• Welcome Our New Partner in Education - DoItYourselfDegree.com

    My favorite study tool for LEARNING (not just cramming) your college subjects


    One of the most common questions students ask me about testing out of their college coursework is…


    “Jay, are you telling me I need to read entire textbooks cover-to-cover to pass all of these exams?”




    In fact, not only do you not have to do it, attempting to do it will actually sink your testing success by spreading your study time too thin.


    Unless you’re twenty years old -- living rent-free with all the time in the world -- there’s simply not enough hours in a day to read massive textbooks before taking your tests. At that pace, you would probably hit retirement age before earning a degree to advance your career!


    So, you ask, what IS the key to rapidly, thoroughly and methodically preparing yourself for dozens of rigorous exams?


    After two years of running DIY Degree, I am proud to endorse iStudySmart.com as my preferred exam preparation system.


    Unlike most products out there, iStudySmart.com isn’t just a flashcard library. It’s a comprehensive, laser-guided study system that works in conjunction with your textbook by telling you which sections to study (including exact page numbers), drills you with relevant sample questions and tells you when you are ready for test day.


    Why is this preferable to just grabbing some cheap flashcards and cramming?


    Well, it depends.


    If you already have a strong grounding in the subject (like a lifelong accountant studying for the Financial Accounting CLEP test) then maybe you can squeak by with a service like InstantCert. The flashcard approach might be sufficient as a refresher before test day.


    However, what if -- like many of my students -- you know nothing whatsoever about the subjects on your test schedule?


    A few late-night cram sessions aren’t going to magically encode a semester’s worth of college material in your brain. This presents a serious problem, because a semester’s worth of college material is what you need to know in order to pass your CLEP, DSST or Excelsior tests.


    Do you really want to walk into a test center, sit down at the computer and try to answer hundreds of questions about something you studied for in such a hasty manner?


    (That’s like thinking you’re ready to step into the cage with a UFC fighter because you took a kickboxing class at Planet Fitness!)


    iStudySmart.com is the intelligent middle ground between the exhaustingly tedious “read everything” approach and the lazily ineffectual “flashcard cramming” approach.


    I think of it as a GPS system for test-out students. Rather than rifling through textbooks at the end of busy days, getting discouraged and putting school off, iStudySmart.com empowers you to sit down in front of a focused action plan for putting whatever study time you have to its absolute maximal use.


    In short, it lets you study in less time so you pass the first time!


    Remember: testing out of a college degree isn’t for the faint of heart. It’s an academic mission that will challenge you in ways typical “classroom students” never experience. So although you technically could study without a tool like iStudySmart.com, your chances of climbing this mountain are much higher with a powerful tool in your arsenal.


    If you’re considering a test-out approach like my DIY Degree students use, I strongly encourage you to prepare yourself with iStudySmart.com.




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  • Time management is key when earning your degree outside of the traditional classroom

    If you’re pursuing your degree outside of a traditional classroom, managing your time wisely will mean the difference in succeeding or not. While you may not have the distractions of a campus, you’ll also be missing out on the academic environment a traditional institution fosters. Luckily, these tips will help you hone your study skills, manage your valuable time, and recreate the prime environment to study more effectively.


    1. Remember the 50/10 Rule
    Cramming has its uses, but genuinely learning information and gaining knowledge requires a more skillful approach to absorbing your studies. If you find yourself unable to concentrate on long-term studies hours at a time, try the 50/10 method. Study diligently and intently for 50 minutes including required reading and study questions, then reward your brain with a 10 minute break. Breaking your studies into chunks gives your short-term memory a chance to compute into the long-term side as you focus on one area specifically instead of cramming and running everything together into one blur. It also gives your brain a chance to cool down and re-gear for the next chunk of data. Of course this will vary by individual, find the optimal ratio that works best for you or try splitting your work into short goals. “I’ll finish this chapter and do 5 study questions and reward myself with a Nutella bite with toast.”

    2.      Where you study matters
    Where you study can have an effect on how you study. Studying in the comfort of your own home is great, but it may not be the best place for everyone. The quiet ambiance and removal of personal distractions of a public library can allow you to focus more on what you’re studying.

    3.      How you take notes makes a difference
    Want your information to really sink in? Try not typing your notes. Typing your notes can be advantageous because of increased legibility, but writing your notes out by hand leaves a more permanent impression in your mind. When you type you are just pressing keys on a keyboard, but when you write, you are writing out the words and concepts you need to remember. It may take longer to hand-write notes, but the pay-off is a better memory. If you’re strapped for time, find a happy balance between writing and typing that works for you.

