Choosing Between Cable TV and Streaming Services

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Growing up as a millennial or older Gen Z, cable was seen as the ultimate form of TV entertainment. Returning from school or work just in time for your favorite show or game had you excited. Families built family time around sitcoms, game shows and games – and it seemed like TV was the ultimate form of entertainment – until streaming TV was introduced with on demand and live TV streaming. Now, several people are more excited at the prospect of being able to watch their favorite movies and shows whenever they want to. A recent report revealed that 56% of Americans use cable or satellite while 69% now subscribe to a streaming service.

Understanding the Terms
Cable TV broadcasts video and audio content through networks that carry signals from distribution antennas to the devices of subscribers. Streaming TV, on the other hand, uses the internet to transmit data in the form of audio and video content to televisions, computers and other mobile devices. The content available on streaming platforms are usually in the form of on demand and live TV streams. On Demand streams are content that have been pre-recorded and are available to watch at your convenience or schedule. Live TV streams, on the other hand, are transmitted to viewers in real time as the events occur.

From these descriptions, it is clear that what is required to access the content on both platforms are different. After cable TV is set up, usually through a decoder or other device to receive signals, all that is required is a TV. For streaming services, on the other hand, no special set up process is required. All that is required is good internet and a streaming device.

Cable TV v. Streaming
One of the most hilarious commercials in recent times that illustrates the competition between cable and streaming services is Hulu + Live TV’s. The commercial features Chloe Bailey, who cries and hugs a male auditioner after he reveals that he had been using Cable all his life. She then whispers to him to use Hulu + Live TV instead.

The reaction to the commercial was expected – with many laughing at the obvious jab at Cable TV.

The message of the commercial is clear, “Cable TV looks at the less cool option”. But before we can reach a reasoned stance on this, a comparison on the offerings of both services would be helpful.

Offerings: When it comes to offerings, Cable TV has more diverse topics in its bouquet, with a broader range of channels, shows and listings. Subscribers are allowed to curate their experiences and enjoy content on their interest areas – including politics, religion, sports, lifestyle and science – and content types. Content on streaming platforms are significantly more limited to movies, documentaries and shows. This is, however, not to imply that its offerings are inadequate – because they are often more than enough.

Pricing: Cable TV costs significantly more than streaming. Even though some might argue that there are cable tiers that cost less than streaming, the value that is provided by cheaper packages are typically meagre. Getting the best out of cable TV would then usually require you to pay for medium or premium packages that cost more than the average streaming plan.

In a 2018 report from the Federal Communications Commission, the average amount for basic cable service is $25.40 per month while an expanded basic service costs $71.37 per month. The average streaming service is much less. A combination of Netflix Premium and Disney+, for example, cost $22.98.

In addition to the subscription cost, setting up cable TV and getting a good DVR box, will shoot up the cost.

The analysis that streaming services are cheap might not always be true. Streaming services are made available to the end user over the internet. This means that users are required to purchase data to stream video and audio content of their choice. Depending on how much data you consume, you might increase your streaming costs significantly.

Access: One major perk of using streaming service is that you can access all of its content easily and on the go, without spending money setting up a TV in rooms (or wherever video content is to be consumed). Cable providers are also making their content more accessible by offering dedicated apps for watching videos on mobile devices.

On another note, streaming services are generally uniform within the country they are to be consumed. The only usual draw back in terms of access is the number of devices that can be used for screaming concurrently.

Cable TV would usually have its offerings customized across regions, with some having access to channels and content that others do not.

Reliability: Cable is generally more reliable in their services, unlike streaming providers that rely heavily on the availability of decent and sufficient internet networks – and this is not always guaranteed.

In contrast, cable TV is more reliable because signal transmission is not done over the internet.

It’s Up to You
Deciding on which of the services to subscribe to is ultimately up to you. You can decide based on the kind of content you prefer, subjects you are interested in, your budget, the devices you have at your disposal and which you would serve you best.

 

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What Is Balding and Why Is It Happening to Me?

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Balding is generally considered to be one of the inevitabilities of life, however there’s no doubt that the moment we spot it, most of us would start scrambling for Hims minoxidil or even hair transplant surgery (if you can afford it). Balding, although harmless, can definitely affect a person’s self esteem and tends to be seen as one of the more visible (and very unaesthetic) signs of aging.

What Is Balding?
While losing hair is a completely normal part of life, balding is defined as the excessive loss of hair from the scalp. This means that the hair is being lost at a rate faster than our hair cells are able to replace them. In the worst case, it can involve the hair follicles being damaged which further complicates the regrowth process.

Balding is not a phenomenon that only men go through, and women can also experience it. However, male-pattern balding and female-pattern balding can look slightly different. Male-pattern balding typically begins along the hairline and moves backwards, thus giving the impression of a receding hairline. Female-pattern balding sometimes starts from the top-central part of the head and results in the appearance of thinning hair. However, the type of balding that people tend to want to avoid the most is probably spot balding which involves the hair being lost in patches since it’s not as easy to cover up or pull off and tends to give the scalp an uneven and unaesthetic appearance.

Why Am I Balding?
Balding can occur for a variety of reasons. The most common reason tends to be age related since the sensitive skin on our scalp accumulates damage from stress and as we age our cells have the tendency to be unable to replace themselves as fast as they once could. Other reasons could be related to one’s lifestyle since health conditions such as high blood pressure are known to accelerate the balding process. Some medical conditions such as alopecia and medical treatments such as chemotherapy are also known for causing baldness.

What Can I Do About It?
If you’ve decided that your balding is negatively impacting you by impacting your self esteem or being a big source of anxiety, then your next step would be to see a dermatologist. A dermatologist should be able to diagnose the root cause of your balding and help you start a treatment plan in order to aid the regrowth process. This could also be important for your overall health since balding can sometimes be linked to larger health issues such as autoimmune conditions or irregularities in your hormone production.

Of course, prevention is better than cure, and you should ideally be taking the steps while you’re young and still have a full head of hair to keep your scalp and follicles healthy. Many people tend to underestimate the importance of scalp health in their day to day life which later results in skin issues such as dandruff and balding.

Thankfully, since we live in the age of information, this means that more hair and scalp specialists use platforms such as social media and websites to dole out their advice. This has consequently led to the rise of more people becoming aware of unhealthy hair practices and making better choices in their hair and scalp care routine.

So What’s The Best Hair And Scalp Care Routine For Me?
Well, there’s no one size fits all answer. Everyone’s hair and scalp is a little different and your favorite brand of shampoo might not work for someone else. In order to come up with a good hair and scalp care routine, you have to take into account a variety of factors such as your natural hair and scalp type and what your goals for your hair and scalp are.

For example, if you naturally have dry skin, this may be reflected in your scalp type as well in the form of flaky skin and part of your goals for your scalp care plan should include treatments to hydrate and retain the natural oils in the scalp. On the other hand, if your skin is naturally oily, you may find that your hair gets rather greasy and lank after a while so a part of your scalp and hair care routine may involve treatments to control the oil production of the skin.

Generally, dermatologists and hair care specialists believe that a good hair and scalp care routine should leave the hair and scalp hydrated and without too much product buildup. The hair should also be protected from direct heat from appliances and products like hair masks and hair serums should be used at least somewhat regularly. Most importantly, consistency is key and once you find a hair care routine that works well for you, try to stick to it.

In most cultures, beautiful, lush healthy hair is seen as a sign of vitality and youth, so it’s no wonder that hair loss can make us feel self conscious as it draws attention to the fact that we no longer meet society’s standards of traditional beauty and health. So remember to show your scalp and hair some TLC so that they will continue to be your crowning glory for many more years to come.

However, regardless of whether you actively seek out treatments to help with the loss of your luscious locks or you decide to rock this rite of passage of aging, the important thing is that you feel comfortable in your own skin!

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Educating the Public on the Essential Needs of Aging Seniors

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It is unfortunate that our culture today seems to show little interest or concern for the invaluable treasures of the society who are the senior population. The needs, wants, and drives of senior individuals may vary based on their unique circumstances and personalities but as the natural course of life flows, some aspects of their lives, in general, converge into specific paths that can be assessed and improved. The later and more vulnerable days of our beloved’s lives can be blissful and gratifying given the right conditions are met and the essential needs fulfilled.

The Sense of Purpose and Being Valued

The sense of one’s purpose and worth is often derived from how one fits in a larger external environment. Our relations to the social surroundings, to a great extent, help us define who we are and how much we are valued. The normality of quotidian engagements, the empowering sensation of being relied on, and the profound joy of being of use to others are feelings that are often flickered and dimmed as people move towards the later stages of their lives.

Creating a sense of dependency—intentionally or unintentionally— in the elderly exacerbates the problem by causing them to internalize the feeling of frailty whereas in most cases, they are more capable than they are assumed to be. They are still individuals with talents, plus years of experience that can provide immense value to their communities and society. Striving to extend the independence of adult seniors as long as possible is the best approach for improving or at least, maintaining their sense of self-worth as for many, the struggle of gradually losing autonomy and control can be mentally and emotionally very taxing.

Socialization and Connection

Seniors are increasingly at higher risks of isolation. They experience loss, suffer from chronic illnesses, their families grow apart and distant, and their circle of friends and acquaintances progressively shrink. While we need to support their independence in their everyday lives, it’s equally crucial for us to help them socialize and get involved with communities to engage with their peers and non-peers.

Loneliness can be considered as a crisis as it rivals obesity and smoking in damaging health and may lead to earlier death especially in seniors who don’t have anybody to have regular and meaningful face-to-face interactions with. Loneliness paves the way for all sorts of diseases in the elderly because the immune system gradually degrades as we age and grow older. Loneliness in seniors has been linked to increased risks for high blood pressure, heart disease, cognitive decline, and depression.

Small gestures like having a short conversation on the phone or checking up on our senior loved ones from time to time can have a notable positive impact on their physical and mental health. Also, encouraging them to partake in voluntary services not only keeps them engaged and soaked in social environments but grants them a purpose that helps them reach self-actualization.

Living in communities that are specifically designed to accommodate seniors is another great way to create or reinforce a sense of belonging in this age group. For example, retirement communities like the over 55 communities in Cincinnati Ohio are built with all of the needs and desires of seniors in mind to facilitate a better quality of living among peers.

Physical Activity and Health

There are a lot of age-related health problems that can be avoided or mitigated by physical activity and age does not limit the options. Water aerobics, walking groups, table tennis, yoga, and many other group-based physical activities can be effective in minimizing the psychological and physical deterioration in older adults.

Strength training is also recommended for anyone over 50 years of age because the resulting increase in muscle strength can bolster daily living conditions and is good for bone density and other health problems like diabetes and hypertension. It also boosts their confidence by giving them a sense of empowerment and enables them to engage more with younger generations and play with their grandchildren.

There needs to be more focus on increasing awareness about the benefits of physical activity among the elderly. Oftentimes, the initial push and encouragement from kith and kin is the only thing lacking that keeps the older people from giving it a try. Being physically active can fill a void in the more vacant stages of life and in addition to the health benefits it brings, breaks the emotionally draining monotonous routine of those days.

Decades of living and experience, by and large, have blessed the older individuals to seek what is the most important of all. They need connection, love, appreciation, and reverence. More than anything, our senior loved ones need familiar surroundings and established communities of family and friends, and we believe that’s not too much to ask. After all, as the Austrian psychoanalyst once said: “How bold one gets when one is sure of being loved.”

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Gamification is the Future of Education

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Anyone who’s played video games and enjoyed them knows how engaging they can be. They employ a combination of problem-solving, storytelling, and reward systems, as well as colorful worlds and characters. Video games may seem like mindless entertainment, but something fundamental about them requires further scrutiny. Researchers are indeed looking closer into integrating gaming mechanics into other activities, particularly when it comes to education. At the same time, college courses are emerging that are specifically geared toward the study of gamification.

The move toward gamification in education has been a long time coming. Dating back to the 80s and 90s, educational software, especially for children at younger ages, has often featured some sort of reward system and tactics for keeping them engaged. Educational software has become more sophisticated with advances in computer hardware and research into the benefits of video games in general. What’s more, it’s now possible to pursue a college-level education in gamification, where job opportunities in the sector are becoming more common.

What makes video games so engaging?

Over the last couple of decades, a slew of research has gone into why video games are so engaging, and at times addicting. However, despite their tendency to be addictive, video games have been shown to offer cognitive benefits to those who don’t play in excess. Some benefits include increased hand-eye coordination, problem-solving, creativity, and even social skills if the game is multiplayer.

Video games often feature complex puzzles to solve in order to advance levels. This acts as a cognitive exercise that tends to be so fun that it’s sometimes hard to tell that you’re even engaging in such puzzles.

Furthermore, fast-paced video games such as first-person shooters require a level of dexterity to succeed. Gamers who frequently engage in these games also develop better spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination. Navigating large in-game maps repeatedly can increase spatial memory, much like what has been seen in the brains of taxi drivers who remember routes in large cities.

An often overlooked component of video games is also their tendency to bring people together. For people with social anxiety or inadequate social skills, video games can offer a gateway toward social interaction disguised underneath fun and engaging game mechanics. For example, massively multiplayer online games (MMOs) such as the widely popular World of Warcraft series can connect people online while they’re still at home. That’s great for people who may be afraid to leave the house to meet new people. In addition, many MMOs have cooperative elements that require players to participate in common objectives. This can increase bonds between people, much like what is expected to happen with team-building exercises.

Other benefits to video games include anti-anxiety and the promotion of relaxation, particularly with more accessible, arcade-style games. The proliferation of mobile game apps has seen a massive rise since the inception of smartphones. This is mainly due to how accessible they are to people who don’t even consider themselves gamers.

Deconstructing the benefits of playing video games and understanding what makes them so engaging has led researchers to see the potential in gamifying activities outside of entertainment alone. More specifically, gamification in education is gaining a lot of traction as it appears to be a great way to help people learn better.

How you can contribute to the field of gamification

If you enjoy video games, then you might find interest in pursuing an education in gamification. A field such as this would require a multidisciplinary understanding of game design, programming, psychology and storytelling. For this reason, the use cases for gamification extend outside of just educational technology and can encompass marketing and business too.

The list of universities offering gamification-centered courses is ever-increasing. As computer hardware improves, video games are becoming more immersive. Fully immersive virtual reality (VR) and mixed reality (MR) devices, which seem to be the holy grail of video games, are on the horizon and offer opportunities to expand gamification to other parts of society. Studying gamification could lead you down a career track that involves coding AR and MR applications that can be used in education, business, or industrial tasks.

Computer programming is undoubtedly a large part of video games and is highly relevant to gamification studies. But depending on your ultimate career goals, you may find that a gamification college track supplemented by marketing courses is preferable as well. Digital advertising and marketing are becoming essential for online businesses and show no signs of slowing down. Understanding search engine optimization (SEO) and how Google ranks web pages can inform businesses on how best to implement gamified advertising that captures consumer attention better. Adding elements of game design to marketing tactics could increase sales conversions too.

Perhaps the most important application of gamification lies solely in educational technology. Helping people to be better learners is at the core of the growth of all industries. Applying all of the above-mentioned elements of video games to education could ultimately lead to a society eager to learn any subject, especially those difficult science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) courses.

Pursuing an education in gamification can take you down a very fruitful path with opportunities in just about any industry. All the while, the technology that you’d be creating would directly benefit you and everyone around you in real-time. Thus, as the need for gamified applications rises, so will the need for people educated in gamification.

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Price of Bitcoin Skyrockets After Weeks of Market Uncertainty

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Bitcoin has once again been catapulted into the public eye recently with its tremendous soar in value to a high of around $40,500 this last week. This 9% jump in value to Bitcoin has resulted in over $100 billion being added onto its market value. With this, over $740 million in short positions have been liquidated due to Bitcoin’s bullish run this week as well.

Bitcoin’s recent jump in price will have significant impacts on the United States and the global market as a whole. With many corporations like Amazon and Tesla accepting Bitcoin as a method of payment, it is only a matter of time before it becomes widely adopted. On top of this, many massive companies are starting to invest in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to reap the rewards of its continued growth. Top stocks to watch during this time would be Tesla (TSLA), Square (SQ), and Coinbase (COIN) to name a few.

Such growth was great news for the cryptocurrency market, which has seen its highest run in six weeks. This recent volatility has also boosted the value of many other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, which saw a 4.7% rise during this period. Such major moves have left many wondering what this means for the market going forward in the burgeoning industry of cryptocurrency.

The massive spike has been largely attributed to certain companies and their decisions to accept cryptocurrency (namely Bitcoin) as a method of payment. With another bull run on the horizon, more people than ever before will begin investing in cryptocurrencies. This newfound faith and interest in crypto can have major impacts on the market as we know it.

Bitcoin (a peer-to-peer digital currency) has become more popular in the mainstream after seeing tremendous gains over the last few years. First invented back in late 2009, Bitcoin has seen massive periods of growth over the last decade. Known for its volatility and its potential for gains in price, many people have begun to buy into the new industry. With this massive growth, it has also seen some major falls over the years with Bitcoin dropping in value on numerous occasions.

Bitcoin is not alone in the industry of cryptocurrencies, though. There are hundreds of coins that are traded daily. These coins contribute to solving some of the most daunting and challenging tasks in the modern world of finance. Ethereum, as previously mentioned, is a smart-contract platform that allows for a massive ecosystem of decentralized applications to flourish with the aid of Ethereum. Coins like Ethereum are helping to build upon the original idea of Bitcoin and they have seen significant growth because of it.

Unfortunately, the widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin has been seen only as of late. With this; however, we have entered a new wave of cryptocurrency adoption by many major companies/businesses. The recent speculation around Amazon’s potential acceptance of Bitcoin as a payment method has sent the crypto market into the next gear. Also, an announcement from Elon Musk at “The B Word” conference that Tesla is once again allowing Bitcoin as a means of payment has been attributed to Bitcoin’s spike.

Despite the massive lows that crypto has seen over the last few years, many new traders are lining up to invest their income into Bitcoin. In May of 2021, it was reported that over 46 million Americans owned some amount of Bitcoin. With more and more Americans being invested in the world of cryptocurrency, more businesses have decided to look at adopting it as a means of payment for their goods or services.

The widespread adoption of cryptocurrency by industry giants has great potential to turn the financial world on its head. With more widespread adoption comes more who are willing to use digital currency to facilitate the transactions of goods and services. This opens up an entire market for companies and businesses to potentially capitalize on.

The global investment into Bitcoin by companies has been predicted to result in a leap in the price of Bitcoin going forward. Not only that, the price of the companies receiving Bitcoin as payment is expected to rise as well. The original, intended purpose of Bitcoin was to be as a method of payment and not as an investment to hold onto forever. By using digital currencies with companies that you support, you could potentially help that business see significant growth in the future.

Going forward, the adoption of cryptocurrency by financial institutions, corporations, and other businesses has made Bitcoin an extremely important asset to hold. Over 46 million Americans have staked their faith in the future of cryptocurrencies and many businesses have invested alongside them. Where does the future of crypto and Bitcoin lie? Only time will tell.

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Air purifiers create a safe haven for students

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The world’s been in a perpetual pandemic mode for over a year and a half. It is safe to assume that most of us have raised our guard against a microscopic virus that is doing the rounds.

But in its wake, the virus has also brought to our attention a crucial insight—the mounting importance of indoor air quality (IAQ). Consequently, this has emphasized the need for air purifiers for home large room.

How poor IAQ affects school-going children
The implications of poor IAQ aren’t limited to homes but sprawl further to schools where students are, once again, trickling back into classrooms after a long period of remote learning.

According to the National Air Filtration Association, “…the United States is placing too many kids in jeopardy by exposing them to buildings that are less-than-conducive to a positive, healthy learning environment.”

The stats are unnerving in every sense of the word, where 60% of 55 million children are subjected to health and learning problems entirely due to poor ventilation in schools, leading to:

  • Child and staff absenteeism
  • Asthma, headaches, nausea, fatigue, and chronic illnesses
  • Spike in the use of medication by students and staff members
  • A significant drop in achievement

The increasing relevance of air-purifiers in schools today

As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the concentration of viral particles is higher indoors than outdoors due to the lack of ventilation in school buildings.

In concurrence with that, a recent infrastructure report card states that 53% of public school districts have relayed the need to update or replace multiple building systems, including heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems. But updating the central HVAC is not always a viable option since many schools lack robust filtration devices that mitigate the intensity of viral spread.

This is where experts come in and point at the need for air purifiers.

The most basic function of air purifiers is to filter out the mold, mites, pollen, harmful chemicals, germs, odors, dust, pollen, allergens, and other foreign particles to help one breathe air in its purest form.

Today, this is made possible with the high-efficiency Particulate Air Filters (HEPA) that have sieve-like structures intricately woven together to catch even the minutest of impurities, as small as 0.3 microns. Inbuilt UV light cleaning for sanitizing rooms has been a recent add-on, further reducing the risk of bacteria and viruses.

The positive impact of air purifiers for learning in classrooms

Children, unlike adults, are still in their growth phase and vulnerable to foreign particles. The last thing any school would want is the students’ lungs doubling over as the sole air filtering system in the building. Therefore, schools reopening and children engaging in activities in close quarters calls for a cost-effective and highly reliable solution to keep the air unadulterated at all times.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) suggests that, “when used along with other best practices recommended by the CDC, operating an air cleaner can be part of a plan to protect yourself and your family.”

There are several benefits of using air purifiers in classrooms and we’ve covered that below.

Better student attendance

As stated by the American Academy of Pediatricians (AAP), close to 13% of students are absent regularly owing to respiratory illnesses.

Once breathable air is in abundance, health concerns will no longer be a hindrance to their learning experience, ensuring greater attendance.

A positive learning atmosphere

Confident and healthy students together can drive change. They foster a positive environment that increases participation and the willingness to learn among students. Students and teachers will be affected positively by this change in atmosphere, adding to a better teacher-student relationship.

Improved test scores

Back in 2015, a school in LA put up air purifiers in every classroom post a gas leak and the students’ test scores shot up dramatically! This wasn’t momentary as these test scores stayed up for the duration the air purifiers were in place. We can draw a simple conclusion from this—as the air quality ameliorated, so did the student’s test scores.

What is the best option for your classroom?

You must arrive at a decision according to the square footage of your classroom. Not to mention, the particular air quality issue you are trying to combat within the four walls.

There are plenty of options available online from ozone generators to plasma-wave ion technology units. A slightly costlier purifier ensures a reduction in noise level, allowing for a distraction-free learning space. And last but not least, one can get their hands on an air purifier that fits in with their classroom aesthetic. Now, isn’t that neat?

Transform your classrooms into true learning spaces today by creating a healthy and nurturing environment for students.

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Back to School for Americans 55 and Up

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The American university has, for a long time, reserved itself for young learners. Traditionally, a person attended college between 18 and 24, with only those in specialty fields continuing past that age. However, there is a growing trend of nontraditional students and people over 35 deciding to pursue a program of study. Whether enrolling for the first time or re-enrolling after many years, the upward trend shows that the desire to learn is no longer limited to any age demographic.

Many American seniors are returning to college as well. Some are taking either college courses or special correspondence classes because they want to gain new skills. Similarly, many people over 55 have put themselves back in a classroom to maintain a competitive edge. It is prudent to have more than one specialization in these changing and often unpredictable times, especially as the world and the economy turn to more tech-based and remote jobs.

However, there are personal reasons for pursuing higher education as well. Some seniors use college courses to help them stay focused and mentally sharp. Others even do it because it was a dream to one day attend college or earn a degree.

Regardless of the reason, there have never been more opportunities for seniors and retirees to take classes and achieve new goals. Age should not be an obstacle to anyone who has the desire to learn. Here are some ways to prepare for higher education and strategies for finding the right course or program of study.

Preparing to Hit the Books

Update Your Tech Skills

First, prospective students need to make sure that they know what kind of technology and computer knowledge will be required. Depending upon how involved the course of study is, students may need to brush up on the hardware and software that schools are using.

Keep in mind there will be a steep learning curve for some. New technology is one of the main reasons an older learner may be hesitant to re-enroll in college.

The best strategy is to begin training at home. There are many free courses available online. Whether an individual is trying to learn computers for the first time or update their knowledge, there is probably an existing tutorial. Of course, there are also tutorial sites that cost money. These sites tend to be more detailed, often taught by experts in the field.

Determine the Desired Outcome

Not all senior learners are looking to earn a degree. Some are seeking more hobby-based interests, such as gardening or painting. Others might be interested in taking an individual class on a specific topic, such as a pre-law course or an author of interest. Either way, it is advisable to know what the result will be. Are the classes for education and fun? Do you wish to pursue a degree? Having a plan can make the adjustment period less exhausting.

Learning as a senior should not become a high-pressure situation, nor should it ever be overwhelming. Allow yourself to enjoy the experience. The desired outcome should first and foremost be the education itself.

Pace Yourself

If it has been a long time since visiting a classroom setting, try to determine the amount of time required to commit. Prospective learners should also evaluate how much mental energy a course requires. The way classes work has changed, so it is wise to allow for these changes, as learning to adapt can be time-consuming.

Another thing that may be alien to an over-55 learner is communication. Bear in mind that a new generation is attending, and the way they communicate is much different. Socialization is a must for many classes, too. Interpersonal communication will almost inevitably be required. Allow yourself time to adapt to the cultural changes, as there will likely be a lot to process.

Be sure to start at a pace that gives you time to adapt to both the culture and flow of the university. There is often a lot of new information to gather before classes even begin.

When You are Ready

Inquire about Benefits

Every state in America has a few education programs or benefits for its seniors. Discount classes, free course audits, and even special enrollment are there for the taking if you seek them out.

Many employers also offer special programs for employees seeking to enter into a degree-driven program of study. Reimbursement programs and even full scholarships can be available, so be sure to ask your employer. Some seniors even take a part-time job after retiring to be able to take advantage of such programs.

Decide on the Setting

Deciding on your proximity to the campus is another consideration. If relocation is necessary to pursue higher education, it is wise to select a location that meets your needs.

If you have no problem living in a bustling college town, that may be your best option. As mentioned, however, there is a different culture with today’s young people. Not only will you likely risk a small amount of culture shock, but you may not see very many people your age. Keep this in mind before committing yourself to relocation.

Interestingly, there has been a recent rise in senior and retiree housing on college campuses. Special dorms are being built, leased, and even sold to older students. If proximity to the school is a factor, this is an option appearing in more universities around the country.

If you have not yet retired, check this list of the best over 55 communities. Often retirement communities have access to information about the universities in the area. They may even have a special agreement with sponsored schools.

Of course, if you are not comfortable attending classes in person, many schools offer degrees and programs online. People are earning bachelor’s, master’s, and even their doctorates entirely online nowadays.

Get Started Today

If you are an education-minded senior, begin your search now. AARP’s website has many resources for retirees, including a comprehensive guide to finding and enrolling in classes of all kinds. Medicare also has resources for retirees seeking universities with programs geared towards their age demographic.

Education has never been as accessible as it is today. There are dozens of ways to take classes and earn degrees that were unavailable even two decades ago. Talk to an individual with experience, and kickstart your journey to higher learning.

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The Future of the World is STEM

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The world has been changing rapidly in the last century. Much of what we do or how we communicate, for instance, no longer happens in the physical world but rather exists in a digital parallel universe. Processes are becoming automated and more efficient, while the world becomes increasingly globalised. All these changes have been brought around by advances in STEM fields. The last decade has seen many discussions on STEM education, but what exactly is it and why is it important?

What is STEM?

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. STEM is not limited to laboratories and coding, it underpins entire industries such as food manufacturing, healthcare, construction, telecommunications, and so on. Engineering, for example, is much more than designing and building roads and bridges. It can range from determining what lies beneath the ground prior to construction using underground utility locating equipment, to producing specialized equipment to create special effects for films, to combating climate change.

It is no surprise then that STEM is being increasingly discussed in education. Educating students in these fields helps them understand an increasingly scientific and technological world around them, and prepares them for the future workforce.

Increasing Scientific and Technological Literacy

STEM education is important in today’s society because it is omnipresent. Science and technology have expanded into every aspect of our lives. Media consumption, for example, is no longer limited to cable television or reading paperbacks. You can access films and television series via streaming platforms, and read ebooks on your electronic devices. It has even expanded into entire industries, such as social media, digital marketing, and e-commerce.

We exist in an era of constant scientific and technological change, which has a direct impact on the way we live. Scientific and technological issues have been increasingly dominating both national and international discourse. Issues such as surveillance, data privacy, cloning, and climate change are contemporary concerns that have sparked intense debate amongst lawmakers as well as citizens. New advances in fields such as communications, medicine, and energy directly affect our lives. We would need to be literate in science and technology to be able to form informed opinions and participate in constructive debates surrounding contemporary issues in our roles as citizens, consumers, and workers. Without a proper grasp of how science and technology advances, we would gradually become isolated from modern society.

The Future of the Workforce

As the world becomes increasingly automated and globalised, more STEM workers are needed to help our country remain competitive and drive innovation by generating new ideas and companies. The workforce is already showing signs that STEM workers are becoming more valued. According to the US Department of Commerce, employment in STEM fields grew at a much faster rate than employment in non-STEM fields. Opportunities in STEM careers are projected to continue increasing at a faster pace as compared to non-STEM occupations. People who work in STEM fields command a higher salary than those who work in non-STEM fields, and the difference has been widening as the years go by.

STEM knowledge can be transferred to a range of careers that are not limited to STEM fields. STEM education encourages critical thinking, analytical, problem-solving, and technical skills and the ability to customize solutions to fit specific contexts. People who hold a STEM degree are thus widely coveted, and they do not necessarily have to work in a STEM occupation to enjoy higher earnings. Those who possess a STEM degree tend to receive a higher salary over non-STEM degree holders.

Encouraging STEM Education

The future of the world is in STEM, and there is a pressing need to encourage STEM education and spark interest in related careers. It is also necessary to address the disparities in STEM fields by increasing gender and minority diversity in STEM education and employment. Men, for example, still vastly dominate STEM fields, with only 28% of the STEM workforce being occupied by women. Black and Hispanic workers are also underrepresented in the STEM workforce. More initiatives should be set up to encourage females and minorities to successfully pursue an education in STEM, and help them translate it into a career in related fields. Doing so would have the added benefit of reducing economic disparities between groups and growing a workforce in STEM through gender and racial inclusion.

The future of the world is STEM. Grasping scientific and technological concepts is no longer limited to scientists and inventors. Literacy in these fields is crucial to understanding an increasingly complex world around us that is defined by advances in science and technology. Education in STEM fields should also be encouraged as the future of the workforce will be dominated by jobs that require STEM knowledge. More attention should also be paid to STEM education for females and minorities who remain underrepresented in the workforce related to these fields.

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Christmas: Everyone’s Favorite Holiday

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Christmas is one of the most beloved festivals around the world. The jolly mood and the tradition of giving gifts to our loved ones are things that make Christmas an enjoyable festival. While Christmas has become a regular year-end celebration for many, it also is a religious holiday that holds a significant meaning for those who celebrate it.

The Season of Giving

While there are many things that make up the Christmas holiday, the essential Christmas activity is exchanging presents. Giving gifts during Christmas is symbolic of the Three Wise Men giving tributes to Jesus after his birth.

When we think of presents, we cannot leave out the legendary Christmas figure, Santa Clause. Santa Claus, also known as Father Christmas, is the icon of Christmas. Santa Claus is based on the European Saint Nicholas, who was famous for surprising children with gifts. The Santa Claus we see today was first illustrated in 1862 by Thomas Nast for political magazine Harper’s Weekly. He is now always depicted as wearing a red suit and soft hat, with a thick white beard and a round stomach.

Saint Nicholas was believed to distribute gifts to children on Christmas Eve. As such, the story of Santa Claus is that on Christmas Eve, he rides on his sleigh and delivers gifts to good children while leaving coal for naughty children. This is often told to children by their parents to make them anticipate the arrival of their gifts on Christmas day. As such, every year, on Christmas Eve, children anticipate the arrival of Santa Claus and may even leave out milk and cookies or a letter for him. Leaving them a santa letter from the North Pole among their gifts is bound to let them have a delightful and unforgettable Christmas.

While Christmas might be celebrated in different ways around the world, Santa Claus is a part of Christmas that cannot be left out.

The Joy of Christmas

The first recorded celebration of Christmas occurred in Rome, AD 336. This means that Christmas has been around for an extremely long time. In modern times, many Christmas traditions have been created, making the holiday even more exciting and magical.

As with other festivals, food is an important aspect of Christmas. One thing that many look forward to is a traditional Christmas dinner. A traditional Christmas dinner often consists of a stuffed turkey, mashed potatoes, glazed ham, and vegetables. There are also Christmas desserts such as Christmas pudding, gingerbread houses, or a Yule log cake. A grand Christmas feast is something that family and friends can look forward to.

Interestingly, as the Christmas holiday is celebrated globally, unique variations of Christmas dinner have emerged. In Japan, KFC fried chicken is a popular choice for Christmas. In fact, this has become such a popular tradition that the fast-food restaurant receives Christmas orders two months in advance. This tradition began in the 1970s when KFC sold “Christmas party” barrels, which became popular and formed part of an annual Christmas tradition for many.

Another Christmas tradition is to erect a fir tree in one’s home as a Christmas tree. It is estimated that each year, 30 to 35 million real Christmas trees are sold in the United States alone. This was a tradition that began in Germany when Christians placed decorated trees in their home to celebrate winter. For Christians, the tree is meant to symbolize Jesus and the light he brings into the world. They are often decorated with ornaments, candy or gingerbread. Today, decorating, and erecting Christmas trees is a tradition enjoyed even by non-Christians. Christmas trees can also often be seen in commercial areas where shopping malls put up large Christmas trees to create a festive mood for shoppers.

There are variations to the Christmas tree tradition as well. In some parts of India, a mango tree or bamboo tree is erected instead of the usual fir tree. There are even different ways of decorating the tree. In Germany, real or electric candles are used to decorate trees. In Australia, seashells are popular tree decorations as it is summer during the Christmas season.

The Origins of Christmas

Christmas is celebrated annually towards the end of the year, on the 25th of December. It is a day celebrated by Christians to commemorate the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. There is another belief that 25th of December was chosen for Christmas as it was a popular holiday in the Roman Empire when they celebrated the winter solstice symbolizing the resurgence of the sun. Even prior to the arrival of Jesus, many celebrated the winter solstice as the worst part of winter had passed and they could look forward to longer days of sunlight. Either way, both show that Christmas is meant to be a day of celebration.

On Christmas Eve or Christmas day, it is important for Christians to attend a church service. Apart from Easter, Christmas season is the period where churches experience the highest attendance. Churches and homes are often decorated in red, green, and gold during the Christmas season. These are the traditional colors of Christmas. Red symbolizes the blood Jesus shed during his crucifixion, green symbolizes eternal life and gold symbolizes royalty.

Whether for religious or festive purposes, Christmas is a celebration that is enjoyed by many for good reasons. Hopefully, even with the ongoing pandemic, the Christmas season can continue to bring joy and warmth as we reach the end of the year.

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Lessons from animals: How your dog enhances your thinking skills

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We tend to think of education in terms of going to school or completing a skills training course, but the truth is humans are stimulated by and learn from their surrounding environments everyday. Take riding the subway, for example. It involves choosing which train service to take, determining which station to stop and changing trains if necessary, calculating how long it would take to arrange at your destination, and navigating through subway stations. You are processing a tremendous amount of information and learning how to make decisions based on your environment! 

We are also surrounded by informal “teachers” in our day-to-day lives. Do you know that dogs, for instance, can enhance our thinking skills?

Encouraging STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) thinking

Perhaps this may come as a surprise. Unless you work in a biological- or veterinary-related field, how do dogs promote STEM thinking? STEM learning typically involves making observations, analyzing the available data, formulating hypotheses, and experimenting with solutions to determine the best one. 

STEM thinking is, in fact, utilized regularly in pet care. When your dog starts to display erratic behaviors, you may have an inkling that something is wrong. For example, you discovered that your dog is constantly rubbing his face against the wall. Has your dog created a new, albeit rather odd, game? Maybe your dog is trying to sniff the wall? Perhaps your dog is scratching its face? These are all examples of formulating a hypothesis for your observations. You may later realize that this face-rubbing behavior only occurs at a certain time of the day, specifically after meal times. You remember that you had recently changed its diet from cooked chicken to beef. This could lead you to infer that your dog is allergic to beef, and the solution is to change its diet to something else and to observe whether the face-rubbing continues. This entire process is similar to the scientific process employed in STEM. 

If you have different species of pets, you also learn that you cannot care for your pets in the same way your “solutions” will not be the same! Imagine that you have a pet fish, your dog’s best friend. Cleaning up after your dog and your fish will require different solutions. Your pet fish would, for example, require a monthly cleaning of the filter in its aquarium and a change of water that is suitable for it. On the other hand, you probably would want to lay out a pee pad at home or take your dog out on walks for it to do its business outside. If your dog is not toilet trained and you forgot to take it out on a walk, it may make a puddle on the floor. In this case, you might require a pet spray/cleaner to take care of the mess. Pet care may seem intuitive to seasoned pet owners, but it takes a considerable amount of “experimenting” to get it right! 

Enhancing thinking skills through stress management 

Stress is a part of everyday life. A stressful morning commute, reading the news, a long line at the cashier all these small daily stresses can accumulate over time, and too much stress can have a huge negative impact on our physical, mental and emotional health. The effects of stress are not only damaging on a personal level, but comes at a great cost on a societal level. Job-related stress is estimated to cost American companies $300 billion due to healthcare costs, high turnover rates, and absenteeism.  

Dogs are known as man’s best friend because of the love, friendship and companionship they provide. It is well known that our stress levels decrease and we feel happier when we interact with dogs (unless you are afraid of them!). Recent research also suggests that petting dogs increases relaxation and our ability to cope with stress instead of feeling overwhelmed. This in turn enhances our ability to think, and even improves levels of concentration, planning, organizing, and memorising skills. As compared to traditional workshops on stress and anxiety management, petting therapy dogs were found to be longer lasting and more effective at enhancing thinking skills! Simple daily interactions with your dog like petting have calming effects and can be helpful for managing stress and learning. 

Apart from enhancing your thinking skills, interacting with animals has other socio-emotional benefits and teaches us important life skills, such as empathy, compassion, and responsibility. Education is not limited to the classroom. Interacting with people, animals, and your environment is a part of everyday life and might seem intuitive most of the time, yet these experiences involve a lot more learning than you think! Whenever your mind is feeling stuck at work or at school, cuddle your pet or go for a walk to get your brain juices flowing. 

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