than you should. Either way, the key is to wrap up your tale leaving them wanting more, as any good storyteller can attest.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Career | No Comments »

62 Smartphone Apps Revolutionizing the Modern Commute

Jul. 23rd 2012

Communing can be a real pain in the patootie, especially when you have to contend with extensive or unreliable public transportation. But downloading the right smartphone apps gives commuters the potential to convert the tedium into something far more productive, even educational. And, of course, ensure the safest, most efficient route between points. Consider the following — most available on the iPhone, Android, and Blackberry devices — when looking to sharpen those time management skills and maybe learn a few things along the way.

Audio and Video

  1. TED:Watch and listen to TED Talks about pretty much every subject imaginable, making that long commute home an educational multimedia experience.
  2. Savage Love:Sex and relationship columnist and It Gets Better Project founder Dan Savage is unafraid to tackle the tough questions on his podcast in order to educate the world about topics it all too often sensationalizes and misunderstands; do remember that, given the nature of the material, he gets explicit!
  3. NPR Music:America’s venerable public radio station allows users to watch videos and listen to songs and interviews with seasoned music veterans and up-and-comers from across different genres.
  4. NPR Podcast:As with its music app, NPR encourages both live streams and archive browsing of some of its most popular programs in podcast form.
  5. Netflix:Netflix users can download the company’s official app and watch its extensive holdings of films, TV shows, and documentaries on the go.
  6. Pandora:Wildly popular Pandora creates customized radio stations tailored to individual users’ tastes, exposing them to new bands they may not otherwise hear about.
  7. YouTube:Millions of the Internet’s best videos about cats and lip-synching teenyboppers are now available on Androids, Blackberries, and iPhones around the world at the touch of an icon. Be afraid.
  8. HBO Go:The app download may be free, but anyone wanting to take advantage of the thousands of streaming episodes of current and past HBO shows (like Game of Thrones, The Wire, and Curb Your Enthusiasm) must own a subscription to the channel first.
  9. Audiobooks:One of the most well-received audiobook applications available boasts a library of well over 28,000 classics that also just happen to be completely gratis.
  10. Khan Academy:The vast majority of Khan Academy’s 2,700 educational videos stream for free on its amazing app that encourages audiences to learn a little something in their spare time.

Learn and Play

  1. Wikipedia:When looking for a little accessible commute reading that isn’t about plucky journalists in poorly researched BDSM arrangements (we’re looking at you, 50 Shades of Grey), give Wikipedia a chance. Getting lost in its pages for hours still stands as a new media rite of passage.
  2. Draw Something:Build both creativity and social relationships in this ridiculously popular app that transitions Pictionary-style sensibilities into the 21st century.
  3. eHow:eHow encourages users to learn new skills and tackle new projects by sharing crowdsourced instructions, which receive rankings based on their effectiveness and clarity.
  4. Google Sky Map:Day or night, Google’s atlas of the night sky corresponds to wherever smartphone enthusiasts point their devices and displays what stars and other heavenly bodies sit directly overhead.
  5. Words with Friends:If you’re looking for a sociable game with some degree of academic challenge, try Words with Friends and its vocabulary-nurturing Scrabble-esque setup.
  6. MoMA:Art lovers, regardless of their proximity to New York, use the Museum of Modern Art’s official app to learn about and view its impressive holdings, tour it remotely through multimedia, soundtrack virtual and in-person visits, snap and send photos, and more.
  7. Instagram:Instagram encourages budding young (and sometimes old) photographers and artists to snap their world and fiddle around with special effects to create some different interpretations of what they see in front of them.
  8. National Geographic:Rather than staring out the bus or train’s window at the same old scenes, fire up this application and delve into the wondrous sights, sounds, and cultures our planet offers.
  9. Rosetta Stone:Rosetta Stone offers up a few different programs for a few different smartphone platforms, making it easier than ever to pass the time building acumen in the world’s most common languages.
  10. MIT Open Courseware Lecture Hall:MIT continues leading the world in open source classes and resources, much of which curious commuters can download, read, watch, and listen to as they head to and from work and school.
  11. NYTimes Crosswords:The New York Times brings its legendary crossword puzzles to smartphones everywhere, offering both spelling and trivia challenges for the more solo-oriented puzzle fan.
  12. Math Quiz for All Ages:Great for self-learners and students and professionals needing a little supplement, this seriously nifty resource has math quizzes for all skill levels, covering many different practices.