    4.      Friends who stay together get passing grades together
    When possible, study in a group. Studying in groups can be beneficial. It allows the bouncing of ideas among peers in a stress less environment. We tend to remember what our peers tell us more than what we read, so when we study with our peers, we remember better. Additionally, being in an environment where you have to explain/teach the material to a peer further reinforces your knowledge of the material.

    5.      Removing interference
    If you set aside time for studying, don’t leave Facebook open in the background. The notifications can wait. In fact, avoid using any social media when you study because a quick break can turn into hours of lost study time. Your ideal study habitat should be quiet, a place you enjoy, with miniam auditory and visual distractions. Non-verbal relaxing music can make your space more enjoyable without distracting.

    6.      What time you study can set you up for success
    Try studying in the morning. Even if you’re tired, your mind is more active in the morning. Studying in the morning allows you to remember things easier. Imagine if you had to go for a run, would you have more energy after waking up, or before you sleep? The mind is no different, so be sure to pick up those books after waking up, not just at night.

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  • Online Learning is On the Rise - The Benefits Prove It's Here to Stay


    Whether you’ve tried it out or have never heard of it, one thing’s certain: online learning is here to stay. Online learning or E-learning is the use of electronic media and info/communication technology in education. Traditionally this has been used in companies and business to train their employees and has been ongoing for the past decade. In 2011, 77% of American corporations were using online/E-learning technology to train their employees. In 1995, this number was only 4%. It’s not surprising that more and more companies are utilizing online learning when a study by IBM shows that every $1 spent in e-learning has the potential to return $30 in increased profitability by increasing their productivity by 50% with a newly skilled and more agile workforce. E-learning cuts traditional training costs by 50% and instruction time by 60%, making online learning a valuable resource. However, this asset isn’t limited to businesses. More and more students and adult learners are seeing the value in taking online college courses through e-learning.

    In 2012 there were 4.6 million college students taking at least one of their classes online. Throughout 2014, this number is expected to increase to 18.6 million. By 2019, it’s estimated that half of all classes will be online. The reasons for the dramatic increase become apparent when we look at the major benefits. These include increased efficiency, lower cost, and increased knowledge.

    • Efficiency – Online learning classes are completed 25-60% faster than classroom training on the same subjects.
    • Savings – It’s estimated that 85% of every dollar spent on classroom learning is spent on the delivery of it (instructors, physical classrooms, materials). By connecting learners with material through virtual environments and digital approaches, these convert to large savings for students, often hundreds or thousands of dollars less for the same courses in a traditional environment.
    • Increased Knowledge – e-learning and online approaches to classes have proven to increase knowledge retention by 25-60%.  By presenting information via visual and verbal channels, removing non-essential distractive content, and giving the learner control of the pace and amount of information they learn at one time, online learning has proven to reduce the cognitive load in e-learning. This allows the learner to retain more information.

    One of the more surprising statistics is the demographic of the average online learner. These are adult students with an average age of 34 years old, with 82% being undergraduates. 81% of learners are currently employed. It’s easy to understand why this group is perfect for online classes. These are busy working adults that are trying to balance their education with their career, family, and life responsibilities and online learning provides the flexibility they need. To further save on time and money spent on education expenses, adult learners can take utilize testing out of college courses with credit-by-exam programs. The basis of credit-by-examination is the idea of awarding transferable college credit by examination. Students demonstrate an understanding of a subject matter by passing one standardized exam per subject and receive the full accredited credit for that exam. Over 3,800 colleges and universities across the country accept transfer credit from these exams, providing distance learners and even more flexible route to their degree and education goals.

    One of the leaders of college-by-exam is DSST (formerly DANTES Subject Standardized Tests). DSST offers an extensive series of 38 exams in college subject areas that are similar to the final exam given in undergraduate courses. These exams are frequently used in conjunction with CLEP (College Level Examination Program) tests by students pursuing college degrees in non-traditional formats. Whereas CLEP tests are almost exclusively used for lower level credit at regionally accredited institutions, DSST's are available for both upper and lower level credit. These subject areas include Social Sciences, Math, Applied Technology, Business, Physical Sciences and Humanities.

