Holy Crap! College Recruiters Look at my Instagram Page?

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Houston Hispanic College and Career Day

Recruiters look at my Instagram, Twitter and Facebook page

Times have changed. No longer do college recruiters just look at your high school grades and college application. Today, they look at your online profile and behavior. Your tweets, Facebook pics, Instagram pictures, Youtube videos and blog comments now all play a part in your college application. Don’t take it from me here is what a few admission officers have to say:

college applicants

College Recruiters check out social media pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

College Recruiters check out Instagram pages

Here is a story that the NY Times published about a high school senior who attended a college campus information session. During the presentation, she posted offensive comments on Twitter about fellow attendees, repeatedly using a profane word. “It was incredibly unusual and foolish of her to do that. We would have wondered about the judgment of someone who spends their time on their mobile phone and makes such awful remarks,” – the dean of admissions and financial aid.” The college ultimately denied the student admission.

So, with that said, if you are applying to college or a job, here are a few things you should do right now to clean up your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram profiles.

#1 Use SimpleWash


SimpleWash is a simple, if slightly imperfect, free tool that helps you find inappropriate content on your Facebook account (it also works on Twitter). It scours your account and compares all the text it finds, including photo captions and comments from other people on your Facebook account, against a list of bad words. The list goes well behind the dirty words not allowed on network television and includes things like “beer” and “sexy.” Once Simplewa.sh finds the content, it helps you edit or remove it by directing you to the page or post where it lives—you still have to manually hide or delete it.

#2 Control your Facebook Privacy Settings

According to a recent survey Kaplan survey, 29% of admission officers use Google and look at Facebook profiles to screen applicants. SimpleWash probably did a good job at cleaning up a lot of the offensive language and inappropriate photos on Facebook and Twitter, but that doesn’t mean that ‘Facebook friends’ can’t tag you in any future embarrassing public photos or posts. Here are a few tips to help prevent that from occurring:

Only allow people you ‘friend to view your page. Click on the arrow tab near “home” at the top of the page>scroll down to privacy settings>control your default settings>switch from “public” to “friends”.

Facebook Settings

Set your profile up so that you can review posts ‘friends’ tag you in before they appear on your timeline. This will help control any inappropriate photo-tagging mix ups. Under the Privacy Settings go to Timeline and Tagging>Edit Settings>Review Posts Friends Tag You in Before They Appear on Your Timeline>On.

Review TagsReview your Facebook application permissions and remove anything that you are not actively using anymore. Go to Settings > Account Settings > Apps. Be sure to click “Show all apps” at the bottom of the listing.

Facebook applicationsReview your activity log. You can hand-pick through your content easiest using the Activity Log, which you can find on your profile page. The Activity Log lets you drill down by content type, such as photo, photos of you, tagged photos, and so forth, so you can focus on one area of your Facebook account at a time while finding images to delete or hide.

Facebook Activity

If you want, you can make it difficult for people to find you on the social media site. After all, the harder it is to locate your profile the less chances an admission officer has of finding anything to hinder your acceptance.  To do this go to Privacy Settings>Apps, Games, Website>Public Search>Edit Settings> Disable Public Search.

Last but not least, view your profile as how the public would see it. Clean up poor grammar, offensive language, any racial slurs. Remove and delete photos with inappropriate clothing.  Check out your Likes – remove any unnecessary pages. And don’t allow yourself to be tagged in public photos that show you as anything but a fine, upstanding young citizen!

#3 Clean up your Tweets

Twitter doesn’t give you nearly as many features as Facebook does for assessing your data. The first third party tool you should make ample use of is AllMyTweets. This simple site quickly generates a page of – you guessed it – all your tweets. Actually, that’s false … just your last 3,200 tweets, which is the limit Twitter will return. If you want or need the real thing, you can request your Twitter archive. Head to settings, and hit the archive link. It will be email to you for download.

Next, you should take stock of who you’re following – anyone done anything super messed up recently? Cut ‘em lose. And if you’re just generally a little scared of what might be in your personal stream of tweets, sign up for TweetEraser and you can mass delete using its filter feature. Last but definitely not least, head over to your settings and check out what apps you’ve given permission to – and make sure you’re OK with what you see.

