Ning Jiang: Save lives, one filter at a time

One of our readers, a UCSB graduate student, Ning Jiang, alongside the nonprofit Safe Water International are currently raising funds to help develop a super-low cost filter to be used in Malawi, Africa, and possibly many other areas of the world. We thought the project was awesome and it deserved a plug.

Check out the video:

You can help by donating as little as one dollar! Visit the project page to donate or view more info:

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Paying for a Semester Abroad

Image by Osvaldini

Every college student knows that working while receiving an education is not a simple task. Time management is of the essence, and money can become scarce. So why even think about something so far out of reach such as studying abroad? Because it is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it may not be as far out of reach as you believe. Disregarding the idea of a study abroad right off the bat due to financial issues can be a mistake. Yes, studying abroad can turn out to be a costly experience, but there are ways to turn this dream into reality.

Contact Financial Aid. Whether or not you receive financial aid, see in what ways they may be able to help you. Speak with an advisor and inquire if and how financial aid can be utilized towards your study abroad. Title IV of the Higher Education Act may also provide you with a little further information about the requirements needed in order for the study abroad to be covered by Financial Aid.

Free Money is Always Great! Research about scholarships and grants available specifically for study abroad. School’s sometimes will offer such a scholarship depending on the study abroad program. Again, find out with an advisor if this is possible. Ask about the requirements, deadlines, and how to apply. There are also scholarships and grants outside of your school that are also for overseas education. The greatest aspect of scholarships and grants is that you don’t need to pay it back! There are no interests, no fees, no worries. You simply need to search for the one that is right for you. Here are a couple of links to get you started.

Loans? Loans may be a risky deal. However, it does not need to be. As long as you are organized and well informed about their policies, then a loan might just be the way to get you across that sea and into another country for a memorable educational experience. Begin doing some research on what loans are out there. You may want to take a look at the corporation: Sallie Mae for starters. Sallie Mae provides student loans and can be yet another option to help you out with that study abroad.

Work, Work and… Work. If you find that financial aid, and scholarships will not grant your study abroad, or if you feel hesitant to take a loan, push yourself to the maximum! It is possible that you’re already working and feel as though earning that extra cash can be close to impossible. But it is not. Perhaps it may take a little longer than you thought, possibly a year. Maybe two. But if you truly push yourself and cut down on unnecessary expenditures, you can make this happen!

Keep in mind, that aside from plane tickets and tuition, you will also need a bit extra for meals and spending. Before you do any of the above, calculate how much money you will truly need. Create an estimate, a budget. Include room and boarding, transportation, and anything else you can think of that may require spending. It is always important that you have more and not less as you will be overseas. Start researching now! Push yourself so that you can benefit from that once in a lifetime educational experience.

Carolina writes for Advantage Testing, a one-on-one tutoring and test preparation organization. Feedback can be directed to


Do Not Drink and Text: 4 Easy Ways to Prevent Embarrassment with the Ex

Image by Lindsey Kone

You have all the control in the world during the day. But as soon as the sun sets and down a few “adult” beverages, your fingers turn into your worst enemy. Alas you end up texting the very same person you swore you’d never contact again—your ex. While reading the misspelled words can cause a few chuckles the morning after, it can be darn right terrifying if you realize you’ve poured your heart out to an ex; even worse if your ex never responds to your pleas or specifically tells you to leave him or her alone. Drunk texting is truly a heinous crime. That said in order to save face and avoid humiliation, do not drunk text. Ever. But because it’s a little easier said than done, below are a few tips to help you have a night of fun without losing a little bit of your dignity.

1. List as “Do Not Text”

One of the easiest ways to prevent yourself from drunk texting or calling your ex is to change his or her contact information to something obscure—something so out of the ordinary that hopefully you’ll a) forget where to find him or her in your contact list or b) at the very least be reminded of why you’re not together anymore. For example, erasing “John” and replacing it with “Cheater,” “Lazy Bum,” or “Jerk” will most definitely make you think twice before pressing send. Or, you can keep it standard and simply list that person as “Do Not Call” or “Do Not Text” to give you a little bit more control during your time of weakness.