News

  1. Slate:One of the Internet’s most popular digital magazines also happens to provide a handy app so fans can search the latest stories and commentary regarding culture, politics, and current events.
  2. BBC News:BBC allows users to search the latest headlines based on geography and subject matter, making it a quick and easy resource for savvy commuters.
  3. CNN:Not only does CNN’s officially sanctioned app provide video and audio in addition to the usual articles, it also encourages citizen journalists to upload their own stories about what’s going on in their neighborhoods.
  4. Fluent News Reader:Rather than spending time scanning multiple apps from multiple news sources, Fluent acts as an aggregator cobbling together the most popular news stories from dozens of different sources, from BBC to TMZ.
  5. Al Jazeera English:Because of America’s military involvement in Western Asia, its citizenry should know of all the news and views impacting the regions; granted, its citizenry should stay on top of stories worldwide simply anyways, even if it holds no direct influence.
  6. AP Mobile:The Associated Press’ official application constantly comes out on top as one of the most popular, well-stocked news resources around.
  7. NPR News:NPR News archives writing, video, and audio from its numerous affiliates to render local news easier to find; in addition, you can download its extensive programming as podcasts for offline listening.
  8. Stitcher Radio:Subscribe to trending topics and political candidates, then read up on aggregated stories curated from more than 10,000 popular news sources using this heavily decorated bit of technology.
  9. FOX News:One of the most incendiary news sources out there also happens to exist as one of the most popular as a result, and its app follows suit, with streaming video and talk radio features.
  10. The Wall Street Journal:Considering the economy’s shoddy state, The Wall Street Journal consulting helps Americans stay on top of the financial and political news that holds influence over it.

Productivity

  1. Out of Milk:If you have to run to the supermarket before heading home, Out of Milk keeps a digital copy of both your “to-buy” and “in the pantry” lists.
  2. Dropbox:Constantly touted as the best productivity app ever, Dropbox connects smartphones with computers back home for sorting, browsing, and uploading/downloading.
  3. iThoughts:With a $7.99 price tag on the iPhone, iThoughts isn’t exactly the cheapest productivity tool out there, but it certainly works wonders when needing to mindmap a current or future project while on the go; inspiration, like ninjas, can unexpectedly strike at any time.
  4. Evernote:This incredibly valuable little app offers nearly everything workers and students need to stay on top of their tasks, including voice reminders, to-do lists, searchable bookmarks, and plenty of other super-duper Type-A features.
  5. Box:Box provides space for users to store their various media files for use on many different devices, with both online and offline capabilities.
  6. PageOnce – Money & Bills:Use commuting time to take care of pesky bills and other financial obligations through the convenient, safe, and free PageOnce application, which boasts a handy interface and compiles together all accounts that require payouts.
  7. Yelp:Whether looking for a quiet coffee shop conducive to studying or a chic sushi bar that will impress the big boss, Yelp will help you find it and provide user reviews chock full of details to point you toward the right spot.
  8. QuickOffice:The announcement of Google’s QuickOffice purchase literally hit an hour before this writing, leaving the app’s future a Godzilla-sized question mark. Until then, though, enjoy how fluidly it lets you whip up and share Microsoft Office documents away from your desktop or laptop.
  9. Mint.com Personal Finance:Another heavily decorated personal finance app, this time focusing more on personal budgeting. Turn commuting time into productivity time and enjoy home once you finally get back.
  10. Flashcards:Flashcards is an essential customization tool that lets users of all ages and skill levels create their own decks covering any subject they need to review or master.

