15 Forgotten Facts About William Shakespeare

For some demographics, these facts may not be terribly "forgotten." Try not to crack any monocles over it. But the majority of people may not know many of the persnickety details of the most celebrated and influential writer ever to work with the English language. Historians may not know everything about the Bard’s life and times, but they have managed to dredge up some absolutely fascinating minutiae that do not often crop up outside of literature and drama classes.

  1. He was baptized on April 26, 1564: Most baptisms at the time took place between 3 and 4 days of birth, so historians posit Shakespeare’s birth at roughly April 22nd or 23rd, though gravitate more towards the latter. His day of death – April 23rd, 1616 — and age listed on his gravesite (53) both add credence to the theory. The baptism itself took place at the parish church in Stratford-on-Avon, and many question the true religious leanings of the Shakespeare family. Many whispers of Catholicism pepper his oeuvre, though he lived during oppressively Protestant times, and his daughters allegedly received a Catholic education much like their grandfather.

  2. Even as a newer writer, he incited jealousy: A 1952 pamphlet by Robert Greene, an excerpt of which can be found on Palomar Community College’s website, highlighted fear of the Bard himself early in his career. Greene’s Groats-worth of Wit makes mention of an "upstart crow," "peasant," and "rude groom" recently entering the literary sphere, coming off as a pompously envious dismissal of his talents rather than supportive or excited. It is suspected that Thomas Nasche, George Peele and Christopher Marlowe also participated in the needless public skewering as well. One wonders if the theories of Marlowe penning some of Shakespeare’s works stemmed from this rather obvious display of macho posturing.

  3. One of the most famous Shakespeare portraits is a fraud: The Royal Shakespeare Company owns a painting of the playwright dated 1609. Known as "The Flower Portrait," many people mentally refer to it whenever Shakespeare’s name gets mentioned. Tests by the National Portrait Gallery reveal its origins lay sometime between 1814 and 1840, produced as the Bard’s work experienced a resurgence in popularity. The 2005 analysis came to these conclusions after discovering the use of a particular chrome yellow paint unavailable during the Elizabethan Era, but very common in the 19th Century. In spite of its fraudulent dating, it still remains a gorgeous portrait.

  4. His dad served as the Bailiff of Stratford: John Shakespeare’s social and political clout earned him the prodigious title of "Bailiff of Stratford" — an elected position — in 1568. But, like most stereotypic politicians, he dabbled in some illegal trades. While simultaneously working as a (legal) moneylender, John also conducted underground business as a "brogger," or wool merchant. This definitely earned him a not-disagreeable sum of money for the Shakespeare family, and the young William often accompanied his father on these sketchy dealings. In fact, much of what he picked up from the experience inspired characters, scenes, concepts and vocabulary later utilized in his plays and poetry — some of them largely successful in their time!

  5. He likely read and wrote before attending grammar school: Not unusual for boys of his time, of course. Many historians believe that William’s mother Mary may have tutored her son in basic literacy prior to his starting at the local Stratford grammar school. He started in 1571 and studied a Renaissance-inspired curriculum emphasizing the Greek and Latin classics, eventually becoming proficient (if not fluent) in both languages and having to memorize massive literary passages. Civic duties, etiquette and lessons in proper debate rounded out there lessons. Protestantism also flooded the classrooms at that time, though Shakespeare likely studied under Catholic sympathizers and picked up the tenets of both at the same time.

  6. But he didn’t stay: John Shakespeare’s underhanded wool dealings eventually caught up with him, sending the family into disgrace and ruin. He refused to pay taxes meant to support the local armies tasked with quelling any Catholic activity they encountered, eventually dumping off most of the family’s resources and holdings in order to deter suspicion. Because of this, William ended up leaving school in 1580, which obliterated his chances of ever going to a university. Instead, he ended up tasked with keeping the family financially afloat by working as a glover alongside his father, references to which do occasionally crop up in his extensive oeuvre.

  7. William Herbert likely inspired some of his sonnets: Shakespeare’s most memorable, mysterious and striking sonnets involved two men embroiled in a love triangle with the scintillating, ethereal and wholly mystifying Dark Lady. Experts believe the other man in the picture was one William Herbert, a rather beautiful youth who may have inspired the poet shortly after the death of his own son Hamnet. His mother Mary gained renown as an ardent literary patron who commissioned Shakespeare to pen some sonnets for her son — many of them making a plea for the then-17-year-old to settle down and find himself a wife. Both the timeless poet and the future Earl of Pembroke kept Emilia Lanier as a mistress, herself believed to be the real Dark Lady.

  8. Anne Hathaway may have inspired his first poem: After impregnating the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway, an 18-year-old Shakespeare ended up marrying her in 1582. Debates swarm over whether or not he truly loved her or merely felt social and religious pressure to take her to the altar, though a trademark puns in his earliest known poem do hint towards the former attitude. Nobody knows for certain, but its estimated date and cheeky reference to her surname do place it during that time frame. Shakespeare cared little for his freshman effort, though the poem certainly laid the groundwork for future timeless successes — especially when it comes to his use of frightfully clever puns.

