• Archive for June, 2009

    100 Smart Tips and Tools to Start a College Fund

    Jun 17th, 2009

    With speculations on the outrageous cost of college in the future, it’s no wonder parents start to sweat when thinking of saving for their child’s college fund. Putting back enough money doesn’t have to be stressful, though, if you follow some of the tips below and take advantage of these tools. Whether you are planning for your newborn’s future or your teenager’s imminent education, are a grandparent wanting to help, or are soon to be a student yourself, you will find plenty of help here to start your college fund the smart way.

    College Savings Tips

    These tips provide great information for getting started and ensuring you continue to build your college fund successfully.

    1. Start as soon as you can. Whether you are expecting your first child or you are a high school student just looking at college options, start investing as soon as you can to give yourself time to build as much money as possible.
    2. Save often. Put money back as frequently as you can to help build your college fund.
    3. Get your finances in order. Make sure you have a good handle on your personal finances and spending habits to ensure your success with your investment and saving goals.
    4. Understand the risks and benefits of your investments. Every investment has risks and benefits. Make sure you clearly understand each before you invest any of your money.
    5. Diversify. Split your investments into a few different types of accounts. Putting money into separate types of accounts not only adds a layer of security so that you don’t lose everything in one bad investment, it also allows you to invest some money into safer accounts with lower returns while investing other money into riskier accounts with higher returns.
    6. Go automatic. Making automatic payments each payday removes the money before you even miss it and ensures you are contributing regularly to your investment.
    7. Ask for gifts. Ask friends and family to consider contributing to college funds for birthday and holiday gifts they would normally give anyway.
    8. Invest unexpected income. If you receive a large gift, get a large income tax refund, or get a bonus at work, invest that money so that it will work for you in the long run.
    9. Increase your savings. Build an increase into your savings goals. If you receive a raise, bump your savings by that same percentage. Even if you don’t receive a raise, make sure you are increasing your savings rate at least once a year to keep up with tuition inflation.
    10. Redirect money. When you finish paying something off such as a car or child care when your child enters school, then redirect that money to your savings.
    11. Examine spending habits. Track your spending for a few months, then take a close look at where your money is going and determine if you can cut back on certain areas and invest that money instead of spending it.
    12. Involve your child. By instilling the importance of a college education and teaching responsible financial management, you child will be better equipped to graduate college with financial savvy and without excessive debt.

    For Parents

    Specifically for parents (and grandparents), these articles offer tons of tips to help you fund your children’s education.

    1. How to Start a College Fund. The basic information offered here is a great place to start if you aren’t sure about how to save for college.
    2. Why You Shouldn’t Put College Fund Money in Your Child’s Name. Learn one reason why you should not put you child’s name on the college fund.
    3. Investing in a Child’s College Fund Versus Paying Off Your Mortgage. This article offers insight and helpful advice on evaluating which financial path you should take.
    4. How to Set Up a College Savings Account. Watch this video to learn about the benefits of a 529 plan.
    5. How Safe Is Your College Savings Plan?. Learn about the risks of 529 plans in the current economic environment and what you can do to protect your investment.
    6. College education funds trump retirement savings goals. This brief article offers a thought-provoking look at those forced to choose between saving for college or retirement.
    7. Great Ways to Fund a College Education Even If You’re Not a Millionaire. If you need a supplement to your college savings, check out the suggestions here.
    8. Send Your Kid to College Without Going Broke. This article focuses on ways to find quality education at community colleges and public schools that can reduce the cost of higher education without sacrificing the end result.
    9. Funding your child’s education. This article offers a good breakdown of the benefits, tax breaks, and regulations behind four popular savings plans.
    10. Planning for Education Funding. Five education funding myths are examined in this article.
    11. College education funding for the divorced parent. Find out ways that may help you start a college fund if you are a divorced parent.
    12. Funding a Grandchild’s College Education. Learn about several options grandparents have when contributing money to a grandchild’s education.

    Savings Options

    The following list offers some of the most popular options when it comes to setting up college funds.

    1. 529 plan. These state-sponsored plan usually come in two forms: prepaid tuition plans and savings plans. They are free from federal taxes and you can usually join any plan no matter in which state you reside.
    2. Coverdell Education Savings Account. If you earn less than $110,000 (or $220,000 if filing jointly), you can contribute tax-free up to $2000 a year into an account that goes to a named child for educational expenses.
    3. UGMA and UTMA. Uniform Gifts to Minors Act (UGMA) and Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) allow gifts to be given to children in custodial accounts–such as from grandparents. Investments of up to $12,000 a year can be made without gift taxes applied and the money is often taxed at the child’s rate.
    4. Savings account. Setting up a traditional savings account is a very safe way to save money, but doesn’t earn as much in interest. If you plan to contribute an amount each month to reach your savings goal, however, it is a good way to build money.
    5. CDs. Another safe way of saving is to put your money into Certificates of Deposit. This money stays in the bank and remains unavailable to you for a specified amount of time with higher interest rates corresponding to longer investment periods.
    6. Education Savings Bond Program. Certain US savings bonds can be cashed in and used for qualified educational expenses without some or all of the interest money being taxed.
    7. Mutual funds. Mutual funds offer a diversified way to invest in the stock market while building a college fund. Read about the pros and cons in this article from Vanguard.
    8. Stocks. Investing in individual stocks can be risky and is not suggested for those with little investing experience, but it can provide a big payoff if you know what you are doing.
    9. Tax breaks. There are several tax breaks for those saving or paying for college. Learn how you can take advantage of the tax breaks here.
    10. Upromise. Read an overview of all Upromise has to offer for college savings through your regular spending in this article.

    College Fund Tools and Calculators

    Find out exactly how much you should save, how much you may need, what type of school you can afford, and more with these tools and calculators.

    1. College Savings Plan Comparison Chart. This chart offers a break-down of various savings plans and how they are managed.
    2. College Savings Calculator. This calculator will help you determine how much you should save and ways to make the most of your saving.
    3. College Funding Calculator. Plug in information about your savings, how long you have to invest, and your annual contribution to determine how much you should be investing now to pay for college.
    4. How much can you save?. This tool helps you calculate how much money you can save over time.
    5. Savings Calculator. Find out how much you can save to meet your college fund goals with this tool.
    6. How Much Should You Save?. Use this worksheet to determine how much you will need to put back for college expenses.
    7. College Savings Calculator. This calculator takes into consideration such variables as the type of school, commuting vs. being on campus, and more.
    8. Which college savings option is best for me?. Use this tool to help you decide the best type of investment for your college savings goals.
    9. 529 College Savings Tool. Figure out what you need to contribute to your 529 plans for each of your children with this tool.
    10. Calculate how much you’ll need to save for college. Not only will this tool tell you how much you need to save, but it can offer suggestions for changes you can make to better meet your goals.
    11. School Affordability Analyzer. Find out how much the schools of your choice will cost you, how much aid they typically provide, and the best options for your specific situation.

    For Students

    If you are heading to college soon or are already there, these tips and tools will help you cut back on expenses and fund your education the smart way.

    1. Test out of classes. Testing out of classes before you start school leaves you with fewer classes you have to take–and pay for.
    2. Take the basics at a less expensive school. Sometimes you can find schools with lower tuition and fees such as at community colleges and some online schools that will transfer to a larger school that may cost more.
    3. Live at home. You can save an average of $6,000 a year on room and board if you live at home rather than staying at the dorm or getting a place of your own.
    4. Understand college costs. Understanding the nuances of college costs is important and can help you avoid expensive mistakes when considering funding your education.
    5. Look into scholarships. There are many scholarships available for students attending accredited colleges, but you will need to do the research to find them. Also, beware of scholarship scams.
    6. Become an RA. A residential advisor oversees the activities of those in the dorm and typically gets free room and board for their work.
    7. FAFSA. Complete your FAFSA online to determine your eligibility for scholarships, grants, loans, and work-study opportunities that can supplement your college savings.
    8. Federal Work Study Program. Learn about this opportunity through the federal government to work part time and earn funds for your education.
    9. 4 Tips to Make Money Online to Fund Your College Studies. This article offers four ways to supplement your income online while paying for school expenses.
    10. Financial Literacy. This page offers information and links to help you learn how to manage your money for college wisely.
    11. College Costs. Learn what to expect when it comes time for paying for your education and get links to helpful calculators.
    12. Student Finance Domain. Paying for college and money management are the focus of this site dedicated to helping college students make smart financial choices.