Reading and Writing

  1. Stanza:This app partners with various e-book purveyors to deliver more than 100,000 choices, covering both the classics and newer reads, at varying prices.
  2. Pulse News:Though advertised as a quick and easy way to follow several news sites at once, Pulse actually opens itself up to adding regularly read blogs and websites that have nothing to do with current events.
  3. My MLA:Ideal for commuting students and anyone else wanting to publish academic writing, My MLA makes the eponymous handbook available anytime, anywhere for quick reference.
  4. Kindle:Amazon’s Kindle app converts your smartphone into an e-book reader and connects you directly to the site for downloading everything from free public domain standbys to today’s hottest bestsellers.
  5. The Cracked Reader:Start or end a rough work or school day with one of the Internet’s most beloved repositories of offbeat humor about science, pop culture, history, sex, society, current events, and almost every other subject imaginable.
  6. Easybib:Like the title states, Easybib makes compiling a bibliography for class, work, or personal reference quickly and painlessly, which is ideal for both commutes and library or bookstore jaunts.
  7. Google Currents:Use Google Currents to download lush, full-color digital copies of your favorite magazines and newspapers, or convert the rss feeds of blogs and websites you follow!
  8. Manuscript:Hammer away at that novel, short story, or essay you’re secretly working on with a portable word processor boasting word count, dictionary, and thesaurus features.
  9. Instapaper:Its mission is simple, but effective: save favorite websites for offline viewing and reading in the event your Internet or 4G service hiccups or shuts down.
  10. Advanced English & Thesaurus:Workers and writers on the go will likely find one of the best dictionary and thesaurus smartphone apps available an incredibly handy time-saver when using commutes productively.

Traffic, Transportation, and Safety

  1. StreetSafe:StreetSafe requires a subscription service, but anyone who commutes later at night or in dangerous areas might like the idea of staying on the line with a live advisor who stays on top of your location, dishes out safety tips, and dials 911 if anything goes awry.
  2. TripIt:Commuting workers and students studying abroad absolutely adore how TripIt alleviates some of the headaches associated with hotel, transportation, airplane, itineraries, and other hallmarks of globetrotting.
  3. Beat the Traffic:On days you just can’t take public transportation, this beloved traffic app — available all over the United States and Canada — acts as a one-stop shop for planning drives around clogged streets.
  4. SaferBus:Run by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, SaferBus helps commuters make the right decisions about which bus to take, as it provides updated records about any accidents or violations savvy consumers have to know.
  5. Hollaback!:If public instances of verbal or physical harassment of a sexual, racial, or gender-oriented nature happen on the regular, Hollaback empowers the marginalized by allowing them to take photos and share their stories to raise awareness and alert other potential victims.
  6. FlightAware Flight Tracker:When commuting to the airport (perhaps to commute to a business or school trip), this incredibly popular app is a handy dandy little tool to keep you posted on your flight’s current status.
  7. INRIX:Another excellent traffic app drivers use to plot the best route to work, school, chores, and leisure activities that pulls from the input of around 100 million contributors.
  8. Everyblock:Everyblock is available in most major cities and culls emergency data from the fire, police, and medical sectors for an (almost) real-time look at what’s going on in every block (bet you didn’t see that one coming).
  9. Tiny Flashlight:For Android users, Tiny Flashlight takes advantage of the in-camera LED to convert the device into exactly what the title states. Anyone whose commute involves walking through darkness will greatly appreciate such an innovative safety measure.
  10. TripAdvisor:Use TripAdvisor to learn of the best possible flights and hotels through the reviews of other consumers and travelers who enjoy (or, at least, must) travel.
Posted by Staff Writers | in Career, Technology | No Comments »

40 Fun Podcasts for Science Geeks

Jul. 19th 2012

These days, you don’t need to find a radio to listen in on quality broadcast programming. A laptop, MP3 player, tablet, or even a smartphone will work just as well. Even better, there is a wealth of content out there that’s both educational and entertaining, including some pretty amazing shows on scientific topics that are equally interesting to the layman and the professional. Whether you’re just getting into listening to science podcasts or are looking for a few new shows to add to your weekly collection, we’ve highlighted what we think are some of the best science podcasts out there right now. They’re informative, compelling, and even, at times, pretty darn funny, so make sure to check out one, two, or even all of these great science programs the next time you’re looking for a little edutainment.

  1. Radiolab:

    Listeners can enjoy five episodes a season of this hip, science-focused news show. What sets it apart from other shows is the often-experimental audio, which uses overlapping audio and other effects to create a unique and engaging show.

  2. Star Talk:

    Fans of astrophysicist and Nova Science Now host Neil deGrasse Tyson can get access to the popular academic a couple of times a month. Discussions center on astrophysics, but guests are most often actors and comedians.