    There are numerous ways to prepare for these exams and begin testing out. Of course, the best way to prepare for DSST exams is with study and prep material from DSST. The DSST Official Test Preparation Guide was created for students to include the Top 10 Subject Titles that students are most interested in testing out of. The Official Test Preparation Guide includes sample test questions, study resources, exam content outlines, and reviews of the subjects. These top 10 subjects include:

      Introduction to World Religions

      Here’s to Your Health

      Principles of Statistics

      Criminal Justice

      Personal Finance

      Management Information Systems

      Ethics in America

      Principles of Supervision

      Introduction to Business

      Principles of Finance

    To learn more about DSST and the Official Test Preparation Guide, visit www.collegetestprepguide.com.




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  • 10 Reasons Your College Degree Makes Your Life Better

    Pursuing a college education and deciding on a degree is an important and challenging decision: financially, academically, personally, socially, intellectually, and physically. Most students question why they are trying to get a college degree at some point during their college experience, especially after their first semester or two when the focus requires a narrowing to a specific interest or field. This list is designed to show you the reasons to finish, stay on track, and complete a goal you set out to pursue.

    You'll make more money. Figures range from several hundred thousand to a million dollars or more over your lifetime when compared to only having a high school diploma.

    You'll have more opportunities in your career. A degree can mean more job openings, more chances at promotions, and more flexibility with which jobs you can enjoy.

    You'll have more control and knowledge in your own life. You'll be better educated about the things that have an impact on your day-to-day life: knowing how to read a contract from law classes, balancing a checkbook or understanding how loans work from accounting classes. You can better understand retirement plans and savings from finance classes. A college education can empower you in all kinds of ways to be more in control of your life's decisions and allow you to make more informed and smarter choices.

    You can handle more challenges and adversity. From having more savings available for emergencies to having marketable skills and an education during an economic downturn, having a degree can come in handy when life has its ups and downs.

    You'll always be valuable. Having a college degree today is what having a high school diploma was considered a few decades ago: the base education. Consequently, having a degree now will open doors for the future, which can lead to an employer funding your future education. Corporate training and education sponsorship will continue to grow your skills and marketable education.

    Intangible Reasons to Get a College Degree

    You'll understand your choices more and examine decisions critically. The critical thinking and reasoning skills you learn in college will stay with you for a lifetime. These are important problem solving skills that develop in the advanced classes at college. These allow you to be proactive in your life and decisions.

    You can be a valuable resource/inspiration to others. Many social service positions, from doctor and lawyer to teacher and scientist, require a college degree at minimum. Being able to help others with your academic skills is a great reward and can be especially important for younger generations who will learn an education is important early on in their life.

    You'll have more access to resources. In addition to the financial resources you'll have access to through your higher income, you'll also have access to the network of friends and peers you connect with in college. Your roommate from freshman year who is now a lawyer can assist in legal advice, your friend from chemistry class who is now a doctor can prescribe health advice, and the professors you connect with may bridge you to a job are the kinds of benefits and resources that are hard to plan for -- but that can make all the difference in the world.

    You'll have a strong foundation to build your future education upon. As you continue and advance in your career, you may find the desire or need to obtain a higher level degree such as a masters or PHD. Having an undergraduate degree already under your belt will better allow you to pursue your aspirations when they further develop later in your career.

    You'll build confidence, self-worth, and self-respect. You may be the first person in your family to graduate from college or you may come from a long line of graduates. Either way, knowing you earned your degree will show you completed a long-term goal you set out to do. You’ll carry your success onto the next stages of life and build upon them to grow further in your professional and academic endeavors.

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  • It's Graduation Time, Will Yours Be Next?



    It’s graduation season, when many proud graduates put on their cap and gown, walk across the stage for their diploma, flip their tassel, and toss their cap into the air in celebration of the accomplishments and an end to their days spent in school. For some, this graduation ceremony has only been experienced from the outside.  These could be parents in the crowd who sacrificed their own education and graduation in order to raise their kids and put their children’s needs before their own. These could be individuals who had to drop out due to financial or schedule/time reasons and weren’t able to finish their degree.  In today’s connected world, we have excellent technological tools to help us achieve our goals. If your goal is to finish your degree and view graduation from the stage instead of the audience while saving time and money, online classes might be what you’re looking for.

