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Employer Advice Most Valued, Least Used in Choosing College Major

Education Research

Employer Advice Most Valued, Least Used in Choosing College Major


Advice about what to study in college comes from four primary sources, according to new survey results:

  • “Formal” sources, such as high school and college counselors and print and internet media;
  • The “informal” social network, including family, friends and community leaders;
  • The “informal” school network, counting non-advisor staff and coaches; and
  • “Informal” work-based sources involving employers, coworkers and people with experience in the field.

Most recent graduates or current college students (56 percent) get their guidance from the members of their informal social networks — those family members and friends, compared to 21 percent for those informal work-based sources. Yet, when it comes to choosing a field of study, the best advice comes from the work-based sources. Eighty-three percent of people said that input was more useful than any other kind of guidance, ahead of those informal social networks by 12 percentage points.

While previous studies have examined the long-term impacts of college choice and majors on career opportunities and economic mobility, less understood is how students decide what to study. That was the purpose of “Major Influence: Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College,” the survey undertaken by Strada Education Network and Gallup. The two organizations are performing a series of short surveys as part of its “Education Consumer Pulse,” in order to gain insights about postsecondary education. The latest survey asked two open-ended questions:

  • From what resources or people did you get advice about the major or field you were going to study during your degree program?
  • How helpful was the advice you received from each source?

The researchers analyzed responses from 22,087 U.S. adults aged 18 to 65 who attended two-year and four-year colleges, including those who didn’t achieve their degree. “Recent” students are those who attended between 2010 and 2017.

The most helpful sources for advice varied depending on the highest level of education earned by the respondent. For example, respondents with an associate’s degree listed their most helpful sources as community leaders (92 percent), high school coaches (89 percent) and employers/coworkers, high school teachers and those with experience in the field (85 percent). For those with bachelor’s degrees, the choices were people in the field (85 percent), community leaders (83 percent) and military (81 percent).

Getting advice about college majors: the source and the usefulness (Source: Strada Education Network and Gallup’s “Major Influence: Where Students Get Valued Advice on What to Study in College“)

Compared with all other sources of advice, those who said they consulted work-based sources for insights about a field of study were less likely to have second thoughts about their ultimate choice of major (31 percent) than those relying on formal help (40 percent).

The report that resulted from the survey noted the “disconnect” that existed between the sources students go to most often for advice on what to study and the value of the advice they received. Why, researchers asked, was the most valued sources of help the least used?

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Prospective students: ideas and advice to help you on your journey …

As we celebrate our country’s 150th “birthday,” this edition of The Globe and Mail’s annual Canadian University Report offers a look at how universities have changed from their early versions, where students were mostly white men from wealthier urban families, school costs were about $160 annually, and you called your professor “Sir.”

While looking back is important, the main focus in this magazine is definitely on the present – and the future. Today, we have universities across Canada with students from a myriad of backgrounds and from countries around the world. Though paying for postsecondary education is still a serious issue for many, we present a variety of ways to cover costs, including loans and RESPs. We also look at the issue of decorum and debate, which has become more complicated in our casual electronic age.

It’s worth remembering that 150 years ago, women and people of colour were scarce at universities, and there were likely no Indigenous students. While we have made progress on those fronts in higher education, considerable challenges remain. In this report, we look at those vital issues, and also what energized and innovative students and faculty across this land are doing to address them.

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As always, we strive to provide prospective undergraduates with advice from professionals, as well as from students who have been there, to help them navigate and thrive in university – from mental health and adequate sleep to academic aid, extracurriculars and athletic scholarships.

What hasn’t changed in the past 150 years is the need to make a good decision about which university to attend and how to determine which school is right for you. We hope our profiles of more than 70 universities across the country, including religious and French-language schools, will help prospective students and their parents narrow down their choices. This is the fifth edition of our popular profiles, compiled by Anya Zoledziowski.

I’d also like to thank Assignment Editor Christina Varga for her tireless efforts in helping to present what we hope is an invaluable guide to help you decide your future.

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Preparing Students for Tomorrow’s Jobs: 10 Experts Offer Advice to Educators

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Automation and artificial intelligence are reshaping the economy. That much is clear.

But many of the country’s top minds are sharply divided over just how disruptive technology’s impact will be, and just what kind of job market today’s students will eventually face.

To help K-12 educators and policymakers make sense of the debate, Education Week talked with leading experts in the fields of artificial intelligence, computer science, economics, education, and history.

We asked each a common question:

How can K-12 schools prepare for the uncertain future of work?

Here’s what they said:

Hadi Partovi | Founder,

Don’t get him wrong, says Partovi, whose organization is leading a massive push to bring computer-science education to every U.S. school. Understanding fractions will always be important.

But if schools want to prepare students for jobs that aren’t going to be automated, he says, they need to shift their emphasis away from rote practice, and towards conceptual understanding of both content and problem-solving processes.

“In the real world, we don’t calculate by hand any more,” Partovi said. “We should teach something like long division by teaching that it’s actually an algorithm, and then encouraging students to think about what they can use that algorithm for.”

Paul Osterman | Economist, MIT

For a 2016 study, Osterman talked with manufacturing employers across the country. Overwhelmingly, they wanted workers with the ability to read an instructional manual, do community-college level algebra, and get along well with co-workers.

As a result, said Osterman, who used to run workforce-training programs for the state of Massachusetts, it’s misguided to think today’s students will be unemployable if they aren’t all advanced computer programmers.

“Focus on basic skills,” he advised.

Ansley Erickson | History and Education Professor, Teacher’s College, Columbia University

When arguing the future of work will turn out fine, technologists and economists often point to education’s role in easing past upheavals in the U.S. economy. The switch from agriculture to industry, for example, was smoothed by the expansion of high school, the argument goes.

But Erickson says history’s lessons aren’t quite so neat. For one, she says, high schools at the turn of the 20th century weren’t really organized to teach kids the skills they needed for the factory floor—future managers and secretaries actually benefitted most. And the new educational opportunities were also unequally distributed—African-American sharecroppers, for example, often weren’t granted access to the industrial economy until its decline had already begun.

“This is a new version of an old question,” Erickson said, “and the answer always leaves out some workers.”

Michael Chui | Partner, McKinsey Global Institute

Chui says not to believe anyone claiming they can accurately predict what jobs will still be around, or what precise skills students will need, in 15 years.

Instead, he said, schools should focus on two likely realities: The world is going to be inundated with data. And as a result, most occupations will continually evolve in unpredictable ways.

“Knowing how to ask provocative questions, use data to make decisions, and evaluate imperfect information will be increasingly valuable,” he said. “And going forward, learning can’t be something you do only in the first couple decades of your life.”

Stephen Wolfram | Computer scientist and founder, Wolfram Research

Increasingly, Wolfram says, we live in a world of networks and data and computing tools that give once-unthinkable powers to even young children.

As a result, he believes, the most valuable traits moving forward will involve the curiosity to ask big questions, the drive to understand those questions deeply, and the knowledge about how to translate ideas into code.

“Computational thinking is the new liberal arts,” Wolfram said. “It’s lovely when kids realize that they’re using general knowledge they’ve learned elsewhere and turning it into something that can be said to a computer.”

Laura Arnold | Associate commissioner, Kentucky Department of Education

In helping turn Kentucky into a national leader in career-and-technical education, Arnold has used data about local labor-market trends to guide decisions about what workforce-development programs schools should offer.

But it’s hard work: Employers tend to be focused on their immediate needs. Schools have a hard time developing courses around medium-term opportunities, like robot maintenance. And the long term is just so uncertain.

“We don’t have reliable data on jobs 20 years out,” Arnold said. “The best we can do is create strong career pathways and hope they evolve.”

James Paul Gee | Literacy studies professor, Arizona State University

From poverty to climate change to the rise of fake news, the world is in real danger, Gee believes.

But rather than trust students to use technology to address such challenges, he sees schools buying textbooks and focusing on preparation for jobs that soon may not exist.

“Schools need to focus on developing morally good people who can deal with complexity and collaborate with others to make things better,” Gee said. “That’s certainly better than saying, ‘Let’s prepare Johnny to program AI [artificial intelligence],’ when that AI will turn around and program Johnny right out of a job.”

Tess Posner | Executive director, AI4All

Posner doesn’t foresee a robot apocalypse. But the former head of President Barack Obama’s TechHire initiative does believe artificial intelligence will reshape just about everyone’s daily life.

That’s why it’s so important that schools help expand the universe of people building, researching, and making policy around AI, she says. And her new nonprofit believes the best way to make that happen is by moving computer-science education beyond discussions of technology and programming techniques.

“Focus on applying artificial intelligence to human and social problems,” Posner advised. “When you teach kids to program robots that mimic self-driving cars, ask what the impact could be for an aging population.”

Osonde Osoba | Engineer and researcher, RAND Corp.

Artificial intelligence isn’t just changing work. It’s being used to automate important governmental and policy decisions, control the flow of information we receive, and reshape how we buy and consume products and services.

As a result, Osoba said, it’s more important than ever that schools not lose sight of a basic truth: Public education has always been about creating good citizens, not just training new workers.

“As AI is more widely deployed, students need the ability to think critically about how decisions are made,” he said. “That means understanding statistics, mathematics, and algorithms.”

Martin Ford | Author, Rise of the Robots

Ford sees three realities, all of which will likely appear bleak to educators.

Schools right now are preparing students for the jobs that are most vulnerable to automation, he says. Structural problems in the labor market mean that even if every kid could get a top-notch education, there still might not be enough jobs to go around. And no amount of investment in schools or job training will be enough to overcome the challenge, he believes.

“A big disruption is coming for society as a whole,” Ford said. “and it may be that we can’t educate our way out of it.”

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Pink Ribbon Tea provides education, raises awareness of breast cancer

“We are not just survivors, we are thrivers,” declared Irene Hawley on Thursday afternoon while delivering the welcome message for the eighth annual Pink Ribbon Tea at St. Paul Lutheran Church.

She is a past president of the Pink Ribbonettes, an Aiken-based volunteer group that provides support to breast cancer patients, their families and their caregivers.

The Pink Ribbonettes also organize the Pink Ribbon Tea.

In general, Pink Ribbonettes members are breast cancer survivors.

Hawley, 72, received her cancer diagnosis when she was 54 and living in Michigan.

“My cancer was found, with a mammogram, in my right breast,” Hawley said. “I had no idea it was there, and it was already Stage 3. I had a modified radical mastectomy, I had chemotherapy and I had radiation.”

At first, Hawley was devastated.

“It was like you think there is no future because you’ve heard so much about cancer,” she said. “One of my first thoughts was, ‘What about my husband?’ His first wife had died of breast cancer, and I was worried because he was going to have to go through it all again.

“But he turned out to be really good,” Hawley continued. “He said, ‘Everything is different now. All the treatments have improved. You’re going to be okay.’ ”

Those soothing words comforted Hawley, and as it turned out, her husband was right.

Later, when Hawley, who is an Aiken native, returned to South Carolina to live, she underwent reconstructive surgery.

“I was very glad I did that,” Hawley said.

In 2010, she had another scare involving thyroid cancer.

“They took out my thyroid and the cancer was in the left lobe, but it was encapsulated,” Hawley said. “I only had to do one radiation treatment, and I’ve been fine since then.”

Her advice to other people who find themselves in a battle with cancer is don’t panic and don’t try to face it alone.

“Take it one day at a time,” Hawley said. “Depend on your faith, God, your family, your friends and your doctors. Do what the doctors say.”

Hawley has been a Pink Ribbonettes member for around 10 years.

“I love this group,” she said. “These ladies are so encouraging.”

HarborChase of Aiken was the sponsor of the Pink Ribbon Tea and provided the refreshments, which included sandwiches, cookies, fruit and, of course, tea.

Dr. Jeremy Wells, who specializes in oncology and hematology, and Aiken Technical College Nursing Instructor Jill Hartzog spoke.

Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon presented a proclamation from himself and Aiken City Council declaring October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month in Aiken and Oct. 19 as Pink Ribbon Tea Day.

Students in Aiken Tech’s Licensed Practical Nurse Program offered Pink Ribbon Tea attendees the opportunity to get their cholesterol levels checked, and students in the school’s Associate Degree Nurse Program set up various displays about breast cancer that provided information about risk factors, therapies and other topics.

Using pieces of paper that were on their tables, Pink Ribbon Tea participants could write down the names of people who had died of breast cancer and those who are currently fighting the disease that they wanted to recognize, and emcee Sue Stutman-King read them aloud near the end of the program.

“This is mainly an educational event for Breast Cancer Awareness Month,” said Pink Ribbonettes President Joan Jarcik of the Pink Ribbon Tea. “We want to get the word out there about breast cancer and remind women to get their mammograms. Anybody from the community can come. Most of the people here, who aren’t survivors, have relatives or know someone else who has breast cancer.”

Dee Bettencourt was at the Pink Ribbon Tea with her sister, Sandy Ludwig, who is a breast cancer survivor.

“Our mother had breast cancer, too, so it’s something that is kind of close to my heart,” Bettencourt said. “First my mother and then my sister. I keep waiting on my turn, hoping that it never comes.”

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Daniel Ruth: Advice for sniping school board members — Grow up or go away

There are certain jobs in elective office that carry with them a slightly higher expectation when it comes to how one behaves in public.

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For example, it probably wouldn’t be a good thing if we were to learn Hillsborough State Attorney Andrew Warren was a serial traffic scofflaw with a slew of overdue library books, to boot.

The same holds true for members of the Hillsborough County School Board. We ought to have a reasonable belief those charged with overseeing the welfare of the community’s children are serious, sober-minded, thoughtful stewards of the classroom.

Too naive? Apparently so.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Hillsborough school board rift is on display at training event

A few days ago Pinellas and Hillsborough County school board members gathered together in what was supposed to be a training session sponsored by the Florida School Board Association to learn how to be more respectful of one another.

And yes, you’re right. Obviously no good was going to come of this.

Instead, what was supposed to be a meeting of presumed adults charged with the responsibility of setting a positive image for children soon descended into a profane exercise in sniping between Hillsborough School Board members April Griffin and Tamara Shamburger.

The Bickersons of the school board went after each other with Shamburger accusing Griffin of disrespecting newer members. Griffin then responded by claiming she has “completely withdrawn” from engaging in conflict with her colleagues, to which Shamburger buried her face in her hands before walking out of the session, which was supposed to be about cultivating respect.

It seems Shamburger, when she wasn’t storming in and out of the room, was ticked off at Griffin for supporting Joe Robinson in the 2016 school board election. And since she had joined the board, Shamburger said, Griffin has treated her like a steaming pile of — well, you get the idea.

For her part, Griffin accused Shamburger of somehow blaming her for the lack of academic success among black students.

But this wasn’t all simply a tiff between Griffin and Shamburger. Later in the day, another board member, Cindy Stuart, essentially said colleague Susan Valdes scares the living bejabbers out of her because Valdes seems to have more anger management issues than Jack Nicholson in The Shining.

“We need to feel safe to approach you,” Stuart said of Valdes.

Valdes suggested Stuart was merely confusing her passion for education with being perpetually honked off.

It is probably not a good thing in any work environment when an employee feels they need a bodyguard during meetings because they are apprehensive their unhinged office-mate may bite the head off a bat at any minute.

And these folks have the future of the community’s children in their clenched-fist hands?

First of all, Shamburger needs to get over Griffin’s support of her election opponent. It is part of political life that there are winners and losers. But once the votes are counted the victor especially needs to learn to work with those who may have backed the other horse.

And is certainly true Griffin can be a bit of an acquired taste on this school board. Shamburger won. Get over it.

As well, can we all agree no one board member is responsible for the overall academic performance of any cohort of students? If black students are struggling, blame the entire board.

More vexing though is the idea that any school board member actually fears the potential of Susan Valdes casting stink eyes in their general direction. Good grief, this is the Hillsborough County School Board. It’s not the Reservoir Dogs of public education.

While no one would ever confuse the Hillsborough County Commission or the Tampa City Council with bastions of apolitical comity, these folks are pillars of decorum and intellectual discourse compared to their petty, feuding brethren on the Hillsborough County School Board.

Two simple words for those who are supposed to be guiding our students through the challenges of public education — grow up.

Or find a less taxing job that doesn’t involve being role models for children.

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Building Community Through a Syllabus

I am currently one of the few openly trans* tenure-track professors in my field of higher education and student affairs, and I recently published a book, Trans* in College: Transgender Students’ Strategies for Navigating Campus Life and the Institutional Politics of Inclusion. My visibility and expertise on trans* issues in higher education has brought about frequent questions from other people that often feel like a never-ending loop:

“How can I show love to the trans* community?”

“What should I read to learn about trans* people?”

“Can you give me resources about trans* people so I can learn more?”

At best, these questions are extremely naïve. Clearly, trans* people have been present throughout postsecondary education for decades. For example, trans* archivist and activist Reina Gossett found photos of Sylvia Rivera and Marsha “Pay It No Mind” Johnson — two trans* women of color — involved in a 1970 protest on behalf of gay students’ rights at New York University. And if trans* people have been in and around postsecondary education, one can bet we have been telling our stories for just as long, too.

