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Blue Collar Jobs vs. White Collar Jobs

Should You Go To College?

Should you still go to college even if you think it isn’t for you? The slow recovery of the job market still has a lot of us students scratching our heads as to whether or not taking out a student loan is worth it. Now, industry figures on blue collar jobs are about to add more confusion into the mix. To put it simply, would you still go to college if you know you can make six figures a year without that degree? As with many things, the answer isn’t always black and white.

Arguments supporting the necessity of college degrees will always be met with skepticism. Just look at the dearth of quality jobs and the real life experiences of college graduates themselves; these will say a lot more about the system than theories ever will. While not everyone who sides with the importance of a college degree is out of touch, there’s no denying either that college degrees are a prerequisite for certain career paths.

Some examples of blue collar workers who can bring home as much as $100,000 a year are police officers, bartenders, contractors, farmers, and oil rig workers. What adds to the demand and therefore, higher wages for such lines of work is the fact that few people want them. It’s simple economics, really, of supply being unable to meet demand, so anyone who feels that their future isn’t in a suit and tie should take courage and save themselves from the trouble of student loans.

In the end, the bright side of this story is not so much the fact that unemployed graduates can shift careers at any time and get their hands dirty in blue collar work. It’s that high school graduates are entering the workforce at a point when less stigma and more open mindedness about blue collar industries are warranted. Not only can this help restore the equilibrium of supply and demand in the labor market but also save the economy as a whole from crashing.



Apply Parkinson’s Law in College

Managing Stress in College: Doing Assignments Right Away

College comes with its own set of challenges. Your academic load is more demanding, your professors are more demanding, heck even your social life can be more demanding. But what’s clear is that the stress brought on by such people and events can be managed, and in an effective way. Stress in itself isn’t necessarily bad as it can be a driving force for a person to finish, say, a paper due, or to perform better in class in general. It’s only when there is an excess of stress that things can turn for the worse.

In my experience, stress-reduction relies heavily on one’s time management skills. Using the same example above, how do you think a young student might fare in college if he or she didn’t have to rush and finish writing his or her papers a few hours before the deadline? Common sense dictates that this student will be a lot less stressed and will even have the luxury to edit and revise his or her paper as necessary. This may sound rather simplistic, but trust me, the solution to having great time management skills is also as simple yet highly effective.

If you follow my blog, you probably would have read about this tip already, to do your homework the day they are given by your professors. Have you ever heard of Parkinson’s Law? Plenty of college students know Murphy’s Law (anything that can go wrong, will go wrong) but Cyril Northcote Parkinson is another wise guy students should listen to alongside Edward Murphy.

Parkinson’s Law basically states that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.” In other words, your rationalization to need the entire two weeks to finish that important paper crumbles under the fact that you’re just able to finish it in two hours. This means, if you strictly impose on yourself a limited amount of time to complete a work, you’ll move heaven and hell to finish it within the set time. That’s Parkinson’s Law and it should help you think differently about stress and time management.

Humanities Majors in Tech



University Education: On the So-Called “Useless” Majors

From reading the title of this blog post alone, you’ve probably already thought of a few majors, ones that seem to perennially suffer from a bad reputation characterized by low pay and lack of demand in the job market. Let’s not be coy about this one—I’m talking about the Humanities.

If you run a quick Google search on wages, you’ll find plenty of news and websites talking about the encounters of English, History, and Philosophy majors in the real world, and it isn’t all that pretty and encouraging. A little digging however unveiled that the bias against humanities majors is unfounded. In other words, while humanities majors aren’t paid as much as their STEM counterparts, they aren’t exactly at the bottom of the barrel either.

Of course, depending on where you are in the country, the commonly heard story about receiving low pay and always overworked will take on a bit more color. But if there’s one thing humanities majors can be proud about, it’s that they’ve proven themselves to be flexible enough to fit in a variety of career paths. While this sounds like a chicken and egg thing, trust me; there’s more to it than that.

Increasingly, tech companies are now finding that humanities majors have plenty to offer in the workplace. Apart from their stronger than average soft skills like writing and speaking, humanities majors are helping companies change the way they think about their products and services, adding that much needed social or human component to actually make products or design services that make a difference.

Case in point, one of the hottest “unicorn” startups in Silicon Valley right now, Slack Technologies, has a Philosophy major as its cofounder and CEO. What’s an app good for after all, if it doesn’t have any users and are as boring as talking to robots? That’s the argument of Slackbot’s human, Anna Pickard, who is trained in theater. Pickard is the creative mind responsible for Slackbot’s ludicrous replies which has found wide amusement among users. Indeed, an immersion in the liberal arts can pay off.



Top Five Highest Paying Majors Right Now

Top Paying Majors: When College Pays Off

It’s a known fact that STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) majors enjoy higher wages fresh off of college compared to their peers. And as they advance further into their careers, they are seen to hold even higher earning potential, with a plethora of perks and benefits from their employers. If you’re good with numbers and the sciences, or just plain persevering enough to hit the books and drill the lessons in your head, you’ll be pleased to know that the trend favoring STEM graduates doesn’t appear to be changing anytime soon.