  3. Professor Blastoff:

    Comedians Tig Notaro, Kyle Dunnigan, and David Huntsberger host this highly entertaining show. While it rarely features actual scientists, topics are usually science-focused and dealt with in a smart, funny manner.

  4. Probably Science:

    If you’re looking for a comedic take on science, Probably Science is another good option. Matt Kirshen, Brooks Wheelan, and Andy Wood take on the week’s top science stories, with results that are both hilarious and interesting.

  5. Science Friday:

    Science Friday is part of NPR’s Talk of the Nation programming block, but you can listen to it separately if you’d prefer to forego the rest of the news to focus on science (plus, at almost two hours long, it is show enough in itself). Host Ira Flatow uses the platform to talk about a handful of science news items from the past week. It’s more serious than some of the previous podcasts we’ve mentioned, but more informative as well.

  6. The Infinite Monkey Cage:

    BBC-based podcast The Infinite Monkey Cage features Brian Vox and Robin Ince who combine typical British comedy with geeky discussions of science topics.

  7. 60-Second Science:

    60-Second Science is perfect for those who don’t have the time or the attention span for a longer podcast. The show, produced by Scientific American, touches on a news story from that day, and true to its name, it’s only a minute long.

  8. Big Picture Science:

    The SETI Institute’s Seth Shostak and Molly Bently pun, talk, and debate their way through this popular podcast, which covers topics like technological innovation, robotics, and, of course, extraterrestrial life.

  9. The Naked Scientists:

    British podcast The Naked Scientists is part of a series that also features a range of other “naked” topics. There are no actual naked scientists (not that you’d be able to see them over a podcast anyway), but the show’s name draws from the idea of stripping down science to its core ideas, which makes the discussions easy to understand, fun, and highly accessible.

  10. On Science:

    NPR offers science geeks another listening option through this weekly podcast, which is a great place to hear in-depth reports on a wide range of science issues.

  11. The Science Show

    This weekly, one-hour show is hosted by Robyn Williams who explores current events in science through discussions with experts and scientists. Topics have ranged from elephants to earthquakes to cosmic diamonds, meaning there will be something to interest just about every science geek out there.

  12. Quirks & Quarks:

    Listeners can get a chance to hear from the scientists behind the latest discoveries in the physical and natural sciences in this weekly podcast, hosted by Canadian science journalist Bob McDonald.

  13. Nature Podcast:

    Those who can’t get enough of news and stories from the natural world really shouldn’t miss out on this excellent weekly podcast from Nature. Listeners will get to hear stories on everything from the latest revelations about DNA to rhino conservation efforts.

  14. The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe:

    There’s a lot of pseudoscience out there, and this podcast takes it on headfirst. Skeptical science nerds will appreciate hearing the real science behind common misconceptions, as well as news on some oddball topics.

  15. Science in Action:

    Those who like their science to have a British accent will appreciate this BBC-produced show. Weekly episodes focus on particularly interesting news stories related to science, which in recent months have included topics like cancer genes, volcano predictions, and the birthday of the neutron.

  16. All in the Mind:

    Lynn Malcolm hosts this excellent (and award-winning) show that is entirely centered on stories about the human brain, touching on fields like psychology, neurology, and more.

  17. MicrobeWorld Meet the Scientist:

    Through this podcast, listeners can learn about the work of the leading professionals in the field of microbiology. While stories are field-specific, they almost always have a broad appeal, touching on issues that affect us all.

  18. Material World:

    Science journalist Quentin Cooper hosts this weekly BBC Radio program that covers an incredibly wide range of scientific topics.

  19. In Our Time:

    Through this podcast, you can learn a bit more about the history of scientific thought, as well as history, religion, and culture.

  20. AMNH Podcast:

    The American Museum of Natural History hosts a monthly podcast series. Past guests have included Neil deGrasse Tyson, conservation expert Chris Filardi, and theoretical physicist Dr. S. James Gates Jr.

  21. Scientific American Science Talk:

    If you’d like more than just 60 seconds of science discussion, then Scientific American has that covered as well. Hosted by Steve Mirsky, the show touches on the top breakthroughs and controversial issues in science and technology each week.