  9. He and his father established the Shakespeare coat of arms: Life grew worse and worse for John Shakespeare following his ousting as bailiff and the revelation of his scandalous wool trading. Following Hamnet’s death, William reached out to his father and took him on an outing to the College of Arms to secure their own family crest. By 1946, John had re-established himself socially and financially, but a coat of arms would have bought him considerable status and immensely increased his chances of climbing the metaphorical ladder. Ultimately, the father-son duo secured the family coat of arms what still exists today — and it bears the Latin inscription "Non Sans Droict," or "Not Without Right."

  10. He was subjected to a large degree of censorship: Although he experienced the rare fortune of enjoying renown and money during his lifetime, Shakespeare did have to contend with plenty of legal restrictions beginning in June of 1599. Queen Elizabeth I ordered all writers — most especially those dealing with English history — without the approval of a privy council. All of his output past this date had to contend with the guidelines set forth by the Company of Stationers’ declarations. Prior to and after these restrictions, however, he did speak of the Tudor dynasty in glowing terms when penning his Anglocentric historical plays. But he had to avoid any sardonic, subtle pokes once the laws passed. The histories still make for excellent reading, though. Just don’t take them as anything but propaganda. Future demands fined playwrights for the use of any profane language.

  11. Susanna Shakespeare ended up in legal trouble: Speculation abounds regarding the Shakespeare family’s true religious loyalties, though they did possess some rather obvious ties to Catholicism. William and Anne’s oldest child Susanna ended up in a 1606 church court along with 20 other accused individuals. The reigning Protestant regime found her refusal to receive Easter Communion a cause of great concern. It does not appear as if any particularly serious charges ended up against her, though. Certainly not a significant jail sentence or execution. She would go on to marry physician John Hall the following year and give birth to their daughter Elizabeth the year after that.

  12. He lived in a former safe house for Catholics: Shakespeare, in his time, earned enough money writing to own his own homes and tracts of land as well as supporting a family. Having worked both in court as well as at popular theatres, he certainly ended up on Elizabeth I’s radar! But he certainly inspired quite the brouhaha when he purchased a London home that once served as a sanctuary for Catholics fleeing from Protestant persecution. Located near Blackfriars, it hosted a winding series of tunnels that created an ideal hiding place — a fact not lost on neighbors and government officials who knew of his filial connections to Catholicism.

  13. He has ties to at least 8 different London addresses: It is possible, of course, that he lived or stayed elsewhere, of course, but only eight recognized records exist that pair his name up with a London address. The first places him in Shoreditch, a rather ramshackle neighborhood known for the theatre industry. Many think he worked as a horse holder, prompt boy and runner while penning his first histories. Other neighborhoods with which he appears connected, such as Paris Garden and Southwark, inspired mention in plays as popular as Twelfth Night and helped him create vivid atmospheres. The suspicious and controversial former Catholic safe house he purchased in 1613 remains one of his more famous (infamous in some circles) locales.

  14. His theatre career involved more than just playwriting: Obviously, Shakespeare’s plays and poems remain the lynchpin of his century-spanning legacy. Mainstream consciousness tends to forget the fact that he also acted as well. While working with the Lord Chamberlain’s Company — later renamed King’s Company — he served in whatever capacity the group needed. So not only did he write some of their most popular plays, he also performed! Unfortunately, no data exists on which roles Shakespeare took, though it is rather humorous to imagine the staid balding gentleman pretending to be a young lady in his early years. But he would join his fellow company members, including the famed Richard Burbage, on such prestigious theatre stages as the Globe and Blackfriars.

  15. On his tomb lay a curse: William Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616 of unknown causes, likely some type of illness. Two days later, his family buried him at Stratford’s Holy Trinity Church in a tomb beneath the floor. Atop his final resting place lay a stone engraved with a rhymed curse intending to ward off the gravediggers sadly common at the time. Nobody knows for certain whether or not the writer whipped it up himself or not, but nobody has yet to disturb his remains. Even when the original stone sank deep into the floor, a replacement with the exact same poem was set right there in its place.

What It Takes to Get Into the Best Online School

Online education is one of the fastest growing markets in the U.S. Students are able to create their own schedules, study from anywhere and still receive a high-quality education. If you’re interested in coursework online but are hesitant to start your application process, here are some ways to get going.

The first step is deciding what type of program works for you. There are many different options in online education now, but you should only consider accredited institutions. If you need to take some individual courses for transfer, check with your registrar to find out which online courses are accepted. If you’re looking into Bachelor’s degrees, do research on schools with the best programs in your field. Both online universities, such as The University of Phoenix, and traditional universities, like Ashford University (founded in 1918), offer undergraduate degrees online. If you are looking to complete a postgraduate degree or professional certificate, there are also many online options.

Once you have targeted a few schools that suit you, go to their websites and follow the requirements for application. Most application processes are very streamlined, as they consist of mostly online procedures. Admissions pages also include contact information and access to representatives who will walk you through the process.

Most applications, depending on the type of degree you seek, are pretty straightforward. You will fill out an online application form, write a possible essay, submit it online and either mail or send a PDF of your transcripts and other necessary documents. There may be an application fee involved, but, as long as you make sure your institution is accredited, don’t hesitate to send that along with your completed application.

Universities look for the same qualities in online students as on-campus students: past educational performance and a desire to learn. A good GPA helps, but you are sure to find a school that will accept you, regardless of your high school grades. Because they seek to accommodate a wide variety of students, most online universities only require a high school diploma. Kaplan University, a great school based completely online, requires only that students be a high school graduate, possess a GED or be a high school senior in order to apply.

