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2014 CANCON Regional Summit Recap

March 18, 2014

This post was written by Helen Luck from the Golden Key chapter at the University of Toronto—

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On February 14-16, the 2014 Golden Key Canadian Regional Summit (CANCON) took place in Toronto, which is Canada’s largest city. Over 100 GK members across the nation joined us on Valentine’s Day weekend to celebrate their love for exploration, academics and Golden Key! CANCON was hosted by the chapters at York University and the University of Toronto.

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The fun began on Friday afternoon for early arrivals at the chic Intercontinental Toronto Centre Hotel with the “Golden Key Unlocks Toronto” challenge. Participants explored Toronto attractions in teams of 5 or 6 with our CANCON tour guides.  The object of the game was to complete a list of tasks at various, uniquely Torontonian attractions and to capture these moments with photos shared on Instagram, with the hashtag: #unlockTO.  The tasks required participants to be creative, intelligent and team-spirited. The top 8 individuals with the most photos in number and creativity were awarded prizes worth a total of $3,000 in value! The attendees were also encouraged to bring canned goods and clothing donations for Fort York Food Bank as one of the challenges. After some fun around town and early registration, we made our way over to a local college pub, Einstein Café and Pub to warm up, mingle and relax before the big day.

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At 9:00am on February 15th, attendees arrived at the newly built, state-of-the-art academic venue at the Rotman School of Management for a day packed with great speakers, workshops and networking sessions. Late registrations began and students received their attendee bags with lots of helpful material, including a specially made CANCON personal care package, Regional Summit guides, maps and other goodies.  Attendees settled in after a sponsored continental breakfast and live music. The welcoming remarks were given by the two co-Presidents of UofT and York, Helen Luck and Mithila Kurera, followed by GK Canada Director, Ian Sankey; Student Rep, Vitaliy Chernenko; and our CANCON chair, Azin Zanganeh. Our keynote speaker was Marie Rickard, who gave a truly inspirational talk encouraging us to not only celebrate our triumphs in life, but to embrace our failures as well.

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Attendees then proceeded to their first of the three panel choices over the day; this year’s panels consisted of renowned speakers in diverse fields ranging from biotechnology, medicine, and engineering to business design, law, architecture, and the fine arts. All panels revolved around the theme, “key to success”, with the idea that all attendees will be inspired by our speakers to unlock their potential.  After the panel sessions commenced, attendees socialized freely with their peers and our valued sponsors, accompanied by live music and light refreshments. Shortly after the networking session, Victoria Fard and Gian Parian, the other co-presidents from UofT and York, began the chapter roundtable discussions in which chapter representatives shared their achievements for the past academic year.

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Being young professionals, we work hard, but of course we play hard too. Saturday night began with an excellent dinner at Batôn Rouge and the party continued well into the night at one of Toronto’s most popular clubs, Tryst Nightclub.

We promised an entire weekend of fun, so we certainly didn’t stop with Saturday! Sunday brunch was located at the hotel’s own Azure Restaurant, followed by a deeper tour of Toronto’s most popular attractions including the CN Tower, Ripley’s Aquarium, Autoshow and the Hockey Hall of Fame. For those who stayed, we ended the weekend with a bang at the CN Tower’s 360 Restaurant as the group enjoyed the sunset on a 360-degree view of the Toronto skyline.

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On behalf of the organizing committee, we would like to thank all our attendees, advisors, and York University and the University of Toronto Golden Key chapters for making CANCON 2014 a huge success. We hope that CANCON 2014 has inspired you in molding your own key to success. Our planning committee and volunteers had a wonderful time putting the Summit together and we can’t wait to see you again at CANCON 2015!

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Employment Rate of College Graduates

March 18, 2014

Many people question the value of a college degree. In recent years, the “sticker prices” for college tuition have soared, and recent graduates have struggled with unemployment due to the rough job market. However, research has shown that bachelor’s degree recipients did not lose nearly as much ground when the recession hit as compared to those who attained a high school diploma or associate’s degree.  The study, released by the Pew Charitable Trusts, examines the effect that the recession made on Americans ages 21 to 24 years old in terms of employment and income. In the graph below, the employment percentage of each group is being measured, and the dates in which they are being measured are defined as such: “Before recession” is 2005-November 2007, “During recession” is December 2007-June 2009 and “After recession” is July 2009-2011.

College Degree Recession Graph

The results of the study show that Americans ages 21 to 24 years old who received bachelor’s degrees had far better outcomes in the job market than those with associate degrees or high school diplomas. Those who had recently received bachelor’s degrees not only had a higher employment rate before the recession, but they also only saw a 4% drop in employment as compared to 7% and 8% to those with associate degrees and high school diplomas.

The study also found that, as many could imagine, the wages of those who were employed in all three groups fell, but those with bachelor’s degrees only saw a 5% drop is wages. Associate degree and high school diploma recipients saw drop of 12% and 15%, respectively.

Another study by the Pew Research Center has found that people ages 25 to 32 years old with bachelor’s degrees have a median annual income of $45,000 and an unemployment rate of 3.8% as compared to those with high school diplomas who have a median annual income of $28,000 and an unemployment rate of 12.2%. The researchers were also able to conclude that college graduates were more likely to be married, less likely to live with their parents and more likely to be satisfied with their jobs.

In short, not only were those with bachelor’s degrees better off in terms of employment and income, but they also weathered the downturn of the economy the best.

Global Youth Service Day 2014

March 13, 2014

In 1988, Youth Service America, an international leader in the youth service movement, came together to start Global Youth Service Day with the goal of engaging young people ages 5 to 25 years old to participate in service activities. Youth Service America wanted to target this age group because young people are not usually asked to serve so, by bringing them together to help serve their communities, this event would allow the global youth to take an early step towards a lifetime of civic engagement and social consciousness.

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Since service is one of the three pillars of Golden Key International Honour Society, we strongly encourage our members to participate in service activities and make a difference in their communities. In light of this, we hope that all Golden Key chapters will be advocates of Global Youth Service Day and take part in the event this year from 11-13 April. With your help, we can show the world that Golden Key members are special- that they can Stand Out, Stand Up and Stand Together!

If you are having trouble coming up with a fun service activity that your chapter would enjoy, check out our 2013 Make A Difference Day Chapter Awards blog or go to the Global Youth Service Day website. There are no limits as to which your chapter can help your community, and we implore our chapters to participate in this incredible service event! Chapter officers should register their projects on Golden Key’s website. Find out more by clicking here. Golden Key will be awarding a total of $1,000 to the most outstanding chapter initiatives. And remember to take plenty of pictures and videos of your event to share on Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #GYSD!

Prime Minister of New Zealand Mingles with Golden Key Members

March 5, 2014

On Thursday 27 February 2014, the University of Canterbury in New Zealand hosted “Clubs Day”, which is a part of the university’s Orientation Week. On this day the many student clubs and organizations set up tables to attract prospective members;JohnKey_UCANT_1 in fact there are over 100 different clubs/student organizations for university students to join, including Golden Key International Honour Society.

This year marks an election year in New Zealand so current Prime Minister John Key has been touring the country as a part of his election campaign. One of his stops on his campaign trail included the University of Canterbury to visit the Young Nationals club, which is the youth wing of the New Zealand political party. While on the campus, Prime Minister John Key ventured through Car Park where Clubs Day is held, and stopped to talk to some of the University of Canterbury Golden Key chapter members amidst the mob of students attempting to talk to him. The members were able to take a few pictures with the Prime Minister and had the opportunity to talk to him before he had to go about his way. Meeting the Prime Minister was an honor for the Golden Key members and a great way to start off the semester!

The Importance of Creativity

February 25, 2014

Did you know that the most commonly listed skill on LinkedIn the past two years has been “Creativity”, and for good reason, too. “The reality is that to survive in a fast-changing world you need to be creative,” says Gerard J. Puccio, chairman of the International Center for Studies in Creativity at Buffalo State College. “That is why you are seeing more attention to creativity at universities. The marketplace is demanding it.” In fact, an I.B.M. survey of 1,500 chief executives in over 30 industries listed creativity as the most crucial factor of success. Creativity is the ability to transcend traditional thought and formulate meaningful new ideascreative. It has long been regarded as an essential skill for achievement, which is why Buffalo State College has had the creative studies program since 1967.

Creativity, once seen as divine inspiration or a quality possessed only by the highly intelligent, is now seen as a skill capable of being taught. Although conventional academic disciplines are still relevant, educators and employers are becoming more and more interested in “process skills”, or strategies to reevaluate challenges and adapting to overcome such.

Creative Studies programs are starting to arise at numerous universities across the United States. Buffalo State University already offers a master’s degree and an undergraduate minor, but they are also planning on implementing a Ph.D. program. Saybrook University in San Francisco has a master’s program and certificate, and the university added a specialization to its psychology Ph.D. in 2011. Other notable programs include Drexel University in Philadelphia, St. Andrew’s University in North Carolina and Eastern Kentucky University.