  22. Slacker Astronomy:

    Slacker Astronomy is the perfect place to find interesting stories, interviews, and discussions on a wide range of astronomical topics.

  23. Science@NASA:

    Need a weekly fix of NASA-related news and research? Then start listening to NASA’s own podcast, focused on sharing the latest space exploration and astronomy research.

  24. Groks Science:

    Produced in Baton Rouge, Los Angeles, Chicago, and Tokyo, this weekly show is hosted by a rotating group of scientists who take an in-depth look at some of the most interesting recent events in the world of science. While there are serious interviews, there is also humor and a chance to ask a question each week.

  25. Exploration:

    Exploration features interviews with scientists who are on the cutting edge of research and development, whether in space travel, biotech, neuroscience, or a whole host of other topics.

  26. Diffusion Science Radio:

    Diffusion Science Radio blends science news, humor, history, and more to give listeners a well-rounded and entertaining look into recent scientific discoveries.

  27. A Moment of Science:

    With this podcast, you can either listen to or watch a weekly show that explores some of science’s most perplexing mysteries, like how bugs survive harsh winters or why inland lakes aren’t salty.

  28. Astronomy Cast:

    As its name might lead you to guess, this podcast focuses on all things astronomy. Listeners will get a weekly dose of the show, with topics that change from episode to episode.

  29. Science Weekly:

    Science and environment correspondent for The Guardian Alok Jha also hosts this weekly podcast series. Discussions with guests, often leading researchers in their fields, help illuminate topics like creativity, the relationship between science and government, and even sleep.

  30. Stuff You Should Know:

    How Stuff Works explains, well, exactly that in this weekly podcast that takes on everything from moss to storm chasers.

  31. The Engines of Our Ingenuity:

    Learn more about the history of technological progress in this great podcast that highlights some of history’s biggest successes and biggest failures alike.

  32. This Week in Virology:

    Who wouldn’t want to know more about viruses, those pesky little things that can make you feel sick or even take your life? Through this podcast, you’ll hear a number of professors from Columbia University’s Medical center take on a range of microbiological, public health, genetics, and virology topics.

  33. Focus Podcast:

    Focus magazine provides listeners with interviews and stories on the latest science and technology issues through this podcast.

  34. Ockham’s Razor:

    Australian journalist Robyn Williams also hosts this science-focused show. Much of the content focuses on the ways in which science has an effect on our daily lives, from weather to trauma to environmentalism.

  35. NOVA Podcast:

    Even if you can’t get in front of your TV, you can still get access to the great stories offered up by NOVA. Simply check out their podcast, which is chock full of interesting, but brief, stories on science.

  36. Distillations:

    This award-winning podcast from the Chemical Heritage Foundation is one of the best places to learn about the past, present, and future of chemistry. It isn’t all just lab work, however, as host Meir Rinde touches on issues of chemistry related to everything from baby formula to asbestos.

  37. This Is Only A Test:

    Fans of Mythbusters Jaime and Adam can get an extra dose of the duo (and a couple of other science geeks, Will and Norm) through their weekly podcast.

  38. The Sounds of Science:

    The National Academies (including science, engineering, and medicine) put out this research-focused podcast, though fairly irregularly. It covers a wealth of science topics and is largely a more accessible way of getting information found in the Academy’s reports.

  39. Bytesize Science:

    These podcasts are super short but they touch on some really amazing cutting-edge projects in science. Produced by the American Chemical Society, the majority are, naturally, in some way related to chemistry.

  40. Brain Science:

    Dr. Sebastian Seung hosts this show, which as you can guess, is all about the brain. Episodes feature interviews and reviews of new research and cover the full scope of brain sciences.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Education, Resources | No Comments »

12 Surprising Benefits of the Boomerang Effect

Jul. 16th 2012

When you hear the word “boomerang,” you might think of the fun you had playing with the Nerf version in the ’80s. Or you might have a flashback from the scene in Mad Max 2 where a guy gets a frontal lobotomy with a steel one. Whether you usually lean toward seeing a half-full or half-empty glass may determine how you see the latest iteration of the boomerang: young adults returning home to live with their parents after college graduation. To help you look on the bright side of things, here are 12 benefits of moving back in with Mom and Dad that you may not have considered.

  1. Living with others is better for your health:Both single parents and adult children can enjoy better health by not living alone. Although researchers cannot say with certainty whether it’s due to the isolation and lack of social contact, the eating and sleeping habits particular to people that live alone, or some other factor, many studies have shown that mental health is worse for people who live by themselves. For example, those that live with someone else are less likely to take antidepressants, and for seniors, their risk of heart disease could be as much as half that of people who live alone.
  2. The stigma of boomeranging is gone:One of the silver linings in the cloud of the poor economy is that moving back home has become the norm. Whereas boomeranging was once so frowned upon that very few people found the rewards worth the social disgrace, nearly one-third of young adults are doing it now and more than half know a friend who has done so. Because it is so helpful financially and because it was a silly cultural quirk in the first place, this enlightened viewpoint is a positive development.
  3. Eating home-cooked meals can reduce your risk of cancer:As a college student, you probably ate out 90% of the time or more. But now that you’re back at home, you’ll have access to home-cooked food that not only will be tasty and free, it can lower your risk of cancer. According to Rachel Brandeis of the American Dietetic Association, “The more you eat in, the more you can control and the healthier your plate is going to be. I wish people would think that when they are eating, they could be lowering their cancer risk.”
  4. The parent-child relationship can be strengthened:Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished by how much he’d learned in seven years.” A recent study by the Pew Research Center found more boomerang kids said their relationship with their parents had improved as a result of moving back home. After four years apart, it could be a perfect time for parents to see first-hand the maturation a child has gone through and establish a new, adult relationship that is less authoritarian and more friendly.
  5. More help around the house:Instead of focusing on the negative, Mom and Dad should look at returning adult offspring as a blessing in disguise. Since they hold all the cards, parents can make help with chores like laundry, grocery shopping, weed pulling, and lawn mowing part of the “lease agreement.” According to the Pew study, helping with chores is something nearly all boomerang kids claim to do, so if yours is not pitching in, tell him or her to get with the program.
  6. Living at home lets grads be pickier about jobs:According to Beni Towers Kawakita, a career center advisor at Illinois State University, “Many of our students are from the Chicago area, and with the cost of living being higher, they want to be doing jobs that they’re going to really be enjoying.” Living at home can ease the financial burden, which then lessens the urgency for graduates to take the first job that comes along and wait for one they will truly enjoy.
  7. Grads can get job-hunting help:Presumably you’re looking for a job if you’ve moved back home. If so, and if you have a poor memory or underwhelming writing skills, enlist your parents for help recalling accomplishments and participation in clubs, teams, and groups that can buff up a resume. And before you send off that personal statement, take advantage of the one or two additional sets of eyes you now have access to for help with editing.
  8. Increased ability to start saving for retirement:The average student loan debt for college graduates is now more than $25,000, meaning boomerangers are typically concerned with paying off loans before saving. A 2012 survey found that people ages 18-34 are the least likely group of Americans to save for retirement, with over half saying they are not contributing to a 401(k) or IRA. But any financial advisor will stress in no uncertain terms the importance of starting to save early, and any savings a boomeranger can afford to put away thanks to living at home are extremely important.
  9. Gain material for explaining an employment gap:Living at home frees you up to have time to volunteer, do freelance work, or take classes. But you could also demonstrate to a potential boss how living with your parents helped you cooperate with others (with whom you may not have a great relationship) and taught you the value of teamwork or discipline. With the right approach, living at home could become an experience that strongly impresses a potential employer.
  10. Family meals ease stress:Being unemployed with an uncertain future is an extremely stressful place to be. Moving back home provides a setting that has been shown to lower stress. A 2008 study at Brigham Young University found that working moms who ate supper with their families were able to lower stress and tension. Although the effect was less pronounced for dads, the evidence is there that the quiet conversation and emotional bonding that happens around the dinner table can be like soup for the soul.
Posted by Staff Writers | in Degrees, Education | No Comments »

10 Coed Colleges With The Biggest Gender Gap

Jul. 5th 2012

Most colleges in the U.S. are coed, but at some schools, students may find themselves questioning whether that’s true. Many college campuses have huge gender gaps, with one gender group making up 60% or more of the student population, sometimes as high as 98%. At the root of these gaps is frequently the nature of study, with engineering and technical schools often attracting more male students, and fashion or liberal arts colleges supporting a largely female population. Another common factor is the history of the institution: schools that were once single-sexed often have a hard time convincing a new gender to attend. Whatever the reason, these 10 schools each have a huge gender gap, and we’ll explore here how that gap came to be.

