Archive | May 2013

A Penny in the College Bank

During a family reunion, a guest mentioned that he was glad that he was starting the Florida college preplan. When I pointed out the possibility of one of his daughters wanting to go out of state, he scuffed at the idea. It made me wonder whether or not the idea of paying for college early by the use of state-program, perhaps to avoid rise in costs, was worth the potential yearning for that same child to follow their own path and choose a school which does not meet the plan’s criteria.
After reading an article by a contributor from USA Today, the pre-paid college mold is not one that fits all. It is beneficial in some circumstances. While the cost to attend may rise every year, the money put forth today can at least cover the price of future credits. Also, despite Florida’s preplan only covering public universities and community colleges, it can also be applied to cover the average in-state public tuition cost towards a private school or one that is located out of the state. No matter what, the money that you put in you will get back in full. Florida, Massachusetts, and Washington are among only a handful of states that guarantee a pay in difference incase the universities that the plan does cover raise their prices. For the people investing in these plans, it is a stress-free scenario. There is no worry based on the fluctuations of stock markets effecting the funds that are being saved.
For those doubters who, while they still like a sense of security, want more options, programs such as the 529 Plans, make the process more flexible on a 360 degree angle. For the most part, there are various payment plans and a more varied selection of top-ranking colleges. Rather than the student being forced to stay in-state, the 529 Plans works to include private colleges and universities across the nation. Among the most part, these colleges are diversified enough to include a range of schools from some of the Ivy Leagues to consortiums. Other than more options to choose from, there exists no age limit as to when a child must be signed up for the program. Also, if when college season comes around, the money is used towards all of the school’s expenses then there is a levy on taxes. Cons to this program exist in that the worth of the savings may fluctuate. As opposed to the Florida preplan or other state-exclusive programs, the 529 Plans is based on the current state of that market. The money is invested into stocks and bonds.
As Joe Hurley, the founder of SavingforCollege.com has said in the Seattle Times, it is impossible to buy future tuition at today’s prices through state-saving funds such as Florida preplan, instead it is purchasing the tuition at its premium. While the 529 Plans may not be a concrete path, it does allow room for more options and possibilities. However, just as it was insinuated that a child’s caretakers should know best for their children, it is important that every family makes a decision as to what is right for them.

Prompt: In a poem describe a child inserting their opinion in an adult’s conversation.

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Summer Love

As the school year in Florida is coming to an end, the inevitable conversation of the standstill argument entered the classrooms. Should the academic year be longer? While the thought of projects and math problems daunted some, others preferred a cool classroom as opposed to the humid, apathetic days that summer presented.
One student commented, “I rather get more classes done. Get closer to college.”
In other places in the United States, such as in San Diego, California this debate has ended in a conclusion. Some schools actually perform during a full-year, while others work at the traditional pace. According to an article in the Huffington Post a sociologist from Ohio State University finds that the performance between the students from one school compared to the other, doesn’t differ. Then why should the academic year be extended?
The main focus would be on students living in run-down communities or due to poor financial circumstance can’t afford any educational enrichment project that would further their knowledge. This would help maintain students across the board at the same level. Finally, students who are not as wealthy as their classmates can still retain as much information and become as academically appealing. With the extension, it would also be a relief on single-parent families. Rather than hunt for any random activity for a child to do or dump them at home, they could be in the classroom further expanding their studies.
On a global level, the year-round calendar may sound more appealing. According to a CNN article featuring Jennifer Davis, the president of the National Center on Time and Learning, she says that with higher test scores students can claim a position beside other competing foreign students. Countries such as Asia and Europe have students who are achieving higher in science and math. This brings up the question whether if time is the only matter playing a crucial role in the equation.
Perhaps as far as Florida is concerned, the first important step is to take care of teachers and the quality of their teaching before expanding the academic year. If a low standard of education is presented in the classroom from August to May, the idea of expanding that into the summer would be a waste of time on both parts. First, schools in Florida should take care of middle-ground benefits and wages, that not only compete with other states but also motivate teachers to perform better. Secondly, new methods of teaching and critical thinking should be brought into humdrum atmospheres to shed light on what a learning experience is meant to be. Then, as most students would agree, the treasured summers may be up for discussion.

Prompt: Write a prose piece of a character shedding light on a debatable subject.

Letter of Apology

After the scandal regarding Jay-Z and Beyonce visiting Cuba for their fifth wedding anniversary, it was impressive the letter that Phil Lord, Hollywood director of movies such as 21 Jump Street, published in the Huffington Post. It brought up an awareness of the current situation in the tropical island while reprimanding the two celebrities’ actions. While Jay-Z and Beyonce hide under the protection of the Treasury Department and their excuse that they did have permission, it still does not answer why they would want to visit a Communist country which has unresolved issues with the United States. No matter their reason, it makes audiences all around the world perplexed as to why other musicians such as Pitbull are pardoning the visit.
No matter the social status, people should be aware of the current situation. They should understand that, as Lord mentioned in his letter, any money which is regulated into the country goes back out as a way to control its’ citizens. Those that do visit should strictly go for personal matters, such as visitations with family. Other wise, money and time which is spent on the island is used by the government as propaganda to enforce their regime.
Other than visiting the country for humanitarian work or visits with family on the island, those who have spent time on the tropical island to relax and explore should own up to an apology. In Cuba thousands of “criminals” are thrown into already crowded prisons, prisons which are filled with those fighting for their freedom and for their country which they can barely recognize. While celebrities such as Jay-Z, Beyonce and Pitbull condone a few hours spent on Playa Giron or Varadero they should stand by their lyrics of strength and standing up for what’s right instead of bluff. With an apology, they can recognize their own faults and move on. They can show that even multi-million dollar rappers make mistakes. They can teach the world a lesson in humility.
After more than 20 million Cubans left behind their home in the eras of the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, it would be a shame for humanity to disregard the struggles of a country still shattered under an unjust government.