2. Swap Phones

While a great solution for a drunk texting problem is to simply leave your phone at home, it can become semi-dangerous and inconvenient if you get lost/separated from your group of friends or need find a ride home. But all you need is a phone—any phone to keep you in contact with the people you’re going out with. That said, swap phones with a friend just for the night. That way, you have a phone in case there’s an emergency, but you’re ex’s number is nowhere to be found.

3. Get Special App

There are also a few apps in the iPhone and Android market that can help smart phone users place restrictions on certain numbers—meaning, you can specifically limit your access to contacts in your phone during certain hours of the day. My favorite is DrunkBlocker. Before you start drinking, all you need to do is set a time where you don’t want to be able to call/text your ex (let’s say between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.) and you can’t get in touch with that person in that time frame. Best part? It’s free. Others include Drunk Text Preventer and Textalyzer.

4. Delete Number

Lastly, the most rationale idea (but what many may see as the most radical one) is to just simply delete your ex’s number from your contact list along with any pre-existing text message threads. If you’re scared to do this because you fear one day you might actually need his or her number for something, write down the number and “hide” it in place for safe keeping. If you use Gmail, for example, you can simply save his or her number in your contacts page, but don’t include it in your phone.
Does anyone else have any additional tips to prevent drunk texting an ex?

Mariana Ashley is a freelance writer who particularly enjoys writing about online colleges. She loves receiving reader feedback, which can be directed to mariana.ashley031

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Why you shouldn’t worry about your liberal arts degree

You wanted to be a liberal arts major for any number of completely valid reasons. You followed your passions, just as everyone told you to do when you entered college. Whether your interest was British poetry, art history, U.S. foreign policy, or the sociology of village life in the southern Philippines, you pursued it with vigor. You jumped into scholastic endeavors with an enthusiasm that you had never known before, buoyed by a joy to learn that you had never before in school.

But now as your college tenure is coming to a close, you start to panic. You get emails about career opportunity fares meant to help your market your degree to potential employers. You encounter more and more people that scoff at the potential of a liberal arts degree. You hear from friends who majored in chemical engineering or business administration that already have contracts for jobs that pay more money than you’ve ever imagined. You start to worry if you made the right choice in what you studied, and question whether or not you can find a decent job in this still fragile economy.

Sound familiar to you?

You’re not the only one fretting over the value of your liberal arts degree. In fact, the topic has been one that’s dominating publications nationwide as of late. With jobs and the poor economy on the minds of employers and potential employees alike, liberal arts graduates are wondering how to make their case as valuable members of the American workforce.

But I’m here to perpetuate worries over your liberal arts degree. In fact, I believe it’s the key that can unlock so many potential employment opportunities in the future. I think a liberal arts degree is the best degree one can earn for future employment. Its only goal is to be conferred upon a person who has learned how to think individually and how to think well. A liberal arts degree is set apart from other degrees that teach highly specific and specialized skill sets and abilities. A liberal arts degree resists cookie cutter career training by giving students the tools to develop their own professional persona, equipped with a strong sense of analysis and a nuanced view of the human condition.

I mean to say that a person with a liberal arts degree is by no means restricted in their career choices. In fact, they have free reign over what career path suites them best. A person with a liberal arts degree is someone who managed to excel in courses that covered a wide variety of subject matter, from dense histories of foreign countries to careful analyses of Western philosophies. A person with a liberal arts degree has likely read, written, and analyzed more material than a student in any other major. They’re pushed to the limit intellectually and then some, forced to formulate and defend their beliefs to professors and peers alike. They must structure learned arguments that showcase their knowledge on a subject, and they must possess the skill to make the argument cohesive, compelling, and convincing.

In other words, a liberal arts graduate would be the ideal employee in any company.

This guest post is contributed by Angelita Williams, who writes on the topics of online courses.  She welcomes your comments at her email Id: