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Category Archives: Education

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Top 6 Reasons to Study in Cuba

1. Education is a Priority Here…As Evidenced by its Excellent Universities

Cuba’s 60 public universities have grown in repute over the past several decades thanks to a strong commitment to education shared by the government and its people. Five of its universities earned places in QS University’s 2016 ranking of the top universities in Latin America, which considers factors including academic reputation; employer reputation; faculty/student ratio; citations per paper; international research network; proportion of staff with PhDs; and web impact when determining standings.

And while Cuba’s universities offer a breadth and depth of subjects to choose from, its programs in medicine are particularly celebrated.

2. It Has a Top-Notch Health System

Given Cuba’s exceptional reputation when it comes to educating doctors, it’s hardly a surprise that it’s also known for a top-notch health care system.

Just how extraordinary is health care in Cuba? Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), said in 2014 as reported by the Huffington Post, “Cuba is the only country that has a health care system closely linked to research and development. This is the way to go, because human health can only improve through innovation.”

Whether you’re looking for an innovative medical education or simply hoping to benefit from the country’s widespread access to medical services, you’ll find both — and much more — in Cuba.

3. Its Politics and History and History are Fascinating

Sure, Cuba has gorgeous white sand beaches, breathtaking architecture, and picturesque towns and villages, but so do many other Caribbean destinations. What separates Cuba from the rest? Its remarkable history, for starters.

While Cuba is small, it plays host to nine UNESCO world heritage sites with three others on the tentative list. These historically, naturally, agriculturally, and architecturally significant spots comprise everything from fortresses to coffee plantation remains — all packed into Cuba’s tiny 44,200 miles.

And, of course, no discussion of Cuba is complete without acknowledging its long-standing commitment to Communism despite tremendous external pressure, and the crossroads at which it now stands.

4. You Will Improve Your Spanish Skills

If you’re looking to learn Spanish or improve your Spanish skills, you’ll have plenty of opportunities in Cuba.  However, keep in mind that just as there’s a difference between the Spanish spoken in Spain and the Spanish spoken in Latin America, there’s also a difference in the Spanish spoken in Caribbean-influenced Cuba. That said, many language experts agree that if you can speak and understand Cuban Spanish, you’re in excellent shape as it’s widely regarded to be one of the more challenging accents.

Don’t speak Spanish? While it’s always good to learn a few basic phrases in any country where you’re traveling, the Cuban people are enthusiastic, hospitable and very patient.

5. There’s Nothing Like Cuban Music

Cuban music has been influenced by many different cultures and styles with origins in both Europe and Africa. The result?  Not only is the island’s music scene unique and vibrant, but it’s also inextricably interwoven into everyday life. Wherever and whenever you go, you can expect to hear amazing live music.

Already a fan of the Buena Vista Social Club? That’s just the start of what’s waiting to be discovered in Cuba. From Cha-cha-cha and Conga to Timba and Trova, there’s no end to the heart-stirring, toe-tapping tunes you’ll hear while visiting Cuba.

6. You’ll Beat the Crowds

Because Cuba was inaccessible for so long, it retained its culture in a particularly unique way. But with travel to Cuba easier than ever and relations on the upswing, more people are adding Cuba to their must-do destinations, meaning it may experience a decline in authenticity and charm as it becomes a mecca for tourists. If you’re hoping for a taste of pure, unadulterated Cuba, the time to go is now.

The College Student’s Guide to Voting

Voting in Your State of Residence?

Just because you’re voting in your state of residence doesn’t mean you can automatically expect to walk into your local polling place, grab a ballot, flip a few levers, and call it a day.

For starters, most states don’t even allow walk-in registration. Not only that, but registration deadlines vary from state to state. For example, voters in Alaska must be registered by October 9th regardless of whether they’re doing so online, via mail or in person, while voters in Vermont have nearly a full month longer to register. Furthermore, how you plan to register is also a factor with some state deadlines for registration methods varying by as much as a month.

