TIME Education

How to Make the Most of Summer College Courses

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Seek out unusual electives

There is something magical about college campuses during the summer months. The physical space is unchanged from the traditional academic year, but a feeling of quiet possibility infiltrates the empty lawns and unused classrooms. There are, of course, a hardy few who brave the summer term, and perhaps you are among them. If so, here are several basic considerations to help you maximize your summer college courses:

Remember that the summer term is compressed

Most American schools utilize the semester system, where each class you take is typically 15 weeks in length. Summer classes, however, are much shorter – often just four or six weeks long. This compressed schedule is ideal for introductory courses, so if you need to complete a prerequisite class or a general education requirement, the summer term can be an excellent opportunity to do so. For those courses that develop a theme over a period of weeks, and that benefit from in-depth discussion and writing, a shortened summer semester can sometimes be harmful.

Ultimately, learning takes time and practice. Before you register for a class, consider the course content, and decide whether you can master it at an accelerated pace. Remember that one effect of this compressed schedule is that falling behind in class becomes even more problematic. For example, in the summer microbiology courses that I teach, we still meet twice per week, but we cover 18 chapters of the textbook in 16 class sessions, rather than in 26. Begin studying on the first day of the semester, and stay current with your homework and reading.

Also be aware that this shortened schedule makes multitasking more difficult. Take a college where 15 semester hours is normally a full course load. During the summer, a 15-hour load might mean meeting for 22 hours, with all the extra work that entails outside of the classroom. My advice? Take a lighter course load during the summer.

Research possible instructors

Many summer classes are taught by adjuncts on short-term contracts. Most adjuncts love to teach, and they typically know their subjects very well. However, some adjuncts are hired mere days before the semester begins, and they are forced to make do with just a textbook and a copy of last summer’s syllabus. Before you enroll in a course, check the department website to see if the instructor is a full or associate professor. If the instructor is listed as an adjunct – or not listed at all – it is perfectly acceptable to contact the department office to ask about a teacher’s credentials and whether they have taught that class (or one like it) before. You may find that an adjunct with experience teaching a given course is the best possible scenario. Tenured professors are sometimes promoted based on research and publication record, with teaching performance a lesser consideration. Adjuncts, on the other hand, live and die by their abilities in the classroom.

Consider your long-term needs

Most departments schedule their core requirements in a way that encourages students to take them in a certain sequence. You will generally benefit most by following this sequence. If you are pursuing a double major, or if you are interested in a rarely-taught special topics course, summer may be your chance to complete an essential class. To be clear, courses offered in the summer are usually compressed versions of core requirements, but by taking a core requirement during the summer, you may be able to resolve a conflict with a rarely taught or specialized class during the regular school year.

Summer is also an excellent time to repeat a course (if necessary). If you did not do well on your first attempt, you may find that the summer section is taught by a different instructor with a teaching style that better suits your learning needs. The smaller class size, and your familiarity with the material, may also help you improve. Either way, the summer semester can be an important step in graduating on time.

Seek out unusual electives

One of the best uses of the summer semester is taking unusual courses that do not otherwise fit into your schedule. In biology, for example, the summer is an excellent time for classes focusing on ecology and field work. Multi-day expeditions do not work well during the regular school year because they interfere with other academic obligations. The summer session is also a great time for short courses in unusual settings, such as an art class in Rome, a literature course at the University of Oxford, or a science class in Hawaii.

You may find that the best use of your summer is to rest, or to complete an internship, or to work to save money for the regular academic school year. But if you do decide to take summer courses, a little planning can go a long way in maximizing your college experience.