Even top universities accept students with non-traditional education histories. Boston University has a program that offers completion of an undergraduate degree to students who already have college credit, but have been unable to finish their degree.

Post-graduate programs require a bit more for acceptance and can be more selective. Penn State offers an MBA online, and they require completion of an online application, two recommendations, a resume, a statement of intent, transcripts and official test scores in order to apply.

Regardless of the type of online education you need, all students are sure to find many options that work for them. The best way to get accepted is to know exactly what you want and apply to a school well-matched to your goals. If your school is a good match for you, chances are they will see you as a good match for them, as well.

How Can a Speech Class Be Online?

Almost every degree program requires students to take a class in speech communication. Why? Because colleges recognize that these courses teach students important skills they will need in almost every career field. But how is it possible to take a speech class if you’re an online student? On the surface, the whole idea seems impossible. Isn’t the whole purpose of a speech course to stand up in front of a group of real human beings and deliver a speech? Online speech courses have a unique way of bringing public speaking to life even while instruction is delivered entirely over the Internet.

For one, many speech communication courses are offered as hybrid courses, or a combination of online class time and face-to-face class time. Hybrid courses divide a student’s time between a physical campus and an online learning environment. This means your speech professor will post lectures online for all the material you are to learn in class, but will require you to deliver required speeches in front of a class in a traditional classroom environment. For instance, the public speaking course at Arapahoe Community College is offered as a hybrid course, requiring a student’s presence both online and in the classroom. Students in this class must deliver speeches in front of their peers in a physical classroom five or six times a semester; all other work is done online.

Then there are the fully online speech classes, like Lansing Community College’s Dynamics of Communication course. In courses like these, the course instructor sets up an on-campus presentation day for the public speaking portion of the course for students who live in a reasonable distance of the campus. Those who live further out can apply for an exception and have their speech video recorded and sent to their professor. The catch is, the online student must gather a group of at least eight people to listen to the speech as it is being recorded, according to Lansing Community College’ Procedure Statement for its fully online speech course. The video must pan the audience so the instructor can clearly see that at least eight people are present listening to the speech and the speech must be recorded in a formal setting, such as a workplace conference room or community center.

In conclusion, don’t expect to get out of public speaking by taking an online course. Whether you video record the delivery of your speech in front of your own hand-picked audience of 8 to 10 people, or whether you are required to show up to a physical campus every now and then to present a speech, it’s not very likely that you’ll be able to weasel your way out of public speaking, even as an online student.

Tips to Reduce Student Stress

As fun as college is, it also has its stressful moments. Whenever projects, tests or final exams roll around, student stress levels go through the roof. A little stress can be good for concentration, finishing tasks and meeting deadlines, but too much stress is bad for your health. With the amount of free time and available resources in college, there’s no reason why students should have to suffer with stress. Here are some tips to reduce student stress:

  • Exercise: Exercise of any kind will help reduce student stress. Whether you prefer yoga and deep meditation, long-distance running or hockey, exercise is a wonderful outlet for reducing and managing stress. Regular exercise decreases the level of stress hormones in the body and releases endorphins, which boost your mood and make you feel good inside. So, instead of hitting the bars when you’re under stress, hit the gym to work out your frustrations and feel better on the inside and out.
  • Deep Breathing: Deep breathing exercises are very effective for reducing stress. Deep breathing helps relax the mind and body by slowing down the heart rate, soothing tense muscles and distracting the mind. These exercises also have several health benefits, like improving blood flow and increasing the immune system. Best of all, deep breathing exercises can be done anywhere and don’t take very long to do, so you can reduce stress and return to your studying refreshed.
  • Get Organized: When you’re organized everything seems to go more smoothly. One way to get organized and reduce stress is to set a schedule and stick to it. Get a planner and write down all of your due dates, tests, quizzes and school requirements so you know what’s on the horizon. Then, set realistic study goals that you can meet every week to avoid pulling all-nighters before a test. It’s also a good idea to organize your school work with separate folders and binders to keep everything neat and in one convenient place.
  • Be Good to Yourself: Are you getting at least eight hours of sleep every night? Do you eat a well-balanced diet and exercise? Diet, exercise and rest all play an important role in the reduction and management of stress. If you are good to your body, it will be good to you. Just because you’re no longer living under your parent’s roof doesn’t mean you should binge drink every weekend and eat Ramen noodles every day. When you’re well-rested, physically fit and healthy, you’ll have a stronger immune system and be more resilient to stress.

20 Unbelievable TED Talks About Animals

Most people love at least one animal. And even those who claim they don’t still rely on them for survival. Bees, hummingbirds and other pollen aficionados determine plant populations, including staple crops. Scientists of all types look towards the animal kingdom for inspiration and information, and indispensible educational resource TED provides them a forum to share their amazing, often unusual, findings with the world at absolutely no cost to the viewer. One does not need a degree in biology to appreciate these fantastic lectures, merely an open mind and a curiosity about the world beyond humans.

  1. Einstein the Parrot talks and squawks: Stephanie White and Einstein the African Grey from the Knoxville Zoo pair off in a comedic showcase of the latter’s talents. Capable of 200 unique vocalizations, including English phrases and other animal noises, she also performs at least half of them based on her handler’s cues. In spite of its humor and entertainment value, the video’s main goals revolve around education rather than performance. The concluding message of conservation’s importance pairs nicely with the brief display of parrot cognition. Einstein’s training parallels that of the extraordinary Alex, another African Grey used in researching avian brain functions and behaviors.

  2. Corneille Ewango is a hero of the Congo forest: Politics and science are inextricably intertwined, and Corneille Ewango pulls from personal experience to shed light on the problem of poaching. Though a botanist by trade, his work with the Okapi Faunal Reserve in the Democratic Republic of the Congo has garnered much positive attention. Because Ewango grew up in the country amongst a family of poachers, soldiers and fishermen, he completely understands the social, political and economic motivations that factor into dwindling populations of threatened and endangered species. Education, he argues, remains the only way to ensure the preservation of the Congo’s flora and fauna. Without it, the unfortunate cycle of slaughtering elephants for ivory and other ecologically dangerous activities would persist in some form or another. This video is a must-watch for anyone interested in learning more about the history (and present) of mankind’s troubled relationships with the animal kingdom.

  3. Dee Boersma: Pay attention to penguins: These quirky, beloved birds provide biologists with a means of better understanding the ocean ecosystems as a whole. Galapagos penguins, for example, change their habits whenever El Nino or La Nina passes through — a phenomenon of interest to more than just biologists! But from a macro standpoint, the birds in general serve as a generally accurate indicators of shifting currents and weather patterns. Dee Boersma absolutely adores penguins, and her work with the Wildlife Conservation Society hopes to replenish their populations in order to benefit the planet — most especially those needing to divine any potential natural disasters that may crop up as a result of tempestuous seas.

  4. Dennis vanEngelsdorf: a plea for bees: Around 30% of bee colonies perished in the winter of 2007 and 2008. Scientists struggle to find the source of this alarming, unexpectedly high fatality rate, but have yet to come up with any definitive answer. Colony Collapse Disorder passes through apian communities like viruses, and the side effects directly impact humans and other animals. Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture’s Dennis vanEngelsdorf postulates that "one in three bites of food" shares some direct or indirect relationship with bees. Fewer insects means fewer plants — many of which explicitly attract them — receive the pollination they need to perpetuate. This can have some exceedingly unfortunate repercussions on food supplies, so the problem should not go ignored. vanEngelsdorf argues for better bee conservation, making a compelling plea to remain mindful of local plants that nurture their populations. Obviously, he does not mean to stop mowing lawns or other necessities, but rather making an effort to create more green spaces and refrain from making any unnecessary removals.

  5. David Gallo on life in the deep oceans: Though filmed in 1998, these striking videos of the bizarre and beautiful creatures inhabiting the deepest oceanic depths still mesmerize viewers. David Gallo usually plunges into the ocean on his trusty submarine in search of sunken vessels, but he picks up some breathtaking images and videos of the ocean’s rich biodiversity along the way. The majority of people, animal lovers or not, lack the resources to properly plunge its depths and explore all the creatures within. People like Gallo are integral to promoting global understanding of such a delicate, eclectic ecosystem because of this, and his presentation does not disappoint. Jellyfish especially capture his eyes and lenses, flaunting some of the world’s longest specimens right here in this TED Talk.

  6. Jane Goodall helps humans and animals live together: Jane Goodall left an amazing legacy in the field of primatology after her groundbreaking work amongst African (largely Tanzanian) chimpanzees. She continues to research and lecture on biological, ecological and environmental topics in addition to promoting harmonious relationships between people and the animals living nearby. This video sums up the tenets of TACARE and some of her other related undertakings, which involves educating communities, providing them with resources to prevent HIV/AIDS, viable water sources and more. The restructuring also means communicating clearly about preserving the surrounding environments and stressing the importance of understanding interspecies boundaries. After all, Goodall stresses, chimpanzees and humans share much, much more than common DNA. With so many eerily similar behavior patterns, people should come to a greater understanding (and respect) of their wild cousins.

  7. Kartick Satyanarayan: How we rescued the "dancing" bears: Shocked at the intolerable cruelty heaped upon sloth bear cubs captured for entertainment purposes, Kartick Satyanarayan set out to end it. After discovering these dancing bears existed as the solitary source of income for marginalized and impoverished peoples, he realized that merely freeing the captives would not work. Instead, he devised a more sustainable plan revolving around exchange programs. He would give former owners the resources needed to set up small businesses of their own in exchange for the animals. Educational opportunities and vocational training are also made available to these overlooked communities in order to help them rely more on their own work rather than a dangerous, abused predator for sustenance. Such a measure has proven thankfully successful, and Satyanarayan set up a sanctuary to care for the recovered bears.

  8. Paul Sereno digs up dinosaurs: Much like deep-sea organisms, prehistoric animals hold a particular fascination with the populace owing to their inaccessibility. Here, paleontologist Paul Sereno shares some of his research with the world in order to illustrate biology’s prehistory and its relevance to today’s scientific climate. Evolution also plays a heavy role in his lecture as well, with plenty of visuals to better highlight how animals slowly transitioned over time. In order to promote an appreciation of his chosen field, Sereno launched Project Exploration in Chicago for underperforming students. The nonprofit opens up animals and science to high school-aged minds and encourages their education rather than trap them in some sort of restrictive conformist mold. Many graduates end up studying at Ivy League or equivalent institutions after turning both their grades and their engagement around. And it all stretches back to those giant lizards stomping about the planet millions (not thousands!) of years ago.