Looking for information on your specific state? Lucky for you, the New York Times has assembled a comprehensive guide of state-by-state deadlines, which also includes handy information about supporting materials you’ll need to register. (Usually, a driver’s license or other state-issued form of identification will suffice.)

Additionally, the U.S. government’s website Vote.gov is a terrific starting point for determining how to register in your state, while Vote.org is also a useful portal for streamlining the registration process.

Not sure if you’re registered? Check here to find out.

Voting Outside Your State of Residence?

If you’re planning on being out of your state of residence on voting day, you can utilize Absentee Voting (also known as “mail-in voting” and “by-mail voting”) to cast your ballot.

Depending on the requirements of your state, you can register to receive an absentee ballot to fill out and return. Some even allow early voting and in-person absentee voting. While 21 states require that voters provide an excuse before being permitted to vote by absentee ballot, others — including Washington, D.C. — offer no-excuse absentee voting. (You can check out which category your state falls into here.)

In addition to students who are out of state, other valid excuses for being absent from polling sites on Election Day may include illness, physical disability, religious constraints, public service or membership in the military, age, and even vacation.

Again, the rules regarding absentee voting and early voting depend on the state. Taking time to educate yourself aboutAbsentee Voting and Voting by Mail and Early Voting and In-Person Absentee Voting can help ensure your ability to make good on your constitutional right.

Voting from Overseas?

Overseas U.S. citizens and members of the military stationed overseas are also eligible to vote absentee. However, unlike stateside voters who being the process with their state or territorial election offices, overseas votes must use the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA) to both request to vote and to receive their absentee ballot electronically. The best part? All it takes is filling out a single form to get started.

And while acting early can help you avoid last minute panic, if you do find yourself in the position of missing your state’s deadline for returning your absentee ballot, the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB) may also be used as a backup. (However, you must have at least submitted an FPCA or registered to absentee vote by an alternate method in order to have your FWAB counted.)

Wondering what to use as your voting residence if you’re living outside the country? It’s surprisingly straightforward:  Whether or not you still own property in the state and even if you have no plans to return, your voting residence remains the U.S. address where you last resided prior to leaving. (Military members, meanwhile, should use the state listed on their Leave and Earnings Statement — even if it’s not their home of record.)

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the process, you’re not alone. The Federal Voting Assistance Program website offersstep-by-step guidance for overseas citizens, as well as a repository of links comprising all voting information in one central place.

6 Tips for Improving Your Writing in Graduate School

1. Convey Your Expertise
Graduate students are training to be experts in their field. This expertise should be exemplified by your writing. Your language should be direct, confident and authoritative in order to foster a sense of trust with your readers.

Other ways to assemble a cogent argument? Avoid first person tense whenever possible; employ transition words and phrases; and pay attention to sentence structure. Two true hallmarks of graduate level writing? Clarity and control.

2. Make Writing Routine
We’ve all heard the expression “practice makes perfect.” This is no more true than when it comes to graduate level writing. Making time to write regularly will not only help you develop critical thinking and writing skills, but can also be an invaluable confidence booster.

Establishing a writing routine is particularly beneficial when it comes to working on your thesis. Many graduate students wait too long to start writing and end up rushing through the process. This can lead to everything from an underdeveloped argument to lack of proper formatting. Avoid this pitfall by setting a schedule for writing as you go…and by committing to stick with it.

3. Know Your Reader
Any piece of writing should keep one overarching question in mind: Who is the audience and why are they reading your writing? In addition to clearly presenting your ideas, keep in mind that your thesis is an original contribution to your particular discipline. Make sure your reader knows what to expect by including “signposts” — such as a table of contents, abstract, introductory paragraphs, etc. — along the way to help guide your reader. Each sentence should relate in some way to your overall argument.