Brian Witte is a professional SAT tutor with Varsity Tutors. He earned his Bachelor of Science from the University of Washington and holds a Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

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TIME Innovation

Why Religion Isn’t Good for Politics

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

These are today's best ideas

1. Religion in America is disappearing. That’s great for politics.

By Michael Shermer in Politico

2. What should we do if ISIS wins? Live with it.

By Stephen M. Walt in Foreign Policy

3. To get rid of Dengue fever, we’re modifying the mosquitoes that carry it.

By Marc Zimmer in the Conversation

4. Putin’s warlords are slipping out of control.

By Adrian Karatnycky in the New York Times

5. Don’t get a degree in a “hot” field.

By Peter Cappelli in Money

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

MONEY College

6 Financial Musts for New College Grads

New college grads on procession
Spencer Grant—Getty Images

Nail these moves and you're on your way to financial success.

You did it! You passed your finals, you graduated from college, and you even landed the coveted job you have been working so hard to get. So now what?

Many grads are carrying student loans that will be weighing them down for years to come. Since you’re facing plenty of new expenses—moving, rent, furniture, a suitable office wardrobe—now is a great time to make a financial plan. Here are six things every new graduate should do:

1. Make a budget

A good starting place for your monthly budget can be easily remembered as “50-30-20.” When you receive your first paycheck, sit down and figure out what your monthly take home pay will be. Out of that, put 50% toward needs such as rent, utilities, and groceries. Thirty percent goes toward “wants” such as shopping, entertainment, restaurants, and fun. The final 20% goes to your savings and debt repayment. If your student loans are substantial, you may have to flip the percentages so that 30% goes towards debt repayment and 20% toward wants. By following this plan, you can quickly put a dent in those loans.

2. Manage your debt

Student loans often have multiple tranches with varying interest rates that can be fixed or variable. Your best option is to pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first, though that practice is far less common than you might think. When the time comes to start repaying, access your student debt details online to figure out the interest rates for each tranche. Pay the minimum towards the balances with the lowest interest rates and make your largest debt payments on the balance with the highest interest rate. The biggest mistake you can make is paying the minimum into each loan and waiting until you “make more money when you’re older” to deal with them.

3. Prepare for emergencies

An emergency savings account is the best way to plan for the unexpected. What would you do if your car breaks down and you need $800 to get it fixed? If your laptop stops working and you need one for work, how will you buy a new laptop? What would you do if you lost your phone? People often go into debt to cover unexpected expenses, but it’s a problem that can be solved with a little planning. By contributing a small amount of each paycheck into a conservative investment saving account, you can be better prepared to pay for life’s inevitable emergencies.

4. Take advantage of a 401(k) match

Most employers offer 401(k) retirement plans and many offer some form of a match. A traditional 401(k) is an employer-sponsored retirement plan that allows you to save and invest a portion of your paycheck before taxes are taken out, thus decreasing your tax liability. When an employer offers a match, they are matching your contributions, often up to a certain percentage of your income. By choosing not to fully participate in these programs, you are effectively turning down free money from your employer.

Some employers also offer a Roth 401(k), where your contribution is made with after-tax dollars (meaning that you pay the taxes now) and the funds grow tax-free for retirement. The Roth 401(k) is often seen as the better option for younger investors who are typically in a lower tax bracket and who would not get as much benefit from a tax deduction today as they would in retirement.

5. Open a Roth IRA

Similar to a Roth 401(k), a Roth IRA is an individual retirement account allowing you to invest up to $5,500 for the 2015 tax year. These accounts are often considered ideal for younger investors, who may benefit from decades of tax-free compounded growth. Investing $5,500/year from age 22 to age 30 may create an account of more than $1 million when you’re using those funds in your retired years. If you invested the same amount annually but waited until your 30s to start, your account might be worth half as much. For Roth IRA contributions in the 2015 tax year, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than $116,000 if you’re single (or a combined $183,000 if married.)

6. Automate your savings

By setting up automatic transfers from your checking account to your Roth IRA and emergency savings, you’re effectively drawing money straight from your paycheck. This allows your plan to be put into action with minimal maintenance and oversight on your end.

Congratulations, graduate! With these six tips you could be on your way to a successful financial future.

Voya Retirement Coach Joe O’Boyle is a financial adviser with Voya Financial Advisors. Based in Beverly Hills, Calif., O’Boyle provides personalized, full service financial and retirement planning to individual and corporate clients. O’Boyle focuses on the entertainment, legal and medical industries, with a particular interest in educating Gen Xers and Millennials about the benefits of early retirement planning.

MONEY College

More Parents Say They Won’t Pay Their Kids’ Tuition Bill

Tim Robberts—Getty Images

The reason: they can't afford it.

As the cost of attending college continues to dramatically increase, parents of college-bound students are rethinking their role in helping their children earn degrees. Sixteen percent of parents with children ages 16 to 18 who plan to attend college said they will not be helping their kids pay for school, up from 12% in 2013, according to the latest edition of an annual survey from Discover Student Loans. That 16% figure is the same as it was in 2014.

Parents who do plan to pay for college may not be paying as much as parents used to: 24% said they couldn’t afford to pay anything (compared to 21% in 2014 and 2013), but the most common answer (31%) is that the parent plans to cover up to 25% of education expenses. Only 9% said they can pay for all of it (down from 11% in 2014 and 2013), 8% said they could pay for three-quarters of it (down from 11% last year and 12% the year before), and 18% think they can cover half the cost (19% in 2014 and 18% in 2013 said the same).

The trend continues: This year, a greater share of parents said their children will borrow student loans to pay for school (54%, up 2 percentage points from last year and 4 points from 2013), though 20% aren’t sure if their kids will need to take out loans, which is a lot of uncertainty for students so close to the traditional enrollment age.

Based on the responses to the survey, money is a huge concern for these parents: 58% said they are very worried about that student loan debt will affect their children’s ability to buy a home, a car or another large purchase, up slightly from 55% in 2014. It seems they want their kids to get a grip on their future finances, as well: 47% said earning potential after graduation is more important to their children’s education than their major (up 7 percentage points from 2014), and 44% said they would be more likely to fund education expenses if their children majored in fields with a higher likelihood of getting a job — just 33% of parents said that last year.

So, college students of the near future, take note: You might want to talk to your parents about how to approach paying for college, because it looks like you’re going to be responsible for some of it, if not bearing the vast majority or all of the expense. Using student loans to finance your education isn’t an inherently bad choice, but if you’re not careful about anticipating your expenses and future earnings, you could end up in a very difficult financial situation upon graduation. Student loans must be repaid — they’re rarely discharged in bankruptcy — and falling behind or defaulting on the debt will seriously damage your credit standing, which you need to buy or rent a home, get a car or even access utilities, without having to pay a hefty deposit. If you’re not sure where you stand credit-wise, there are many ways to get your credit scores for free.

This is the fourth edition of the Discover Student Loans survey, which includes responses from a nationally representative sample of 1,000 adults with college-bound 16- to 18-year-olds. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.

More from Credit.com:


Why You Shouldn’t Get a College Degree In a “Hot” Job Field

Advertisement for Baruch College of CUNY on the side of a NYC transit bus
Frances Roberts—Alamy Advertisement for Baruch College of CUNY on the side of a NYC transit bus

Do you really want that degree in international tourism? Probably not, says Wharton professor Peter Cappelli.

A big move on many college campuses has been the proliferation of degrees and majors that sound just like job titles: Golf course operations, screenwriting, pharmaceutical marketing, you name it. There is no official count of these majors, but websites like mymajors.com list more than 1,800, along with the colleges that offer them. Ads on the street in any major city make the pitch that you can get a job in healthcare records administration, construction management, or something equally specialized with a degree from the advertised school.

There have always been degrees that seemed aimed primarily at getting the graduate a job. “Business” has been the most popular major in the U.S. since the 1981 recession. As I discuss in my new book, Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make, what’s different now is that these degrees and majors target specific job titles rather than occupations or broad fields. A number of studies find that students do chose majors based on their guess of where the jobs are. Currently students are following the advice to get so-called STEM (for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degrees.

There are many good reasons why attending college to prepare you for specific jobs is a bad idea. The first one, which is pretty basic, is that it’s almost impossible when picking a college to predict what the job market will look like years later at graduation, especially recognizing that only 40% of full-time students graduate in four years. What will you do with that casino management degree if gambling is down the year you graduate and casinos aren’t hiring? You might well be better off with a broad, liberal arts degree.

The unpredictability of the job market even applies to STEM fields. Contrary to conventional wisdom, it turns out math and science degrees per se are not and have never been particularly hot. A recent Texas study found, for example, that sociology grads made more money than biology grads. Instead, it has generally been applied science degrees like engineering that have been gone through periods of huge demand—but even within those broad fields, what’s hot at any given moment varies sharply over time.

In the past few years, for instance, the hottest job by far for new grads has been petroleum engineering, which had a dead job market until fracking unexpectedly revived it a few years earlier. Unfortunately, as new students follow advice to pursue hot jobs, graduates have been pouring out of petroleum engineering programs just as declining oil prices are smothering new exploration. Of course, freshly minted petroleum engineers can’t necessarily transform themselves into the next hot kind of engineer, so they very well may be stuck.

The general point about these engineering and tech jobs, as economist Richard Freeman observed decades ago, is that they are highly cyclical. As new technologies develop, they boom; and later they bust, partly because students pouring into hot job markets helps cool them off.

Nor do people stay in these technical fields for long, in part because possibilities for advancement are limited. In the peak of the dot.com era, for example, only 29% of grads with science and engineering degrees were in those fields two years later.

Most tellingly, employers don’t seem all that interested in vocational degrees. When asked about new grads, employers report that they are probably overqualified with respect to the job skills the employers expected them to have and underqualified in the areas we thought college was supposed to address: communication skills, interpersonal abilities, and self-management.

When asked what they look for in new college grads, a recent survey shows that employers are overwhelming interested in experiences outside the classroom, such as any kind of work experience students have had. (Of their top five criterion, “college major” is the only academic attribute.) This isn’t very surprising given that only 25% of new grads report getting a job in their major—not unexpected if your major was philosophy, but a disaster if it was fire prevention management.

The truth is, it isn’t necessary to have a degree in a field to get a job in that field. Most computer programmers, for example, have no IT-related degree. A few specific classes and some real-world experience, even if as a volunteer, may be enough to get a job in most fields, and those actions can be taken much closer to graduation when it is possible to tell where the jobs are.

How about the long-term, after that first job? Taking all the practical courses for a vocational major means there are other courses one cannot take that might be better preparation for the long run. Economist Ofer Malamud did an interesting study comparing English college grads, who typically study only one subject in college, to Scottish grads, who take a broader mix of courses before focusing on a specialization. He found that the English grads changed careers more often (possibly because they knew less about alternatives) and had more difficulty making those changes (possibly because of narrower preparation) than did their Scottish peers.

So is it worth getting that degree in international tourism? The college course in probability (that you wouldn’t have time to take) says “no.”

Peter Cappelli is the George W. Taylor Professor of Management at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania and director of Wharton’s Center for Human Resources. He is also the author of numerous books, including his most recent, Will College Pay Off?: A Guide to the Most Important Financial Decision You’ll Ever Make.

TIME career

How to Talk to New Grads About Finding a Job

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Be there in a productive way

It can’t be easy watching your beloved, talented, educated money pit child walk off that graduation stage, diploma in hand…and move back home with no job prospects. Last summer when I graduated with a couple of freelance jobs but looking for something full-time, I was lucky that my parents mostly employed the strategy they had been using with me since the fourth grade: “She’s got it.” They were always supportive but never pestered me about what progress I had made that day, where I was applying, who I had reached out to, because they knew I was on top it. And guess what? Their trust in me gave me much more confidence in my job search than constant nagging would have.

