Avoid Identity Theft Scams with 5 Steps

written by Georgia Schumacher 30 January 2012

These days, it's easier than ever to acquire information. This can be a great thing—after all, you can now attend school online, when it would’ve been impossible not too long ago. The downside, however, is that it’s easier than ever for your personal information to be stolen. If you want to avoid scam artists and protect yourself, you may find it useful to follows the tips listed below.

    Computer Lab
  • Invest in a Paper Shredder. If you’re like many Americans, you probably receive new credit card offers on a regular basis. Avoid the temptation to simply toss these in the trash; it’s much safer to put all unwanted documents containing your personal information through a paper shredder. These can be acquired rather inexpensively, and are well worth it in the long run.
  • Use Complex Passwords for Personal Accounts. Sure, you may think that typing 12345 as your password is the path of least resistance—and certainly easier for you to remember down the road—but it’s also easier for scam artists to ascertain. It’s best to choose a more complex password that includes letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Monitor Your Credit. You can receive a copy of your credit report free on an annual basis from the three credit bureaus. Also, if you want to take a look at it on a more regular basis, free websites like CreditKarma.com can be a big help.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Belongings. Crimes of opportunity occur when you leave your purse or wallet unattended. They contain valuable information about you that can be like liquid gold to a scam artist, so make sure, particularly when you’re out and about, that your personal belongings are in your field of vision at all times.
  • Keep Your Personal Information Personal. Don’t give out passwords or other secure information to people you don’t know. This may seem obvious, but it’s easier to do than you think. Some scams work by sending you an email that appears to be from a company you do business with asking for personal information with a link they want you to click on. In order to check the legitimacy of this, navigate directly to the website rather than opening the link in the email.

Social Networking as the New Norm

written by Georgia Schumacher 26 January 2012

In this day and age, those who don't have a Facebook account are probably in the minority. In the past few years, thanks to social networks like Facebook, we’re able to cast a wider social net than ever before.

Working on Computers

It used to be that once a person graduated from high school, they’d have to make an effort to keep track of fellow classmates via letters and phone calls. Now, we can connect with those old friends and quickly and easily share photos and news with them. Excited to announce your engagement or the birth of your first child? All you need to do is log in to Facebook to get the word out to your extended network of connections.

Of course, there are some that argue that while Facebook makes it easier to keep in touch, the connections are often superficial. In a recent New York Times article entitled “The Facebook Resisters,” several individuals who are not Facebook members are profiled. One remarked that they found that because of Facebook, they rarely called their friends to speak on the phone anymore. Another recounted an odd situation in which he was in an elevator with a friend of a friend, and, thanks to Facebook, he already knew everything about her, despite the fact that the two had never spoken to each other.

While the Facebook naysayers may be in the minority today, they certainly have some fair points. As we build our social connections, what purpose do they serve for us? Do we really feel connected to our “friends”? If someone sends you a friend request, what determines whether or not you’ll accept it?

In the case of the online student, Facebook can be an invaluable resource. It allows you to connect with fellow classmates from all over the country, share experiences, and provide each other with support. Social networking, whether via Facebook or some other medium, can provide a wonderful supplement to a student’s online learning experience.

While Facebook and other social networks are deeply ingrained in our everyday lives, most of us can remember a time when that wasn’t the case. How have our interactions with those we consider close to us evolved since those days? Provided that we are mindful of how we interact with one another online, we can find that our lives are actually enriched by the ease with which we are able to connect with each other today.

In This New Year, Resolve to Prioritize Your Education

written by Georgia Schumacher 23 January 2012

We're nearly a month into 2012, a time when enthusiasm for New Year's resolutions begins to wane. While New Year's Resolutions seem like a brilliant idea on the surface, most of us have given up within the first month of trying, so that by this time, everything is basically back to “normal.” Girl on LaptopThis most likely occurs due to unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves. As 2011 rolls into 2012, we think we suddenly have super powers that will help us to achieve lofty goals where we have failed in the past.

But now we’re getting to the heart of the issue: those lofty goals. Should we really expect ourselves to go from sitting on the couch all day to running a 5K three times a week? Or to move from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to quitting cold turkey, with no desire to light up again, on January 1st? Of course, this may work for some people, but for the majority of us, slow and steady wins the race—or, at the very least, keeps those pesky New Year's Resolutions in check.

The same principle can be applied to your studies at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division. Perhaps you’ve resolved to be a better overall student this year, but you can’t go from making C’s and B’s to A’s without a plan in place. Instead, it’s best to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals that help you work toward your overall goal, including being more organized by keeping a calendar of important assignments and commitments, devoting more time to your studies, and making use of the resources you have available to you such as tutoring and the online library.

Happy 2012! With planning and dedication, you can help to make it one of your best years yet!

It's a New Year, Get Started on the Path to a New Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 19 January 2012

It’s always a cliché, the New Year’s resolution. “I’m going to get back in shape” or perhaps “I’m going to quit smoking.” We seemingly always make them, but so few of us follow through. Maybe we weren’t really serious, or maybe we didn’t have the support we needed to make our resolutions a reality.

However, if you made your resolution that you were going to try for something different in life – to go back to school, to find a new career, then there is a place that, if you’re serious, you’re going to get all of the support you need – and then some.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we help students like you every single day to get started on the path to changing their lives and creating tomorrow in careers that they’re passionate about.

Have a listen to people like you tell their stories of what it was like for them to return to school.

Responsible Borrowing and You: Part Six

written by Georgia Schumacher 17 January 2012

Welcome to part 6 of Responsible Borrowing and You. Today, we’re looking at more ways to save on your education.

How else can you save for your education- think about it! The possibilities are endless and you are in control!

Complete your degree in a timely manner

  • The longer to complete your degree, the more cost you will incur. Successful completion of your classes is important. Every time you fail a course, you will need to pay additional to re-take it.
  • Set a goal to complete your degree with your academic counselor.
  • Use your timeline to stay on track and complete on time.

Have good study skills

  • Don’t let social and financial commitments divert you from your degree goals.
  • Speak to your academic advisor or instructor about coping with stresses of going to college.

There is a direct correlation between student borrowing and success, so this is as important as the lessons you learn in the classroom. Students that find alternate means for funding their education tend to graduate sooner; they place themselves in better positions for other “lifestyle” loans; and in the end, they graduate with less student debt.

So, as you embark on your educational venture, take the time to discuss your options with your Admissions Representative and your Finance Counselor, but do not stop there. Ask your employer, your friends and family; search the web and apply for all grants and scholarships.

Though this can be time consuming, every effort you make will be paid back in large dividends! That monthly payment towards your education, the hours you spend applying for grants and scholarships and the extra time you take to complete each class with the best grade is your investment in you!

We hope that our series on Responsible Borrowing has been helpful and informative. Congratulations on your decision to make a brighter future for yourself and good luck!