Tag Archives: college

#Students – Always Pushing, Pushing

7 Mar
👸Me: Only one rule – You MUST use nasdaq.com or marketwatch.com so you can become familiar with international finance tools. It’s important to know how the rest of the world works! 💰📈📊💹🌐
👧Student: Can I use this random Chinese company I found on a different website. It’s really easy for me to find cause it’s all Chinese.
👸Me: Is it on nasdaq or marketwatch?
👧Student: . . . . No.
👸Me: . . . . . . . . . .😒🙄
👧Student: Never mind Teacher! I Know.
👸Me: 😅🤣😋🙃
Students – They’re always pushing, pushing.

Student Loan Debt

26 Oct
Image result for College loans

Picture Borrowed from GoCollege

So I’m here to ask all my fellow recent graduates and current students a student loan question and to address a large concern I have with Student Loan Debt.

 As a student riddled with impossible levels of loan debt ($250,000+) primarily from graduate school (I was an academic scholarship student in undergrad), I am highly interested in the recent debates about Student Loans. 

I of course support the side that argues that bad things went down in the student loan industry. For one thing, college students are a notoriously vulnerable group going into school. They aren’t educated on loans, interest, or the possible consequences of what is happening. Most of them have never heard of interest or credit scores – much less comprehend the true devastation that they are agreeing to.  Given the massive impact student loans have on these people’s lives, I feel like a lot more education and awareness is required.

Image result for College loans

Picture borrowed from CPA Practice Advisor

Some of these people are only just 18 – right out of high school. Maybe only just legal for sex and still not legal to drink. But we let them sign away tens of thousands of dollars without much education on the issue at all. You take the time to teach these people about condoms – have them practice with plastic baby dolls, but provide very little information about the practical consequences of having a student loan. 

Oh! We make them do entrance and exit counseling – seriously?!? Since when has a young kid/young adult paid attention to those sorts of forms? It’s all academic anyway – yes I know I have to pay this money back some day. “But don’t worry- there’s no payment necessary while you’re still in college!” And I’m sure you’ll have a great job as soon as you get out. 🙂

It just seems like deceitful practices to me – taking advantage of a known vulnerable group without giving them much needed, in-depth, real world advice on the consequences of what they are agreeing to. 

But all of that is neither here nor there for the moment. My real issue in this article is the STUDENT LOAN INTEREST RATES. Yep, I’m getting real sick of hearing people say “those students are just lazy.” “They borrowed the  money and now they don’t want to pay it back.” “If you didn’t want to pay the loan back, you shouldn’t have taken it.” “Students today just take, take, take but don’t want to do the work to give it back.” “They shouldn’t have gotten that worthless humanities or social science degree.”  I’ve heard it all and more. But for your information, it isn’t the principal I’m most upset about. It’s the stupidly high interest rates I’m facing.  

Think about it – 

Bank of America is offering Auto Loans at 2-3% interest. Other companies are maybe as high as 4%, but that’s still pretty low.  The current Mortgage Interest Rate is 3.64% and actually fell to record lows this year with some as low as 3%. 

But do you know the lowest Interest Rate I have on my student loans? – 4.5% and that’s on only ONE loan out of more than 20 that I accumulated throughout college. By far, the majority of my loans are between 6.8% and 8.5% with most falling at 7.9% interest.  And that does not include my Signature Student Loan with a 12.38% interest rate and the Bar Study Loan at 13.65%.  

Yep, that’s right. You’re asking grown adults with solid jobs and a steady  income to pay between half to a fourth as much interest as young students right out of college trying to establish their lives and futures.  Many of these students aren’t in the position to work with this! They are starting at the bottom end of the totem pole in regards to their jobs, with a minimum of 2-5 years of experience required before anything substantial comes along. But during that time, their debt has grown extensively. There is no way to get their heads above water! I’m paying more than $200 on one loan a month (the minimum payment) and it isn’t making a dent because of the interest I’m trying to cover. 

And people expect the economy to improve like this? Economic growth depends upon buying and selling. The less people buy, the less the sellers make. The less the seller make, the less they buy. The less they buy, the less the other sellers make. The less the businesses make, the less they pay their employees. The less they pay their employees, the less they buy and the cycle continues. But students saddled with this much debt and high interest rates are NOT BUYING. We can’t afford to buy. Sure, our loans are set a 20-30yr pay back plans. But because of the interest rates, we can’t put off payments. There isn’t any money left over to buy a house. No money to pay for a wedding. No extra cash for eating out or a nice dress or shopping at the mall. Christmas? Just give me cash for my loans.