    Adult learners face obstacles to their education that are different than other learners. These are the biggest reasons adults list for not being able to go back to college. It could be a busy work schedule that doesn’t leave time for classes, a classroom and commute time that are too long or inconvenient for busy adults, or childcare responsibilities that conflict with traditional college classroom schedules. Perhaps it’s a financial obstacle, where the cost of tuition, commuting, textbook, college fees, and other expenses just don’t fit into your budget, especially for single parents with only one income. iStudySmart.com’s approach to education was specifically designed with adult learners in mind. Our courses were made for your busy schedule. You study when you want, on your own time, wherever you want, whenever you have free time whether it’s 30 minutes in the morning before heading to work, 15 minutes on your lunch break, or an hour before bed after tucking in the kids. You make your own schedule and study at a time that’s convenient for you. Then, when you’re ready to test, you schedule your exam when you feel prepared. Pass this one exam and you’ll earn 3-6 credits that transfer to over 3,800 universities nationwide. With iStudySmart.com you build your own class schedule and study times around your own busy schedule so you can take a lot of courses or a little, you’re in control. iStudySmart.com has over 60 courses within five major categories: Humanities, Social Sciences, Natural Sciences, Business and Nursing that are all self-paced with no time limits. To browse our courses, learn more, and get started today, visit iStudySmart.com. Throughout June, courses are discounted to $149, see our site to learn more!

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  • The Nation's Only Online Non-Profit University - Get to Know WGU

    Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans. For many of the 37 million Americans who have some college education but no degree, life simply got in the way of their college pursuit.

    You can't afford not to finish a degree that will help you advance your career. If you do your homework and research your options, you'll find that there are affordable options. Many students are eligible for federal financial aid, and there are also other scholarship opportunities. When you do your research, keep in mind that higher cost does not necessarily mean higher quality. Factor in tuition, books, and fees before you make your decision. Another factor should be the length of time you expect to take to complete your degree -- the longer it takes, the more it is likely to cost. Research competency-based programs, which allow students to progress based on their mastery of knowledge, not how long they've put in "seat time."

    I can't get to class -- I work full-time, and I have family responsibilities. Take a look at the options for nontraditional students before you use this excuse. While you may not be able to get to a campus for courses, many online universities allow you to study on your schedule. The majority of our students work full-time and have family responsibilities. They study at night, in the morning, on weekends -- whenever they can fit it into their lives. Advancing your career and being a positive example for your family are powerful motivations for going to back to school; don't let them be excuses not to go back.

    I don't have time to go back to school -- there aren't enough hours in the day. Innovations in higher education, particularly online and competency-based education, have made college study more flexible and adaptable to the life of a busy adult. You just need to find the right program for you. You can fit your education into your schedule -- not the other way around. Before enrolling, explore what kind of support is available to help you maximize your time. Are there faculty members, mentors, advisors, learning communities, etc., to help and increase the likelihood of your success? Can you make the most of what you've already learned on the job with competency-based programs? Can you complete coursework and tests remotely or online?

    A degree won't be worth the time or the money. If you choose the right degree from an accredited, respected university, it will be well worth it. The unemployment rate of college graduates is half that of those with a high school diploma. When researching schools, make sure your degree program will be valued by employers. Ask for information about alumni placements, employer surveys, and graduate rankings on national test scores. Having a college degree can also boost your salary. And, if you choose an affordable option, your degree will pay for itself faster. For example, a recent study completed for us by Harris Interactive showed that WGU graduates pay for their degrees through increased earnings within two to three years of graduation. That makes going back to college a great investment.

    Circumstances rarely get better by chance; they get better by change, so don't let excuses hold you back.

    About WGU

    Western Governors University (WGU) is an accredited online university offering online bachelor’s and master’s degree programs and the National Education Alliance works to assist learners in advancing their education.  Together, WGU and the National Education Alliance both partner with iStudySmart.com to offer students ways to save time and money while working toward their degree.  

    National Education Alliance Members receive the following benefits with Western Governors University

    • 5% tuition discount for the first year (two terms) of a student's degree program at Western Governors University
    • Eligibility to apply for the WGU-National Education Alliance Scholarship

    As the nation’s only online, competency-based, nonprofit university, WGU offers accredited degree programs designed to enhance job skills and improve career opportunities.  WGU has degree plans for teachers, business, IT and Health Professionals.

    To save time and money on your education with iStudySmart.com register your FREE National Education Alliance membership with coupon code iSSsave during your sign-up.


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  • 3 Ways to Test Out for College Credit


    What if you could save your time and money earning 3-6 college credit hours by passing one exam? Most would likely be interested in skipping a semester of sitting in a classroom, and the good news is that there is a way. The bad news is you might not have heard of it. This is the idea behind “testing out” of classes, or credit by examination. Simply put, it’s a faster, more affordable way to earn college credit by passing one standardized exam per course. This is the solution for many who want to earn their college degree but face obstacles such as time to attend class, the cost of typical college expenses such as tuition, transportation to and from school, or other restraints such as family and work responsibilities. By earning college credit by examination, suddenly it’s possible to earn a degree faster and more affordably than traditional options. You can use testing out to complete 2 years’ worth of college classes, or use it as a supplement for your other traditional classes. One of the best parts of testing out is anyone can earn college credit this way. High school students can earn college credit in their free time while still in high school. Adult learners, including veterans, can earn college credit on their own schedules that works for their lives. How can you start testing out?

    Three types of exams you can take to earn college credit by exam are CLEP (College Level Examination Program), DSST (DANTES Subject Standardized Tests), and ECE (Excelsior College Exam). iStudySmart.com offers exam preparation in over 60 CLEP, DSST, and ECE college-level exams in subjects such as business, nursing, humanities, natural sciences, and social sciences. In order to earn full credit per course, you only need to pass one standardized exam per course. You can prepare for these exams until you’re comfortable with the material and then take the standardized exam at testing locations throughout the country.

    iStudySmart.com is an official partner of DSST, recognized for their exceptional preparation materials. You can browse iStudySmart.com’s DSST and other recognized standardized exam prep courses by clicking here. Good luck studying and earning college credit by testing out of CLEP, DSST, & ECE exams with iStudySmart.com!


    If you’re ready to take a DSST exam, you can save $10 on your exam fee by signing up for a free membership at www.NationalEducationAlliace.com and use coupon code iSSsave when signing up!

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  • Cheating Your Way Through College: The Numbers

    Cheating Your Way Through College: The Numbers


    Share this infographic on your site!

    College Cheating

    Cheating appears to be part of life. We almost expect it from public figures and celebrities — or so news reports would have us think. When cheating goes on by students, though, how do you feel?

    There is no exact demographic breakdown of who cheats/ cheated in school; however, there are a number of surveys and studies that give an indicator of how students feel about cheating, and maybe why they do it. We take a look at some of the facts and figures.

    Cheating in High School and College: The Numbers

    2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics Biennial Report Card on American Youth

    In the Nov 2012 Josephson Institute of Ethics biennial report card on American Youth, cheating and other questionable behavior was on the decline for the first time in a decade. Notes:

    • 2012 survey was of over 23,000 American students in charter, public and private high schools.
    • All percentages below are based on the number of students who answered a particular question — not necessarily on the total number of students surveyed.
    • The 2010 survey was of over 40,000 students.
    • Figures are for 2012, unless otherwise noted.

    Here are some details:

    • In 2012, about 51% of students surveyed admitted to cheating on an exam one or more times in the past academic year, compared to around 59% of students surveyed for the 2010 study. Of the 2012 respondents, 23.4% (5,410) had cheated once on a school test; 27.6% (6,371) had cheated twice or more; 49% (11,313) said they had never cheated. Of males, 22% had cheated just once, and 30% twice or more. Of females, 25% had cheated just once, and 26% twice or more.
    • 57% of respondents (11,844) agreed and 43% (8,899) disagreed with the statement “In the real world, successful people do what they have to do to win, even if others consider it cheating.” About 64% of males agreed, compared to 51% of females.
    • 36% (7,639) agreed and 64% (13,377) disagreed with the statement “A person has to lie or cheat sometimes in order to succeed.” Of respondents, 45% of males agreed, compared to 28% of females.
    • 22% (4,473) agreed and 78% (16,199) disagreed with the statement “People who are willing to lie, cheat, or break the rules are more likely to succeed than people who are not.” Around 28% of males agreed, compared to 16% of females.
    • 10% (2,048) agreed and 90% (19,420 disagreed with the statement “My parents/ guardians would rather I cheat than get bad grades.” Around 12% of males agreed, compared to 7% of females.
    • 86% (18,374) agreed and 14% (2,992) disagreed with the statement “It’s not worth it to lie or cheat because it hurts your character.” Around 19% of males disagreed, compared to 10% of females.
    • 15% (3,154) agreed and 85% (18,278) disagreed with the statement “It’s not cheating if everyone is doing it.” 20% of male students agreed, compared to 10% of female students.

    Another Josephson Institute study was published in Oct 2009 and based on 6,930 respondents in five age groups (17 and under, 18-24, 25-40, 41-50, over 50). The report found some connections between high school cheating and dishonesty later in life, including at work, with spouses, and on taxes.

    General Findings

    • According to the GAO (US Government Accountability Office), for 2010-11 and 2011-12 school years, 32 states reported “canceling, invalidating, or nullifying test scores” — either for individual students, entire schools, or sometimes entire districts due to suspected or confirmed cheating.
    • In 2012, 36 questions from various California standardized high school exams were photographed with smartphones and shared on social media sites. As a result, 12 schools were penalized for eligibility of state academic awards. Overall, 249 students from 147 schools in 94 California school districts posted 442 images of test materials (most images were not of test questions). California school officials now check social media sites every 15 minutes, to prevent a repeat of the situation.
    • New York City’s well-regarded Stuyvesant High School had a cheating scandal in 2012 where students were texting photos of test pages during some state exams. A group of students had formed a high-pressure “cheating ring,” as one junior student put it. Apparently, teachers did a poor job of monitoring student behavior during exams.
    • New York City currently has a citywide ban on student cell phones in high schools, instituted by Mayor Bloomberg — a ban nearly all of his hopeful successors are promising to lift.
    • Turnitin.com, a web service used by educators for potential plagiarism detection, searched 38 million student papers in 2012 for possible matches to online content. (Note: Turnitin.com finds matches for large portions of text, which it should be noted is not proof of plagiarism.) 10M of the papers searched were for secondary school students, and the rest were college and university students. 156M matches showed up in those scanned papers. Wikipedia was the top source; Yahoo Answers was second.
    • About 125 Harvard students, in a class of 279 taking a Spring 2012 class on Government, went under investigation for cheating by collaboration on the take-home final exam. 70 of the students have since been asked by the school’s administrative board to retroactively withdraw (usually for a period of one school year). The rest were put on probation.
    • 20 students in the New York city area were caught as part of a college entrance exam cheating ring. They were taking payments of $500-3,600 to impersonate students for SAT and ACT exams. At least 5 of the students were facing the possibility of 4-year prison sentences. The other 15 were juveniles at the time and were only facing misdemeanor charges.
    • 200 senior students at Clear Lake High School in Houston, Texas, managed to get answers to a Dec 2011 English final exam. As a result, 600 students had their tests voided in Jan 2012, when the cheating was discovered due to unusual test scores.
    • In Jan 2012, it was reported that 10 sophomore students (of 180 taking a test) at Newport Beach, California, high school Corona del Mar had purchased test banks ahead of time from Amazon.com — an action constituted as cheating since test banks are intended for use by teachers to create tests with.
    • 20 charges of “academic collusion” was the result when answers to a Psychology course final exam showed up on a Facebook group used by some students in the class at University of Texas in Austin. (The university publishes cheating statistics online. It dealt with an average of 350 cheating cases each year from 2003-2011.)
    • Sometimes students have help cheating. Since 2006, about 100 teachers in American public schools have been caught cheating or lying with the goal of increasing student test scores. Some teachers provided answers or extra time on exams, or corrected incorrect answers on test papers. In some cases, teachers were directed to do some or all of these activities by their school’s principal. One motivation is the No Child Left Behind Act, passed in 2001, as schools are affected by reduced funding for low scores.

    Cheating by foreign students applying to U.S. colleges is fairly significant.

    • One recent study showed that 90% of Chinese students applying to American colleges provided fake recommendations.
    • 70% had their application essay written by someone else. This is thought to be partly due to poor English skills.
    • 50% alter high school transcripts.

    16 Ways Students Cheat

    These are some of the ways that students cheat, whether done intentionally or not. This applies to college students as well as high school students, including applying for college.

    1. Having parents do work for them, instead of just helping. (This can be the fault of parents as much as students.) This includes filling out a college application essay.
    2. Faking test scores and recommendation letters (for college applications).
    3. Downloading papers from the Web.
    4. Plagiarizing large or entire portions of text from various sources.
    5. Copying multiple choice take-home test answers.
    6. Copying homework/ essays.
    7. Working in a group but each submitting the same answers/ essays.
    8. Using phones to texting answers to each other during a test.
    9. Saving notes on a smartphone, for viewing during a test.
    10. Using phones to browse the Internet during a test.
    11. Replacing a drink bottle’s label with crib notes. There are videos on YouTube showing students how to cheat, including information on where to get printer-ready labels, and tips on how to apply the glue.
    12. Taking photos of tests (during the test) and posting them online, usually to a social network such as Facebook.
    13. Using phones to check Facebook for a friend’s answers.
    14. Using earbuds hidden in long hair and/or clothing, and listening to prerecorded notes.
    15. Hiring someone to take online courses for them.
    16. Hiring someone from online sources to complete assignments or exams.

    Which Students Cheat?

    This is a more difficult question to answer, because different surveys have determined different types of students cheat. The collective list includes both low- and high-GPA students, athletes, business students, fraternity and sorority members, younger students, unprepared students with heavy workloads, confused students, unemotional yet confident students and more. Also: men are more likely to cheat than women. So it seems like anyone might cheat, but not everyone will.

    Even kids in kindergarten and grade school cheat. One child of 8 years, in Grade 3 and normally an A student was caught cheating on a test. Students this young may feel the pressure to please a parent or teacher by cheating, since by this point they are usually getting a grade for each class. They may also be confused from having to switch from working together in class to working alone on a test.

    According to psychologist Lawrence Kohlberg, we go through 6 stages of moral development (in 3 levels), becoming less egotistical as we age, and better at determining what is morally right or not. Here are the levels and stages:

    Level I: Pre-conventional Morality
    Stage 1 – Obedience and Punishment Orientation.
    Stage 2 – Individualism and Exchange.

    Level II: Conventional Morality
    Stage 3 – Good Interpersonal Relationships.
    Stage 4 – Maintaining the Social Order.

    Level III: Post-conventional Morality
    Stage 5 – Social Contract and Individual Rights.
    Stage 6 – Universal Principles.

    Some experts believe Kohlberg’s study had a male bias, for a variety reasons that are beyond our scope here.

    21 Reasons Why Students Cheat

    So given the diversity of survey results, which seem to suggest pretty much any type of student might cheat, the more important question is why do they cheat? Here are some common reasons students intentionally cheat.

    1. Because other students are cheating, and are getting better marks without getting caught.
    2. For peer approval.
    3. Because of peer pressure, or to help a friend or fraternity/ sorority.
    4. Gains outweigh penalties.
    5. No honor code and/or no rules stated.
    6. Faculty are allowing it, either intentionally or unintentionally.
    7. An opportunity to cheat presents itself, motivated by other factors.
    8. Chances of being caught are low.
    9. When the emphasis is on grades rather than understanding subjects.
    10. Academic pressure.
    11. Pressure from expectations of the student (typically by family), real or imagined. Some cultures are more susceptible to this than others.
    12. Time pressure from having full- or part-time jobs.
    13. Workloads are heavy, especially when mixed with extra-curricular school activities (sports, clubs, volunteer work).
    14. Low impression of a teacher/ professor as uncaring.
    15. Unfairness on the part of the educator, such as giving tests intentionally meant to fail students, or excessive workloads.
    16. Low impression of the value of classes and/or tests and assignments.
    17. Shifted ethics. Cheating a few times and not getting caught can make it easier to feel that cheating is okay.
    18. Prior lack of effort, possibly due to non-academic pressures.
    19. A course is required; students just want to get it over and done with.
    20. Being privileged, knowing their parents can get them in to a college.
    21. “I’ll never use *this* anyway” attitude, “so it’s ok to cheat this time.”

    There are also a number of reasons that students, especially younger ones, unintentionally end up cheating:

    • Inability to summarize multitudes of search results. Students sometimes use “search” as “research,” not understanding the difference.
    • Not understanding copyright, or how to properly citing a reference.
    • Confusion about why term papers they paid for cannot be used in part or in entirety as their own work.
    • Confusion about why it’s okay to work in groups online for classes and sometimes homework, then having to work on their own for other situations.
    • Blurred lines. Being in a mindset of “social sharing,” where sharing is “caring.”

    18 Tools and Techniques Teachers Use to Prevent or Catch Cheating

    Here are some of the ways educators in high school or college either prevent or catch cheating.

    1. For assignments and essays, explaining the difference between searching and researching, and showing by example.
    2. Checking hands as students come in for an exam — sometimes casually with a handshake.
    3. Banning electronic devices from at least an exam room, if not in the classroom or the school.
    4. Having all backpacks and book bags in one part of the exam room.
    5. Reminding students of any academic code of conduct before an exam begins. Having students sign a pledge before a test or exam can reduce cheating.
    6. Use teaching assistants to monitor exam rooms.
    7. Checking randomly for student id, to prevent impostors who fill in for another student during an exam.
    8. Walking around the exam room, to prevent students from communicating covertly.
    9. Being alert to possible physical signals (coughing, tapping).
    10. Using web service TurnItIn.com to check for the possibility of plagiarism.
    11. Creating fresh new tests to avoid the possibility of answers online.
    12. For smaller classes, being familiar with each student’s writing style – in terms of wording, phrasing, grammar.
    13. Using handwriting analysis to determine if homework and take-home tests have been completed by one person for several students.
    14. Keeping test materials locked up, and passwords unique and “strong”.
    15. Creating multiple (2 or 3) versions of tests, without announcing it, and alternating distribution in the exam room by rows or columns.
    16. Using open book tests and having students explain their work on a test or exam. This approach allows them to use whatever study materials they want, but by explaining their reasoning, indicates whether they understand the concepts or not.
    17. Preparing students for learning instead of just test-taking by explaining how each lesson may help them in the future.
    18. In more extreme situations, statistical methods similar to that used to detect card cheats in casinos are used for detecting cheating on tests. These methods are not new; some date back to at least 1972, if not earlier.

    By Jakayla Mullin, , http://www.bestcollegereviews.org/cheating/

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  • Top 10 Reasons to Choose Online Learning

    1. You get to choose
    Online education allows students to choose from a wide variety of schools and programs not available in their area.

    2. Flexibility
    Online education offers flexibility for students who have other commitments.

    3. Networking Opportunities
    Students enrolled in online education programs can network with fellow peers taking the same classes. These networking opportunities are great for making study partners to motivate each other. Professional connections are useful for career opportunities after schooling is finished.

    4. Pacing
    Many online education programs allow pupils to work at their own pace. For some, this might mean they can demonstrate competency upfront and get credit for the class. For others this may mean moving at a slower pace and receiving additional supports if necessary.

    5. Open Scheduling
    Online education allows professionals to continue their careers while working towards a degree. You’re in charge of your own schedule of courses that are always available and can work it around your other responsibilities in life.

    6. Savings
    Online education programs often charge less than traditional schools.

    7. Lack of Commute
    Students who choose online education save on gas and commuting time.

    8. Choose the interests you’re passionate about
    Providing online opportunities for students means providing more choice. Students can more easily pursue study in areas of interest. They are no longer dependent on the staffing limitations of their particular school or community.

    9. Teaching & Testing Options
    The variety of online education programs available means that students are able to choose a learning and evaluation format that works for them. Everyone learns in different ways, and different options for distance learning are available to help you study and learn the best way that works for you.

    10. Effectiveness
    Online education is effective. A 2009 meta-study from the Department of Education found that students taking online courses outperformed their peers in traditional classrooms.

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  • Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions and 5 Ways to Stick to Your Resolution

    Setting New Year’s resolutions are not for everyone. In fact, only 45% of Americans typically make them. And only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. iStudySmart.com wants to help you keep your resolution and show you how it can make a difference for years to come.
    As we resolve to make a change in 2014, the top resolutions each year don’t change too much. Take a look at this list of top 10 resolutions for 2014.

    • 1. Live within your means 
    • 2. Smile and be kind to more people 
    • 3. Exercise more 
    • 4. Spend more time with family and friends 
    • 5. Eat healthier 
    • 6. Recycle more 
    • 7. Do something adventurous 
    • 8. Learn something new 
    • 9. Overcome addiction 
    • 10. Fall in love

    While iStudySmart.com can’t help you fall in love – unless it’s a love of learning, we can help in your pursuit of a number on the list. Looking to better manage your budget and #1 live within your means? Why not look into a personal finance course or a course on money & banking? Hoping to #3 exercise more and learn to #5 eat healthier? We have courses on health and anatomy/physiology. If you’re trying to #6 recycle more this new year, try a course on natural sciences or environment and humanity. A great tool in #9 overcoming of an addiction is education. Learn more about addiction in a substance abuse course, or go deeper into the psychological aspect with an intro to psychology course. Of course taking new subjects you’ve never studied is a great way to #8 learn something new, and if you’re an adult learner, going back to college or pursuing a degree is considered #7 doing something adventurous for many. Learning something new keeps us moving forward. We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect a different result. If you want changes in your career, consider adding a degree to your resume. What better resolution than one that can affect your family and your income for years and years?
    When setting your resolution, be sure to use these 5 ways to help you stick to your resolution.

    • 1. Start small – for example, know that a degree is your ultimate objective, but start with your goal being to pass your first course. 
    • 2. Keep it simple – passing a course does not have to mean you get a 100. Do your best and keep your goal in focus. 
    • 3. Hold yourself accountable – be true to yourself or study with someone else to stay on track.
    • 4. Enjoy life – don’t forget that any goal should not take the fun out of life – sprinkle in fun along the way to make the ride worth it. 
    • 5. Don’t forget about you – with all we have going on, it’s easy to forget that we need to give ourselves attention and our goals are important.

    Stay focused on your goal and don’t give up and this year you will succeed. If education is part of your goal, iStudySmart.com is here to help.

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