Independence Day 2015, A Holiday for Flip Floppers

What was your first act of independence?

For most of us in America, it’s going to college. Whether you are a high school student moving away from home for the first time or you’re an adult degree seeker, going for your degree is a bold act of ambition. It’s a choice to be stronger and more successful as an individual.

A degree is a declaration of independence.

             Independence Day 2015, Is a Day For Flip Floppers

The American Founders, responsible for that Declaration of Independence we just celebrated, were blindfold haters. And now for a DegreeCast History Flashback!

We Americans love to talk about how brave the colonists were for standing up to the strongest government (with the biggest army) in the world. England was terrifyingly huge, much like Google or the Kardashian/Jenner family. Jefferson, Franklin, and Adams knew that declaring independence from the British crown was a BFD. No one had ever done it before.

But what drove those early 4th of July partiers wasn’t the thrill of punching out the giant.  It also wasn’t the future promise of lawn chairs, barbecued meats, and Bruce Springsteen. The colonists were simply tired of stupid games.

The British had been forcing the Americans to play an international game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey. “Close your eyes and just trust us,” the Brits might have said.  “We have your best interests in mind. We’ll give you options—just let us point you in the direction.”

Tired of the control from across the Atlantic, the revolutionaries wanted to make their own choices and choose their own destinies.

And 225+ years later, we still celebrate the time the revolutionaries flipped the tables and called BS on the British blindfolders.  Sure, Americans might sometimes put the tail on the donkey’s nose, but since 1776 we do it with our eyes wide open.  It’s our choice and our (jack)ass—and that’s the way we like it.

It’s Independence Day 2015, so our question here at DegreeCast: how do you pick a degree program? Do you know the many options you have or do you trust junk mail, dated booths at college fairs, and online banner ads?

It’s Independence Day any day you want. Declare yours with DegreeCast.

Fantasy Commencement Speeches 2015 Draft: Game of Thrones Edition

Game of Thrones Grad - Commencement Speeches 2015

Game of Thrones Grad – Commencement Speeches 2015

Imagine it:  you’ve done it. You’ve completed your degree! Pop some bottles, take a selfie with grandma, and pat yourself on the back.

Now for the big question:  if you were in charge of the universe, who would be your commencement speaker at your graduation?

Welcome to DegreeCast’s Fantasy Commencement Draft:  Game of Thrones Edition.

You want advice about how to use your degree to carve a bloody path through the masses of your future?  There’s a GoT character who’s ready to drop some knowledge.

You choose…

Daenerys Targaryen

The Mother of Dragons would surely talk about seizing the day; she started at the bottom and now rules from the top of a pyramid.  Look for her, either to channel her inner Lena Dunham and talk about keeping it real in a man’s world or let her Beyonce spirit animal give advice about how to dominate the marketplace with shock & awe (and fire-breathing lizards—no offense Jay & Dr. West.

Ned Stark

Capable of JFK-level barn-burner, the Lord of the North would deliver a “don’t be evil” speech that would make Google proud. Maybe the most honorable man in Westeros, the Stark clan patriarch would likely have a lot to say about integrity, loyalty, and the power of determination.  But would he keep his speech interesting for a large crowd or would he simply lose his head?

Cersei, The Queen Mother

If you think passive-aggressive moms know how to get things done, you’ll love Cersei’s advice about how to be aggressive-aggressive.  The Lannister matriarch isn’t afraid to break a rule, social norm, or the best wine glass in the house in order to get what she wants.  Her speech will scare you straight —not that there’s anything wrong with that.

The Hound

You want a quick speech than doesn’t mince words? Our guess: he talks for 1 minute and tells you to kill anyone who stands in your way. So it’d kind of be like a speech by Elon Musk, only shorter. And hairier and bloodier.

Hodor

Hodor.

Tyrion Lannister

Let’s face it:  if you want wit, irreverence, and a great time, you have to pick the short man from King’s Landing. Tyrion not only knows how to party, he would probably give great advice as to how to do it for the rest of your life. Would he caution against the risks of letting nightlife overtake your job search?  Or would it be a seminar about how to turn your weaknesses into a boat launching success? Why don’t we just listen to Peter Dinklage himself?

It’s commencement speeches 2015 Draft season— so get inspired!  Discover who institutions have selected for their own Commencement speeches over the years. Some speakers are actually not even fictional– although how do you classify Ali G?

Your degree is an adventure.  Commence with your degree search now.

Where’s the Beef (Science)?

Best SF Burger 15 RomoloInternational Hamburger Day is May 28th. So what if we are 25 days early. @DegreeCast we just love burgers. So we’ve got you 1 right over here. She’s short & savory.

Where’s the Meat (Science)?