  9. John Kasaona: How Poachers Became Caretakers: In a move that benefits both communities and environments, John Kasaona works with Namibians to serve as caretakers for endangered species. Joshua Kangombe — the leader of the Himba peoples – realized that poachers like Kasaona’s father understood the needs and habits of the local wildlife better than anyone. In an attempt to quell serious issues of famine and drought, The Integrated Rural Development and Nature Conservation employed Kangombe as a consultant and began building off his observations. As a result, former poachers responsible for the dwindling populations of important animals ended up tasked with bringing them back from the brink — and the plan worked out splendidly. Businesses sprung up in the wake of established preserves, and tourists (and their money!) filter in to see the 130 lions and the world’s largest population of black rhinos — a much more sustainable, lucrative solution than poaching could ever provide.

  10. Joshua Klein on the intelligence of crows: Sure, crows sometimes act the squawking, scavenging pest, but biohacker Joshua Klein finds them absolutely fascinating. This TED Talk peers into the fascinating science behind the common corvid, pointing out their impressive memories and knack for adapting to human encroachment. Crows display a remarkable talent for improvising their own tools as well, and Klein channeled his decade’s worth of research into creating a vending machine based on Skinnerian concepts. Suffice to say, the hyper-intelligent birds eventually figured out how to treat themselves to a peanut snack by sticking coins in the designated slot. The psychology and biology behind the experiment will likely fascinate anyone interested in learning more about birds and animal behavior — not to mention inspire speculation on mutually beneficial applications of this knowledge.

  11. Sheila Patek clocks the world’s fastest animals: Surprisingly enough, mantis shrimp exhibit some of the fastest speeds in the animal kingdom. In water, it strikes prey between 10 and 23 meters per second, or around 45 miles per hour — very impressive, considering the amount of pressure and resistance involved. Different species utilize different methods, usually either a stabbing or a smashing motion, but either way they still accomplish insane velocity. Biologist Sheila Patek specializes in chronicling and studying animal speeds, and her lecture dissects the details of many videos she’s taken. She showcases the curious crustacean at various frames per minute to better highlight its strange and wonderful feeding habits.

  12. Keith Bellows on the camel’s hump: This tragically underwatched lecture features a rather interesting premise. Keith Bellows analyzes "the SUV of the desert" from an engineering rather than biological standpoint. On a trip to Jordan, he became absolutely fascinated with the myriad ways in which camels adapted to their harsh desert homes — to the point he paired up with a National Geographic film crew and shot extensive videos of the Washington Zoo’s specimens. He shares these with the TED audience (and, by extension, viewers at home), allowing them to fully grasp how everything from their ears to their famous humps work. No, they do not store water — but there is actually some kernel of truth to the myth.

  13. Laurie Santos: A monkey economy as irrational as ours: Anyone fascinated by primates and their intriguing — and understandable — parallels with human behavior needs to give this lecture a little look-see. Experiments and observations made of capuchin commerce seem eerily similar to human economic structures, and a "monkey marketplace" reveals their ability to make choices based on both quality and frugality. Marvel at how individual specimens make decisions that work best for them and how they hold a mirror up to mankind’s own habits. It certainly raises some provocative questions about the true nature and origins of reason and cognition.

  14. Ian Dunbar on dog-friendly dog training: Ian Dunbar’s experience as a veterinarian, animal behavior expert and dog trainer led him towards an empathic method of ensuring that canine companions know how to act. He argues that most training involves strictly human perceptions of hierarchy and interest, but these ultimately yield more uneven results. The more effective approaches involve a greater understanding of canine social, biological and cognitive structures, which fosters strong, harmonious relationships between person and pet. Although the talk deals with connections between humans and their beloved animal friends, broader lessons flow throughout the lecture. After all, compassion and empathy resonate in more than pet training situations!

  15. Robert Full: Learning from the gecko’s tail: These quirky lizards make for popular pets, partly because they possess such intriguing tails and feet. Biologists, including Robert Full, developed wall-climbing devices emulating the fine, sticky structures that allow them to scale flat, vertical surfaces with ease. They eventually created Stickybot to test practical and mechanical applications of gecko movement and accompanying use of dry adhesive. When studying the tail’s role in locomotion, the scientists realized that they were working with "the world’s fastest air-righting response" — and later experimented with wind tunnels to see if the lizards could teach themselves to glide. Suffice to say, the resulting videos proved breathtaking. And no animals were harmed.

  16. Peter Tyack: The intriguing sound of marine mammals: Listen to an incredible cetacean symphony and learn about their uncanny ability to vocalize across hundreds of miles. Dolphins and whales utilize a highly complex communication system to discuss feeding opportunities, find straying family members and more. Unfortunately, human machinery unwittingly disrupts their clicks, hums and tweets. As a result, some of the animals grow confused or wander out of audibility’s range. Fortunately, companies such as Maersk reduced their possibly negative impact by slowing down their shipping lines and lowering their fuel intake. The International Maritime Organization responded to pleas by scientists to redraw their lanes in order to minimize the risk of colliding with giant marine mammals.