And thanks to the current “education-focused” economy we have going here – there is an entire generation of 18-30 year olds who fall into this category with around 70% of all high school graduates enrolling in college. And 70% of students graduating with a  Bachelor’s degree are in debt with almost $1,300,000,000,000 owed among approximately 44 million young adults. Furthermore, each student is 6% more in debt this year than last year, and it just keeps going up.  According to reports, many of these students (as much as 40%) are delinquent or not paying their accounts at all. So all that interest is racking up at 6-13% a pop (a lot of people have the signature student loans, the worst). 40% of this debt comes from graduate students. GRADUATE STUDENTS! These are your doctors, lawyers, government officials, future professors, accountants, psychologists. And they can’t even open up shop because of their student loan payments. A large part of which isn’t the principal at all – it’s the interest.

Do you know who decides most of these rates? – It’s all in that nice print on my Navient page:

  “Interest rates on federal student loans are set by Congress.”

Good old Congress. Those people who keep voting themselves raises, who avoid taxes like the plague and bailed out major income-generating banks – but want to charge the youth outrageous, usurious fees for going to college. For educating themselves and trying to make their world a better place. Who actually studied in High School and wanted to make something of their lives. Who are going into jobs that contribute to a nation, government, and economy that won’t give them a fair shake.  I’m not asking that you let me skip out on my loans. I’m asking that you give me a chance to pay my loans without facing exorbitant additional interest that don’t even let me see the loan itself. 

Here’s a list of the Interest Rates I have on my loans:

  1. 13.625% on the Bar Study Student Loan. 
  2. 12.385% on the Signature Student Loan. 
  3. 6.8% on the Stafford Unsubsidized Loans
  4. 5.6-6.8% (most at 6.8%) on the Stafford Subsidized Loans
  5. 4.5%-6.8% (most at 6.8%) Direct Loans – Subsidized
  6. 5.4%-6.8% (most at 6.8%) Direct Loans – Unsubsidized
  7. 8.5% Parent Plus Loan 
  8. 8.5% Graduate Plus Loan
  9. 7.9-8.5% Direct Grad Plus Loans

Now here’s my question for my fellow students and graduates – what’s your interest rate??? Share below!



Life in China ~ The Chicken Song

20 Sep

The College Students at our Chinese University put on a performance for the Freshmen Welcoming Ceremony! This was the Chicken Song (or I think it was a chicken song?) – To be honest, we weren…

Source: The Chicken Song

The 20 most popular destinations for Americans to study abroad

14 Sep

“The 20 most popular destinations for Americans to study abroad”

by Alexa Pipia via “Business Insider


“Every semester, college students pack their bags and jet off to foreign countries to study abroad. The experience allows them to learn things they wouldn’t be able to learn in their college classrooms.

The Institute of International Education, a not-for-profit organization that researches the movement of international students, found that 304,467 American students studied abroad during the 2013-2014 school year — the most recent data available.

The IIE’s “Open Doors Data” is compiled with the help of the Bureau of Education and Cultural Affairs of the US Department of State. With this data, the IIE broke down the number of American studying in each country.

Business Insider used IIE’s research to find the top 20 countries and then researched the basics of what they need to know before moving there: official language, currency, and exchange rate (as of early August). We then looked to Lonely Planet for the cost of a typical low-budget meal, since studying abroad can get costly.

Europe is the continent of choice, with eight countries featured on the list. South America is in second place with five countries.

Read on to find out the 20 most popular countries where American students study abroad.”


Berkeley Study Abroad offers summer program in Havana, Cuba

12 Feb

“Berkeley Study Abroad offers summer program in Havana, Cuba”

by Ishaan Srivastava via “The Daily Californian


After a historic resumption of U.S.–Cuba diplomatic relations and a relaxation of bilateral tensions, Berkeley Study Abroad is now offering a summer study abroad program in Havana, Cuba.

The course provides students with the opportunity to spend one month exploring the geographical and historical transformation of Cuba from colonial times to the present, all while living and studying in “the spirited capital of Cuba.”

“Cuba is — and has always been — a marvelous and fascinating country,” said program director Elizabeth Vasile. “It is a great place to see rapid transformation taking place.”

Vasile, who received her doctorate in geography from UC Berkeley and now conducts research in Latin America, has been leading tours of Cuba for about five years on behalf of organizations such as National Geographic. She approached the geography department chair and study abroad office last year with plans for the program, and received swift approval.

“Unlike a traditional classroom, we’re going to be going out in the field and observing the landscape for ourselves,” Vasile said, adding that her two primary objectives for the program are to instill in students a nuanced understanding of the complexity of Cuban history and the ability to critically observe the world around them.

Peer institutions such as Harvard College and Princeton University have offered similar programs even before President Barack Obama announced his intention to renew diplomatic ties with Cuba. The campus had previously offered a similar program that lasted from 1999 to 2003.