Jack V. Matson, an environmental engineer and instructor at Pennsylvania State University, teaches a class that he calls “Failure 101” because “the frequency and intensity of failures is an implicit principle of the course. Getting into a creative mind-set involves a lot of trial and error.” All assignments in the class, which include constructing résumés based on what did not work and constructing the tallest structure possible with twenty popsicle sticks, are designed to elicit inventiveness through the process of failing.

If your university offered Creative Studies courses, would you register to take one?

Massive Open Online Courses

February 11, 2014

Will university life soon become a concept associated with the past? For now, this is probably not the case, but physical educational institutions could experience trouble in the future due to the emergence of MOOCs. Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, are short, online courses offered with the intention of drawing in large-scale interactive participation. They provide shared user forums that consist of videos, readings and problem sets to help build a community amongst students and professors.

Could this infringe on traditional universities, though? Many say “no”. The United States Studies Centre at the University of Sydney believes that MOOCs will be non-threatening to physical universities, and, in fact, be beneficial in that they could offer opportunities to better utilize technology, thus gaining a greater global profile.MOOC  Other proponents say MOOCs are the “iTunes of higher education” in that degrees from universities are like attending live shows- they are expensive and only a limited number of people can participate- but MOOCs can reach out to an infinite number of participants in a cost efficient manner. Just as iTunes does not make live shows less desirable, MOOCs are not designed to reinvent education. Rather, just as iTunes changed the manner in which music is consumed, MOOCs will revolutionize the education scene. An example of the successful utilization of MOOCs is evident in McAfee, the wholly owned subsidiary of Intel

Not everyone is optimistic about the future of the online classes, however. Many skeptics believe that MOOCs will have no influence on existing physical universities because they are merely a trend.  Instructure CEO Josh Coates and Dennis Yang, President of MOOC provider Udemy, believe that MOOCs are merely going through a “hype cycle”, as shown below.hype cycle

These critics believe this to be true due to the high non-completion rates of MOOC participants and the preference amongst employers for skills and education gained at tangible institutions. Another criticism is the idea that bigger is not always better. While MOOCs emphasize the capability of capturing thousands of students virtually, they do not mention the quality of this form of education. Rather than reveling in the augmentation of education as though it is the main goal, relationships between instructors and students lead to greater understanding of the material because the students’ progress can be tracked on more of an individual basis. There is also the idea that large lecture classrooms are widely considered to be ineffective. This is evident in an experiment done by a physics professor at Harvard, which has led some to say that MOOCs should be limited to first year courses or courses that are considered to be more basic.

Could Massive Open Online Courses be the future of education, or is it merely a phase in the education system?

College Tuition Costs Remain Stable Over Past Decade

February 5, 2014

The rise in college tuition is no new affair- most people have accumulated quite a bit of student debt. In the past decade, the published prices of universities have increased by more than 20%. In fact, universities are starting to worry about possibly approaching the “breaking point” in their ability to continue raising the tuition prices. The increase in inexpensive online courses has given universities reason for concern, too, in that prospective students might find the appeal of a more practical education appealing.

Published vs. Net TuitionSource: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges

However, even with tuition continuing to rise, the amount that students actually pay has hardly fluctuated over the past ten years due to increased grants, discounts and tax benefits. According to a major analysis of the cost of college by the College Board, when looking only at tuition and fees, the inflation-adjusted net price is lower than it was ten years ago.

It seems to have gone unnoticed that, although the published prices for colleges that are not adjusted for inflation have jumped more than 50% in recent years, universities are giving more in financial aid and tuition discounts. Richard Ekman, president of the Council of Independent Colleges, says, “Colleges have tried to get the word out for years about discounting and net prices, but ‘it hasn’t been terribly successful’”.

tuition tableSource: The College Board, Annual Survey of Colleges

In fact, prospective students have much more access to the financial information in that universities are now required to post net price calculators on their websites, but it has become evident that the public has had trouble understanding the numbers. Some universities have tried to lower their tuition prices and offset the prices be reducing the discounts given to students, but it has not been incredibly effective- many would rather attend an expensive university and receive a scholarship to go there than go to a more economical school without a reduction in price.

Although published college tuition prices are continually rising, is the idea of pursuing higher education more appealing knowing that the net price has remained fairly stable over the years?

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