  17. Tierny Thys swims with the giant sunfish: These fishy behemoths are referred to as both the giant sunfish and the Mola mola. Weighing in at nearly 5,000 pounds, Guinness recognizes the species as the world’s heaviest bony fish, most prolific vertebrate egglayer and the "vertebrate growth champion." Combine that with an extremely strange "cut-off shape," and it makes sense why so many find it a fantastically intriguing study. Sunfish feed off moon jellyfish and enjoy basking on the ocean’s surface and soaking up some light. They have remained largely unchanged from an evolutionary perspective as well, having burst on the scene some 50 million years ago. Tierny Thys absolutely loves these curious, overlooked denizens of the deep, and her TED talk reflects that passion and opens up viewers’ minds to the strange and beautiful animals they may not otherwise know about.

  18. Charles Anderson discovers dragonflies that cross oceans: Out of the insect world, the unassuming Globe Skimmer dragonfly makes the longest migratory journey every year. Marine biologist and naturalist Charles Anderson curiously noted discrepancies in these insects’ populations while living and working in the Maldives. And he discovered their breeding behaviors corresponded directly with the changes in monsoon season. Because dragonflies require bodies of fresh water in order to proliferate — a scarcity on Andersons island home — these amazing specimens make a circuit around the Indian Ocean when mating season rolls around. They travel in swarms of millions, hovering around 2,000 meters above the water’s surface and crossing within the range of around 400 miles.

  19. Susan Savage-Rumbaugh on apes: Susan Savage-Rumbaugh’s inquiries into the inner workings of bonobos — as with many involving primates — opens up scientists to a greater understanding of the human species. Many of the primates’ behaviors raise some incredible questions about the age-old nature versus nurture debate in the animal kingdom. And that includes human society, too. This lecture includes some astounding videos of bonobos raised amongst their homo sapiens sapiens cousins, showcasing some particularly provocative scenes of acculturation. But audiences are left to ponder the true tenets of the relationship, most especially the blurry lines between learned and instinctual behaviors.

  20. Jane Goodall on what separates us from the apes: Biologists spend so much time finding common ground between humans and the primate brethren, mainstream audiences rarely get a chance to learn about the differences. Beyond amount of body hair, of course. Jane Goodall draws from her groundbreaking research to discuss the one major factor that lay between the two groups. Specifically, language. Humans possess a more sophisticated, nuanced vocalizations and a far broader range of communications. The ability to write ensures that ideologies expressed move further through both location and time, offering some degree of permanence over ethereal speech. And because of food preservatives and additives as well as medications, she claims that peoples’ bodies contain roughly 50 chemicals more than they did 50 years ago. Diseases such as asthma and cancer increase in numbers, especially in more polluted areas. Humanity needs to put its amazing vocal prowess to work fixing its own problems before they become too much to handle.

Who to Seek for Letters of Recommendation

Applying to undergrad, grad school or for employment can be a laborious undertaking. Amid the numerous components that have to be compiled and submitted, your letters of recommendation are the only opportunity for your prospective school or employer to read about your better qualities described by someone whom you respect. Essentially, they can be the cherry on the sundae, pushing you over the top in the decision process when all else is equal.

But determining who’s fit and willing to provide your letters of recommendation can be difficult. Common sense indicates that you can’t use a family or friend; instead you need people with whom you have working or academic relationships, preferably a teacher, professor or a boss. When seeking out a teacher or professor, select one who you’ve had for more than one class and knows from personal experience that you’re capable of high achievement. They should be able to attest to your work ethic, intelligence, maturity, strengths and talents. You didn’t even have to make a near-perfect grade in their class — as long as you showed that you were a committed student, they should have sufficient material for composing a letter. It’s also a good idea to ask a teacher or professor from the field in which you plan to study or work so they could provide an endorsement of your skills and knowledge related to the subject.

A previous boss who praised your work and valued your services would provide a good letter of recommendation. However, a potential problem arises when you’re seeking one from a current boss. You’ve probably proven your value as an employee, hence the reason you’d seek a letter of recommendation from them, but the fear is they could be hesitant to contribute to you leaving, especially if it’s for another job. It’s important to assess the situation beforehand, gauge the potential reaction of your boss based on their personality, and if you think they’d handle it well, broach the topic prior to actually asking for the letter. If they’re a good sport, as most usually are, then express your gratitude and continue to put forth a solid effort on the job. Obtaining letters of recommendation aren’t always easy, but it’s a step that’s becoming more prevalent in application processes. Know who to ask now so that you can enjoy the fruits of your hard work later.

Finding Financial Aid

Who can really afford college these days? As tuition continually rises with each academic year, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to cover the costs. According to the College Board, four-year schools have increased their published tuition and fees by an average of 24 percent from 2005-06 to 2010-11. Private colleges, which are notoriously more expensive than public colleges, saw a 17 percent increase during the same period of time. Fortunately, generous assistance is offered through government programs. A full-time undergraduate student received an average of about $11,500 during the 2009-10 academic year, including more than $6,000 in grants. That amounts to $154 billion in financial aid dispersed to students nationwide.

Finding federal aid is easy and can be accomplished with several clicks of the mouse. Simply venture over to the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) website and fill out the form. You’ll need your social security number, driver’s license number, W-2 forms from the previous year, your Federal Income Tax Return from the previous year, your parent’s Federal Income Tax Return from the previous year, your untaxed income records and current bank statements. It’s important that you submit accurate information so an appropriate award total can be determined by your school. The amount is based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) and other factors such as the cost of enrollment in your program.