Other organizations such as the travel agency Marazul — which will be providing logistical assistance for UC Berkeley’s program this summer — have been organizing visits to Cuba since 1979.

Members of UC Berkeley’s faculty have maintained professional ties to Cuba despite longstanding diplomatic tensions. Anthropology professor Nancy Scheper-Hughes fondly remembers having invited Cuban medical professionals for a seminar in the early ‘90s, noting that then-Chancellor Chang-Lin Tien was happy to write a letter officially inviting her guests onto campus.

“He even asked whether we could invite Fidel Castro,” Scheper-Hughes said. “That would probably have been a step too far.”

According to Scheper-Hughes, such programs provide students with an opportunity to experience Cuba “before it becomes totally neoliberalized.”

Despite a history of bilateral political animosity, both Scheper-Hughes and Vasile said student safety would not be of exceptional concern in Cuba. Kaylee Yoshii, a campus senior who has visited Cuba multiple times on research trips,noted that the attitude toward Americans in Cuba is welcoming despite the decades of diplomatic hostility.


Student studies abroad three semesters, makes lifetime of memories

8 Feb

“Student studies abroad three semesters, makes lifetime of memories”

by Matthew McClure via “The Lamron”

Coming to Geneseo, I knew I wanted to study abroad for at least a year. I knew I wanted to go beyond my past linguistic and travel experience in Europe. This semester, I am returning from three semesters of studying abroad in Vietnam, Canada and Haiti. Study abroad has been an incredibly formative part of my undergraduate career—and my future plans—in both expected and unexpected ways.

The Global Service Learning Program in Borgne, Haiti proved to be a turning point for me. Through this program, I applied my interests in foreign language, intercultural competence and international education to connecting communities in Borgne and Geneseo. My experience in spring 2013 not only focused my academic interests, study abroad plans and career goals, but also had a lasting impact beyond that one semester. My service learning project became the design and organization of a Haitian Creole language preparation component for the course.

Immediately after the Global Service Learning Program, I knew I wanted to learn Haitian Creole and return to Borgne to help develop our program and relationship with the community. I traveled to Boston to attend the Haitian Creole Language and Culture Summer Institute, working with leading Haitian Creole scholars and collecting resources and teaching methods in order to help improve our Haitian Creole crash-course at Geneseo. As a result, I was selected to the Clinton Global Initiative University in 2015 to help support the first public library in Borgne.

In the fall of my junior year, I spent my first semester abroad in Vietnam. I went into the semester expecting a wildly new experience; one where I would learn an exotic new language. What I got was a semester where I was not only independent, but also the only native English speaker in my class. After learning Vietnamese, I could communicate with the locals and also speak to the internationals that spoke English. I met an extraordinary variety of people, both in Ho Chi Minh City and on my travels in Southeast Asia.

Perhaps the most surprising group I met in Vietnam was the Saigon Swing Cats. I had fallen in love with swing dance my freshman year, but I did not expect to find a club in Vietnam. It was a fascinating mix of locals and expatriates—mostly young professionals—gathering together to dance a vintage American dance. This is where I saw the overlap between my international interests and my dance interests. . . .



20 May

I’m so wonderfully blessed. ❤ Just spent the afternoon chatting with a student about his dreams for the future and past accomplishments. He has worked incredibly hard and gone from speaking broken Chinese only to speaking Chinese, good English, and good German. He’s now graduating from college with an American Bachelor’s degree, and he’s off to Germany to start new adventures.  It’s such a blessing to see what he has done and to hear about where he is going.  And to be the proud teacher of a student this awesome (who brings me cola every time we talk 😛 ) is just a wonderful feeling. I’m so happy to have a chance to be part of their lives. ❤ 

Teaching is not an easy job, I’m a little surprised at just how difficult it actually can be.  Well, time-consuming is probably a better word than difficult.  It just takes a lot of time, effort, and heart.  To be rewarded with students who get to move forward in their lives, who are seeing dreams realized and lives blessed is worth every last bit of work.  


Sweet Students 🙂


ESL Students ~ Don’t Underestimate Their Intelligence

24 Apr

There is a clear problem in the world of ESL teaching (both language and content), and it comes primarily from the side of the ESL teachers. I would almost say it is a unique type of racism that is beginning to show. And it is concerning me on behalf of the students.

The Problem ~ ESL teachers tend to believe that any student who cannot communicate the idea in English cannot understand the idea itself.

While it is certainly true that there are students we teach who are intellectually challenged (primarily because they are 18-20 and really care more about Basketball or Dance right now), it would be well for ESL teachers to remember that they are often teaching some of the most intelligent and educated students in the country. Students in ESL programs are rarely ever stupid ~ different, and perhaps driven to less academic pursuits perhaps ~ but not stupid.

