Tuesday, April 2, 2013
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Does It Fit?
The season is in full swing.
Spring time is nirvana for sports fans with the NCAA basketball championship reaching its conclusion; hopes for a new baseball season; playoff frenzies in the NBA and NHL; auto racing in high gear and NFL draft right around the corner.
Yet none of these are the seasons I'm referring to. I'm talking about the other frenzy on college campuses this time of the year. Graduating high school seniors figuring out where they'll spend their next four years.
Finding the right fit can be pretty hard. Particularly for those just approaching adulthood who have never before had to make a decision on this level. It can be frightening and intimidating.
They've likely done their homework by this point. They've honed down potential careers to a few likely prospects and looking for a school that offers a major in their field of choice.
Or they know their skills and want a school to complement them, knowing it could open a path they hadn't considered.
They know if they want to attend a large university, or if they prefer a smaller, private atmosphere. Big city, suburban, rural or exotic location. Whether they're drawn to a spiritual environment or party atmosphere.
Do they offer sports, clubs and special programs of interests similar to your own? Do you meet their qualifications?
No matter how much you try to learn in advance, your first step on a campus tour is usually enough to realize they don't always resemble the brochure or web site photos. These are sales tools. Period.
While that scenic spot may actually be on campus, chances are that a bit of prep work was performed before the photographer showed up. Shrubbery was trimmed, new flowers planted, fresh paint job and such.
The best rated school is not necessarily the right one if it isn't a proper fit. So how do you go about finding it?
Key factors may give you a clue about your chance for success at any school.
What is their graduation rate? Does it differ by race and gender? Are there alternative schools you may not be aware of that are better suited to helping you reach your goals?
Who will your fellow students be? What kind of background does the school attract? Things like socioeconomic status, cultural differences and language barriers can hinder your ability to feel comfortable in your new setting.
Who will teach the courses? One of our daughter's requirements during her search was that she wanted to learn from the people that wrote the books, not those who read them. Granted, even those who wrote the books had to learn from others. The point is that it's important to know the school hires qualified educators.
Fortunately, the Internet is flowing with resources to help guide you through this monumental challenge. One of the best sites I came across in researching this article is CollegeResults.org. Search their database to find a college by location, type or size. Compare it to find similar schools you may not otherwise consider. Their Advanced Search reveals college and student characteristics, admissions and cost, and their students' success rates.
Today's students have more options than ever before. They're no longer restricted by physical locations. Online learning attracts as many recent graduates as it does working people trying to squeeze education into their restricted schedule.
Online courses offer flexibility since class attendance is not required. You can follow the program at your own pace and take tests when it's most suitable for you.
Courses are career-oriented. They're designed for relevant, market-driven topics. Yet there are plenty that offer broad-based curriculum for those still searching for direction.
Online degrees are available on both the undergrad and graduate school level.
Find research tools for both online and physical campus programs in today's Web Highlights below.
4 Places to Complain
You may not guess this by my easy going, mild-mannered writing style. I'll pause here to give regular readers a few minutes to stop laughing and gain your composure...
Ready to continue? Okay. Here's the truth.
I can get pretty upset over businesses that have sold out on quality and push junk down the consumer's throat. Figuratively, that is. I'm talking products here, not edibles.
My most recent go-around was with Hewlett Packard (HP). I've worked with their products for more decades than I want to admit. Even their low end printers beat the competition hands down.
When my last printer died after years of faithful service, I didn't hesitate in replacing it with the same brand. The model I chose wasn't the cheapest I could find, but it was pretty close. I live in an electronic world and rarely use my printer. Why pay more for a commercial model?
The result was a year-long battle with their "expert tech staff" who could offer no advice further than what I had found on their support site. Each call lasted close to an hour, and ended with my hanging up during an excruciatingly long hold time waiting for their supervisor.
My screaming finally reached the ears of a customer dispute agent in Toronto. This time not so figuratively. I'm guessing he heard me without using a telephone.
An upgraded replacement printer was shipped and I've only spent two months so far trying to get this one to communicate properly. As long as I refresh my home network and enter the wireless password every time I send a job to the printer, it works every time.
Feel familiar? Service and quality in today's disposable society are hard to find. It may be with a different company, but chances are you've encountered a problem that hasn't been resolved. You want to scream loud enough to be heard in Toronto. What can you do?
Fortunately, there's no need to strain your voice to be heard worldwide. The Internet can make sure your message is heard far and wide.
I've published articles on writing effective complaint letters in previous issues of GCFlash. I won't rehash details that you can find here.
Instead, I'll guide you through some good web sites to post complaints that get noticed. Sometimes you can actually get a response, too.
Complaints.com offers consumers a place to share personal, first-hand war stories of problems you have with products and services. Businesses actually do read what's posted about them. This is one site they don't want to appear. It's even a good site to visit before making that purchase to learn about a problem before it becomes yours. It's brought to you by the same folks that operate Volunteer.com, Donate.com, Military.org and hundreds of others.
Consumerist.com is the product of a subsidiary of Consumer Reports. If you're the victim of a bad deal, poor service or faulty product, send them a tip. They'll follow up on it and let the world know. This is another site that companies don't want to appear. Particularly in their "Worst Company in America" faceoff.
Ripoffreport.com gives consumers a place to vent about getting ripped off. Any company getting five or more complaints gets added to their list of Top Ripoff Reports. It's a site for consumers, by consumers. Corporations have opportunity to respond, and many do.
Airlinecomplaints.org collects exactly what its name implies. Commercial air travel has gotten so bad that it's earned its own complaint site! The network was started by a million mile traveler who saw customer service degrade. The idea behind it is that the airlines will give more consideration to the customer who complains publicly. If they don't, a public record remains.
This is the concept behind each of these web sites. Where we once were limited to seeking resolution through inside channels, we now have a global network to assure our problem isn't swept under the corporate carpet. Businesses do not want negative exposure.
I can't report on effectiveness. I haven't yet posted my HP encounter to write from personal experience. I'll always stumble on just one more thing to try first.
Besides, posting online removes the human element. I've grown close to HP's tech support agents over the course of dozens of phone calls. How else would I learn if Nikhil's son made the soccer team? Or if Saloni had a date for the prom?
Tip of the Week
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