There a several different ways to receive aid — the most common of which are from Stafford Loans, Perkins Loans, Pell Grants and the Federal Work-Study Program. Both loans feature low interest rates and if they’re subsidized, their interest is paid by the government as long as the student is enrolled at least half-time. The Pell Grant provides students with low EFCs with up to $5,500 that doesn’t have to be repaid. The Federal Work-Study Program allows students to work part-time toward a predetermined amount. In most cases, they work on campus or at nearby volunteer organizations such as Habitat for Humanity.

If push comes to shove, you can also seek funds from a private lender, though you’ll have to deal with higher interest rates. Generally, this should only be done after you’ve received the max amount of assistance federally. Private loans can supplement a Stafford or Perkins Loan that doesn’t completely cover your expenses for an academic year. Thankfully, there are numerous options that can enable you to receive the education you need for a successful and fulfilling life.

How to Choose a Major

Choosing a major is an important decision and one that could pave the way for a successful, lifelong career. Some students know what they want to major in right away, while others take their sweet time to choose. Either way, don’t fret if you don’t know what you want to major in yet. Most colleges give you until the end of your sophomore year to declare a major, so you have plenty of time to weigh your options and make an educated decision. Here are a few tips on how to choose a major:

  • Know Your Strengths: It’s important to know your strengths before choosing a major because it can help you narrow down your options and find an area of study that suits you well. If you’re not certain what your strengths are, talk to your advisor and a career counselor to assess your strengths and apply them to a major. It’s also important to know your limits. Just because you’re good at science doesn’t necessarily mean you’re prepared for advanced biology and chemistry classes, or weekly three-hour labs spent dissecting animals. All students have to make sacrifices for school every now and then, but no major should keep you from enjoying your undergraduate college experience. So if you think a major could be too much to handle, you may want to steer clear of it.
  • Talk to Upperclassmen: Upperclassmen have been in your shoes and know how nerve-racking it can be to choose a major. They won’t sugarcoat things, either. They can give you first-hand accounts of taking advanced courses and how to avoid switching majors halfway through college. Talking to upperclassmen about their majors will give you a better understanding of what each program entails and what to expect. They can also give you a heads up on which classes you should take, the best professors in the college and guaranteed ways to get an A.
  • Follow your Heart: It may sound cheesy, but you have to follow your heart when choosing a major. Regardless of what your parents, friends or advisors tell you, choosing a major is your decision and you should do what you love. Students may feel pressured to choose a major based on career salaries, job outlook and prestige, but it’s far more important that you follow your passion before you follow the money. If you’re stuck studying something you hate, chances are you won’t do very well in your classes and you may end up never using your degree.

20 Strangest College Clubs Ever to Exist

Getting involved on campus can be a great way to make the most of the college experience, especially if you’re at one of the best universities our nation has to offer. You’ll make new friends, meet others with your interests and generally have a great time. But what if your interests don’t fit into the norm? Not to worry! As these strange college clubs show, there’s a group out there for just about every interest there is– no matter how bizarre.

  1. The Quill and the Sword, Brigham Young University: This club is perfect for the medievalist nerd who simply can’t get enough of wenches and sword fights through Renaissance fairs. In it, students spend time studying medieval history and even form their own mock guilds. Students meet up to have feasts, engage in swordplay and share their knowledge of the Dark Ages.
  2. MIT Assassins Guild, MIT: Have you ever wanted to know what it’s like to live like an assassin? This club at MIT gives students a chance to taste it, albeit in a much less bloody manner. Club organizers pull together a role-playing game whereby students can take on the role of an alien, witch, special ops soldier or pretty much anything else that comes to mind and try to assassinate one another on campus.
  3. The Harvard Tiddlywinks Society, Harvard University: The age old game of tiddlywinks involves using a plastic disc to pop another little plastic disc into the air with the hopes that it will land in a cup or bowl. Students enjoy beverages, talk with one another and spend their time in this club playing this simple but potentially entertaining game.
  4. Students for an Orwellian Society, Columbia University: While many college students out there enjoy the works of George Orwell, most are not actively involved in groups that promote the philosophies espoused within them. This group at Columbia is dedicated to promoting the idea of Big Brother, including eliminating individualism and free thought. While it’s unlikely that they group is serious in this goal, the it is still one that would puzzle friends and confuse employers on a resume.
  5. Anarchist Society, Edinburgh University: Nothing says anarchy like creating an organization. Divisions of this club have come under fire at colleges around the nation and the world for their support of terrorist activities. This particular society avoids these crackdowns by focusing on reading anarchist literature, analyzing the ramifications of anarchy and working to dispel myths about the political philosophy.
  6. The Carleton College Mustache Club, Carleton College: The only requirement of this club is that members must have a moustache. Strangely enough, this doesn’t eliminate women from joining, so long as they’re willing to shave their faces leaving hair only on the area above their lips. Silly as it may be, this club has a good purpose, working to raise money for a domestic abuse shelter.
  7. Students Against Hippies in Trees, UC Berkeley: If you’re sick of seeing hippies up in trees, then this strange club may be for you. These anti-tree hugging students banded together to counter the protest of students who wanted to save old trees on campus from destruction. The club believes that the school is right in its choice to cut them down and wants to keep those tree-loving hippies from getting in the way.
  8. Bigfoot Society, U Penn: These students have a passion for talking about, researching and even searching out new information on the elusive Bigfoot. Students in this club take a serious look at the anthropological, biogeographic and cultural significance of Bigfoot and its surrounding folklore.
  9. Concrete Canoe, U of Wisconsin: Think concrete isn’t the best material to build a canoe out of? Well these students at the University of Wisconsin aim to prove you wrong. Composed of a number of engineering students, this group hopes to design and build a canoe made out of a cutting-edge concrete material light enough to float on water.
  10. Rock-Paper-Scissors Club, U of Kentucky: You can battle it out with your fellow students down to the last man (or woman) in this competitive club. Students get together to throw rock, paper or scissors, study strategies for improving their play and learn ways to better incorporate the game into their everyday lives.
  11. Fight Club, U of Florida: If you like to box, join this club that sets up matches between students.
  12. Campus People Watchers, U of Minnesota: Claiming to be both non-profit and non-creepy, this group of students spends their time watching people on campus and in the community. Of course, the club is much more than that, and asks members to not only watch but to write commentary on the psychological and cultural phenomena that they witness. The group promises not only entertainment and "zaniness" but a chance to engage in an educational experience that is far from boring.
  13. Princeton Mime Company, Princeton University: Who doesn’t love mimes? Oh, a lot of people? Well, that doesn’t stop this group from getting together and putting on mimed performances on campus. Truth be told, this company is fairly prestigious and offers acting and performing students the chance to practice their craft, even if they don’t dress up in stripes and paint their faces white.
  14. Ichidan Live Theatre & Cosplay, Boise State University: Blend your passion for performance and love of anime, manga and Japanese culture with this on-campus organization. Students create costumes and put on live-action performances of popular anime films as well as going as a group to cosplay and anime conventions. It might be a very particular niche group, but even out in the Wild West this interesting aspect of Japanese culture gained a following from students of all different backgrounds.
  15. Society for Explosives Engineers, U of Arizona: Students can have a blast by joining this professional club. They’ll get to work with professionals in the mining world to study the use of dynamite, something most wouldn’t think of letting college students do. Instead of having boring club meetings, students in this group get to learn how to blow things up and eventually do actually get to put their hands on some real explosives.
  16. Quidditch Club, NYU: You would think that a sport that requires players to be able to fly wouldn’t be able to gain much of a following in the real world, but as it turns out, Quidditch is a club that has gained quite a bit of popularity on college campuses nationwide. In some places, like NYU, this club was denied official club status because it is halfway between a sport and regular club. Harvard, Yale and Boston University all have very active Quidditch clubs, which draws into question just what motivates the best minds in the nation to compete in a sport that, well, doesn’t really exist?
  17. Association of Cigar and Finance Aficionados, U Penn: When most people think of college students they don’t imagine them enjoying cigars and discussing the finer points of the financial markets, but that’s just what these college students do. Rather than spending their time throwing around frisbees, these students get together to share an appreciation for stogies and stocks.
  18. Club Kramerica, U of Illinois: Looking for a way to express your love for the long-running sitcom Seinfeld? This group at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana may have you covered. Students get together to watch the show, celebrate Festivus, play softball, enjoy fine Chinese Dining and more. Of course, the group isn’t all fun and games and spends time raising money and working on a stretch of road they’ve adopted.
  19. Humans vs. Zombies, U of Florida: This club will let you experience the terror and apparent fun in a zombie apocalypse. Students choose a side and participate in role playing on campus, using Nerf guns and socks as weapons where humans do their best to escape being infected by the students acting as zombies. The group also promises to do its best to defend the school’s campus in the event a real zombie attack should occur.
  20. The Kite Runner, U of Wisconsin: With a name inspired by the popular novel, this group works to promote the culture and entertainment that kite flying has to offer. Students in the group will assemble and fly their kites, an activity that can not only be relaxing but could also offer a challenge for engineering students on campus.

Making Your Transfer Work

Switching to a new school isn’t always an easy process, but with a little preparation and know how, you can skip out on the stress that’s usually associated with college transfers. There’s work to be done before, during, and after you transfer to a new college, so be sure not to miss these important steps.

Research your new college as much as possible. Are you likely to be accepted? Is it usually easy to transfer credits to this school? Do they have the study program you’re looking for? Once you’ve found the right school for you, talk to an admissions counselor about getting started.

Look for relationships. Some colleges, especially community colleges, offer relationships with other colleges and universities. With these relationships, you’ll be able to easily transfer your college credits without hassle.

Check with your financial aid awards. You will need to talk to your scholarship and grant administrators to find out if they will transfer to a different school. If not, see if it’s possible to get new awards. Loans are generally not an issue when transfering.

Talk to advisors. Meet with an advisor both at your current and future college to go over your transcript and talk about transferring courses. At your current school, you can choose courses that are likely to transfer, and make sure your transcript is complete and up to date. At your new school, you should discuss which credits have been transferred, and how they apply to your course of study. You’ll also want to go over which classes you will need to take in order to be ready for your projected graduation date.

Make new friends. Courses aren’t the only thing that’s hard to transfer to a new school-friends don’t always move over either. Join groups, expose yourself to new people, and commit to meeting new people in order to make friends at your new campus.

Figure out your housing situation. Make sure that there will be housing ready for you in your new college, whether it’s a dorm, apartment, or other solution. Keep in mind that if you’re transferring in between the fall and spring semester, there may be a wait list for the dorms.

Making the move to a new school can be exciting and stressful all at the same time. Be sure to stay on top of the important tasks needed to complete a successful college transfer.

Next Page »