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There Is a Fast Track Through College

Originally posted on TIME:

Like many friends from her graduating class, Daranie Ounchaidee attended a community college not far from their Indianapolis high school. In the corridors, the classmates often stopped to commiserate about the twists, turns, and missteps they had already taken on their paths to associate’s degrees.

Many work part time, prolonging their time in school. Others have changed majors or dropped courses. Most, whose parents never went to college, struggle with the red tape of registering, paying, and applying for financial aid. For them, Ounchaidee says, “it’s like there’s no ending.”

But Ounchaidee is no longer among them. As part of a select group of 40 students from low-income families in which they were the first to go to college, Ounchaidee just received her two-year associate’s degree from Ivy Tech Community College in only 11 months.

These students are among the pioneers of a new movement to speed up the ever-slowing…

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Back In Sandle – Adventures in Substituting Teaching

So today marked my first day back into the educational arena in South Florida. While I will not disclose the identity of this school, I will tell you that the First Lady has come to the school very recently.

It’s been so long I almost forgot how early school starts (and was naturally late my first day . . . excellent). Also, this is the week before the FCAT (Florida’s standardized exam for all levels of education except college) is going to be administered so it is really the calm before the tempest of testing.

So the first period started at 7:20AM! Yep, that early! But luckily, I was greeted by a wonderful group of 11th graders in the AP/Capstone Research Project class. They were courteous, helpful and very respectful.

In their classroom, there was WiFi (hooray for this blogger) and students were allowed to use their laptops, tablets, and cellphones for their assignments which was so refreshing to see. They were able to work independently with little direction from me which was nice to see. It made me feel oddly very comfortable. I felt more like I was an educator at a college seminar than a glorified babysitter (but I had to do some minor wrangling when voice levels got too high but it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle).

Here is a sample response to this week’s #WCW from one of those students in Period 2:

This Week’s #WCW – Jennifer Lopez April 9, 2014

For years, Jennifer Lopez has been the queen of international pop. Born in Puerto Rico, Lopez’s voluptous body and sexual physique show exactly why she is the woman to beat in pop music. Not only is she a phenomenal singer, winning multiple Grammys, Lopez contributes to the filming business as well. Lopez has played various roles, including one in Monster In Law as a female protagonist whose mother-in-law is a total jerk. JLo is now a global icon and performs at headline shows.

Not bad at all . . .

For Period 3, I had to “cover” a Regular English class for another group of 11th graders. That classroom was very different in some ways but also very similar in others. Outdated Literature textbooks and novels were everywhere. The WiFi was unavailable and there was no real assignment available for the students. So I improvised . . . and luckily, these students went with it all.

Here is another written response from a student in that period:

I think Jennifer Lopez is such an inspiration to everyone. She still is the same girl from the block in the Bronx.  From her lucscious curves to her well- talked-about butt, Jennifer Lopez is the full package. Listening to her new song, “I Luv Ya Papi” from her new upcoming album, she still knows how to rock. She is still an empire today.

Good job!

I definitely learned a lot from them and maybe they learned a little more from me too. Can’t wait for tomorrow!

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Sen. Gillibrand Drafts Bill To Allow College Grads To Refinance Federal Loans

lboogie81:

New York college students and high school graduates may have a little stress lifted off their backs when it comes to federal loans thanks to the hard work of New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

Originally posted on CBS New York:

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – With student loan debt continuing to balloon, New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand has launched an effort to allow recent college graduates to refinance their loans .

As WCBS 880′s Monica Miller reported, many college-bound students are about to take on tens of thousands of dollars in debt to pay their tuition.

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“Most student loans are federal loans and so I have a bill to say if you have a federal loan, you can refinance at the going rate,” said Gillibrand. “It’s absurd that you can refinance your mortgage or your business loan but not your student loan. So our bill says anyone who has a federal loan can refinance at 4 percent right away.”

Student loan debt has surpassed the $1 trillion mark nationwide, surpassing…

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