    Finance Social Networking Sites

    Join these social networking sites to learn more about finance and investing so that you can make your college fund grow as much as possible.

    1. Art of Saving. This personal finance social network helps members reach their finance goals, such as saving for college.
    2. ZeccoShare. The investment community at ZeccoShare offers investment tracking, sharing of ideas and tips, and groups where members can find support as they learn about investing.
    3. UpDown. Practice investing with a $1 million portfolio while you gain experience and get tips from others, and even earn real money along the way, in this community.
    4. Minyanville Financial Infotainment. Join this financial social network to meet other investors while learning about smart investment strategies, participating in forums, and reading blogs and articles about investing.
    5. My.WallSt.net. Beginners can learn about investing on this social site that helps you find out about stocks, trading, and more.
    6. Tip’d. For those interested in finance and investment, Tip’d offers news, tips, articles, and more to it’s members, who can vote for the most helpful information.
    7. MarketWatch Community. Members can create profiles to help connect with others, then share information, news, tips, and more.
    8. Wesabe. Learn to manage your money while connecting with others with the same financial goals.
    9. Kiplinger.com. Manage your finances in this community with the tools, articles, quizzes, online forums, and more here that will help you learn about personal finance.
    10. Zacks Investment Research. Create a portfolio, connect with community and more at this site that provides mathematically-based research to help you learn about markets and trends.
    11. Covester. Covester allows members to watch the investment habits of other members in order to learn how to invest their money.
    12. InvestingMinds. This community offers everything from investing clubs to chat rooms and provides you the chance to learn from others or share your own investing experience.

    Money Management and Savings Tools

    Without a good handle on your personal finances, saving is difficult. Use these tools to keep your finances in order so you can save as much as possible for education.

    1. BudgetTracker, Inc. Budgeting is much easier when you use this tool that helps you get control of bills, investments, bank accounts, and more.
    2. SaveMoney.com. Members can get plenty of help saving money with this group that includes such tools as a tip of the day and forums.
    3. mint. This popular personal finance management system connects your bank, credit cards, and mutual funds to help you gain control over your finances.
    4. How I Save Money.net. You will find plenty of tips and tools to help save money here such as organizing coupons, tracking finances, and understanding flexible spending accounts.
    5. billeater.com. Learn how to save money and lower your bills with the tips and forums here.
    6. BillMonk. Keep track of your money with this fun tool that also allows you to track items you loaned to others or that you have borrowed.
    7. 66 Ways to Save Money. This site offers tips and suggestions in several different categories, including transportation, housing, insurance, and utilities.
    8. Mymoney.gov. Specially designed for educating US citizens about financial issues, this site offers tons of information ranging from home buying to having children.
    9. MoneyCafe.com. Get information on everything from car loans to financial calculators to tax help at this site.
    10. Bank of America Financial Education and Tools. Learn about managing debt, saving for college, budgeting, and more at this site.

    Online Peer-to-Peer Lending

    If you find that your current college fund needs some supplementing, try borrowing at one of these peer-to-peer lending groups.

    1. Lending Club. Lending Club brings together borrowers and lenders. Borrowers get low rates and lenders can hand-select to whom the loan their money.
    2. GreenNote. Members finance loans to individual students at low interest rates on this site that is a popular alternative to student loans.
    3. RSF Social Finance. Borrowers in the greatest need can find loans from members at this group that focuses on social and environmental issues.
    4. Zopa. This finance network connects members who are seeking loans with credit unions who offer low-interest rates.
    5. Virgin Money. Get loans straight through Virgin Money or facilitate and legitimize borrowing and lending through family and friends here.
    6. CommunityLend. Members can learn about each other, hear their stories, and discover their financial experience before deciding to enter into a borrowing and lending agreement.
    7. Prosper. Online auction style, borrowers create a listing and set the interest rate they are seeking, then lenders bid to fund the loan.
    8. Fynanz. Fynanz offers peer-to-peer lending for students seeking help with college expenses. They are temporarily on hold here while the economy is down, but check back soon to participate.
    9. Loanio. Co-borrow with friends or family backing you or have members bid on loans to you.

    College Savings Websites

    These websites all focus on saving for college. Read these for great tips, ideas, and support as you grow your college fund.

    1. Morningstar’s Guide to College Savings. Browse through all the articles on this site that help you understand college savings and the options available to you.
    2. TheStreet.com College Planning & Savings. Read articles that will help you stay on top of college savings news as well as learn the best way to plan and save for college.
    3. College Savings Plans Network. This site is dedicated to providing you with information on setting up and selecting 529 plans.
    4. Savingforcollege.com. With a heavy emphasis on 529 plans, this site offers articles, tools, news, and more to help you reach your college savings goals.
    5. SmartMoney Personal Finance: College Planning. Ask questions and read answers at the Financial Help Line, read articles on planning for college and education options, and more here.
    6. Forbes Retirement and College. Check out the articles at Forbes to find out the latest in college planning and funding.
    7. T. Rowe Price College Planning. Find tools and information here to help you make the best investments for your situation.
    8. The Motley Fool College Savings. This site offers realistic information about the real cost of college as well as a close look at several ways to invest for college.
    9. Ken’s Saving for College Blog. Find tips, ways to save money, and information for events such as financial aid workshops at this blog from About.com.
    10. MEFA. Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority is a non-profit working to provide planning and financing tools to families. While some of the information here is specific to Massachusetts, much of it is applicable to families planning for college in any state.
    11. American Funds College Planning. Learn the basics of college planning, find out options, use the cost calculator, and more.
    12. Bright Futures Blog. This blog examines saving and funding your child’s education as well as related topics for ensuring your child’s bright future.

    Networking 101: Tips and Tools for Online Students

    Jun 16th, 2009

    Working hard in college is usually preparation for a successful career after graduation. Another important aspect of this preparation is networking to establish connections with those who may be helpful when it comes time for going to grad school, finding a job, or making your way up the career ladder. Social networking is doubly important for online students who, by design, have fewer face-to-face interactions with professors and other students. Learn what you can do to make the most of your social networking experience while you are still in school with these tips and tools.

    Online Networking Basics

    Learn why networking is important and get tips on how best to do so.

    1. Participate. Don’t just sign up, set up a profile, then never log on again. For social networking to be effective, you have to participate.
    2. Get to know each other in a meaningful way. Social networking provides a unique way of getting to know people in a more meaningful through ambient awareness.
    3. Stay in contact. Just because you no longer share a class doesn’t mean you should drop your contacts. They may prove to be valuable resources later in school or even after graduation.
    4. Get to know your instructors. Establishing professional working relationships with your instructors not only provides you with a better experience with your classes, but will also lay the groundwork for solid references after graduation.
    5. Network through discussion groups. Joining discussion groups revolving around topics related to your career aspirations is a great way to network among those who may be helpful with life after graduation.
    6. Networking. Find out what you should and shouldn’t do when it comes to online networking.
    7. ‘Online Social Networking on Campus’. Based on a book by this title, this article offers a Q and A with one of the authors that describes how online social networking is used by students and what direction it is likely to take in the future.
    8. Students Turn to Social Networking Sites for Info. This article describes one valuable aspect of social networking by describing how students were warned to stay put during the shootings at Virginia Tech.
    9. How Social Networking Affects the Student Life Cycle — From Applicant to Graduate. Find out what these panelists from US colleges have to say about social networking and college students.
    10. Networking Timetable for College Students. Get a great outline to prepare you for a successful networking experience with this article.

    Creating a Great Internet Presence

    What you offer about yourself on the Internet is permanent. Learn how to present yourself in the best possible manner so that you don’t make mistakes you regret later.