According to Glassdoor, an online recruitment and employer review website, the highest paying majors right now are in the field of technology. Some people may believe that Silicon Valley is just one giant bubble that’s about to crash any minute, but there’s no denying how valuable technology is in modernizing and evolving various industries. Regardless, Glassdoor analyzed and consolidated thousands of salary reports and this is what they found:

Listed by rank, the top five highest paying majors right now are in the fields of:

#1: Computer Science

Median Base Salary: $70,000

Popular Entry-Level Jobs: Software Engineer, Systems Engineer, Web Developer

#2: Electrical Engineering

Median Base Salary: $68,438

Popular Entry-Level Jobs: Electrical Engineer, Systems Engineer, Software Developer

#3: Mechanical Engineering

Median Base Salary: $68,000

Popular Entry-Level Jobs: Mechanical Engineer, Design Engineer, Project Engineer

#4: Chemical Engineering

Median Base Salary: $65,000

Popular Entry-Level Jobs: Chemical Engineer, Process Engineer, Project Engineer

#5: Industrial Engineering

Median Base Salary: $64,381

Popular Entry-Level Jobs: Industrial Engineer, Quality Engineer, Production Planner

According to the same report, the next set of highest paying majors are in the fields of Information Technology, Civil Engineering, Statistics, Nursing, and Management Information Systems.

Are you taking up any of the majors mentioned in the list? How do you feel about your prospects once you graduate? Let me know!



Battling Social Anxiety in College

Confessions on Making Friends

Hey guys, Steven Rindner here, dropping by for a quick update. If you follow my blog, then you probably already know that I battled with social anxiety for most of my college years. Today I wanted to provide some more details about my experiences so others may find the courage to seek help, and hopefully place more importance towards their mental health.

People who have social anxiety should not be told to just “get over” their condition. In fact, this can do more harm than good, causing the anxiety-riddled person to retreat further into his or her “cave”. It’s not that we don’t want to make friends, the opposite is actually true! We love people and we want to learn about them, their stories and their passions, but it’s just something terrible always gets in the way—fear.

I’m fortunate to not have allowed my social anxiety to cripple me so much to the point where it would affect my class performance. I know some people with social anxiety who experience severe weight loss because they wouldn’t go out of their rooms. However, these are the more extreme cases.

As some of you may know, I made progress with my symptoms and was able to crawl out of my hole, so to speak. This wasn’t without any help; whether it was professional or turning to my loved ones and simply learning more about cognitive behavioral therapy and applying its techniques—I tried them all because I refused to give up and go down with my social anxiety.

Now that I’m close to graduating, I feel I’m better prepared to move into the working world and move forward from my past. I’m sure this new phase in my life will present its own set of challenges, but overcoming social anxiety once was a big feat, in my opinion. I’m sure I can overcome other challenges in the future.



When Do You Know If It’s Time To Switch Majors?

On Switching Majors

Before anything else, let’s get one thing straight—college isn’t easy. Sure, some people may describe their college years as one of the best periods in their lives, but this doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a walk in the park either. If anything, the hardship and the long hours these people may have gone through played a part in making those moments memorable.

With that in mind, if you’re having a tough time in college right now, hang in there—you’re doing a great job just by doing the best you can. I cannot emphasize this enough, to be easy on yourself and refrain from pity-partying. To be honest, it was only recently that I realized one of the biggest difficulties any college student can experience is to find his or her place during these precarious years. And I’m not just talking about making friends and nurturing a social life (that’s a different topic altogether) but also finding out whether you’re taking up the right major and trekking the right course.

If you have a gut feeling you’re studying the wrong major, do yourself a favor and reflect on the possible reasons why. I have too many friends who second-guessed what their gut was telling them, and now they entertain some feelings of regret for not studying what they truly wanted. On the other hand, if listening to gut feelings seems like a silly and irrational concept to you, you can always evaluate how you’re doing in your studies, to see whether the problem lies somewhere else. For example, if you’re a math major and find yourself really struggling to keep up with your peers in class, maybe this major isn’t for you. Maybe you should consider another major that’s math-related, like accounting, finance, or business.

College is difficult enough as it is; you owe it yourself to be honest and find ways to make your stay easier.



Bringing A Laptop For Note Taking? Think Again

Why You Should Take Notes By Hand

When was the last time you used a pen to scribble down notes? For many students, writing materials have been replaced with laptops and tablets when it comes to taking down notes. While many argue for the convenience of having such gadgets around, let’s be honest—are you really taking down notes in class or distracted with the temptation to browse the web?

Of course, many professors have shifted to using digital copies of their learning materials, but the benefits of taking down notes by hand can’t be written out. In the study done by Pam Mueller and Daniel Oppenheimer, “The Pen is Mightier than the Keyboard”, the two researchers found that laptops impair learning; students who took down notes using their laptops were found to have performed poorly when it comes to conceptual questions. This is a stark contrast to students who took notes longhand, as they were able to process and retain information better.

Personally, what the researchers found in the study isn’t surprising, and makes a lot of sense. Using a traditional writing instrument is relatively a more complicated task than tapping away at your keyboard. When you take down notes with an instrument, your mind has to sift through the information you receive from sight and hearing to find what’s worth jotting down. Compare this with laptops and tablets, where there can be a tendency to log things down word-for-word, which may be what the researchers are on about with regards to poor performance against conceptual questions.

In the end, the use of laptops and tablets isn’t going to disappear anytime soon, but this doesn’t mean that students can’t incorporate traditional note-taking to do better in class. If you have a major exam, maybe you can study using a pen or pencil to process and retain information better.

Why You Should Sit in Front

The Psychology of Seating Arrangements

Where do you sit in class? Are you the type who prefers to sit in the front row because you just can’t help yourself from participating in class? You know that student—the one who keeps on talking to the professor. They’re in their own world and the rest of you have to catch up with the discussion. Or are you that student who always sits at the back of the class, either for practical or social reasons? If you have an awful sense of time and are chronically late, you may end up sitting around the corners more than you’d like, but did you know that where you sit in class has its own psychological effects?

Believe it or not, sitting in the front has its benefits. Students who sit in front are have been known to retain information and material better than those who don’t. Conversely, students who sit at the back have been observed to be more prone to distractions which, in effect, can diminish their performance. While the psychology of seating arrangements isn’t a hard science that will automatically spell the success or failure of a student, students can nevertheless use their knowledge and awareness of the plausible side effects to their advantage.

For example, we already know that students who sit in front may perform better than those who don’t. So if you want to have better grades, it wouldn’t make sense to sit at the back. If you sit in front, you may have a higher chance of understanding your lessons better and faster, and still have the benefit of being able to consult your professor or your seatmates who may have good grades.

What do you think of the psychology of seating arrangements? Is it all in one’s mind? Or is there really such a thing? Feel free to chime in and let me know what you think.



College Life: How To Study Smarter

Study Smarter, Not Harder

Steven Rindner

Hey guys, Steven here, thanks for tuning in for another blog update. This time around I want to talk about studying hacks which may help you pull up your GPA. As college is a wonderful time to learn more about yourself and meet other people, it would be a shame if you spent, say, 10 hours a day focusing on a single material.

So, let’s get started. The first thing you need to understand is the difference between studying harder and studying smarter. With the former, you can put in all the time you have, but still end up walking away with only a vague understanding of your lessons. Why? Well, research has shown that studying for long periods of time is counterproductive. This tells us that instead of cramming and putting so much pressure on ourselves to memorize dates, formulas, and details a day before the exam, it is much better to space out our studying.Reviewing those lessons periodically results in a higher chance that the information is stored in our long-term memory.

If you have a major exam coming up, try this study hack and see whether it makes a difference. You’ll most likely be given a timetable of your exams at the beginning of the semester anyway, so you can create a review schedule ahead of time. The reverse of this also works. Once you’re given a new lesson that you’re having difficulty with, you can review the material several days and weeks after to see whether it gets retained in your long-term memory. The idea is to keep coming back periodically to review the information to make sure you get it.

Everyone has a different way of learning, so it may take a while for you to find what works for you and your learning style.

Best of luck!



Should You Buy Books for Class Early?

College Hacks: On Saving Money

Now that I’m set to graduate in a few months, I realize that one of the things I’ll miss the most about college is the free food during events like freshers week. Yes, you read that right, free food! Pizza, fried chicken, BBQ—but the thing is, not a lot of people knew about these. I don’t really blame them though. For us students, we normally don’t think what’s in it for us to attend these events. It’s just a personal observation of mine that college events tend to have a ton of freebies and samples.

Guys, if you’re reading this and you’re looking for ways to save money besides starving yourselves, you should definitely go to these free food events. You know why? Yes, they’re free, but besides that is the fact you’ve technically paid for those! These events are part of “Student Activities” and not getting your fair share is just throwing away money.

Another hack I have for saving money is don’t buy your books until after your professor confirms you’ll be using that resource material in class. I can’t count the number of times I had bought my books before class started only to find out that we wouldn’t be using them. We’re talking about a couple of hundred dollars in total going to waste here. This is definitely some wise college advice that should be passed on as early as freshman year.

To add to this hack, I also suggest you check out whether there are cheaper alternatives to your learning materials such as an eBook. I did this a couple of times in my classes. Instead of buying the print book, I would just print out the chapters at a time so I could take additional notes on my paper copies in class. The neat thing about this is I didn’t have to feel bad about writing on my books. Rarely do professors use the entire book anyway so printing only the chapters needed would save you some cash.