And it is time we stopped planning our lessons around this concept.  

Just look at most ESL websites ~ we are taught to teach students at a very low intellectual level. It’s all fun and games ~ very little actual intellectual-level learning. And they are carrying this pattern over into content-based classes.   Students tasked with learning about deep content (Macroeconomics) are being taught very simple “here’s how business people say ‘hello!'” lessons.  It drives me crazy.

There is a belief among the ESL teachers that Asian students are incapable of doing Critical Thinking. That they are taught only to memorize and can do no more.  0_0 How condescending can you get? 

I have watched my students soar into the world of Critical Thinking, marching through complex questions and speaking for hours about their ideas of applied philosophy to Economics, Art, Culture, Science, and the World.  I was given the class “Business Ethics” and then told by other teachers that the students would never understand the concept ~ it was “above their comprehension level.”  By the end of my class, they all managed a 30 minute conversation where they not only explained complex Ethical theories, but applied them to current problems that they felt were important. I didn’t chose the ideas for them, they took the knowledge and ran with it on their own.  

I once had a student that other teachers warned me about because they were “slow” and “just couldn’t understand.” Admittedly they made poor grades at first (I wasn’t grading those assignments, another teacher was). But then they came to me in tears about why they were graded so low when they had spent “5 days without leaving the dorm just to do this.” After looking over the paper, I was blown away. They were using resources, quoting law books, bringing in the national Constitution. They were using appropriately huge words like “Deconstruction” and “Rehabilitation.” They could explain their paper to me, and it was way beyond even many US student’s levels. The only problem? A small issue of not knowing how to use the small connecting words of “for, an, to. . . ”  That’s all. Together we sat down, and I explained those words to them. Their next paper, they got a 100 and were applauded by the senior teacher. It had never been a lack of comprehension ~ merely a difficulty in explaining it to others that was the problem.

And this has happened over and over in schools all across Asia.  

There is an instinctive racism that happens to westerners when they confront people who don’t speak native English. It’s like if a person can’t speak English, they must be stupider or less competent than us.  We do it without thinking, without realizing. High-level communication is difficult so we think they must not be able to comprehend the ideas themselves. But this is fundamentally flawed.  

Stop treating the students like idiots and teach to their level.  If they don’t understand you the first time, try again.  And Again, and again. Because they are fully capable of understanding the ideas. It is simply your communication of the ideas that leaves something to be desired.  

The students are smart ~ be respectful and remember your own college language days. How good are you at that college French still?  

New 2016 US News Law School Rankings are out!

10 Mar

US News has published their list of the best law schools for 2016!  Check how your school ranked!  To be honest, the top 20 or so are pretty consistent as all the other years.  My school (Univ. of Iowa) moved up though – 22!  Woot!

Top 10 ranks in order are:

  1. Yale University
  2. Harvard tied with Stanford
  3. Columbia University tied with Univ. of Chicago
  4. New York Univ.
  5. Univ. of Pennsylvania
  6. Duke University
  7. University of CA-Berkley tied with Univ. of Virginia
  8. Univ. of Michigan – Ann Arbor
  9. Northwestern University
  10. Cornell University

Do you agree or disagree with the rankings?

Chinese Teaching Objective Passed!

19 Sep

Three Cheers!  Woohoo! Yay! 

Oops, sorry I got a little carried away – I’m teaching my students about leading by being the team’s cheerleader and got a little caught up in the chanting and cheering 😛

I recently accomplished a great triumph in my classroom here in China – a student raised her hand and asked me to repeat myself.  

Yes, you heard that right. . . she raised her hand and spoke in class.  (wipes away a tear) I’m just so proud.  

One of the cultural differences I’ve found here in China as a teacher is that students respect their teachers almost to the point of worship.  It’s both self-confidence-inspiring and terrifying.  They have a general fear of speaking in front of other students due to the risk of sounding like an idiot (one I’m sure students around the world share), a problem compounded by their culturally-specific fear of asking the teacher a question. I rather suspect they expect the event to go something like this:


S: Teacher, I am so incredibly sorry, and I know it’s my fault, you are oh so wise. But I’m utterly lost.

Me:  Shock! Gasp! Horror! You are telling me I (a foreigner from a strange land speaking your third language) didn’t explain the concept of Kantian ethics precisely the first time for you to immediately grasp all nuances?  How dare you!  Fiend! Horrible creature!  Someone call the class monitor and have this child fed to wolves immediately!

Class Monitor:  Off with his head!

Classmates:  Bwahahahahahaha, what a fool!


And so forth.

Continue reading

%d bloggers like this: