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Moving to a new neighborhood


Moving to a new neighborhood can be daunting. Here’s how to make it easier.

After moving into the neighborhood, get to know your neighbors. It can help you feel like you are at home and settled into your new space.

First, meet as many people as possible by introducing yourself and handing out business cards with your contact information or inviting them over for coffee or tea.

If you haven’t had an opportunity to meet everyone on your street yet, set aside a little time each week to drive around and introduce yourself, especially during the change of season (when moving is most common) and after moving trucks have been in the neighborhood for a few days/weeks.

As a first step towards community involvement, become a friend on Facebook and follow your neighborhood association online for newsletters and updates on what’s going on in the area.

In addition to being friendly to those you have met, take it upon yourself to welcome those moving into the neighborhood. Offer moving help as needed. The courage of offering moving assistance can lead to friendships with your new neighbors as well as opportunities down the road when they might need some help from you.

Next, find out about events and meeting dates for your neighborhood association and local watch group to keep up-to-date on what’s going on in the area (and join if possible).

Neighborhood associations are also great resources for learning about local resources that can help make moving easier, including utility providers, home delivery services, moving crates and boxes suppliers/schedules, furniture rental options for apartments, garage moving sales, moving help, and moving supplies.

Moving day

Make sure you follow neighborhood moving guidelines so that your neighbors aren’t annoyed with moving day. Here are some key moving tips:

When moving into your new place, tell every one of your move-in date & time to avoid traffic on busy moving days. Ask for at least four business days’ advanced notice before moving in so the community association can plan for approvals of parking permits if needed. If moving during peak seasons (trickier local moving timelines), ask for more than six weeks of advanced notice to be safe.

Some communities require residents to get written approval from the neighbors of your moving in and moving out dates to make sure you know what the moving guidelines are for your new place; don’t assume you can move in on a whim without telling anyone.

Don’t park moving trucks, vans, or storage containers in front of homes during moving days. Make sure that moving trucks fit within designated truck loading zones (marked with available permits) and aren’t double-parked. If they don’t fit, city services will unload them for you – at your expense!

Unloading moving trucks: try not to wake sleeping neighbors while unloading early morning or late night if possible. Use quiet voices and close car doors softly so as not to disturb them, especially during nap time! Be mindful of noise levels moving large furniture and crates – moving heavy objects can rattle the house, so be careful moving in during daytime moving hours when neighbors are home or moving out at night.

If moving a lot of items into your new place, consider using flatbed dollies to move furniture indoors for easier maneuverability. When moving inside, be mindful of where you’re walking (and how much noise it makes), especially if you’re carrying heavy objects up/downstairs. If moving valuables or fragile goods, ask friends or family to help carry them safely down the steps/stairs by holding gently on the sides (not top and bottom).

Remember: moving through communities is like driving a car; stay within the rules. Don’t follow too close (don’t double park)

Finding A Mover

Neighborhood moving companies can be found by getting recommendations from friends and family, local moving sales, or online moving directories. Check the moving company’s insurance records for any claims filed through them before hiring to avoid damage costs during moving day. Make sure moving quotes are guaranteed, so you don’t get stuck with hidden fees on moving day (or after). Ask how many movers/helpers will come on moving day (more support = faster move) and what types of trucks they’ll use (smaller trucks equal more trips upstairs!).

Moving Help

Make sure there is parking near your new place for all moving helpers! Figure out how many helpers you need based on the weight of furniture and other objects moving. If moving several items inside, consider using flatbed dollies to move furniture indoors for easier maneuverability.

Moving Crates & Boxes

If moving objects like glassware, dishes, books, or sensitive electronics, ask moving help about moving supplies (such as moving boxes) with moving quotes to avoid breakages on moving day. Ask about packing supplies (like bubble wrap) and transportation costs (unwrapped items are more expensive to transport). Try not to pack too many things in one box so that the weight of the packed box is evenly distributed along with other boxes using bubble wrap or dividers between each item.

Moving into a new neighborhood can be an easy transition if you follow some moving tips. Make sure to ask your moving company about the moving timeline and get written approval from neighbors before moving in or out, but don’t assume they’ll give it! When moving day comes around, make sure that all of your helpers know how much help is needed for carrying furniture and other items inside.

Ask them to stay mindful of noise levels while moving large pieces downstairs or when transporting delicate goods like glassware, dishes, or electronics on their own (consider packing these things in boxes with dividers). If possible, avoid waking up sleeping neighbors during early morning hours by unloading without making too much noise and try not to double park near houses where people live; city services will tow moving vehicles if found.

Be mindful of your new neighbors, plan your move, and embrace your new neighborhood community.

Good luck!

Seniors Downsizing and Moving Homes


Downsizing and Moving Homes for seniors

Most seniors citizens understand that there will come a day, probably soon, when they will have to downsize.  Whether it is to simplify their lifestyle, cut costs, be closer to their grandchildren, or address medical needs, the decision will need to be made.

It is often a stressful and tolling process, both physically as well as emotionally.  However, experts in this area suggest that it does not have to be an overwhelming experience. 

How to Downsize Your Home

  • Start Decluttering Early
  • Stage Your House Before You Sell
  • Bust Out the Tape Measure
  • Determine Your Lifestyle Needs
  • Create a Moving Checklist
  • Keep your insurance top of mind when you move

Things to Consider Before Moving

  • Are you willing and able to round up family members to help pack and drive a moving truck? 
  • Do you have the means to hire a full-service moving company to pack, ship, and unpack your things? 
  • Something in-between, with the mobile storage option, where you pack a container, and then the storage company does the shipping?

For seniors, there happens to be another option. Companies known as senior move managers are springing up all over the States that specifically cater to seniors moving. Whether they move to smaller homes or into senior living or nursing communities, they will usually do as much or as little as you want, from packing and moving to home cleaning and estate sales.

4 Reasons to Downsize Your Home

  1. Maintenance is too much 
  2. Retired or retiring soon 
  3. A lot of unused space 
  4. Desire to travel

A few more tips to make the downsizing process a little bit easier:

1. Start early

Plenty of time for this process will be needed because it will inevitably take longer than one would expect. Take time and do not try to sort through the entire house in one day or over a weekend. A few weeks to a month is a realistic timeline, taking it one room at a time with many breaks throughout the process.

2. Start small

Start in an area that has little emotional attachment, such as the laundry room or linen closet.  Take time to really understand what your future needs will be.  If you are moving into a two-bedroom house, four sets of sheets should be plenty; the rest can go.

3. Eliminate the rooms that will not be in your new home

These areas also might be good items for consignment or garage sales.  For example, nice office furniture and outdoor tools are more valuable than an old sofa or mattress.

Organize backward and try the opposite by packing the keepers. Then, what is left can be looked at freely to decide what will be donated or shared.

4. Eliminate duplicate items

This is especially true in most folks’ kitchens. So if you are feeling wary of handing off that second roasting pan because you use it every Christmas, consider handing it down to a family member who shared in those moments.

5. Yes or No piles only (leave out the “maybes”)

When going through years of belongings, some things are going to tug at your heartstrings. Many of us will be tempted to start a pile to keep just in case we have enough room. Try not to fall for it! Typically, we end up with more in that “maybe” pile than we do the other two.

6. Reduce those lifelong collections creatively

Sometimes it can be particularly hard to let go of those collectibles we found on vacations or received as gifts over a lifetime. Unfortunately, this type of item will take up more space than there is available. One creative idea would be to pick a couple of your favorite collectibles to keep and then take high-resolution photos of the rest, have them made into a photo book to share and view either on your coffee table or mantle.

7. Do not be scared to sell things on your own

Craigslist, Ebay, smartphone apps dedicated to this stuff, yard sales, and an overabundance of consignment shops make the sale of goods amazingly easier. However, it is probably not a huge money-making venture, so consider how much time you want to invest and do it ahead of time.  If that sounds like more than you want to deal with, hiring a firm to run an estate sale just might be exactly what you need.

8. Consider giving legacy gifts early

Certain heirlooms or earmarked pieces to leave to your family in your will; consider handing them down now.  This idea holds two valuable benefits: the items are out of the way, and you will have the opportunity to enjoy the feeling of giving those items to your loved ones now. Also, find out if there are any items anyone else wants.  You will get to make them happy as well as lighten your load at the same time.

9. Do allow some time for reminiscing

When you are cleaning and sorting, anticipate that some of those days, you will want to stop emptying the kids’ boxes and just look through those kindergarten drawings, baseball trophies, and once “can’t live without!” stuffed animals. It is OK to pause and let the nostalgia take over for short periods; just don’t live there.  Let the tears fall if you need to, or move on to something else and come back another day. This is why you started early.

“I always ask my clients how the item at hand makes them feel,” says a senior move manager. “If it brings up negative feelings, let it go. On the other hand, if it brings joy, then, of course, it is a keeper! The idea here is only to be surrounded by things you absolutely love. Now, doesn’t that sound like a great goal?”

10. Use this as a chance to bond

Try inviting the grandkids over for a few days. Talk to them about where you bought your favorite items. Share stories about the family heirlooms. Let them help pack, ask questions, and spend time with you. While they are there, have them help post items for sale online.

At what age should seniors downsize?

Wondering when to downsize? When your peers move may matter. According to recent studies, forty-two percent of Baby Boomers want to move or downsize.  This data shows that retirees are likely to change their living situation if they have not already. However, that does not mean that they are moving into senior communities. So where are they going?

  1. Twenty-five percent are moving to warmer climates
  2. Seventeen percent plan to move closer to family
  3. Six percent plan to move to a senior living community
  4. (the rest are still undecided)

What are reasons why older adults may be likely to move out of their homes?

Here are some main reasons seniors leave their homes for senior community living:

  1. Concerns about falls and accessibility issues
  2. Medical needs and help with daily living
  3. Isolation and socialization
  4. Cost

How do you know if a private school will be safer for your child?


There are many differences between the structure of a private and public school.  In the United States, public schools are a target for these incidents for a variety of reasons:  The number of students in each public high school is generally far larger than the number in each of their private counterparts. The vast majority of all school-age children attend public schools. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, roughly 10% of U.S. students, or about 5 million, attend private schools. This compares to over 50 million public elementary and secondary school students. Students from low-income families and children enrolled in urban schools did not benefit more from private than they did from public school education. They also make it clear that the assumption that public schools are inferior to private schools is wrong.

Parents choose a private school for a number of reasons including religion, a desire for same-sex education, flexible curriculum, and smaller class sizes. As a result, the mere statistical probability inherently makes it far more likely that a shooting would happen at a public school. Public schools are required to offer education to everyone within a certain geographic area and also offer enrollment to those outside the area as ‘schools of choice.’  As a result, those students with learning, emotional and psychological issues are included in the student population. 

Public schools are required to provide support services which many private schools wouldn’t even imagine doing so. Attempts to provide meaningful support by counselors, social workers, and school psychologists can have mixed results. Many parents welcome the third-party support and guidance which having such a support team offers. Other parents have great disbelief in the social sciences or feel that their children do not have the issues prescribed by these professionals. These households are less likely to implement the evaluations of the professionals. 

Private schools are able to be highly selective in their admissions. Many private schools have a profile of both the perfect student and the perfect family for their enrollment guidelines.  Athletic or academic prowess favors admission of students that can bring prestige and acclaim to an institution. But the best students are not the only reason someone is admitted to a private school.  Unrelated and outside influences such as a family’s station in the community, ability to contribute to fund-raising and endowments, and family members who are alumni also can weigh into the decisions whether to enroll a student or not.  

Public schools are paid for by local taxes while private schools cost an average of over $10,000 a school year. Because private schools are not limited by public funding, they often have access to different and more selective resources. This includes equipment for extracurricular activities as well as technology and other resources for the classroom. Because private schools are a service that is paid for by families or through scholarships, the administration can more easily dis-enroll students they think are a risk or have demonstrated behaviors that are undesirable. Parents and students have little recourse once a decision has been made. 

While every private school says they want to have the best possible faculty available, private schools also tend to exhibit far less diversity and teachers have lower requirements in terms of education and experience. Public school teachers are required to be properly licensed while private school teachers typically don’t require any formal certification or education. As a result, it is possible and reasonable to have public-school teachers with education and experience in your area that surpasses that of your private school instructors. Concurrence with the school’s educational vision or operating philosophy has a great role in which faculty may be hired or maybe fired as other factors. While public school teachers are more difficult to remove due to tenure, private school teachers usually have annual contracts or are at-will employees.  

Private schools often have a reputation for keeping strict standards for discipline and respect. This combined with a stronger sense of insular community and lower staff-to-student ratios make for the appearance of a safer school environment. When a troubled kid transfers into a private school for reasons such as a more structured environment, the school knows at the time of enrollment any problems which are in that student’s past. This means the private school has precedence to make a decision to disenroll. 

Public schools’ facilities are designed to also be community gathering places – many more public meetings and off-hour events happen at public schools. So, there are far more points of access to them. Private schools are generally designed and built in such a way that there are fewer public points of access.  

Families with sharply diverse political leanings and social groupings are far more apparent in public schools. The current wave of conservative anti-government sentiment has fed greater gun ownership within certain groups. So, while most of the shootings aren’t directly a result of demonstrating this anti-government sentiment, open and ready access to guns skews heavily toward parents with political and social leanings that favor gun owner’s rights and homogeneous social and personal beliefs. 

After careful review and analysis, the question of how much sense it really makes to compare private and public-school performance when the populations of students are wildly different. Scientific evidence can only go so far when it comes to evaluating and documenting the quality of a private versus a public-school education. There will always be many variables such as socioeconomic status and access to education that also come into play. 

As this relates to the idea of one being the safer choice, the ultimate perception of safety is simply a function of each type of school’s role in society. If Private schools were expected to fill the inclusionary mission and broad community role that public schools fill, then the statistical probability would definitely be higher for incidents of violence on the campuses of private schools.

Traits of a Successful Student


If you’re not someone who is naturally inclined to classroom learning, you may look at successful students and wondering, “What do they have that I don’t have? What makes them do so well?” 
Believe it or not, doing well academically isn’t a stroke of luck. Often, successful students have specific traits in common. Here are the top 10 traits of successful students. 

  1. Eagerness to learn 

Successful students aren’t forced into the classroom. Whether trait school, university or community college, they truly want to be there. They want to learn, and they see themselves as life-long learners. There will never be a point at which they’ve actually “graduated,” and they’re done being students. There is always something out there that they can read, learn, or achieve that will make them better human beings. A lifelong learner looks for lessons in all of their experiences.  

  1. Belief in themselves

A successful student believes in themselves. They believe they are a capable, lovable, and unconditionally worthy human being. If they fall down, they will get back up, and they will learn from their mistakes. A successful student knows that they belong in whatever classroom or program they are in. They know they a grade doesn’t define them or their intelligence (although, that isn’t to say they have no value at all). The grades they receive are tools to help them learn each day. They take them in stride and move forward. 

2. Organization 

Yes, the level of organization may vary, but nearly all successful students are organized to some degree. Good students know how to manage their time accordingly. They know how to keep all of their assignments in order, and they know how to maintain their supplies, so they have what they need to succeed. 

Another important element of organization is prioritization. You may have a list of 20 assignments to complete over several weeks. Which should you do first? A good student can step back, order them appropriately, and prioritize so they can achieve their goals. They know how to make a plan and executive it even when they’re juggling multiple balls at once.

3. Willingness to ask questions

Learning requires questions. There will absolutely be a time where you need to ask an instructor, friend, family, or classmate a question about content in a class or an assignment you were given. Often, people are too afraid to pose a question for fear of looking stupid. Successful students know that it’s better to seek clarification than to move ahead incorrectly. Additionally, if you have a question, most of the time someone else does as well. 

Successful students don’t worry about the perception that others may have of them, especially if it’s because of questions that they ask. They only seek to increase their only knowledge 

4. Good study habits

This may be the most obvious trait on the list. As a student, you want to develop good study habits, and successful students nearly always have them. While some people wait until the last minute to cram information into their brains, successful students know this isn’t the most effective way to go about learning the information. 

Why? Because they don’t retain it long-term. Sure, you might know the information for the test or quiz tomorrow, but what about at the end of the semester when you need to know it for the final? Chances are, you won’t remember it, and you’ll have to relearn an entire semester’s worth of information. You won’t be able to do that in a night! 

Instead, successful students learn bits and pieces of information over small periods of time, and this allows their brains to retain it. If you want to do this too, we suggest that you use small blocks of time and develop study methods that work for you. Some students like outlining the textbook, making flashcards, or creating their own practice quizzes. You should also take notes during class as this will help you stay focused.

5. Self-motivation

When you are self-motivated, you find purpose in what you do by discovering personally meaningful goals and dreams. This means that you’re not waiting to be told what to do next. You’re off doing it because you know what you want to accomplish. 

Students who are self-motivated aren’t told that they have to get an ‘A’ in the class by their parents or teacher. They decide that they want to get an ‘A’ for themselves because it makes them happy. As a result, they may decide to study an extra night during the week instead of hanging out with friends or wake up an extra hour each morning. Either way, the motivation comes from them…not any other external factors.

6. Ability to accept responsibility 

Being able to accept responsibility means that you see yourself as primarily responsible for your outcomes and experiences. Successful students realize that they are responsible for their possessions, homework, and behavior at school. While this can be overwhelming for some, those that stand apart in the classroom are those that take on this responsibility. Parents can foster this sense of responsibility at home by helping students become independent and know how to pick up toys, do chores, etc. when it is age-appropriate.

7. Love of reading

Did you know that the U.S. Department of Education states that the most important thing parents can do to ensure their children’s success in school is to nurture a love of reading? Successful students often have a love of reading. Reading is an essential skill for learning and instilling a love for reading at an early age can serve as a springboard for other academic skills. It also helps to expand vocabulary and allows students to express their thoughts more effectively. 

Final thoughts

Isn’t it interesting how successful students often exhibit similar characteristics in the classroom regardless of age, gender, or cultural background? This information is extraordinarily helpful for parents who are trying to help teach their children the skills they need to excel in the classroom or older children trying to work hard to better their own academic skills. 

How Do You Qualify For Home Health Care?


If you have a medical condition that makes it difficult for you to get out and about, home healthcare could be a more comfortable, cost-effective, and effective option.

Original Medicare (Parts A and B) may sometimes cover medical care provided to you at home if you are homebound. Following an illness or injury, Medicare may pay for some in-home assistance with your daily needs for a limited time.

However, if you need long-term assistance with everyday tasks in your home, you should be aware that Medicare usually does not cover those services.

Is there any coverage for caregivers under Medicare?

The type of treatment you need, the reason you need care, and the amount of time you’ll need it all determine if Medicare will cover in-home caregivers.

Health treatment delivered to your home

If any of the above applies to you and you’re homebound due to an illness or accident, you can use Medicare home health benefits:

  • You are only allowed to leave the house for brief outings, such as to the doctor or religious services. One exception: if you go to adult day care, you will always get in-home care.
  • The doctor confirms that you need at-home treatment and drafts a plan detailing the services you will need.
  • You need professional nursing assistance (less than 8 hours per day and no more than 28 hours per week, for up to 3 weeks).
  • Your doctor believes your condition will improve in a fair, or at the very least predictable, time frame.
  • •You’ll need a professional physical, occupational, or speech therapist to come up with a plan to help you improve, preserve your current health, or avoid getting worse.
  • You need a home health aide to help care for you while you recover.
  • The home health agency providing your care is Medicare-approved or certified.

You must see your doctor less than 90 days before or 30 days after you begin accessing home healthcare services to be eligible for in-home treatment.

What types of services will I get at home?

Medicare provides a wide range of programs, some of which can be delivered right to your door. Some programs and the Medicare regulations that apply to them are mentioned below.

Physical therapy 

If you see a physical therapist in your house, Medicare is likely to provide the following services:

  • assessment of your condition
  • gait training and exercises to help you recover from surgery, injuries, illnesses, or neurological conditions like stroke
  • postoperative wound care
  • wound care for injuries, burns, or lesions

Occupational therapy 

If you are treated at home by an occupational therapist, you can continue to receive the following services:

  • assistance in developing regular schedules for taking drugs, meal preparation, and personal care.
  • showing you how to carry out everyday tasks safely 
  • assisting you in regaining the ability to work, considering your needs and condition 
  • assisting you in carrying out your doctor’s orders

Speech therapy 

  • Here are some of the services you can receive if a speech therapist visits you at home:
  • education about alternative ways to talk if you can’t understand 
  • education about different ways to communicate if you’ve lost your hearing
  • therapy to help you recover the ability to swallow 
  • therapy to help you eat and drink as naturally as possible

Nursing assistance

If a registered nurse or licensed practical nurse visits you at home to provide treatment, they may: 

  • change your wound dressings
  • change your catheter 
  • inject medications
  • administer IV drugs
  • teach you how to use your drugs and take care of yourself

Home Health Aides

In contrast, home health aides are more likely to assist you with the following services:

  • checking that you’re eating and drinking in a healthy way, such as tracking your vital signs including heart rate, blood pressure, and body temperature 
  • ensuring that you’re taking your drugs as prescribed
  • determining if your home is safe for you, given your needs and condition

Other Services

In-home social services may also be available to you. If you qualify, you may receive assistance in locating community services to assist you in adjusting to your condition. You may also undergo social, mental, or psychological therapy as a result of your illness.

In-home Custodial Care

Caregivers who assist you with activities of daily life are normally not covered by Medicare unless they are required for a limited time as you recover from an illness or injury.

Food delivery or preparation, shopping, washing, housekeeping or cleaning, assistance bathing and dressing, and assistance using the toilet are all examples of custodial care. If these are the only services you need, Medicare will not pay for a caregiver to provide them in your home.

Medicare has a website to help you locate a home health agency in your region.. If you’ve found a local provider, you can use Medicare’s home health agency checklist to see whether they’ll have the quality of treatment you need.

Your state survey department maintains an up-to-date study on the quality of home healthcare services provided. To find the phone number or email address of the agency in your state, consult Medicare’s resource guide or the survey agency list.

You can only receive treatment from one home health agency at a time if you have Medicare. You will need a new recommendation from your doctor if you plan to switch agencies. You will also need to inform your old agency that you’re switching providers.

If you just need custodial treatment including housekeeping and personal care, Medicare won’t pay for an in-home caregiver. If it’s medically necessary and your doctor certifies that you’re homebound, Medicare can cover some short-term custodial care.

If you’re homebound due to surgery, sickness, or accident, Medicare will cover home health services such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, professional nursing care, and social services.

Your doctor must sign off on the services as medically required, and your home health agency must be Medicare-approved.

Benefits of Community College Versus University


For many students, enrolling at a community college versus a university is a hard choice to make, with many details and implications to consider. 

If you are planning to pursue the path of higher education and do not know whether a community college or university experience is right for you, consider the following factors, including cost, class size, and overall academic value. 

Are Community Colleges Are More Affordable?

According to the Community College Review, the average tuition for full-time, in-state students in 2018-19 is $4,836. This is half the average cost of attending a public university as an in-state student. While this doesn’t cover the cost of fees and books needed, it is a smaller starting figure. 

If the option is available, you can also save even more money by attending a community college near home. This gives you the ability to live at home rather than spend more money on rent. For students that need to work while attending school, flexible community college schedules can make it easier to work part-time.

The variance between attending a community college versus attending a university can vary widely and is usually the biggest difference between the two entities. Across all areas, community colleges are less expensive to attend than universities. 

To put it into perspective, community college tuition can be as little as $3,500 per year, compared to upwards of $35,000 for out of-state-students attending a public university. While costs vary and depend on many factors, it is safe to say that community college is the lower-cost option for those who consider price a major determining factor. 

Community Colleges Have Smaller Class Sizes

You have probably seen they stereotypical large lecture hall freshman class in movies. It is not that from the truth for intro courses at large universities. In comparison, community college classes are generally much smaller. 

A smaller class size benefits both the students and teachers. Teachers can give more individual attention to students and customize the experience to fit the needs of a smaller group. Students will also have the opportunity to get to know their classmates, ask questions during the lesson, and have one-on-one conversations with professors in a smaller classroom environment. 

Because universities have larger student bodies, class sizes are significancy bigger compared to community college class sizes. This distinction is important to consider if you prefer and benefit from one-on-one learning or if you can handle a more hands-off learning style. Consider how essential this aspect is to your academic success and if you know you do better with personalized feedback in a smaller setting, you should consider the community college route

Less Strict Admission Requirements

Community colleges are ideally suited for students who want to earn a degree but may not have a competitive high school GPA for applications. By providing students an opportunity to improve their grades and earn credits towards a degree, community colleges are helping students become better candidates for university admission requirements. 

One important thing to remember if you are hoping to transition to a four-year school for your BA is how your credits will transfer. You want to make sure you don’t pay for a class you already took at a higher price tag.  

Improved Academic Quality at Community Colleges

In the past, community colleges were thought of unfavorably by some, and were not considered a solid academic experience. That has been changing, and while there is still variety in the student experience, community colleges are more generally accepted as a way to complete your gen ed courses before transferring to a four-year program. 

Community colleges have enhanced their academic standards to attract more students and meet the transfer requirements of large universities. This creates the opportunity for students already attending a four-year university to take summer classes at local community colleges for a lower cost. 

Easier Transition from High School to College

Typically, the transition to community college is easier on students leaving high school.  With smaller classrooms, flexible schedules, and entry-level courses, students who are worried about getting lost in a large school might find community college a better fit. 

It’s also important to remember the stress of leaving home and the newly discovered independence of living on your own that can be disruptive for students. 

Overall Academic Value

The difference between the kind of degrees and programs offered and the quality of those degrees and programs vary across community colleges and universities. In Many Cases, community colleges are known as ‘2-year’ colleges that offer associate’s degree programs that might be completed in two years or less. There are many jobs only require a two-year associate’s degree, rather than a four-year bachelor’s degree, including positions like an air traffic controller or a dental hygienist.

In many instances, community colleges are regarded as preparation for transfer to a more extensive university program, in which students can engage in more time-intensive educational options. 

A university offers lengthier programs: bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees, which take longer to complete. Universities generally offer a more comprehensive range of degree and program options for more specialized areas of study. Think about your career aspirations before committing to a decision, and decide the path that makes the most sense for you and your future.

Finally, it is essential to consider what you want to get out of your college experience, whether that be a community college or university. If you want to be medical doctor, you should follow a four-year university program that sets you and your resume up for success when you apply to medical school. The choice really comes down to what you want for your life and career, and there is no wrong answer.

Quarantine Birthday Ideas for Teens


Quarantine Birthday Ideas for Teens

In an era where theme restaurants and spectacular birthday events traditionally occur, being locked down for a teenager’s birthday could feel like a major disappointment. While another activity at home or on Zoom may initially receive a lukewarm reception, having fun and interesting things to do may make the kids forget for a moment they are in a situation like this. Here are some suggestions for activities and ideas on what to do when your teen has a birthday while under quarantine.

DRIVE-BY BIRTHDAY PARADE – If you’re far from ready to have outside guests over to your home, host a drive-by birthday parade. Ask your guests to drive by your place at the same time with decorated cars and homemade birthday signs. Have them honk as they go by, drop off gifts at a safe distance, or sing “Happy Birthday” out the vehicle windows.  Make this a total surprise, and your kid will be impressed.

MOVIE PARTY – Netflix now has a new feature called Netflix Party, where everyone can watch the same movie on Netflix and talk to each other in the group function. They can also watch a movie together using another streaming service and then chat over an app such as FaceTime.

VIDEO CARD – Challenge your guests to each makes a short video about the birthday honoree. Encourage each guest to make it something specific for the birthday celebrant. Please post it on any social media platforms like TikTok or YouTube, and don’t forget to create your own unique birthday hashtag to add in the comments.

KARAOKE SING OFF – Karaoke combines all the best things in life: music, socializing, and making a total fool of yourself with friends. You’ll want video conferencing software, so your child and their friends can all see and hear one another. The other tech application to consider is Watch2Gether, which enables users to stream videos at the same rate. If you type the song title plus “karaoke” into the search bar at the top of the page, it will then deliver songs to sing. 

A GOODIE BAG WITH AN ACTIVITY IN IT – A couple of days before, drop off a goodie bag at everyone’s place. When the moment comes, everyone can enjoy the same treats as if they are in the same room. Send out an appropriate task in the bag, such as a small Lego building set, so both parents and kids can get creative together during the event.

PAINTING PARTY – If your teen is into art, having a virtual paint night is a unique and fun way to celebrate their birthday while letting their friends join along. Invite all their friends to join the party over Zoom, and send the guests a week or a few days before the party a DIY Paint Night Kit for them to use. Then, when it’s time to get the party started, they can all paint together.

HIRE AN ENTERTAINER OR EXPERT – Think of a real-life activity you might have considered for an in-person party and now do it as an online group activity. Pick something your teen enjoys: a cooking class, magic lessons, a TikTok dance party, acting or improv games, or a small concert/sing-a-long.   The instructor will lead the activity while offering encouragement and feedback. The kids will end up with a fun new skill, maybe a souvenir, and some great memories.  It’s also a fantastic way to support small business owners, instructors, or entertainers who are getting creative themselves these days to stay in business. 

GIVING BACK – Take the moment to help those who may not be as fortunate as you and your neighbors.  Whether it’s writing letters of thanks to first responders, making masks for people who need them, or some other community service activity, take this opportunity to have your teen and their friends learn about being engaged in our area. This could start a habit of giving that could last a lifetime.  

SEARCH ENGINE SCAVENGER HUNT – Many teens think they know the Internet better than adults do, so let’s put them to the test. Pair up a series of teams and have each team find these on the internet. Once found, have them take a screenshot and report back. Use our suggestions or come up with your own: 

  1. Locate an online Earthcam that is at least 500 miles away from where you are right now. 
  2. Assign each team a specific food and come up with at least three pictures of different ways to prepare it. 
  3. Find out the names of the mayor of your current city and the city next door you where you are.
  4. Find pictures of items in exotic colors:  try colors such as Sarcoline, Coquelicot, Smaragdine, Mikado, Glaucous, Wenge, Fulvous, and Xanadu. 
  5. Identify someone with the same exact name as someone on their team. Where do they live? Tell us two additional facts about them.
  6. If it’s noon here, what time is it in England, Egypt, China, New  Zeeland, and Hawaii … or any other destinations you suggest?
  7. Plan a car trip starting at home then drive the most direct route to any five of these actual American cities and head back home again. How many miles did you travel in total, and how long did it take?

Bacon, Indiana Bad Axe, Michigan  Big Rock Candy Mountain, Vermont

Buttermilk, Kansas Cheesequake, New Jersey Chicken, Alaska

Dinkytown, Minnesota Dinosaur, Colorado Frankenstein, Missouri

 Fries, Virginia Horseheads, New York Normal, Illinois

Riddle, Idaho Sandwich, Massachusetts Soda Springs, Idaho

Zzyzx, California Whynot, North Carolina Truth or Consequences, New Mexico

  1. What is the most expensive item they can find? How much does it cost? Where can you buy it?
  2. The year they were born, what were the number one song, movie, TV show, and a championship team in a sport of your choice.
  3. Have the birthday guest or someone else come up with something for the teams to find. 

Hop Growing Zones


About Hop Growing Zones

Planting, growing, and harvesting hops is just as easy as growing tomatoes.  In addition to flavoring your home-brewed beer, your crop can also serve as a decorative landscape element. Imagine your sunny porch shaded by 15-foot vines and their bright green leaves.

Hops are deciduous, perennial vines that grow 15 to 25 feet tall and will climb a trellis, arbor or other structure. The lush foliage creates a quick visual barrier during the growing season and the green papery flowers attract butterflies to the garden in late summer. Hops are hardy in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 8.

Winter Hardiness

In the hardiness range for hops, in USDA zones 3 through 8, winter temperatures regularly drop well below freezing. In winter, the foliage dies back to the ground while the roots remain alive under the soil. Dormant roots are hardy to minus 20 degrees Fahrenheit, but new growth is susceptible to frost. Planted too early in the growing season, a late frost could kill your hop plants.

Growing Season

During the growing season, hops thrive in a temperature range between 40 and 70 F. The plants tolerate a wide range of precipitation levels, thriving in areas that get as little as 12 inches and as much as 53 inches of rain per year. Generally drought-tolerant, hops have a deep root system that will tap underground water tables 5 feet below the soil. In areas with deeper water tables and limited precipitation, you will need to monitor and regularly water the hops.

Planting and Growing Hops

Plant hops in full sun for best growth and flowering within the growing zone. You can grow hops successfully in areas warmer than the climate zone range by providing some summer shade. In areas where summer temperatures regularly rise above 70 F, plant hops in part shade, two to four hours of sun per day, to provide protection for the foliage and prevent sun scorch on the leaves and flowers.

Root System and Water

In areas where the water table is lower than 5 feet, water hops when the top 1 to 2 inches of the soil feels dry to the touch. Water slowly and deeply to allow water to seep down around the roots. Hops have both deep roots and lateral growing shallow roots. Your fresh plants are grown from rhizomes, short segments of roots harvested off older plants. You can mail-order dormant rhizomes ready for planting in the early spring. Local home-brew-supply stores stock the rhizomes or offer potted 2-year-old hop plants. 

Hops can be grown in just about any moderate climate in the U.S., but do best in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9. Some varieties are more heat-resistant and others resistant to molds, diseases and pests. But once they are established, hops are hardy plants. Insect pests like aphids sometimes attack hops, but those can be controlled easily by introducing ladybugs that dine on aphids or by spraying your plants with a mild insecticidal soap solution available at garden stores.

Hops are perennial, producing vines that grow up to 25 feet each year. Provide a sturdy trellis to support the vines in a sunny part of your yard or garden. The plants need six to eight hours of full sun to produce well. Planting the vines along a tall fence or against the side of your porch or garage is also an option.

How to Plant

Once you’ve chosen your spot, till the soil thoroughly and add compost to provide good drainage. Hops plants don’t like their roots too wet. Plant your rhizomes in early spring after the danger of frost has passed. 

Mound each rhizome in dirt, spaced 3 to 5 feet apart and horizontally about 1 to 2 inches deep with the small buds pointing up. Within a week, you could see your first shoots emerge. Then step back. Hops can grow as much as a foot per day during the first few months.

Your plants will appreciate a supplemental feeding of compost, manure, or fertilizer during the first few months. Mulching your crop will help conserve moisture and cut down on weeds.


You can let your imagination go wild when constructing your trellis. Others keep it simple by running a single strong support wire from one side of a building’s eave to the other and attaching strong twine to the top wire, extending vertically to each plant. The plants are then trained to wind around the vertical twine in a clockwise direction. Gently get the vines started when they are about a foot tall. They will climb to the top wire in short order. 


You may not see many cones in year one. The plant is concentrating on producing its root system. But by year two, you’ll be rewarded with your first harvest, up to a pound or more per plant. In late July and August, pinch a cone. If it feels papery, it’s ready to pick. If you break the cone open, you’ll see small, yellow particles inside. This is lupulin, the magic ingredient that gives beer its distinctive bitterness and aroma.

CAUTION: Never allow your dog to eat the cones, before or after brewing with them. The cones, both fresh and dried, are toxic to dogs, causing panting, high body temperatures, seizures, and even death.

Drying Your Harvest

After they’re picked, the cones need to be dried. In an electric food dehydrator, spread your cones evenly and set at its lowest setting (90 to 100 degrees F, and never over 140 degrees.)  Your cones are dry and ready when the stems are brittle. You can add them to your brew right after drying, or vacuum seal and store them in the freezer. Advanced home brewers use fresh cones right off the vines without drying for a particularly fresh tasting brew.

Hop Growing Zones Article

Buy Bulk Hops from our friends at Michigan Hop Alliance

Cyber Security Degree Requirements


Once a specialty only linked with government agencies and defense contractors, cyber security is now in the mainstream. Industries like health care, finance, manufacturing, and retail all hire cyber security professionals to protect valuable info from cyber breaches. The demand for trained specialists in this field is high. A report by job analytics firm Burning Glass Technologies discovered job postings for openings in cyber security have grown three times faster than those for IT job overall, and cyber security professionals are earning nine percent more than their IT counterparts. 

What Does a Career in Cyber Security Involve?

From “ethical hackers” who look for and exploit security vulnerabilities in web-based applications and network systems to cryptographers who examine and decrypt hidden information from cyber-terrorists, cyber security professionals work hard to make sure data stays out of the wrong hands. Cyber security professionals work in almost every industry, responding quickly to real-world threats. While there are cyber security associate degree programs, high-level careers usually require an array of technical IT skills and advanced analysis capabilities found in graduate-level degree programs.

Cyber Security Degrees and Careers In-Depth

A four-year cyber security degree program concentrates on the variety of methods used to protect data and information systems. Students get training in technical and business skills like database applications, systems administration, and data recovery. Coursework mixes criminal psychology, digital forensics, and policy analysis to offer a complete perspective of IT security. There are hundreds of job titles in cyber security, and some of the top positions include:

  • Security Analyst
  • Security Engineer
  • Security Architect
  • Security Administrator
  • Security Software Developer
  • Cryptographer
  • Cryptanalyst
  • Security Consultant

Pursuing a Cyber Security Degree & Career

While it’s possible to find some entry-level cyber security positions with only an associate degree, most jobs require a four-year bachelor’s degree in cyber security or a related field like IT or computer science. Coursework in programming and statistics in addition to classes in ethics and computer forensics prepare students with the technical and analytical skills needed for successful careers in cyber security.

In an environment where data breaches are becoming more and more frequent, more cyber security degree programs are being added each year. Before deciding on a cyber security degree, students should make sure that it is not only accredited, but also supports their career goals.

 Associate Degree in Cyber Security

An associate degree in cyber security is a two-year program suitable for the following types of situations:

  • Securing entry-level work as a computer support technician or a similar position
  • An added qualification for those already working in the field
  • A step on a path to a four-year cyber security degree

Associate degree coursework includes the vulnerabilities of a variety of hardware and software systems, network technologies, and key cyber security concepts like security administration and intrusion detection. Many programs also prepare students for certification exams typically required for full-time employment, ranging from basic CompTIA Security+ to ISC2 Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP).

Cyber Security Certificates

Many colleges and universities offer certificates in cyber security for those who are looking to develop further expertise in the field or add credentials to their resume. Students study the principles of computer systems security, including attack protection and prevention. Courses delve into cryptographic techniques, legal issues in computer security, digital forensics, and designs for network perimeter defenses.

Most certificates are 12-18 credits and accessible online. In some cases, students may apply credits earned in a certificate program to a master’s degree in cyber security at a later date. There are a few types of cyber security certificates that cover cyber security technology, cyber security management and related areas.

Complete advanced training

Some employers require candidates to hold an advanced degree like a master’s degree in cyber security. Prospective employers can also offer tuition assistance to meet this goal. A master’s degree requires an additional one to two years to complete after the bachelor’s degree-level and delivers advanced instruction in protecting computer networks and electronic infrastructures from attack. Students learn the ethics, practices, policies, and procedures of cyber security as they examine how to tackle network security defense techniques and countermeasures. Cyber security professionals also pursue certification to boost their skills while working full-time to gain hands-on experience.

Pass security clearances (if applicable)

Security clearances are a requirement for those who want to work with classified information as part of a military of government agency. A number of agencies issue both personnel and facility security clearances, but for the most part they are issued by the Department of Defense. Each type of clearance requires its own procedures and paperwork. The process, which can take three months to a year, does not begin until an employer has hired you, at which point you be given a conditional offer of employment. The first step is to submit clearance documentation, which is then followed by a Background Investigation.

Find the Right Cyber Security Degree Program

The field of cyber security concentrates on network and data protection at various levels. Whether you are looking for an accredited online program or a traditional on-campus program, students have a variety options when it comes to cyber security degrees.

While it is still a relatively fresh field, cyber security degrees are available at all levels, from associate degrees to PhD degrees. Students can engage in cyber security degrees online or in a campus-based environment. Each degree-level preps students for specific opportunities, from entry-level employment to careers in academia. Before choosing a cyber security program, students should ensure it supports their long-term goals

Top 5 Tips for Zoom Party Success!


5 Tips for Zoom Party Success!

Before March 2020, many people had not heard of Zoom. It’s quite the platform for sure – if you know how to use it, you know how to have a Zoom party too!

Did you know you can invite artists to your Zoom Party? These days they are becoming experts and have been using it to draw remote digital caricatures, or eSketches™, for a while. Over time they have learned how to make your Zoom events, birthday parties, work meetings, etc., flow smoothly with fewer hiccups and so everyone has a great time!

General Zoom Tips For Zoom Etiquette

Some zoom meeting etiquette is the same whether you’re in person or online. Zoom-specific options, like muting if there are distracting noises, is a feature we only wish we had for in person meetings! Here are some tips to improve your Zoom online events:

  1. Use the zoom chat feature! This is especially true if your conversation is only between you and one or two other people. Don’t take the focus from the speaker just to share that important idea – or that funny comment – with your friend or colleague!
  2. Ask guests to log on a few moments early. Depending on your system, and how many people are logging in, it may take a minute or two to get up and running. If a waiting room is enabled, the host will need to let everyone in at the beginning.
  1. Keep your video on. No one likes speaking to a screen full of blank squares! Now more than ever, we desire to see your smiling faces! If you need to get up, move around or leave for a minute, go ahead and turn your video off as to not disrupt the event.
  2. Remind everyone to turn off all notifications and silence their devices next to them.
  3. Avoid logging in to your Zoom Party in the same room as someone else who is logged in on another device. This causes an annoying echo effect! Either log in on just one device and share, mute one device, or have one person go into another room.

More important have fun. This is your opportunity to interact with people. Plus, you can have a great memory to “take-home”.