#4 Clean Up Your Instagram Profile


The risk of posting or sharing a photo that will damage your online reputation continues to grow every time you add a new photo to Instagram. Here are some tips for cleaning up your Instagram profile and preventing reputation damage:

Delete Unprofessional Comments and Likes. The individuals you associate with could impact how you are perceived online. An unprofessional comment with profanity or a politically incorrect joke could reflect poorly on your character. Similarly, liking photos of strangers in provocative poses or of friends breaking the law could be interpreted as an endorsement of these activities.

Remove Unprofessional Photos. When deciding whether or not to delete a photo, a good rule of thumb is to ask yourself how you would feel if college admissions officers, hiring managers, family members, or your boss saw the photo. Any images showing underage drinking, binge drinking, drug use, obscene gestures, and partial undress (think swimsuit photos) are best left off of your profile. Reputation911.com shares some more good tips about cleaning up your Instagram profile here.

In conclusion, there’s no shame in having had posted an embarrassing photo, comment or tweet. We’ve all done it before. That’s the great thing about living in the digital age: It’s all easily recorded. And this means that like the attic full of memories and mementos, sometimes you have to clean out the junk.

Learn more Interview Preparation Tips for the Rest of Us here. (If I didn’t follow these tips, I’d be waking up every morning going to some dead-end job).

I am a first generation college graduate. I also have an MBA and am a Manager at a major electricity company. In my spare time, I teach at University of Houston Downtown, where I educate students not only on the subject I am teaching, but also on self-motivation and teaching them that their background does not dictate your future.

Stop highlighting! Psychologists identify the worse ways to study

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Want to pick up knowledge faster and more efficientyly?

how to study

Remember highlighting material in textbooks and notes when you were preparing for that history test? Well as it turns out, highlighting is inefficient. Sure, it’s simple and quick, but based on controlled studies, highlighting does little to improve performance. In fact, according to psychologists, it may actually hurt performance. One study found that underlining can reduce the ability to draw references since highlighting draws attention to individual items rather than to connections across items.

Hmm… well what about Rereading? Does that work?

84% of undergraduates say they reread textbooks or notes during study. Although there are some benefits on recall and fill-in-the-blank-style tests, there is little evidence that rereading strengthens comprehension, and whether its effects depend on knowledge level or ability is underexplored.

So what are the best ways to study?


Test yourself. That’s right. Give yourself practice tests outside of class. Hundreds of experiments show that self-testing improves learning and retention. In one study, undergraduates were presented with Swahili-English word pairs, followed by either practice testing or review. Recall for items they had been repeatedly tested on was 80 percent, compared with only 36 percent for items they had restudied. One theory as to why self-testing works so well is that practice testing triggers a mental search of long-term memory that activates related information, forming multiple memory pathways that make the information easier to access.

Anyone can self-test with flash cards, answering the sample questions at the end of a textbook chapter, or during in-class note taking, make a column on one edge of the page where you enter key terms or questions. You can test yourself later by covering the notes and answering the questions (or explaining the keywords) on the other side.

Another great way to study is to spread your study over time. As opposed to cramming the night before, studying over time is much more effective. In one classic experiment, students learned the English equivalents of Spanish words, then reviewed the material in six sessions. One group did the review sessions back to back, another had them one day apart. The students in the 30-day group remembered the translations the best. In an analysis of 254 studies involving thousands of participants, students recalled more after spaced study than after massed study.

So to score better on tests and gain knowledge more efficiently, stop highlighting and start quizzing yourself and spreading your study out over time!

Original article “What Works, What Doesn’t”, appeared in Scientific American Mind, September-October 2013.

How to lower College Tuition Cost – Infographic

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In 1980 the average 4 year college tuition (when you take both public and private universities into consideration) was $23,000. In 1995 it jumped to $44,000. Would you like to take a guess at how much the average 4 year college tuition is now?

It’s $70,000. Yes $70,000 which means that most college students have to borrow money. The average debt per student is now $27,000. $27,000 is a lot of money. $27,000 can buy you a new Ford F150 truck. It can buy you 30, 40, maybe 50 pairs of Jimmy Choo shoes.

So with that said, I am going to share with you an infographic on how we as a society can lower college tuition cost.  

5 ways to lower the cost of college tuition

5 ways to lower the cost of college tuition

The first way to lower college tuition cost is to allow for Dual Enrollment. How about allowing students to be simultaneously accepted by a community college and a four year public institution of higher education and, and when they complete their associate degree from the community college, they are automatically enrolled in the four-year institution? This type of program can reduce college education cost anywhere from 30 to 50%.

Second idea, what about establishing a three-year Bachelor’s degree? This would not only increase graduation rates, but also improve college education cost.  

As for number three, anyone ever hear about the study to determine how long a shrimp can run on a treadmill? Yes, there was a study by University professors to determine how long a shrimp can run on a treadmill. So number 3 is simply get rid of silly research studies.

Number 4, wouldn’t it be nice to keep you salary and only have to work two days a week? That would be like living in Alice in Wonderland, but for many professor, it is now common to teach only two classes per semester. So number four is to increase teacher loads.

Lastly, move more Classes Online – Online learning will become to education what the forward pass was to football. Research shows that students who did online courses learn just as well as those who took conventional courses. Online courses or hybrid courses could cost half what conventional classes do because fewer teachers are needed.

So in conclusion, it would be folly to imagine the cost of a 4 year college tuition to ever go down or the starting annual salary of a college grad to skyrocket, but its not too hard to image any of the ideas I mentioned now like getting rid of the silly research studies or increasing teachers workload would it? Such ideas should strongly be considered, if not, we as a society run the risk of having our future generation start to perceive college education as simply being not worth it because of the enormous debt they will have to incur and the fact that such debt will make it harder for them to buy a home and possibly even start a family.

The Most Expensive Degrees with Least Paying Salary

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The folks at EducationRequirements.org have put together a nice infograph that shows the most expensive degrees with least paying jobs and the average cost of a bachelors degree around the world.


There is a degree in Poetry?

Text : Education Requirements
Designed By
Text : Types of Graphs

5 ways to Lower the Cost of a College Education

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I am in close sympathy with anyone who is in debt due to college loans. Those of us who did not have the fortune to win a scholarship or have their parents help out, face a burden that will continue to last years. When it comes to the subject of the high cost of tuition, my position is clear, tuition rates need to come down.

Some quick facts:

  • Total student debt rose from $363 billion in 2005 to $902 billion in 2012
  • The number of Americans with student debt rose from 23 million in 2005 to 37 million in 2012

Here are five wonderful ideas presented by Ronald Trowbridge, Senior Fellow at the Center for College Affordability and Productivity in Washington, D.C., on how we can cut down the cost of higher education.

  1. Enable Dual Enrollment – Look at how Virginia saves some students $40,000 a year. Virginia codifies programs for qualified students to be simultaneously accepted by a community college and a four year public institution of higher education and, upon successful completion of an associate degree from the community college, to be automatically enrolled in the four-year institution.
  2. Establish a three-year Bachelor’s degree – Graduation rates, speed and costs would be monumentally improved under a three-year plan. In addition, a three year bachelor degree plan would improve facility utilization. A private business uses most of its space 50 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – well over 2,000 hours. A campus uses most of its space 25 hours a week, 32 weeks a year – some 800 hours. A three-year bachelor program would facilitate use of empty classrooms, especially in the summer.
  3. Eliminate Excessive Academic Research – The present system allows virtually an anarchistic, anything-goes approach to research. Higher education institutions should themselves establish an internal-screening process to approve or reject research proposals when release time from classroom teaching is also requested.
  4. Increase Teaching Loads – It is now commonplace for many professors to teach only two classes per semester, with few students. Such limited teaching and small class size come at great expense to students and taxpayers. (My two cents, Professors who only teach 2 or 3 classes a semester, and do not hold another job or career, are just plain lazy).
  5. Move more Classes Online – Online learning will become to education what the forward pass was to football. MIT, for example, has implemented an online program free of charge, and for a small fee, it will award a certificate of compliance. The first course, Circuits and Electronics, drew 120,000 registrants in the first month.Recently, 605 students at six public universities in New York and Maryland were studied on the value of online versus face-to-face instruction. Half of the students met in the classroom three times a week; the other half, once a week. The study’s authors found that “students in the online course did just as well as those who took the conventional course.” More significant, hybrid courses could cost half what conventional classes do because fewer teachers are needed.

Special thanks to Ronald Trowbridge and the Center for College Affordability and Productivity for sharing these ideas. Original article, “Texas can cut down on cost of higher education”, featured in the Houston Chronicle, Aug. 12, 2012.

Parents taking control of their kids education – The Parent Trigger Law

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Should parents be allowed to force major change at a poor performing school?

Now available in California, the majority of families at a struggling school can force major changes, from firing the principal to closing the school and reopening it as an independent charter. To implement this new “parent trigger law”, all they need to do is sign a petition. Here is what one LA resident, Doreen Diaz, said about the law – “Our children will now get the education they deserve. We are on the way to making a quality school for them, and there’s no way we will back down.”

According to Lyndsey Layton from the Washington Post, some see the law as dangerous, handing the complex challenge of education to people who may be unprepared to meet it. Critics also say the law circumvents elected school boards and invites abuse by charter operators bent on taking over public schools.

Here are my thoughts, I like the idea, but in order for a parent’s petition/vote to count, they should have to show proof that they have also taken responsibility for their kids education. What do I mean? Well when I was in elementary school, although I went to a good private school – St. Rose, my dad also gave me additional school work to do. Yes I hated it, but now looking back, I appreciate what he did. For example, every week I would get a new set of vocabulary words to learn. My father, would make me write a sentence using each word and then also quiz me in spelling the word. We would do this every week along with math problems that he would quiz me on. And this was in addition to my regular homework. My parents were very involved in my education, and did not rely solely on my teachers to educate me.

Parent Trigger Law is a good idea, but parents should first show proof that they have taken some responsibility in their kids education. If parents have never attended a parent – teacher conference, then they should not be allowed to vote. Also, proof should be a lot more then saying “I bought my kid a math app for the iPad”.

How HISD plans to Increase High School Graduation rates

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In the 50’s and 60’s, we saw the highest percentage of students graduate from high school. Since then, high school graduation rates have slowly declined. 3 out of 10 students will fail to graduate with a diploma this year. Why is this important? Well for the student, this greatly hurts their income earning ability. Over a working life of 40 years, a high school dropout will earn approximately $1 million versus a college graduate’s $2 million-plus. Now maybe these statistics are not that interesting to you, but this issue does affect you because low graduation rates means higher unemployment and incarceration rates, increased dependence on social welfare and public assistance programs, and loss of millions of dollars in state and local tax revenue. In other words, you paying higher taxes.

So now maybe you are wondering, what is the city of Houston doing to help students stay in school and graduate? Well they are doing something. It’s called “Grad Lab” and it is being offered to students who have dropped out of high school or are in risk of dropping out.

Similar programs have been implemented in San Diego and North Carolina. Essentially, Grad Labs are online courses that kids can take at school or online. The online courses tests each students knowledge in certain areas and provides teachers with specific information on what each student already knows and what they need to focus on in order to pass a class or recover a credit. Students focus on their weaknesses and take a test when the computer program and graduation coaches feel they are ready and likely to receive a passing grade. Progress emails are also sent to the student and student’s parents or other advocates if desired. Only high school kids who have failed three or more courses in a previous semester, students with excessive absences, and those who have dropped out and want to return to school can use these Grad Labs.

So is HISD’s Grad Lab initiative working? Well it is too early to say since it just launched, but the idea sounds good in theory.

In conclusion, you might say that low high school graduation rates are not my problem, but in reality, it does affect you. Next time you see trash building up on your street and not being collected, next time you are at a park and there is a broken swing that needs repair, next time you read in the paper that the city has to layoff fire fighters and police officers, think about our high school students who drop out and fail to graduate from high school because low graduation rates means higher unemployment, increased dependence on social welfare and public assistance programs, and loss of millions of dollars in local tax revenue.