What do you get when you combine a tasty taco ingredient and a nerdy subject from high school? What do you call the formalized study of arguments, fights, and bad blood between people?

Beef Science” might sound like something you’d draw in the game “Cards Against Humanity,” but Beef—and the world it comes from—can actually be a launching point for your future.

You can study everything from food science to veterinary science.  Want to learn the ropes of running a restaurant?  How about learning the ropes of a ranch?  You could study how to raise, nurture, sell, cook, or preserve livestock.

Are you a vegetarian/vegan?  There are degrees in the benefits of vegetarian nutrition. Or botany.

Ground Beef

Did you know that there are patents on cuts of meat? Food business can be pretty big business.  And did you know that animal husbandry isn’t only legal in all 50 states, it isn’t even considered weird?

Stick your fork into a search on DegreeCast.  Because even Beef can be an adventure.

Earth Day, Don Draper, and You

DC EarthDay Blog Post iPhone HomeThe origins of Earth Day are rooted in a terrific and familiar story: a person has a dream and changes the world with it.  The founder of the original Earth Day (45 years ago today) was Senator Gaylord Nelson. He left a legacy of political, ideological, and, of course, environmental change that has affected generations to come.

But that’s only half the story.

Earth Day is also a triumph of the power of marketing and branding. Enter Don Draper, and the Mad Men (and Women) of Advertising.

How do you get a movement? You need the idea, of course. But you also need a clear message. And that’s where Julian Koenig comes in. When he came up with the name “Earth Day,” he helped ensure that a great idea could live beyond its time.

Everybody knows that marketing is about selling a product or idea. But Koenig understood something more: marketing can be about aspiration, about hope.  Earth Day isn’t simply a day to think about recycling or the effects of pollution: it’s a day that reminds us that we can do better. We can BE better.

And that’s where you come in.

Where will you be in five years? How will you be a “better” you?

Interested in starting a movement?

How about a degree in Public Policy? Local, state, and federal policy very often gets started by those who work in the field.  Maybe you see yourself in Leadership.  Are there degree programs for that?  Um… have you tried clicking “Leadership” two sentences ago?  Do it.

Do you want to be an Ad Man (or Woman)?

Julian Koenig went to Dartmouth and Columbia, excellent schools to be sure. But, like Simon Sinek and his “Why” movement, Koenig had to learn the craft of how to tell a story. Does it surprise you that some advertising copywriters start in Communications and Creative Writing programs?  You might not have the same batting average as Koenig, but you swing at the same kind of pitches.

Do you want to cover the movements of our time?

Sarah Koenig, daughter of Julian, works in the media, most recently with her breakout hit Serial on NPR. How about a career in Broadcasting? Or maybe Radio, TV, or Film Production?  There are people spreading the word—you could get a degree in how to do it.

Are you a Tree Hugger?

Awesome.  Did you know that there are degrees in that?  Well, maybe not Tree Hugging, but how about Environmental Science, Environmental Engineering, or Environmental Technology?  The world is your sustainably harvested oyster.

Some look to the future… and make a wish.  Some look to the future… for an adventure.

It’s 11:11 on Earth Day.  Time to discover your future.

 

 

New Amazon Career Choice Program Pays Up to 95% of Education Costs

Image credit: http://www.sxc.hu/browse.phtml?f=view&id=580766

Amazon encourages fulfillment center employees to go back to school with their new Career Choice Program.

Amazon announced their new Career Choice Program this week. Amazon wants to help employees at  their fulfillment centers around the country pay for higher education. The program is aimed at Amazon Fulfillment Center employees with a minimum of three years of employment with the company. The remarkable thing about the Career Choice Program is that it does not require employees to study in an area that would further their career at Amazon. Further, it only pays for degree programs in higher demand areas that are known to pay well, like nursing, aviation science, and more. The company will pay, in advance, for up to 95% of the cost of tuition, books, and course fees for eligible fields of study. This is great news for the affected employees and for schools.  In fact, this sort of initiative is why DegreeCast.comexists. A large group of people, some of whom probably thought that higher education was a dream they couldn’t afford, now have funding but no idea where to start looking for eligible programs.

Dear Amazon (and especially you, Jeff Bezos) –

Here at DegreeCast we applaud your bold new Career Choice Program. Not only are you helping your employees better themselves, but you’re helping them in a way that does not necessarily help your bottom line, too.

The program looks amazing, and we would like to be a part of it. Our 100% free to use higher education search engine can help your eligible fulfillment center employees find a school that fits the guidelines of the Career Choice Program, matches their interests and is convenient to them geographically.

DegreeCast.com’s in-depth search details over 10,000 certification and degree programs at more than 240 schools — and that’s just in the states with Amazon fulfillment centers.

We hope you’ll share our URL with your employees.  Even if you don’t, kudos to you for helping your employees fulfill their potential — and not just orders.

Sincerely,

The DegreeCast Team

It’s Launch Day for DegreeCast.com!

Have you been wondering what DegreeCast is all about? DegreeCast.com is a higher education search engine. It’s the first search engine to help prospective higher education students determine tuition and other costs associated with their preferred degree or program of study. And it launched today!

DegreeCast offers comparisons between schools and programs and provides a comprehensive data set of degree offerings at all levels. It currently features over 60,000 degree program listings from 1,800 colleges.

What does that mean?

DegreeCast is the first specialized search engine created to aggregate degree-level information across multiple schools and programs. It gives prospective students information regarding tuition costs, book costs, and institutional affiliations for internship purposes. It even shows the potential salary for a specific degree. Before today, students researching degree programs had to rely on horizontal search engines (Google, Bing). DegreeCast’s vertical search engine delivers in-depth search results. The goal is to make selecting a degree and narrowing the list of prospective schools a simpler process.

Bonus: Thousands of new schools and programs are being added to DegreeCast’s data set every month.

There are several billion-dollar market cap companies (Princeton Review, US World & News Report, etc.) which aggregate higher education data at only the institutional level. DegreeCast goes deeper into the data,returning detailed information such as a description of the program, department chair information, acceptance rates, credits, and costs. Until now users have not been able to access information regarding programs, staffing, relationships with corporations, or specific information such as book cost, credit and total program costs for multiple schools from a single online location. DegreeCast also offers several useful filtering options to make the task easier.

“Our dataset didn’t previously exist,” says DegreeCast CEO and founder Caleb Gandara. “This is a multi-year labor of love. We’ve been working for several years to build a foundation. DegreeCast now offers students access to deeper level data. Searches are faster and more to the point. We focus on simplicity and function in an effort to help students find their best educational match.”

College Rankings: The Other Inflation

How does your college choice rank?It’s the time of year when high school grads and their parents grab a copy of the latest college ranking publications from sources such as Barron’s Profiles of American Colleges and US News and World Report in hopes of slimming down their prospective colleges lists. While higher-ranked schools come with heftier tuition costs, we must ask: is it worth it? Are the college ranks giving you an accurate picture of the education you will receive?

We’ve got news for you: the recent trend shows rankings have changed and they give no guarantee you’ll be getting the quality education the higher price tag appears to offer. It’s time to read these reports skeptically and start finding supplementary sources of information to make sure your educational goal is met.

In the current Education Week, writers and researchers Frederick “Rick” Hess and Taryn Hochleitner collected and compared published college rankings from the past twenty years, and discovered the rankings system over the past two decades has changed significantly and caused what Hess considers inflation. With Barron’s, for example, he shares this data:

The number of schools in the top category doubled between 1991 and 2011. In 1991, 44 schools ranked as “most competitive.” In 2011, 87 did. The growth is due to a slew of institutions migrating up to the top tier: 17 schools moved up between 1991 and 2001, and 28 more since 2001. The ranks of the “highly” and “very competitive” have also grown steadily since 1991.

Hess goes on to ask: “Do these findings reflect more schools being ranked? Nope. The total number of schools in the rankings has barely changed, meaning that the distribution of schools has shifted.” In another publication for the American Enterprise Institute,  he writes: “[T]he club is not nearly as exclusive as it used to be.”

Barron’s isn’t the only college rank publisher whose top-tier college list has different criteria (and therefore, different weight) than it used to, but Hess and Hochleitner use it to illustrate one very important point in today’s college selection process: It’s one thing to go to a prestigious school. It’s quite another thing to get a meaningful education. Hess warns that students and parents must supplement these published reports with other sources of information to get an accurate picture of just how important one particular school’s ranking is over another’s.

Hess summarizes:

Rankings and labels can help prospective students and their parents navigate the college-selection process. But these labels need to be viewed with more care and skepticism than they often are. Faux exclusivity might be good for a school’s endowment or parents’ bragging rights, but it too often encourages families to pay top-shelf prices for store-brand merchandise. So, students and parents, choose away—but let the buyer beware.

DegreeCast, which launches before the end of June, can help fill in the missing pieces of the puzzle. With data straight from the schools, you can discover tuition costs, book costs, and individual program information, as well as information on the school’s staffing and relationships with various corporations. We’re excited about DegreeCast’s launch, and we hope to help students of all types — new, returning, and adult non-traditional — get the data they need to meet their own educational goals.

Aside from school rankings, what other criteria do you use to find the college or program that’s right for you? Leave us a comment and tell us what you’re looking for.