  1. Vassar:

    Founded in 1861 as a women’s college, it’s not too surprising to find out that Vassar is dominated by the ladies. These days, just 42.6% of the Vassar population is male, and it’s a historically high percentage at that. But it could be even lower: Vassar’s applicant pool is believed to be about 70% female. Reports indicate that Vassar’s historically high percentage of male students is expected to rise further in the coming years, bucking the national trend of larger female populations with undergraduate male enrollment that has been rising slowly but steadily since 1994.

  2. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University:

    Embry-Riddle is the largest and oldest aviation school in the world, and with more than 40 aeronautics degree programs available, it is considered to be one of, if not the, best places to learn anything and everything about space flight. But things are a little unusual on this campus, as there are very few women to be found. Of the nearly 4,500 students enrolled, a whopping 85% of them are male. This is not surprising, however, considering that women are not very well-represented in aeronautics: female pilots represent just 6% of the total pilot population. ERAU is working to attract more female students, creating a Women’s Ambassador Program to pair students with “big sisters” for a more female-friendly campus.

  3. Howard University:

    The historically black Howard University tends to attract more women than men, with a 67% female population among its more than 7,000 students. Howard is actually quite famous for its female population, with Howard regularly ranked as a school with the most beautiful and well-dressed women. Experts credit the skewed ratio at Howard to a lack of black men in college overall.

  4. Virginia Military Institute:

    Women were excluded from Virginia Military Institute until 1997. Amazingly, it took a U.S. Department of Justice discrimination lawsuit to overturn this policy, and even then, it took several years of appeals to make it stick. Given this history, it’s not at all surprising to find out that VMI is lacking in female cadets. We can’t imagine that women feel welcomed, and the numbers seem to agree: female students make up just 9.2% of the population, with reports of rampant sexism and even cases of rape on campus likely pushing down the numbers even further.

  5. Milwaukee School of Engineering:

    As one of the country’s top 10 engineering schools, Milwaukee School of Engineering offers its students a prestigious degree. Incredibly, nearly all of those degrees go to male graduates, with a male to female ratio of 80/20. Still, Milwaukee’s numbers beat the overall national average. In recent years, female engineering graduation rates have been hovering around 18%.

  6. Georgia Institute of Technology:

    Like Milwaukee School of Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology struggles to attract women to its engineering-based education. The school has just a 35% female population. But Georgia Tech is working to create more programs to increase its female enrollment, including a Women in Engineering Program and a chapter of The Society of Women Engineers.

  7. Rochester Institute of Technology:

    Rochester Institute of Technology’s male to female ratio is holding steady at about 2:1, with male students outnumbering female ones, especially in engineering. In recent years, RIT has really pushed to attract more women to its campus, creating the RIT Commission for Women to develop new initiatives and transformations to better support women on campus, a resource that supports and works closely with RIT’s Women’s Center that advocates on behalf of the women of RIT.

  8. Texas Woman’s University:

    Texas Woman’s University has barely had any male students in its 100+ year history. In 1903, TWU opened as the Girls Industrial College, and since then, has remained nearly entirely an all-women’s school with just a small 9% population of male students. The university began accepting men to its health sciences graduate school in 1972, and after public pressure, opened all of its programs to qualified men in 1994.

  9. Fashion Institute of Technology:

    Located in the fashion hub of New York City, FIT is considered to be one of the best schools for getting into the fashion and art industry. Very few men make it into this school, with just a 15% male population. But very few students are accepted period, with just a 39.1% acceptance rate.

  10. New York University:

    Another NYC school with low male enrollment is NYU, with just 38.5% of the student population being male. Although NYU reports it is not having trouble recruiting more male applicants, the number of males admitted to the school continues to stay low, and the school does not have plans to “socially engineer” its selection process to favor males.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Admissions, Education | No Comments »