4. Seek Feedback
While graduate level writing is largely an individual effort, there’s plenty of help to be found if you know where to look. For starters, your advisor can be an amazing resource when it comes to “big picture” issues, such as selecting a topic and refining your thesis. In addition to helping identify your paper’s strengths, your advisor can also help suss out your weaknesses thereby preventing you from venturing too far in the wrong direction.

Your fellow grad students, meanwhile, can offer editing and proofreading assistance. And while finding someone in your field can be particularly useful — especially if you’re writing about a complex or scientific subject — friends and family members can also offer a helpful second (or third or fourth) pair of eyes.

5. Embrace the Revision Process
No piece of writing gets it perfect the first time. In fact, research and writing go hand in hand with revision, but many writers still get tripped up by setting impossible expectations for themselves. The best way to avoid this trap? Make revision part of your mindset.

Also, keep in mind that revision is much more than merely proofreading for mistakes. Rather, it’s an act of complete “re-seeing.” While this often involves expanding on key concepts, it sometimes means letting go of good material if it doesn’t make an essential contribution to your writing. We can all learn from William Faulkner, who once spoke of the need to, “Kill all your darlings.”

6. Learn from the Best
One of the best ways to get a better sense of what your writing should look like? Immersing yourself in published work from experts in your field. Visit your school library to read top journals in your discipline, noting writers and writing techniques you most admire. Reading dissertations in your particular area can also help you familiarize yourself with the corpus of research while gaining a better sense of the language used to describe varying concepts.

You’ve already proved your mettle by getting into graduate school, but that’s just the start. These six tips can help you take your writing to the next level. The best part? Writing is a transferrable skill. In other words, you can continue to call on these skills to be a better writer, thinker and communicator throughout your professional and personal life.

Four Steps to Becoming a Diplomat

1. It depends on your homeland
The track to diplomatic careers differs depending on where you call home, but in most countries, foreign service officers, or their equivalent, are subject to similar requirements. Many countries require FSOs to be citizens of the country they will be representing. In the US, FSOs must be between the ages of 20 and 59 to qualify for service. But in general, countries are looking for FSOs with diverse skills, qualifications, and personal aptitude because each position is unique and presents its own challenges. Diplomats work on projects related to everything from sporting events to disease outbreaks, education initiatives, and peacekeeping. There is no one skill-set needed for diplomacy, but a willingness to listen and understand situations is a must.

2. Some degrees give you an upper hand
In the US, diplomats hold a variety of education levels ranging from high school diplomas to PhDs, and in the US, the UK, and other countries the first step to qualifying for a diplomatic career is passing a general aptitude test. These exams normally assess a candidate’s overall knowledge, so it’s important that prospective FSOs brush up on things likemathematics, reading comprehension, and logic. But a solid foundation from a degree in history, politics, law, or human rights will be a plus. Most foreign service offices also recommend that applicants be well-read and informed on current events, government, and international politics – essentially, if you’re serious about a diplomatic career, you should be reading a lot of newspapers.

3. Brush up your language skills
In the US, foreign language proficiency is not required for a diplomatic position because all successful applicants receive language training before their first post. However, fluency in a second or third language, as well as international experiences, will help your application stand out. Languages like Chinese, Arabic, Farsi, and Urdu are in high demand, but it’s more important to have strong written and spoken communication skills in your own language. After candidates have passed the entrance exam, most foreign service offices subject applicants to rigorous interviews and assessments aimed at identifying individual strengths and suitability.

4. Prepare for challenges…and competition
Foreign service is a challenging career. FSOs are always moving, which means that staying in touch with loved ones can be tricky, and for officers with families, the position can be taxing. But that doesn’t mean that foreign service is an unpopular career, and most foreign service offices have a large pool of new FSOs waiting for deployment as well as an established rank of officers, all of whom are competing for the choice assignments around the world. Placements are often given out based on rank, and new recruits should expect their first assignments to be in areas or regions that are more challenging than others. Successful FSOs learn to make the best out of tricky situations, know when to ask for favors, and work hard to succeed.

Six Grad-School Tips for a Productive Summer Break

1. Volunteer
Summer is the perfect time to develop areas of your resume that may be lacking due to your busy schedule during the year. Of course, part-time jobs and internships make for great work-experience, but if you want your time to be more flexible or meaningful consider volunteering. Find a program where you can utilize and develop your unique skills. Coaching a local football camp will help hone your leadership and motivational skills. Language and STEM students will find that their expertise is in high demand for volunteer reading programs. Sociology students can look for volunteer work in community organizations that address local issues. And while some volunteer programs may require some long-term commitment, many opportunities allow people to work and participate as they are able leaving you free to work and play.

2. Set Some Goals
The school year can be intense, and it can be easy to develop bad habits or fall into a hectic work schedule. But during the summer you have the chance to reboot your life. As the semester comes to a close, assess the past year and figure out what worked and what didn’t. Did you pull too many all-nighters? Are you subsisting on a diet of cereal and take-out? Are your notes in a shambles because you never took the time to develop a workable system? Identify areas that need improvement and begin practicing good habits. Even a small goal, like taking a 30-minute walk every day will improve your mood, concentration, and energy levels, and if you establish good habits in the summer, it will be easier to keep them in the fall.

3. Read Widely
If your summer reading activity consists of filling your beach bag with paperback novels and magazines, and then promptly falling asleep under an umbrella, take a moment to reassess. If you’re like most grad students, you probably spend a lot of time reading during the school year and unless you’re studying literature or theater, your reading material probably leans more toward the academic side of things. But even if you need a break from primary sources or technical manuals, don’t waste your summer not reading. Go outside your comfort area and read things that will enhance your understanding of the world.

4. Consider Summer Semester
Of course, you need a break from classes, but summer semester can be the perfect time to earn some extra credits or take a class that you wouldn’t otherwise attempt. And summer courses tend to be smaller, more personal, and more diverse than regular semester offerings. Take the opportunity to learn the basics of German or computer engineering. Explore an area of your field that is outwith your research scope. Or if you want to max out a summer semester – enroll in a short-term study abroad program. The best part of summer courses is that they’re often condensed, which means you can get a semester’s worth of studying done in just a few weeks and still have time for relaxation.

5. Try Creativity
Summer productivity doesn’t have to be academic. Down-time from classes is the ideal time to explore your creativity and innovation. Just like developing new habits, exploring your creativity can have big payoffs once the school year starts. Do you have a small business idea? Put it into motion and you could have a small, but reliable income in a few months time. Hobbies and sports will broaden your social horizons and give you an outlet for stress once the pressures of the semester start to take hold. Explore blogging and social media to find modern ways to share and market your skills. Find something you love or something that sparks your imagination and use the summer to master it.

6. Enjoy Your Summer!
Whatever you do, remember that summer holidays are a time to relax and regroup after the stress of the school year. Spending your summer stressing about productivity, or a lack thereof, is counterproductive. Set reasonable goals and stick to your plan, but don’t forget to leave room for spontaneous hiking adventures, late-night bonfires on the beach, road-trips with friends, and the occasional day spent in a hammock.

Why You Might Need a Master’s Degree

1. MAs are the New Bachelors

Thirty years ago, a bachelor’s degree in most subjects was the ticket to a job where you could gain experience and progress to higher levels of expertise. In fact, in the past job seekers with graduate-level degrees may have been considered overqualified, but things have changed. It’s not exactly a bad thing, but with increased college enrollment over the last few decades, the market has been flooded with skilled and qualified undergraduates. Now, employers are looking to hire graduates with advanced degrees, and while there are still plenty of positions that will accept bachelor’s degrees, some of the most desirable positions are going to recent grads with masters-level qualifications. A Masters will help you to stand out from the crowd and will show prospective employers that you have advanced skills and subject-expertise.

2. They Can Be Required

While many sectors favor post-graduate degrees, there are several fields in which a master’s-level degree is required. Obviously, education for doctors and lawyers goes far beyond that of a normal bachelor’s degree, but if you’re considering a career in therapy, library or museum sciences, economics, architecture, or various medical professions, you’ll find that an advanced degree isn’t optional. Speech and language therapists in the US need a graduate degree and accreditation. In the UK, ‘architect’ is a protected title and in order to practice students must complete five years of study as well as work experience. In the US, a growing doctor shortage means that there are more jobs for Physician’s Assistants (PAs) but you’ll need to earn a master’s degree from an accredited program first. While it may seem demanding, these positions require advanced training, specialization, and dedicated professionals, all of which can be developed through post-graduate study.

3. They Can Lead You Further

Some people decide to pursue a masters-level degree because they thrived in university studies and aren’t ready to enter the ‘real-world.’ While this isn’t a great reason to earn a master’s, if you have a knack for academia and are considering a career as a professor or researcher, then a master’s degree is a fantastic idea. Most PhD programs require candidates to have completed an MA or MS in a related subject, and a master’s program will give you the opportunity to find out if focused research and academic life are right for you. Remember that master’s studies are very different from undergraduate degrees. Students are often more independent and research-focused, and the course-work requires in-depth knowledge and original ideas. Master’s studies are harder and more stressful, but they’re often more exciting because you can focus on subjects that interest you.

4. They Help You Specialize

In fact, one of the biggest benefits of master’s-level studies is that you have the chance to focus your knowledge and hone your skills. This can be a huge benefit in the job market because industries and employers are often looking for highly-specialized candidates. It’s one of the reasons that Master’s of Professional Studies degrees (MPS) are in demand, but traditional MS and MA degrees are also attractive to prospective employees in a variety of fields. While some students enter into post-graduate studies directly from undergraduate degrees, many established professionals enroll in master’s programs in order to advance their careers or develop new skills. Lawyers often acquire advanced degrees (on top of their law degree) in order to focus on specific legal sectors, while MBAs are a sure-fire way to achieve success in the business world, especially if you focus on much-needed skills like technology.

5. You’ll Earn More

Money shouldn’t be the only reason that you choose to pursue a master’s degree, but it might be one of them. In some sectors, employees with master’s degrees earn up to 20% more than their counterparts with bachelor’s degrees, andwomen with degrees have a smaller pay-gap than those without. And while graduates are, in general, less likely to be unemployed, those with post-graduate degrees have even greater rates of employment. But while some post-graduates have the potential to earn more after they finish their degree, it’s important to remember that graduate school isn’t always free. Though some graduate-level programs offer tuition waivers, stipends, and even subsidized housing and health insurance, a master’s can take between one and three years to complete. And though it’s not impossible to work while studying, it can be difficult. So consider carefully before enrolling. A master’s degree in engineering will give you excellent credentials and improved your marketability, but you might also leave with increased student-debt and three years of lost earnings.

Stressing Over Student Debt?

1. Pay Down the Lowest Balance First

While there are a variety of strategies regarding the best way to pay down different kinds of debt, the “debt snowball method” is one of the most popular avenues recommended by financial experts for paying off debt.

According to this approach, you simply pay off the accounts with the smallest balances first. While this may seem to run counter to common sense if you have larger debts with higher interest rates, the psychological benefits gained from making progress add up to peace of mind and forward momentum.

After all, while making payment after payment toward chipping away at a large balance may want to make you throw your hands up and give in, there’s great satisfaction to be found in paying even a small debt down to zero and crossing it off your list.

2. Check For Repayment Programs

If you’re dealing with loan payments which have become unmanageable, several federal repayment programs exist aimed at offering relief, including graduated, extended, income-based, and pay-as-you-earn repayment plans.

One thing to keep in mind about these programs? You’ll still have to pay back your loans, which may end up costing you more over time due to the total interest paid. In the meantime, however, you’ll enjoy invaluable breathing room while you explore avenues for getting caught up.

Don’t qualify for a federal loan? Look into private lenders instead.

Regardless of the repayment program you choose, one element is critical: keep your loan servicer in the loop. If you are in danger of falling behind on your payments or not making a payment at all, inform your lender immediately. Think of it this way: They don’t want you to default on your loans any more than you do.

3. Know Your Loans

All loans aren’t created equally. The more you know about your loans, the more you’ll ultimately understand about how to repay them.

In the U.S., for example, students have several handy options for tracking their loans. The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) maintains a convenient database of all federal student loans, while credit reports reflect all private loans. In order to make sure nothing falls through the cracks, maintain an updated list of all of your loans, lenders, balances and repayment statuses.

4. Consider Consolidation

If you’re struggling under the weight of multiple loans with high-interest rates, loan consolidation may offer a money-saving solution. While consolidation is not likely a solution for recent borrowers, it can be a life-saver for those with lingering loans.

However, be sure to do your research and read the fine print before accepting a consolidation loan to spare yourself any unpleasant surprises in the future.

 5. Resist the Urge to Panic

Dealing with any amount of debt is no fun, but dealing with crushing debt during a time of emergency can send you into a full-on panic attack. If health problems, unemployment, or other issues are interfering with your ability to pay your loans, don’t freak out. There are resources available to help you, including deferments and forbearance. While neither of these may be ideal, they may be the temporary solution you need to get back on your feet.

6. Get Creatively Employed

Finding the right job can offer unexpected relief from student loans. For example, full-time public service employees in the U.S. may qualify for Public Service Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

Additionally, some private sector employers will also consider including student loan repayment reimbursements as part of your benefits package or as a replacement for tuition reimbursement programs.

Although choosing a job based on whether it will offset or eliminate your debt may involve you taking an unexpected career turn, it can also offer critical relief — which may make the detour well worth your while.

The truth is that student loans are a fact of life for many students. However, overwhelming stress from dealing with these loans doesn’t have to be part of the equation. These six steps can help you wrangle your loans into positive strategies for debt relief and financial freedom.

Four Reasons to Get Involved With Alumni Associations

1. Networking opportunities

We’ll start with the obvious reason. One of the main purposes of alumni associations is to support a network of former graduates who will, in turn, help to raise the profile of the university. Just like most other university student organizations, alumni associations aim to bring together like-minded individuals. But unlike sororities, fraternities, and other student organizations, alumni programs are open to all graduates and offer a broader networking scope. If you’re heading to graduation in a couple of months or have just finished your degree, joining your school’s alumni association is a good way to get a foot (or three) in the door. Contact your alumni association to see what sort of networking opportunities they offer. Some school’s host job fairs. Others have mentor programs for graduates that pair outgoing students with alumni in similar career fields. And remember that with alumni associations, quality can definitely trump quantity. In fact, many small, private liberal arts colleges have some of the most active and effective alumni associations.

 2. Career building tools

One of the things to remember about alumni associations is that they want you to succeed. Of course, they’re hoping that you’ll use your success to help the association and university, but successful graduates are a university’s best asset. It’s no surprise then that most alumni associations offer a variety of career services. These can be anything from the aforementioned job fairs to things like resume workshops, job postings, and online resources for job-seekers. And most of these services are offered free of charge to alumni members. Remember the mentor programs we mentioned? These can be great tools for building your career or finding ways to maximize your earning potential.

3. Benefits

But alumni associations aren’t just about jobs and recruiting new students. When you were a student at your university, you were part of a community that offered all sorts of exciting perks – free concerts, student discounts, poetry readings, art exhibits, library access, sporting events, and numerous other things that made your university unique and dynamic. And university alumni associations understand that even after graduation, many students continue to feel connected to their university, or associate a part of their identity with the institution. That’s why many alumni associations continue to offer former students ways to keep their connection with the university. Many associations host special alumni social events, and others give members free tickets to university sporting events, life-time email services, insurance and banking services, and, of course, discounts. You might expect that alumni would get discounted university merchandise, but alumni associations often offer discounts on other things like hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and other services around the world.

4. Give back

But remember that your university provided you with numerous educational opportunities and that your alumni association isn’t just about discounts and job offers. Whether you know it or not, your school’s alumni association was probably instrumental in your success, and while most universities hope that their students’ successes post-graduation will promote the school’s reputation and encourage others to consider matriculation, one of the main purposes of alumni associations is to recruit new students. Plus, alumni associations are great resources for incoming students – many award scholarships (funded by donations from alumni) and the strength of a school’s alumni association can be a deciding factor for incoming students. And alumni associations aren’t just for domestic students. Many universities with aspiring international programs depend on their alumni to spread the word, and alumni recommendations carry a lot of weight with prospective students. So whether you sign up for membership, send a generous donation, or offer to serve as a mentor, there are many ways that your alumni association will help you help your school.

Three Ways Big Data Can Change Student Lives

1. It Can Help Answer the Ages-Old Question, “Is College Worth It?”

While people have long lamented the high cost of a college education, the challenging economy and rising student debt have brought the issue to the forefront more than ever before. While it’s easy to talk about the ROI on college in general terms, it’s always been difficult to quantify in a meaningful way.

According to “Answering the Call,” a report on measuring postsecondary performance from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, while we don’t yet have the data and framework to comprehensively evaluate student and institutional performance, key measures have been identified which can eventually be used to more conclusively determine ROI.

Earlier research into this area based on the data we do have is promising.  According to a 2014 study published in the academic journal, Science, the net cost of college is actually a mind-boggling negative $500,000 with the earnings gap factored into the equation.

2. It Will Help Teachers Do Their Jobs Better

While teachers have always used data to inform and influence their methods and practices, Big Data offers more powerful ways for students and teachers to connect. As personalized learning becomes the imperative, teachers will not only have access to even more data, but also the ability to visualize it in the most effective ways.

Imagine a world in which every click is monitored and used toward supporting more targeted teaching. Or one in which facial recognition is used to track student expressions during lessons. Big Data holds this promise for educators and along with it the improved capacity to understand student needs, adapt lessons quickly and with more efficacy, and ultimately make data-driven decisions aimed at enhancing student learning.

3. Data Scientists Are in Demand

There’s a reason why Harvard Business Review declared data science to be “the sexiest job of the 21st century.”

With the world just starting to comprehend the power of Big Data, people who truly understand it will be an increasing commodity. Data scientists have the sought-after ability to “mine” data in order to help businesses, the government, and academia make the most out of data.

According to a report from the McKinsey Global Institute, the U..S. alone faces a shortage of up to 190,000 skilled workers with deep analytical skills by the year 2018. The takeaway for data-minded students? The opportunities are many. In fact, many programs exists aimed at helping students transition into careers in Big Data, including the U.S.’sInsight Data Science Fellows Program and Europe’s Science to Data Science.

High salaries, flexible work arrangements, and the chance to make a profound impact are just a few additional reasons to consider a career in Big Data. Viewed through this lens, Wired.com’s advice to, “Tell your kids to be data scientists, not doctors,” sounds pretty good to us.

It’s true that in addition to presenting unprecedented opportunities, Big Data is also accompanied by its fair share of challenges, such as the growing imperative to protect student privacy. However rigorous efforts are underway to improve how student data is secured toward the goal of safeguarding private information.

Ultimately, while “Big Data” may sound like a mystery to many people, most agree that is the future — both for those who indirectly benefit from its impact, as well as for those who jump right into the action by pursuing data studies and eventual careers in this complex and vital field.