    1. Keep your online image clean. While it may be tempting to post those photos from the crazy party last weekend, find out why you may want to think twice about doing that.
    2. Positive web presence. Establish a personal web presence that will help your career success after graduation.
    3. Your On-Line Life is Your Reputation: Dos, Don’ts and Tips. Follow these tips for managing your online reputation so that you are in a good position for grad school or starting your career.
    4. Managing Your Online Reputation: A College Student’s Perspective. Follow the sound advice from this public relations major to ensure you present yourself in the best way possible.
    5. Protecting Your Online Reputation. This article offers common-sense tips and reminders about online reputation that go beyond not posting party pics on Facebook.
    6. Not Just Your Space – the FREE ebook by Naymz. Download this free book that is written just to help college students learn how to keep their online image looking great.
    7. What You Say Online Could Haunt You. This USA Today article chronicles many real-life situations where students suffered the consequences of what they put on social networking sites.
    8. Brand-Yourself.com. Run by college entrepreneurs for college students seeking a positive image for themselves as they begin their life outside college, this site offers help establishing websites, online resumes, and more.
    9. Student Brand Makeover. This video shows how to present yourself in the most favorable light when finding a job, internship, or other similar situation.
    10. Reputation Defender Blog. This blog is from a company that helps keep online reputations clean and offers invaluable advice and highlights social networking trends that you should be aware of when establishing your reputation online.
    11. How to Manage Your Reputation Online. This article offers ways to promote your good reputation online while also monitoring anything new that may show up about you.

    Social Networking Sites for Students

    These social networking sites are designed specifically for students and usually offer information and opportunities beneficial for students beyond just networking.

    1. Student.com. Find other students, get information about colleges and financial aid, find top online schools, and more.
    2. learnhub. Education sharing is the focus of this social networking site helps users find assistance with assignments.
    3. Campusbug. Stay connected with other students while also getting access to tools and resources for studying, homework, and projects.
    4. RateMyProfessors.com. Find information about professors by school or by professor’s name at this site that also provides online social activity among members.
    5. IdeaWhip. Undergrads, grad students, and recent alumni who are trying their hand at entrepreneurship can connect through this social network.
    6. Loomagoo. Besides just connecting with others, students can purchase and sell text books, share notes and study guides, and more.
    7. The Quad. Students can collaborate on school projects or organize face-to-face social events on this social network.
    8. Playboy U. Owned by Playboy Enterprises, Inc., this social network offers journalism and networking with the feel of it’s parent company.
    9. ResearchGATE. Science researchers (whether students or professionals) can collaborate and network here.
    10. SciSpace.net. Another social network for scientists, this one also allows non-scientists to join.

    Other Popular Social Networking Sites

    These popular networking sites open up opportunities for meeting business professionals, other students, instructors, and more who may be important for your networking goals.

    1. Ning. Create your own social network or search for existing social networks here. Many online colleges have social networking sites on Ning.
    2. Facebook. One of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook was originally meant only for college students, but now hosts millions of members of all ages.
    3. MySpace. A close rival to Facebook, MySpace is also super popular and offers alternative methods of sharing videos, music, and more.
    4. LinkedIn. LinkedIn is a professional networking site and a great place to create an online presence that will continue to serve you long after graduation.
    5. Ecademy. This site is also for professional networking and provides the opportunity for making new connections with business professionals.
    6. Plaxo. This social network is also an aggregator, allowing you to combine other social networks in this one place.
    7. Naymz. Build your professional network while establishing your personal brand at this site.
    8. Fast Pitch. This social network gives you a chance to network with professionals in preparation for your career.
    9. Ryze. Make business contacts on this social community designed specifically for business networking.
    10. Talkbiznow. Collaborate, present your own business, and more on this site that promotes networking among business professionals.
    11. tribe.net. Similar to Ning, this site hosts "tribes" of people connected through a common interest.

    Using Twitter as a Networking Tool

    Twitter has become an important networking tool lately. Find out how you can use it to your advantage.

    1. Get to know your classmates. A class Twitter group will help facilitate professors and students getting to know each other, especially for an online class where you probably won’t meet in person.
    2. Collaborate on projects. When working together on projects, set up a group using an app like Tweetworks to help collaboration.
    3. Brainstorm. Brainstorm on assignments and class projects on Twitter and you can share ideas as they occur to you.
    4. Direct Tweet. Professors and students can contact each other through direct Tweets without having to share cell phone numbers or wait for an email.
    5. Follow news stories. From sources such as @Reuters to @CNNMoney to @NatGeoSociety, students can follow news that relates to what they are studying.
    6. Make announcements. Instructors can send out reminders about upcoming tests, project due dates, or any other news that needs to be shared via Twitter.
    7. Take a poll. Ask student their opinions or get feedback on future projects or topics by using an app like PollDaddy.
    8. Share interesting websites. Both professors and students can post interesting websites that are relevant to their class.
    9. Follow mentors. If professors or other key figures in your field of study are on Twitter, follow them to keep up with their research and activities.
    10. Spread the news. Schools can send out Tweets to keep students informed about news pertaining to the school.

    Social Networking Sites Facilitating Peer-to-Peer Loans

    If paying for school is a struggle, check out these networking sites that facilitate loans for students.

    1. GreenNote. This popular alternative to student loans allows members to finance loans to individual students at low interest rates.
    2. Lending Club. Lending Club allows borrowers to get low rates and lenders to make money on loans they fund to borrowers they choose.
    3. Zopa. This social finance network connects members who are seeking loans with credit unions who offer low-interest rates.
    4. CommunityLend. Members can learn about each other, hear their stories, and discover their financial experience then connect to borrow and lend money together.
    5. RSF Social Finance. This group connects lenders to borrowers in the greatest need and maintains an eye on social and environmental issues.
    6. Virgin Money. Virgin Money facilitates borrowing or lending money through friends and family or funds borrowers directly through Virgin Money loans.
    7. Prosper.This site allows member-borrowers to create a listing and set the interest rate they are seeking, then lenders participate in an auction to fund the loan.
    8. Fynanz. Fynanz offers peer-to-peer lending for students seeking help with college expenses.
    9. Loanio. Members can bid on loans they fund to other members who are seeking money. Loanio also offers a co-borrowing option with friends or family.

    Collaborating with Others Online

    These tools offer excellent ways to collaborate with classmates and instructors online.

    1. NoteMesh. Share notes with others in your class with this tool that creates a wiki for the class.
    2. NoteCentric. Another note-sharing tool, this one also allows students to share with other members of their class.
    3. Campfire. Set up instant chat rooms with your classmates or study group with this tool.
    4. writewith. Students working together on writing projects can use this tool for shared documents and tasks, discussions, and more.
    5. Zoho Show. Students can create and share great online presentations with Zoho Show.
    6. CiteULike. Share scholarly articles on the Internet, then use this tool to store, organize, and share the results of your research.
    7. ThinkFold. Students can create real-time outlines collaboratively with ThinkFold.
    8. Google Calendar. Google Calendar is a sharable calendar that can help keep one student or a whole class on task with assignments, tests, deadlines, and more.
    9. Notefish. Students and instructors can save web content, organize, and share their notes with the entire class.
    10. MeetWithApproval. A great tool for online classes, you can plan a virtual meeting with this meeting planner.
    11. PBwiki. This wiki platform is popular with educators and helps facilitate group collaboration.
    12. Thinkature. Students can collaborate with each other, organize thoughts and research, and prepare papers and projects with this tool.
    13. Wizlite. Use this tool to highlight text online and share with others in your class.
    14. ProBoards. Create a discussion board easily and quickly with this tool offers a great way to host discussions for online students.

    Finding a Job through Social Networking

    Find out how you can use social networking to find a job after graduation.

    1. HOW TO: Build the Ultimate Social Media Resume. Use this tool to help you build an online resume that will showcase your talent.
    2. Using Your Blog as a Job Search Tool. Learn how you can use your blog to get noticed and find a job.
    3. Alumwire. College students and recent grads can use the free services here to find a job.
    4. Glassdoor.com. Find out about companies, salaries, and more at this site when researching where you want to work. Students can receive a free one-year membership.
    5. MyWorkster. Created specifically for students and new grads, this site links college networks with employers and provides access to job listings through Indeed.
    6. JobWeb. Specifically for new grads, this site offers help finding a job, opportunities to research employers, and informative articles.
    7. CollegeRecruiter.com. Both students and recent grads can find internship opportunities as well as jobs with this resource.

    Finding a Job through Twitter

    While it may be surprising, Twitter offers great opportunities for the job seeker. Find out how with these tips and tools.

    1. HOW TO: Find a Job on Twitter. Learn how you can find a job on Twitter with this article that includes several feeds you may want to follow.
    2. twitterjobcast. This tool allows you to search for jobs posted on Twitter by keyword or geographic location.
    3. TweetMyJobs. Job seekers and employers can find each other via Twitter with this tool.
    4. 50 People on Twitter Job Seekers Should Follow. Discover 50 Twitter feeds to follow if you are looking for a job. Be sure to read the follow-up post for even more feeds.
    5. Follow your occupation. Track the profession you want to practice on Twitter and stay informed about what others are saying.
    6. Follow a company. Most companies have a Twitter feed, so begin following the ones you are interested in working for so you can become familiar with their culture.
    7. Follow @jobhunting. From tips for recent college grads to recession-proof job information, this Twitter feed offers tons of information for those hunting for jobs.
    8. Post your intentions. Posting about your job hunt on Twitter can bring surprising results and is definitely worth the effort to get the word out.

    Online Education Blogs

    Blogs offer a great way to stay connected with an online community, and these blogs all focus on online education.

    1. My State of Flux. Find resources, editorials, and information about online learning in this blog.
    2. Inspiration for Education. Get uplifting news articles and interviews on this blog that frequently focus on online education.
    3. Teaching and Developing Online. This blog offers links to resources and advice to enhance the online learning environment.
    4. Michelle’s Online Learning Freakout Party Zone. Get tips and resources to enhance your online learning here.
    5. California Dreamin’. Learn about online education and much more when you follow this blog.
    6. Online Learning Update. This news aggregator offers the latest trends and developments in online learning.
    7. Inside eLearning by Susan Smith Nash, Ph.D.. Find helpful advice and information to enhance your online clearing experience here.
    8. Virtual High School Meanderings. While the focus of this blog is high school distance education, it provides insight on many issues that pertain to online learning in general.
    9. e-Learning Evangelist. Working in the world of e-learning since the mid-1990’s, this veteran online educator has plenty to offer on his blog.
    10. BestOnlineHighSchools.com. While mostly examining high schools, there is also often good information about online colleges here as well.
    11. Thoughts from BFE. Read about technology as well as online learning in both high school and higher education.

    50 Hilarious College Party Drinks

    Jun 11th, 2009

    By Sarah Russel

    College students generally aren’t known for their discerning taste in alcohol. In fact, most tend to gravitate toward the cheapest alcohol that will do the job. But that doesn’t mean they can’t be creative. Check out this list to find some of the most hilarious concoctions ever imbibed on a college campus.

    Mixed Drinks

    Whether made by the glass, pitcher, or trash can, you’ll at least get a smile from these creative recipes.

    1. Brass Monkey: Drink your favorite 40 oz of malt liquor down to the top of the label, and fill the bottle with orange juice-you’ll have a highly alcoholic, and ridiculous mimosa.
    2. Hop, Skip & Get Naked: Combine cheap gin, cheap beer, and pink lemonade-the lemonade hides the taste of the cheap gin and beer.
    3. Bloody Beaver: This drink reads like a strawberry nightmare.
    4. 1a Special Surprise Party: If you’re brave, try this drink that combines Natty Light, Tang, and olives in a can.
    5. 151 Bananas: By no means does this drink taste good, or like bananas for that matter, but it will however get you drunk.
    6. Alpine Lemonade: Full of vodka, gin, rum, lemonade and cranberry juice, this drink is great for a warm day of getting totally drunk.
    7. Beergarita: Combine two drink favorites for a refreshing way to alcoholic bliss.
    8. Screwed Hooker: The Screwed Hooker is a combination of a screwdriver and a cherry hooker.
    9. Punch in the Head: 151 rum provides the punch in this drink.
    10. T-Rex Piss: Nothing sounds good about this drink that combines one part tequila with one part Mello-Yellow.
    11. Bloody Brain: Perfect for a Halloween-inspired party, the floater of Irish cream looks like a brain.
    12. Red Eye: Although it sounds gross, the tomato juice and egg will have you up and at em.
    13. Mind Eraser: If you’re drinking to forget, use this drink of vodka, kahlua, and tonic water.
    14. Soylent Green: Vodka, curacao, and orange juice combine to make a green drink that definitely is not mild.
    15. Captain Do: In Captain Do, you’ll find a spiced rum inside Mountain Dew.


    These punches know how to please a crowd.

    1. Jungle Juice: Add just about any cheap alcohol to juice, with optional cans of fruit, and you’ll have a cheap, tasty bucket of alcohol.
    2. Grain Punch: In a new, washed garbage can, you’ll use grain alcohol, dry fruit punch, lots of fruit, and ice.
    3. Sneaky Pete: This vodka based punch with ice cream on top will sneak up on you.
    4. Flavored Jet Fuel: Combine assorted rum, gin, and vodka with your favorite wine cooler for a powerful punch.
    5. Pink Panther: This mixture of Crystal Light and vodka makes a strong punch without a lot of alcohol taste.
    6. Limoncillo: Not to be confused with Limoncello, this punch is made of Crystal Light and rum.
    7. Skippies: Start a long night of partying by creating Skippies with ice, beer, lemonade, and strong vodka.
    8. Trashcan Punch: Mix sliced fruit, fruit punch, and everclear to make a deadly punch.
    9. Flaming Blow Job: This punch includes flaming whipped cream and mason jars.
    10. College Hulk Punch: Become the Incredible Hulk with Bacardi 151, curacao, sweet and sour, and orange juice.
    11. 612 Delight: 612 Delight features vodka, Crystal Light, and Big Red.
    12. Hunch Punch: Made in a very large cooler, with peach vodka, everclear, pineapple juice, sprite bottles, and Hawaiian punch, this drink is sure to have you hunched over.

    Prepared Drinks

    These drinks are ridiculous right off the shelf.

    1. Steel Reserve: This malt liquor tastes terrible, but it packs 8.1% alcohol content into a usually dirt cheap 24 ounce can.
    2. MD 20/20: A classic beverage, Mad Dog 20/20 will make you feel numb.
    3. Thunderbird: Thunderbird’s makers have cut every possible production corner in order to make this drink as cheap as possible.
    4. Old English 800: This malt liquor represents the ideal budget alcohol for college students.
    5. Natural Light: Natty Light isn’t good, but it’s cheap.
    6. Buckfast: Buckfast promises to get you "bucked up" fast, with a strong taste of molasses.
    7. Night Train: Imagine your favorite bum wine, with Ny-Quil added. That’s Night Train.
    8. Wild Irish Rose: Some believe that this wild wine is a conspiracy to kill the homeless.
    9. Pabst Blue Ribbon: PBR is by no means worthy of its ribbon, but it provides a good buzz with nostalgia.
    10. Boone’s Farm: This malt beverage product is fruity and fun.
    11. Cisco: Cisco is often referred to as liquid crack.


    Take on these shooters if you dare.

    1. Buttery Nipple: Most people are familiar with this shot of butterscotch Schnapps and Irish cream.
    2. Purple Hooter: This shooter features vodka, triple sec, chambord, and ice.
    3. Monkey Brains: A shot of Irish cream and one of peach schnapps combined will quickly curdle and turn lumpy-you may have to chew your way out of this one.
    4. The Ultimate Jell-o Shot: Great amounts of research have gone into this recipe.
    5. Boilermaker: Drop a shot of whiskey into your beer, chug, and you’ve got a Boilermaker.
    6. Alabama Slammer: Drink these, and you’ll be slammed in no time.
    7. Snake Bite: This popular shot features a combination of whiskey and lime juice.
    8. Red Death #2: If you want to get drunk fast, try this mixture of vodka, Southern Comfort, amaretto, sloe gin, triple sec, and orange juice poured into shot glasses.
    9. Cement Mixer: This shot of Bailey’s combined with a shot of lime juice mixed in your mouth will make you feel like you’re swallowing cement.
    10. Flaming Dr Pepper: This shot is set on fire, then dropped in a beer-and it tastes remarkably like Dr Pepper.
    11. Duck Fart: Combine Kahlua, Irish cream, and Canadian whisky for this shot that tastes better than its name would imply.
    12. Purple Passion: Vodka, triple sec, grape juice, and cranberry juice combine to make a passion inducing shot.

    100 Open Courses to Learn More About the Middle East

    Jun 9th, 2009

    With conflicts between Israel and Palestine as well as concerns about oil and war in Iraq, the Middle East is a constant presence in the news. The reality is, however, that few actually know about the history, culture and political realities of the region outside of these media reports. These free courses will help you gain a more well-rounded perspective on the countries that make up the Middle East, from learning about ancient Mesopotamia to picking up a few words in Arabic.


    Check out the materials offered by these courses and lectures to learn about the history of the region from the time of primitive man all the way up to the present day.

    1. The Middle East in the 20th Century: Look through the notes and readings for this class that focuses on Iran, Turkey, Egypt, and the Arabian Peninsula. [MIT]
    2. Jewish History from Biblical to Modern Times: Here you’ll find information on Jewish history that ranges from biblical accounts to the effects of the Holocaust. [MIT]
    3. The Emergence of Europe: 500-1300: The Crusades had a big impact on Europe and the Middle East alike. Learn more about these and other important events of the Middle Ages here. [MIT]
    4. The Ancient Mediterranean World: This course addresses the ancient history of Egypt, Mesopotamia and more. [UC Berkeley]
    5. The Dark Ages: While much of the West was undergoing a period of stagnation, this course will teach you about the contributions Arab scholars were making to mathematics, science and philosophy. [UMass Boston]
    6. Islamic Middle East: Check out this complete course to learn about the history, politics, culture, language, art and architecture, and literature of the Islamic Middle East. [Northfield Mount Herman]
    7. Modern Middle East History: The outline for this course also provides links to many of the important readings as well. You’ll get a chance to learn more about the Middle East from the 18th century to the present day. [UMich]
    8. The Near East: 8000 BC to 1900 AD: Want a comprehensive history of the Middle East? This course will detail thousands of years of history so you can get a truly in-depth understanding of the region. [Connexions]
    9. History of Islamic Civilization: From the days of Muhammad to current events in the Near East, this site will make for great reading material to learn more about the history of Islam. [WikiBooks]

    Religion: Islam

    As the birthplace of three of the largest world religions, Islam, Christianity and Judaism, religion plays a major role in both the past and present of the region. These courses focus on improving your understanding of Islam in the region.

    1. Islamic Societies of the Middle East and North Africa: Religion, History and Culture: Learn about the history and expansion of Islam in both the Middle East and areas of Africa in this course. [Notre Dame]
    2. Women in Islamic Societies: Many people have a very narrow conception of the role of women in Islamic societies. This course will help you learn more about the reality of the lives of women in these countries. [Notre Dame]
    3. What Is Islam?: Get an inside perspective on what Islam is and what Muslims believe through this short course. [Islam Always]
    4. Anthropology of Religion: Not focusing just on Islam but on all other religions as well, this course explores the reasons people seek out religion and the impact it has on a larger society. [Utah State]
    5. Prohibition and Permission: This course examines the prohibitions that religion puts on everyday life from marriage to food consumption. [MIT]
    6. The Qur’an and Makkah: Learn about the city of Makkah and the history of the revelation of the Qur’an to Muhammad through this link. [BBC Learning]
    7. The History of Islam: In this course you’ll learn about the origins of Islam all the way up to the present day. [WikiBooks]
    8. God and War: The Odd Appeal of War: Listen to this lecture to learn about the motivations for a religious war in Islam and in Christianity. [Princeton]
    9. God, Nature, or Man: Whose Law for a Free People? The Experience of Islam: This lecture examines the conflicts between religious and secular law in Islamic countries. [Princeton]

    Religion: Christianity and Judaism

    These courses will help you to learn more about the history of Judaism and Christianity in the Middle East.

    1. Jesus, Paul, and the Origins of Christianity: Check out this lecture from Paula Fredriksen to learn about where Christianity has its beginnings.[Princeton]
    2. The Bible: If you’ve ever wanted to learn about the basics of the Bible this class is a good place to start. [MIT]
    3. History of the Christian Church: This free course will teach you about the beginnings of the Christian church from the earliest days to the present. [ChristianCourses]
    4. Old Testament Survey: Read the materials for this course to learn about the stories of the Old Testament. [ChristianCourses]
    5. New Testament Survey: This course picks up with the stories in the Bible of the New Testament. [ChristianCourses]
    6. Jews and Christians Throughout History: Through this course you’ll explain the interactions through history, both positive and negative, between Christianity and Judaism. [Notre Dame]
    7. Foundations of Theology: Biblical and Historical: This course aims to give students a better understanding of both Biblical stories and the history of the early Christian church. [Notre Dame]
    8. Introduction to the Old Testament: Here you’ll approach the Old Testament from a variety of critical viewpoints and gain a better understanding of how the Bible fits into the society of the Near East. [Yale]


    Learn about the music, writing and everyday life of the Middle East from these courses.

    1. Anthropology of the Middle East: In this course you’ll learn about the performance traditions of Arabic speaking people from the Middle East and North Africa. [MIT]
    2. The Architecture of Cairo: Explore the Islamic architecture of Cairo through the lessons and readings of this course. [MIT]
    3. Popular Musics of the World: Here you’ll learn all about popular music from the Middle East and around the world. [MIT]
    4. Universe of Music: This course examines the history of music from ancient times to the present and focuses on building an understanding of the role of music in a wide range of cultures around the world. [UMass Boston]
    5. International Women’s Voices: In this course, students will read materials from women in counties all over the world, including those in the Middle East. Authors will include Alifa Rifaat, Nawal El Saadawi and Leila Ahmed. [MIT]
    6. The impact of the Arab/Israeli conflict on Palestinian and Israeli children: This short course will help you to understand the social and cultural impact of the ongoing conflict between Israel and Palestine. [BBC Learning]
    7. Islamic Law and Feminism: Opening a Dialogue: Can a woman be a feminist and an Muslim? This lecture addresses some of the issues that arise when Western ideas about feminism meet up with traditional Sharia law. [Princeton]
    8. Religious Architecture and Islamic Cultures: If you’re interested in architecture, this course is a great place to start learning about the types of buildings that have been produced historically and today in Islamic cultures. [MIT]


    Read up on the materials offered through this course to gain a better understanding of the political issues involving the Middle East.

    1. Islam, the Middle East and the West: This course addresses the history of interactions between Western cultures and those in the Middle East providing a great foundation for those who’d like to learn more. [MIT]
    2. Seminar on Politics and Conflict in the Middle East: The readings and lectures in this course focus on four majors themes: context, continuity, complexity and convergence and their relationship to conflicts in the Middle East. [MIT]
    3. The Politics of Reconstructing Iraq: Here you’ll learn about the major issues that are involved with reconstructing a country torn apart by war and the political aspects of determining the country’s future. [MIT]
    4. Terrorism, Peace, and Other Inconsistencies: Through this course, you’ll get to examine questions related to contemporary terrorism, Al-Qaeda, and the relationship between the West and Islam. [Notre Dame]
    5. Pens and Swords: How the American Mainstream Media Report the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict: Is reporting on this decades long conflict unbiased? Arab affairs reporter Marda Dunsky shares her experience and reflects on the history of reporting in this lecture. [U of Chicago]
    6. Beyond the Green Zone: Dispatches from an Unembedded Journalist in Occupied Iraq: Dahr Jamail, an independent journalist reporting from Iraq, shares his experiences working outside of the mainstream media in Iraq through this lecture. [U of Chicago]
    7. Who are the Leaders of the Iraqi Shi’ites?: If you’re unsure what the different groups in Islam are, why they oppose one another and just who is leading them, this lecture can shed a great deal of light on the topic for you. [Princeton]
    8. Defending Human Rights in Times of Terror: Dorit Beinisch, President of the Supreme Court of Israel, gives this lecture on how it is important to ensure that human rights are protected by the law, even when reacting against terrorism. [Princeton]


    These courses address the economics of the region, an important factor as it stands as one of the largest oil producers in the world.

    1. Economic Geography of the Industrial World: Through this course you’ll learn about the basics of economics around the world and how modern states, factories, baking and more have developed. [UC Berkeley]
    2. Energy Economics: Relevant to the oil production of the Middle East, this course will address issues of the demand for energy, energy supply, energy markets, and public policies affecting energy markets. [MIT]
    3. The Economic History of Work and Family: In many places in the Middle East, women are restricted in their activities outside of the home. What does this mean for the economics of the family unit? This course will offer you the theoretical background to answer this and other questions that can be posed about life in these regions. [MIT]
    4. Economics and World Civilizations: Learn about the economic outlook of places around the world through this introductory course. [WGU]
    5. Democracy, Governance, and War in Oil Exporting Nations: This open symposium allowed students and professors alike to address the many issues surrounding major oil producing nations like those in the Middle East. [U of Chicago]
    6. The Tyranny of Oil: Antonia Juhasz, author, policy expert, and activist, gives this talk about U.S. foreign policy with regard to oil and the power of the oil industry. [U of Chicago]
    7. The Geopolitics and Geoeconomics of Global Energy: This course examines the world’s oil producing regions with regard to foreign policy, economics and more. [MIT]

    Conflict and War

    Much of the attention focused on the Middle East in recent years has been about the conflicts and war that have affected the region. Expand your understanding of the origins and effects of these through these courses.

    1. A World in Conflict: Panel Discussion: This panel discussion focuses on the effects of September 11th. [Harvard@Home]
    2. The Roots and Causes of Terrorism in Afghanistan and the Region: Who better to learn about the Middle East from than Hamid Karzai, President of the Transitional Islamic State of Afghanistan. Here he shares his perspectives on the conflict in the region. [Princeton]
    3. Beyond the Siege: Arab Israeli Relations at Century’s End: Israeli scholar Itamar Rabinovich shares his thoughts on the relationship between Israel and Palestine back in 2000. [Princeton]
    4. The War in Iraq: Bush’s Democracy and the Real Thing: This lecture addresses the ultimate effect of the war in Iraq and the process of establishing a new government. [Princeton]
    5. The Ethics of Nation-Building: What We Owe Iraq: Noah Feldman, New York University offers his insights into the nation building going on in Iraq in this lecture. [Princeton]
    6. What Happens After Iraq?: Steve Forbes, editor-in-chief of Forbes Magazine, gives his thoughts on where America’s politics and economy will stand after the war in Iraq. [Princeton]
    7. After Iraq: What’s Ahead for America: With so much attention focused on the conflict in the Middle East, what happens when it’s actually over? This lecture addresses that and more. [Princeton]
    8. Israel: Peace and War: Here, students will get a chance to learn more about the history and present-day events in Israel, especially those involving war. [Princeton]
    9. Light at the End of the Tunnel? Costs and Benefits of Mideast Peace for the International Community: Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Ambassador Yehuda Lancry give this thoughtful lecture on the possible reality of peace in the Middle East and what it would mean for the rest of the world. [Princeton]
    10. Misunderestimating TERRORISM, Economics and the Roots of Terrorism: Alan Krueger gives this lecture that will help students to better understanding the beginnings of terrorism and how it shouldn’t be disregarded as a powerful force. [Princeton]
    11. Ottoman Thought and Practice Concerning War: Bernard Lewis, Professor of Near Eastern Studies at Princeton, shares his knowledge of the Ottoman Empire and its engagement in war and conquest through this lecture. [Princeton]


    These courses will help you learn more about some of the major languages used in the region, from reading basic Arabic script to learning how to greet someone in Turkish.

    1. Learn to Read Arabic: For most monolingual English speakers, learning to read Arabic is a bit of a challenge. This course will help you learn the basics from which direction to read to how words are put together. [Ukindia]
    2. Learn Arabic: Visitors to this site can purchase a comprehensive collection of Arabic language resources or make use of the numerous lessons, vocab lists and more offered for free. [Speak 7]
    3. Arabic Online: This helpful site aims to offer as much information and instruction as possible on the Arabic language at no cost to the user. [Arabic Online]
    4. Syrian Colloquial Arabic: Learn the basics of everyday Arabic as it is spoken in Syria through this online resource. [Syrian Arabic]
    5. Standard Classical Arabic: While more advanced resources on this site are commercial, users can take advantage of several beginner-level courses for free. [Dalilusa]
    6. Arabic Language Course: From reading to speaking, this online collection of courses is designed to help you learn the basics of Arabic. [Madinah Arabic]
    7. Easy Persian: Sometimes also known as Farsi, the Persian language is at your fingertips with the collection of lessons on this site. [EasyPersian.com]
    8. Hebrew Lessons: Learn this ancient Biblical language for free with this collection of lessons, complete with audio. [Milingua]
    9. Learn Hebrew: Download this program to get access to a huge number of free resources for improving your Hebrew. [FoundationStone]
    10. Turkish Lessons: If you’d like to learn a bit of Turkish, these courses from the U of Arizona are a great fun and free way to do so. [U of Arizona]
    11. Learn Syriac-Aramaic: Teach yourself this historic language with the games, lessons and tools provided by this site. [Learn Assyrian]

    Views from the West

    These courses will address views of the Middle East from a Western perspective, including the impact of Islamic scholarship, recent terrorist attacks and foreign policy.

    1. Depiction of Terrorism in Film and Television: Are you consciously aware of how terrorism is depicted in fictional works? This lecture asks you to think more critically about what you’re seeing and to seek out the reality behind the fiction. [U of Nottingham]
    2. Europe’s Awakening: Learn about the role Islamic scholarship and leaders had in the development of Renaissance ideas. [OpenLearn]
    3. Issues in Foreign Policy After 9/11: Through this course you’ll learn about the impact of the September, 11th bombings on U.S. foreign policy. [UC Berkeley]
    4. Building up One Empire while Tearing Down Another: Scholars, Missionaries and Spies in the Ottoman Middle East: Archaeology isn’t usually seen as a competitive sport, but this course examines the relationship between a British and Czech pair and how each strive to perpetuate imperialism. [Connexions]
    5. War and American Society: From the Civil War onward, this course will address the impact of war on the culture and experience of average Americans.[MIT]
    6. Just War: Ancient influence on Islam and on the Spanish Conquistadors: Through this lecture and other materials you’ll learn about the impact of Genesis, of Aristotle, the Stoics, Cicero and the Roman jurists on Islamic and Spanish conquests. [Gresham]
    7. After Iraq – Shall we ever intervene again?:This lecture examines the effect of British involvement in the Iraq War and the possibility of a repeat endeavor in the future. [Gresham]
    8. Great Britain and the Middle East: Professor Kathleen Burk gives this lecture that details the history of British interest in the Middle East from early excursions into Egypt to later attempts to influence the Fertile Crescent. [Gresham]
    9. Obama’s War: Why We Are Stuck in Iraq: Tom Ricks, Pentagon reporter for the Washington Post, gives his take on why America still can’t withdraw from Iraq. [Princeton]
    10. The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy: Here you’ll get a chance to hear a discussion between three scholars over the relationship between Israel and the United States and its affect on foreign policy for better or worse. [Princeton]
    11. Challenges for U.S. Foreign Policy in the Middle East: Most are familiar with Hillary Rodham Clinton and here you can hear her give a lecture on some of the obstacles and challenges for the U.S. when it comes to engaging with the Middle East. [Princeton]
    12. Islam and America: Islamic Scholars Respond: After 9/11, many Americans reacted harshly towards those of the Islamic faith. Here, you’ll be able to listen to an active discussion between Islamic scholars on Islamic thought, foreign relations, and interactions with the Middle East. [Harvard@Home]


    These courses do not focus on the Middle East specifically, but address it in addition to other areas of the world providing a well-rounded education on world events.

    1. American Foreign Policy: Past, Present, and Future: This course covers a broad spectrum of ideas, but many of the themes will address terrorism, war in Iraq, Saddam Hussein and other issues centered on the Middle East. [MIT]
    2. Civil War: Through this course students will be asked to examine the reasons why Civil Wars take place using case studies of Iraq, Bosnia and Sudan as examples. [MIT]
    3. Great Power Military Intervention: This course deals with the military interventions of great powers like the United States and Russia during the 1990’s, including operations in Northern Iraq. [MIT]
    4. Introduction to Comparative Politics: Why do some countries become democratic and others dictatorships? This course examines the governments of areas around the world to help students better understand how to analyze political situations. [MIT]
    5. Intelligence: Practice, Problems and Prospects: Explore the potential and problems that arise with technology-based intelligence, in the Middle East and beyond, through this course. [MIT]
    6. Reading Seminar in Social Science: Intelligence and National Security: With the errors made in intelligence that led to the current war in Iraq, getting reliable information is more important than ever. This course will fill you in on what this means for national security. [MIT]
    7. Communicating Across Cultures: Whether you’re working with someone in your own office or in a workplace halfway around the world, this course will help you learn cultural sensitivity and how to better interact with those from all over. [MIT]
    8. World Regions, Peoples and States: This survey course will give students a chance to learn about the larger geographic regions of the world, including the Middle East, and the people who choose to call them home. [UC Berkeley]
    9. Global Issues in Information Technology: Those in computer-related fields can gain a better understanding of how IT may be adapted and changed depending on the values and needs of where it is being utilized. [Weber State U]
    10. The World Since 1492: This world history course will give you a great survey of events since the discovery of the New World. [MIT]
    11. World Geography: THrough this course you can learn about geography the world over or just focus on learning about the Middle East. [William Rainey Harper College]


    These courses address a wide variety of topics that are related to the Middle East, both in ancient and modern times.

    1. Babylonian Mathematics: Go back the ancient MIddle East through this course that looks at the mathematics and learning of the ancient Babylonian empire, existing in what is present day Iraq. [OpenLearn]
    2. Geographical Presentation of the Near East: If you’re unsure just what countries comprise the Middle East, this course will help fill you in on the basics. [Connexions]
    3. Travelers in the Middle East: Here you can learn more about English and European visitors to the Middle East in the 18th and 19th centuries. [Connexions]
    4. Photography and Truth: Whether you see them on billboards on in the newspaper, photographs and other visual imagery form a large part of your everyday experience. This course examines the relationship between photography and truth, something viewers often take for granted when seeing news images. [MIT]
    5. Introduction to Spanish Culture: Many people are unaware that Spain was ruled by the Moors, a North African group of Arab and Islamic descent, for hundreds of years. This course will examine the impact of their rule, knowledge and eventual expulsion from Spain. [MIT]
    6. Israeli/Palestinian conflict through eyes of a young Israeli soldier: If you’re looking for a more personalized view of the Middle East, check out this informative lecture. You’ll get a chance to see what being on the front lines of the conflict between Israel and Palestine is really like. [BBC Learning]

    100 Useful Research Tools for Amateur Economists

    Jun 8th, 2009

    You don’t have to be a professional economist to do some really great research on the web. Whether you’re looking into historical trends, modern buying patterns or the latest stats on the global financial market you won’t find any shortage of information to keep you interested. Here are 100 great resources to utilize that can help you find, organize and understand your economic research.

    General Tools

    These tools offer some great general research material, help getting it all organized and some essential search capabilities.

    1. Internet Resources for Economists: This extensive list will direct you towards journals, economic research institutions, software and more that can be helpful in your search for information.
    2. American Economic Association: Here you’ll find a wealth of resources including journals, papers and links to members who may be able to help you in your research.
    3. Economics Interactive: This site gives some assistance in learning the basic terms and practices of economics and can be a good reference for more in-depth study.
    4. VoxEU: Check out this site to find news, debates over economic issues, resources and more.
    5. Zotero: Users of Firefox can take advantage of this tool that can make creating a bibliography and storing resources a snap.
    6. Google Scholar: This specialized search engine will troll through online resources like books and journals to help you find materials relevant to your interests.
    7. Making of America: This Cornell University resource offers a digital library of primary documents from antebellum period through reconstruction. It can be a great way to gain historical background and learn about economic points of view from the time period.
    8. The Independent Review: The Independent Institute aims to foster government reform and someof their work is centered on economic issues. You’ll find their research and additional articles here.
    9. The Economist: A popular read for many interested in finance or economics, this magazine offers a great collection of articles as well as a number of useful research tools for finding what you need.
    10. The Cato Journal: With research that supports individual liberties, free markets and peace, you’re bound to find something of interest in the publications of this institute.

    Academic Journals

    These journals will help you find authoritative and accurate information in the field and many contain articles from decades of publications.

    1. Journal of Economic Theory: This journal is maintained by New York University and Cornell University. Users can find recent issues available online.
    2. Journal of Political Economy: While the majority of the information on this site is available only to subscribers, articles from 1892-1922 are available for free, making for great historical research material.
    3. Quarterly Journal of Economics: This MIT published journal will keep you informed about all the goings on in Economics.
    4. Review of Economic Studies: Established in 1933, this economic journal is published by University College in London and can provide many free articles.
    5. Journal of Public Economics: This journal focuses on issues of public economics, encouraging scholarship that applies economic theory and quantitative analysis.
    6. Journal of Economic Literature: Published by the American Economic Association, this journal is a great free read for anyone looking into economics issues. To get full access, however, you’ll need to be a member of the AEA.
    7. Research Papers in Economics: With resources coming from 67 countries, this site will allow you to see the breadth of economic research and writing being done.
    8. Economic Issues: This journal is published twice a year, and their online site offers book reviews and article abstracts for all major material.
    9. E-Journal of Business and Economic Issues: The information in this online publication will allow you to better understand the intersection between business practices and the larger economic sphere.
    10. Econ Journal Watch: Here you’ll find a journal that not only publishes great scholarly article but encourages comments and debates about them as well so you’ll know if you’re reading something controversial or debatable.
    11. Economics : the Open-Access, Open-Assessment e-Journal: This open source journal offers free access to hundreds of articles and scholarly papers.
    12. Economics Bulletin: You can search through this publication to read articles old and new.
    13. The European Journal of Comparative Economics: Check out this online journal to read about issues specific to the field of comparative economics.
    14. Weekly Report: While published in Germany, this scholarly publication offers information in English as well.
    15. Open Economics Journal: This free access journal offers original research articles, reviews and short articles on economic policy and theory.

    Economic Databases

    These databases combine articles, books, and other resources into one easily accessible place.

    1. ECONIS: The German National Library of Economics offers this free online database searching through thousands of books, journals and resources.
    2. IDEAS: Here you’ll find a free bibliographic database on finance and economics.
    3. EconLit: Check out this site to find over 30 years of economic literature organized into one easily searchable database.
    4. ISI Journal Citation Reports: Unsure which journals are reliable and which might offer questionable information? This helpful resource can help you narrow it down and pick out the best information.
    5. ScienceDirect: Here you’ll find a large number of economics articles on a wide range of subject matter.
    6. Social Science Research Network: Search or browse through this site to find helpful information in the social sciences fields including finance and economics.
    7. American Institute for Economic Research: Some articles through this site are free while others will cost you to read. You’ll be able to find research reports, economic bulletins and research commentaries.
    8. Scirus: While the materials collected by this site are predominantly scientific, there are many economic articles and papers to be found as well. Simply enter your search and get started.
    9. Intute: Economics: This site is an excellent place to start looking for economics research material, with links to free resources in specialties like agricultural economics, fair trade, international economics and much more.

    Working Papers

    Stay on the cutting edge of research in economics by reading working papers from other scholars who are aiming to share ideas and get feedback.

    1. EconPapers: EconPapers not only offers almost 300,000 working papers but access to journal articles, books and software as well.
    2. Federal Trade Commission Working Papers: If your interest falls to the activities of the FTC, this site can be an indispensable resource.
    3. IMF Working Papers: Find out what researchers and economists at the International Monetary Fund have been working on through this searchable site.
    4. Bank of Canada Working Papers: Learn a little more about Canadian economic issues with these banking focused papers.
    5. Abstracts in Working Papers in Economics: On this site you can search through this Cambridge journal to see if there are any papers that might catch your interest.
    6. New Economic Papers: The State University of New York maintains this site that contains working papers under every topics from banking to energy economics.
    7. Econ WPA: Here you can find loads of working papers organized under the topics they cover.
    8. OCC Working Papers: Pay this site a visit to read working papers from the office of the Comptroller of Currency.

    Dictionary, Encyclopedias and Glossaries

    These helpful resources will give you all the basic information you could need about the field of economics, from simple definitions to lengthy biographies of famous economists.

    1. Accounting, Business and Economics Dictionary: Here you can find definitions for over 3,000 terms related to business and commerce subjects.
    2. Biz Ed Glossary, Diagram Bank and Acronym Finder: Check out this reference tool to find a large collection of definitions and diagrams, all related to economics or business.
    3. The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics: With biographies, lengthy articles and loads of information, this site is a great basic resource for any research in economics.
    4. Deardorff’s Glossary of International Economics: If you’re ever in need of a definition of a term about international economics this glossary is the first place you can look.
    5. Economicae: This illustrated encyclopedia of economics will give you definitions, bios of famous economists, mathematics of economics and much more.
    6. EH.net Encyclopedia of Economic and Business History: Pay this site a visit for high quality articles on everything from Aerospace to the World Trade Organization.
    7. Online Glossary of Research Economics: Here you’ll find terms that are specific to research economics and their definitions.
    8. Economics A-Z: The Economist provides this great research tool that will define numerous economics terms.
    9. AmosWEB Gloss-a-Rama: Search or browse through this site to find the definition of just about any business, finance or economic term.
    10. Encyclopedia of Law and Economics: This encyclopedia provides loads of information, centered on Europe, about both law and econ and the places they intersect.

    Financial Markets and Data

    Keep track of financial changes both past and present with these great tools.

    1. SIFMA: The Security Industries and Financial Markets Association maintains this blog with information on public and private financial info in the US, Europe and Asia.
    2. Global Financial Data: Pay a visit to this site to search through numerous historical and present day financial records.
    3. Financial Data Finder: This site contains a great search engine that will let you search through historical financial data, quotes, links and more.
    4. CRSP Data and Analysis: If you need a helping hand in finding and using Center for Research in Security Prices information, this site will be a great help. You’ll get links to data, help in making sense of it and a whole lot more.
    5. MeasuringWorth: Want to know how much that cheeseburger would have cost you back in 1950? This site provides a helpful guide full of historical data to compare price information over time.
    6. TickPlus Data: Check out this site to get all kinds of data covering the major European and US stock and futures exchanges.
    7. MarketWatch: Whether you want to track your own financial holdings or just get a handle on the larger market, this site can be a big help.
    8. CapitalIQ: This site can help you research individual stocks, equity funds and corporations.


    These news outlets will ensure you stay up-to-date on all the latest developments in the field.

    1. Bloomberg: Here you’ll find a great stream of information on economic news with additional reports on politics, markets, industries and more to keep you in the loop.
    2. Business Week: This publication will help you keep up with the business world, investing, and technology.
    3. CNNMoney: Get the biggest news out there with this CNN economic news site. You can focus in on topics like federal finance, markets, business and more.
    4. Financial Times: Visit this site to learn about the latest in global financial news.
    5. Forbes: For business and financial information around the world, this site can be a great resource.
    6. New York Times: This section of the NYT can help you keep up with the ever changing economic conditions and trends.
    7. STRATFOR: Working on a global scale, this site offers insights into politics, war and the economy.
    8. Wall Street Journal: Synonymous with the U.S. financial markets, this publication offers readers reports on the markets, advice and loads of articles and information.
    9. World News Connection: This government service can help keep you on top of what the big events are in other places around the world.
    10. Barron’s: Check out Barron’s for financial investment news.

    Helpful Blogs

    Check out these blogs for information, ideas that need further research or just an intelligent perspective from another economics enthusiast.

    1. EconLog: Maintained by the Library of Economics and Liberty, this blog offers thoughtful insights on economics issues from three different bloggers.
    2. Economics Roundtable: On this site you’ll not only get news stories but also a lively discussion of key economic issues.
    3. Macroblog: Check out this blog to learn more about macroeconomics, financial issues and the economic situation of the southern United States.
    4. The Sports Economist: If you love sports and economics why not combine the two? This blog does just that, offering sports news from an economic perspective. It may offer some new ways to think about your own research and writing.
    5. Voxbaby: Written by Andrew Samwick, a professor of economics at Dartmouth, this blog addresses economics, politics and a number of current events.
    6. Cafe Hayek: Bloggers Don Boudreaux and Russ Roberts share their opinions on current economic events on this blog.
    7. Carpe Diem: Professor of economics and finance Mark Perry uses his blog to comment on new stories and provide his own thoughts on a range of economic issues.
    8. Econbrowser: Visit this blog for news, links to helpful papers and more.
    9. RGE Monitor: Check out this site for up-to-the minute reports about economic and financial issues in all areas of the world.

    Stats and Numerical Data

    If you need raw data in your research, these sites can provide it in abundance, with records from the U.S. and around the world.

    1. American Factfinder: This online tool allows users to search through census information including the 1997 Economic Census. Users can then compile relevant information into tables, maps and downloadable files.
    2. City and County Data Book: Here researchers will find information on a smaller scale, focusing on individual communities at the city and county level.
    3. FEDSTATS: This gateway site offers statistics and data from over 100 U.S. federal agencies that can be helpful in research.
    4. BEARFACTS: The Bureau of Economic Analysis keeps records of personal income using current estimates, growth rates, and a breakdown of the sources of personal income.
    5. Economic Indicators.gov: Check out this site for the Economics and Statistics Administration’s releases of key economic indicators.
    6. FRASER: Also known as the Federal Reserve Archival System for Economic Research, contains scanned images of economic publications, documents and more.
    7. FRED II: The Federal Reserve Economic Data is stored on this site, archiving information on mortgage, treasury bills and prime rate, price indexes, and exchange rates.
    8. EUROSTAT: This site is home to publications and statistics from the EU, with data in economics, population, agriculture, trade, transportation, and the environment.
    9. Global Financial Database: Check out this site for historical data on security markets and macroeconomic indicators for over 150 countries.
    10. International Financial Statistics: Here you can find data from the International Monetary Fund including exchange and interest rates, balance of payments, national accounts, prices and other economic information.
    11. World Development Indicators: Find all kinds of economic indicators for 207 countries in the areas of population, labor, education, economics, and the environment.

    Reference Texts

    You don’t have to go offline to engage in some serious background reading for your research. These important philosophical and economic texts are available for free on the web and can make great reference material.

    1. Alfred Marshall, The Principles of Economics: Containing five of the six of Marshall’s chapters on economics this work covers everything from the fundamentals to more in-depth explorations of production and demand.
    2. Karl Marx, Economic and Philosophical Manuscripts of 1844: This work, not published until 1932, details Marx’s early theories on capital, private property, communism and labor.
    3. Thomas Hobbes, Leviathan: This work from 1651 addresses the structure of society and legitimate government, becoming one of the first and most influential works on social contract theory.
    4. Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, The Federalist Papers: Explore the writings of the founding fathers and their views on government, taxation and more.
    5. Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations: One of the most widely read works on economics and politics, this book is an essential reference for any scholar interested in economics, addressing the economic situation at the start of the Industrial Revolution.
    6. David Ricardo, The Principles of Political Economy and Taxation: An influential classical economist, Ricardo’s work is a great addition to resources for those looking into economic theory.
    7. John Stuart Mill, Utilitarianism: This work delves into the idea of Utilitarianism, more specifically aiming to create the greatest amount of happiness for the greatest amount of people.
    8. Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, The Communist Manifesto: You don’t have to agree with the politics in this book to understand its importance in economic and political history.
    9. Archive for the History of Economic Thought: Here you’ll find a huge archive with links to texts and information on some of the greatest thinkers in economic history.
    10. Economics Book Catalog: This catalog provides information on over 6000 economics publications, some free and some you can check out at your local library.