At worst, however, the above questions serve as manifestations of the ongoing trans* oppression present throughout American society. What I mean is that the continued ignorance of trans* people, communities and knowledges underscores the ways in which cisgender (i.e., nontrans*) people do not (have to) think about gender due to their gender-based privilege.

Exposing Epistemological Trans* Oppression in Higher Education

Several educational scholars have discussed how epistemology, or the theory of knowledge, is itself steeped in systemic racism. Specifically, work by Lori D. Patton and James Joseph Scheurich and Michelle D. Young points out how this occurs, referring to the phenomenon as “epistemological racism.”

Building on their work, I have termed the continuing erasure of trans* knowledges in higher education epistemological trans* oppression. The very asking of what one should read to learn about trans* people underscores the ongoing presence of a world in which the questioner does not feel the need to previously have known about trans* people. Such awareness is a nice add-on, but otherwise not considered central or primary in academe.

In addition, when cisgender people ask these questions, it puts trans* people in a difficult position. We must be willing to have our labor and time continually exploited by (presumably well-meaning) cisgender people or risk being positioned as the “angry trans* person” when we say we will not do work that cisgender people should rightly do.

For many of us, this choice is far from an easy one, as we are in precarious positions of education and/or employment. Indeed, the pull to be seen as “nice” and “helpful,” particularly through the rhetoric of being “collegial” or “professional,” is felt by many of us, including: trans* students who need recommendations for jobs and/or advanced studies, early-career trans* academics seeking tenure-stream positions, and trans* staff who have to worry about performance evaluations as a part of the increasing audit culture in higher education.

It is against this backdrop that I recently decided to curate the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus. I felt inspired by the recent practice of marginalized people creating publicly accessible social justice-oriented syllabi, such as the #CharlestonSyllabus, #FergusonSyllabus and #PulseOrlandoSyllabus, among others. So I decided to construct a similar syllabus geared toward promoting the continuing work that is being done regarding trans* populations in higher education.

One goal of the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus was to show how trans* people have always been a part of higher education and how, as a result, we have always been pushing for more gender-expansive environments and futures. Another goal was to provide an educational tool for cisgender people about trans* people. Thus, the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus acts as a public response to the questions that I mentioned at the outset of this essay. In so doing, I was hoping my/our collective labor — detailed through the syllabus — would save me/us from having to confront these questions time and again. The syllabus continues to grow (email me at to add new materials), and is an important resource for faculty members, students and staff members to use in their work.

However, to say the syllabus was purely a response to the oppressive illogics that frame the daily world in which trans* and gender-nonconforming people like myself exist is to miss the fuller picture. Yes, I made the decision to invest time, energy and labor into a project that would require continual upkeep as a way to spare my trans* kin and myself significant time and labor in the future. However, I also made the decision to curate the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus as a way to be with and among my trans* kin and our accomplices. (You can follow the Twitter thread here.) For me, it was a return to my roots as a trans* person — and a way that I have continually reminded myself of the sheer brilliance that has provided me the space, time and thinking to be who I am today as a trans* femme in the academy.

Finding Community Through Trans* Scholars(hip)

As I have written about in both a book chapter about my doctoral studies and my book, Trans* in College, I first came to enter my trans* community through reading trans* scholars(hip). I was living in Arizona at a time when being a member of any marginalized community felt increasingly dangerous, and I was working in a job — advising fraternity and sorority students — in which I felt trapped. Each day that I got dressed for work, I felt extreme dysphoria and would count down the hours and minutes until I could get back to my studio apartment and explore my gender further. Much of this exploration occurred through devouring trans* literature, especially Julia Serano’s Whipping Girl, various essays by Dean Spade, Dylan Scholinski’s The Last Time I Wore a Dress and Susan Stryker’s Transgender History.

Drafting the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus was, for me, a return to my own beginnings of entering a trans* community. The more time I spent piecing together the recent explosion of trans* scholarship in higher education and student affairs, the more I felt alive and whole. The more I stitched together a set of readings, artists, activists, organizations, films and video clips that are largely — though not exclusively — created by queer and trans* people, the more I was reminded of the absolutely stunning community to which I have the privilege to belong. My mind traveled back to my small patio outside of my studio apartment in Tucson, where I would spend my evenings smoking, reading and coming into my own trans* awakening as the desert sun set behind the mountains.

I have been completely astounded at how far the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus has already traveled. I am indebted to the trans* women of color who fought — and continue to fight — for my existence as a trans* femme to be possible. I am also deeply grateful for a small group of queer, trans* and accomplice kin who conspired with me in the making of the syllabus, notably Jana Clark, T. J. Jourian, D-L Stewart and Katherine Wheatle.

And really, more than counteracting ongoing daily trans* oppression, my curating the #TransingHigherEdSyllabus has — and will continue to be — about inviting trans,* queer and accomplice scholars into a vibrant, vital and deeply moving community, one that, many years ago, helped me get on the path to finding myself. Perhaps the syllabus can even do the same for other people, be they in or beyond the academy.

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Official Department of Education and Skills Schools and Severe Weather guidance for school management as follows:

Be prepared Be informed Be vigilant


Schools should conduct a pre-event evaluation of what should be, or could be, in place to ensure the opening of the school in the event of severe weather. Areas for consideration are maintenance of school premises and utilities, salting and gritting and transport to and from school.

Access in the school to a battery operated radio and flashlights should be put in place. Schools should ensure that every member of staff is clear as to their role and responsibilities during severe weather including in the event of a school closure. A member of staff should be assigned to monitor weather conditions and to contact the principal response agencies and
school transport services where required.

Included in the school’s plan for severe weather should be the proposed responses and roles
which will apply in the event of a Red level weather warning from Met Éireann.

Schools should ensure to have the relevant contact details of the principal response agencies for their area, including An Garda Síochána, fire brigade and local authorities and other appropriate services. Schools should also have contact details for the transport services serving their school.

These details should be checked regularly and kept up-to-date.

Schools should establish communications with neighbouring schools to ensure, as far as practicable, a unified local response to severe weather events may be implemented. It is noted however that while schools in an area may try to co-ordinate their decisions, the circumstances can vary between individual schools in close proximity and may on occasions lead to different
decisions being taken by schools.

Most schools use a text messaging service to communicate with parents and staff. Local radio, the school’s website or social media may also be useful to alert parents and students to school conditions and closure should this arise.

State Examinations
In the event of severe weather during scheduled state examinations the State Examinations Commission will communicate with schools to put in place alternative arrangements.

Status Red Weather Warning
All weather warnings of Status Red will require some action on behalf of schools. Schools need to assess the potential impact of such weather events taking account of past experiences and in light of advice on the current event from the principal response agencies in their area. 

A Status Red weather warning for heavy rain may be particularly relevant if the local area is prone to flooding. A Status Red warning related to ice or snow which may compact may cause local issues due to the location of the school and/or the routes taken to reach the school.

Status Red Weather Warning for Wind
Schools should note in particular Status Red weather warnings where strong winds or storm conditions are forecasted. Due to the high degree of unpredictability as to the impact of the weather associated with such a Status Red warning on local conditions schools should use the following guidance to assist them in making their assessment.

Status Red weather warning for wind related conditions may be given in advance of a school opening or it may arise during the day while a school is underway.

Advance Warning of Status Red
Following consultation at a national level with the Office of Emergency Planning and the management bodies for schools, the Department of Education and Skills’ advice to schools is that they should consider not opening where a Status Red weather warning related to wind is forecast to coincide with the period/s during which students and staff would be expected to be
travelling to and from school.

Whether the school should open later in the day where an improvement to the weather is forecast is a decision which should be taken in consultation with An Garda Síochána, the local  authorities, school transport services and other appropriate agencies based in the school’s area. 

Warning of Status Red that arises during the school day

Where the Status Red weather warning related to wind is issued when the school is already underway with students and staff present, the school management should immediately contact An Garda Síochána, the school transport services and other appropriate agencies for advice on whether it may be safe to undertake journeys from the school or when such journeys should  commence. Consideration should also be taken as to the safety of parents undertaking journeys
to the school to collect children.

Where a decision may have to be taken on health and safety grounds based on the advice available to the school for students and staff to remain on the school premises during a Status Red warning related to wind, then schools should plan for such an eventuality by considering how students and staff can be accommodated within the school while awaiting an improvement
in the weather. Such decisions should be taken based on the health and safety of all concerned taking account of the prevailing and forecast weather conditions in the vicinity of the school.

Guidance for the maintenance of school buildings and utilities is available from the Department of Education and Skills at

Guidance for primary schools on health and safety is available at

Guidance for post-primary schools on health and safety is available at

Information on weather and weather warnings is available

Useful guidelines on weather and being winter ready available at

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Will new education standards quantify experience?

Education (5)300

There are lingering questions about how the new education and professional standards for financial advisers will quantify the experience accumulated by a financial adviser who has been practicing for decades, according to the Association of Financial Advisers (AFA).

National president, Marc Bineham told a media briefing the industry required clarity on what would happen to those advisers who began their career decades ago when diplomas and degrees in financial advice and planning did not exist.

Speaking at the 2017 AFA National Adviser Conference at the Gold Coast last week about the AFA’s whitepaper on the financial advice competency framework, Bineham said he did not question the need for advisers to raise their minimum education requirements.

“For someone who is a 40-year adviser and who’s got all that experience and part of our whitepaper is how do we quantify that experience?” he asked.

“Yes you should have so much technical but then someone who’s just walked out of university to someone who’s been seeing people and built relationships for 40 years, you’ve got to be able to quantify that because it is appreciated by consumers.”

Bineham added that while the Future of Financial Advice (FOFA) reforms addressed investment advice and the incoming Life Insurance Framework (LIF) addressed life insurance advice, raising educational requirements for advisers was the final element of the package to raise consumer trust in advice.

“There is still a negative perception about what we do and we need to raise everyday Australians’ trust of our industry and as a profession and this is part of that,” he said.

“I think that package to help raise, we can go out and sort of say that we are raising that trust, and now education is the last piece of the puzzle that we need to help increase the trust factor with everyday Australians.”

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Rotherham: Matt Damon Seems Blissfully Ignorant of Many Things. So Why Should We Listen to Him on Schools?

Why would you take school advice from Matt Damon?

The Oscar winner is coming back to the education world. It’s a part he’s played before: outraged defender of public schools. This time, Damon narrates an anti-school choice documentary, Backpack Full of Cash, that was supported with teachers union cash, among other funding. Reasonable people can disagree about choice policies, so go see it, don’t go see it, whatever.

But when it comes to the film’s celebrity narrator, you might want to ask yourself: Why would you take education advice from this man?

As a refresher, we last saw Damon on the education scene when he was complaining that there was not a single traditional public school or public charter school in all of Los Angeles that was progressive enough for his kids, so they’d have to go private. This was obviously nonsense, and the Los Angeles Schools superintendent was quick to offer to personally show Damon some of the available options.

I don’t begrudge someone in Damon’s high-profile position wanting private school, if for no other reasons than security and privacy. The question was whether others should have that choice, given his emergence as an anti-reform folk hero. Here at The 74, Chris Stewart pointed out that the issue wasn’t so much hypocrisy as Damon’s weaponizing of his own ideology to hold others back. In any event, the entire episode was strikingly disingenuous — and more than a little disappointing for those of us who naively hoped the actor was at least a little bit like his character in Good Will Hunting.


Matt Damon Chose Private School for His Kids. Great. But Why Is He Making a Film About Denying School Choice to Poor Families?

Now, in some bad timing for the education documentary, Damon is back in the news because of his close relationship with disgraced movie producer Harvey Weinstein. Damon was accused of pressuring The New York Times to kill an unfavorable story about Weinstein or his enablers in 2004. Damon denied trying to kill that story about sexual misconduct, and the facts seem to support his version of events. But in the process of distancing himself from the toxic Weinstein, Damon pleaded ignorance about the entire Weinstein pattern of behavior last week with the lawyerly (read weasely) claim that had he seen any “predation,” he would have stopped it.

Here we go again. As we’re learning, many in the industry — and, as it turns out, in Damon’s orbit — knew about Weinstein’s behavior. You didn’t have to actually see it to know it was going on. Damon’s protestations that he just wouldn’t stand for this sort of thing grew even hollower when one of his closest friends, Ben Affleck, admitted to the same sort of behavior a few days later. And, of course, there are the persistent accusations that Damon pressured media outlets to go easy on harassment claims against his old friend Casey Affleck during his Oscar campaign this year — for a film Damon produced. Damon was also featured on a mock poster flattering a friendly media outlet in what’s said to be an effort to manipulate the press in Weinstein’s favor.

So, sure, maybe Damon is genuinely ignorant of the bad behavior all around him. Or perhaps the Oscar winner (and five-time nominee) is simply not wise to the ways of Hollywood. But as more and more (and more) reports emerge charging that Weinstein engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment that was one of Hollywood’s open secrets, Damon seems like one of the few to be caught by surprise.

In other words, his protestations of ignorance seem as disingenuous as his claim that his family, with their exceptional means, had no possible alternative to private school. Still, let’s give Damon the benefit of the doubt and assume he was the one person in the film business who didn’t know what Weinstein was up to. I’m surely not going to take my educational cues, let alone parenting advice, from someone that unaware of what’s happening all around him.

You might want to think twice, too.

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The necessities: advice on what students can’t do without

First-year university students can be broadsided by many things when they first set foot on campus, including the not-inconsiderable costs of the bare necessities needed to get the most out of their postsecondary studies.

Here, two members of faculty and two current students discuss how they would tackle assembling some of the essentials within the limits of a student budget.

Darran Fernandez

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Associate registrar and director of the student support and advising unit at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver

There are a lot of startup costs. A laptop doesn’t need to be purchased every year but typically we advise students the first-year budget needs to be a bit higher.

If you’re moving into residence for the first time, you’ve sometimes got to factor in things such as a new set of sheets and there’s a bit of thought that needs to be put into that at the outset.

Relative to each program, textbooks can prove expensive, too. Bookstores have become more innovative in doing book rentals now, as opposed to students purchasing outright, which costs less.

When it comes to transport, at most institutions your student card doubles as a bus pass that’s local to the transit in that city. So at UBC, in Vancouver and the Okanagan, students have access to travel all across the lower mainland just by using their university pass.

Farah Talaat

Studying equity studies at the University of Toronto

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I have found it is impossible to be at university, at least at U of T, without a laptop. If you don’t have a laptop or a phone where you can access the Internet properly and quickly, you will be behind in your studies and it’s so hard to catch up.

The WiFi is obviously just in the buildings but you might need a data plan when you’re walking because the U of T campus is huge. Definitely you need some kind of data plan that will allow you to use Google maps at least for the first two years to find your way around because you have classes in different buildings all the time.

I found that I couldn’t rent most of the textbooks and I couldn’t get them used either, so I had to buy new copies.

If you can rent it, though, be sure to set a reminder on your phone for the deadline because if you miss it, you will pay a late fee.

You can buy most of the books on Amazon for cheaper and Amazon Prime does six months free shipping for students.

Gina Robinson

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Director, student success centre at McMaster University in Hamilton

One of the things we try to stress is ‘You’re a student living on borrowed money – act like it.’ There are a lot of things that end up as wants and not necessarily needs.

Textbooks: The big thing with first-year students is they should wait to buy textbooks. Don’t go off and buy books all at once. Our message is to look at your options. If you need textbooks, get used ones. Usually the library will have one copy of every single textbook and you can just go in there and borrow or consult it.

Also, look to see if books are recommended versus those that are required, because you don’t need to buy the recommended books. Wait until mid-September, wait until after a couple of weeks of class to figure out exactly where you’re going to invest in your books.

Meal plans: I tell students not to go out and buy the most expensive meal plan on campus. Buy the cheapest that you have to because once you buy a meal plan, you can’t get the money back, but you can always add money later.

Car: You really don’t need a car and cars and parking are super expensive. So what we tell students is you’ve got a bus pass, it’s included in your fees (for most universities), so take the bus. And try not to make Uber your best friend unless you absolutely have to.

Dental and health insurance: A lot of students are covered under their parents’ plan and they can opt out of the insurance offered by the educational institution and that can save them some money.

Shifrah Gadamsetti

Third-year student at Mount Royal University in Calgary and chair of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations

I think a lot of times students are pressured by their social environments to purchase the newest model of tools such as a laptop or a phone, because that’s what everybody else has.

You don’t necessarily have to choose the newest model. An older model is a more affordable choice for a student and it’s still functional and practical.

In back-to-school season, in August or September, watch for sales on technology products. For instance, Apple offers those who purchase their Macbook the entire Microsoft Office suite of software for a very affordable price with a student ID.

Just always be aware that there are a lot of companies targeting you and they want you to spend money.

Another important point is resource sharing and I don’t think we do enough of that because of this emphasis on consumerism. So you can go online and find potential educational resources for free.

So you have everything from YouTube videos, the National Film Board, online tutorials – things that can help your learning.

Responses have been edited and condensed.

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