Any expert and anyone who has been there can tell you that self-esteem is the thing that takes the biggest hit during unemployment. Trust me, your kids are just as eager to find a job as you are for them to have one. They know you’ve just spent thousands of dollars on their education, and (I hope) they are endlessly grateful. They desperately want to have an answer to the question, “Where are you working?” Social media is there with unrelenting reminders of what isn’t true but certainly feels like it is: “EVERYONE HAS A JOB EXCEPT YOU, LOSER.” In short, they’re downright terrified. (For confirmation on that, just read this piece I wrote last year, “Fears of a New Graduate.”) From talking to many friends who have been through this difficult situation with their parents in the past year, here is some friendly advice for being there for your child in a productive way during the job search.

1. Don’t micromanage.

You know your kid, and maybe he or she is someone who needs an extra push to get things done. But either way, trying to micromanage your adult child’s career is ill-advised. I just read a truly horrifying anecdote in Aliza Licht’s new book Leave Your Mark about an insistent mother who called DKNY repeatedly seeking a job for her daughter. She literally sent an email with the subject line, “A job for my daughter.” While I doubt that most parents reach that degree of desperation (God I hope), it is an extreme illustration of the difficulty in watching your college graduate look for a job, and your natural desire to help in any way possible. Don’t go down that path. At this point, the kids are officially raised—you have to trust they’re equipped to find a job on their own.

2. Trust their unconventional choices.

I have written about nine successful millennials who did something after graduation other than start a full-time job. Your child’s career path might not look like you expected it to. In fact it almost certainly won’t, given the rapidly changing job market. One of my friends said one of the things he appreciated most about his parents was that they never questioned his unusual career choices, in particular one summer when he took an internship at Sesame Street. This may have seemed crazy at the time, but the internship turned out to be an eye-opening experience that motivated him to go to law school. The paths to success are many, and multiplying every day.

3. Be realistic in your expectations.

When that same friend found himself applying to law schools two years later, his dad insisted that he apply to all of the Ivy Leagues, despite my friend explaining that his GPA was below the threshold they even considered. Not very productive. This goes double for your sons and daughters seeking jobs right now. Sure, it’s getting better, but it’s tough out there. You can’t expect them to send applications one week, have an interview the next, and be sitting down at their new desk the week after that. Asking, “have you heard anything yet?” every day will only make them frustrated and demoralized. You also can’t expect them to be searching for a job eight hours a day–yes finding a job is a full-time job, but other goals or even social events can be equally essential.

4. Don’t throw their financial status in their faces.

I’m not in a position to tell anyone how to parent, but I am in a position to determine whether someone is being rude. If you agreed to let your child live in your house and they are obeying the terms of that agreement, it is unfair and wrong to throw that fact back in their face if they are clearly making an effort to find a job. Yes, they live in your house again and you’re allowed to impose whatever rules you see fit. You can make them do the dishes every day, shovel the driveway, hand wash your unmentionables, whatever. But using “well you’re living here for free!” as an angry or passive aggressive jab is not only cruel but insanely counter-productive. (Pro tip: Making someone feel like a loser is not conducive to that person rocking an interview and landing a job).

5. Don’t make comparisons to “when I graduated.”

“When I graduated I had four six-figure offers…” Stop right there. You’re different people, you have different paths in life. But even if your child is in the exact same profession as you, that comparison is flat out untenable. Most millennials graduated during the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, and this year’s graduates are still feeling its effects. During our Great Recession, the unemployment rate for those over 34 peaked at about eight percent, but unemployment between the ages of 18 and 34 peaked at 14 percent in 2010 and remains elevated. According to Pew Research we are the first generation ever to have higher levels of student loan debt, poverty and unemployment, and lower levels of wealth and personal income than their two immediate predecessor generations had at the same age. We all know it’s not the same, so don’t make the mistake of acting like it is.

6. Support them, love them…

…in the same way you’ve been doing for the past 22 years. Thanks for that by the way. I hope that I speak for my generation when I say that we appreciate it more than you know.

This article originally appeared on Levo.com.

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MONEY Student Loans

Students With Highest Loan Debt Are The Least Likely to Earn a Degree

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Debt levels vary greatly by race and socioeconomic status.

The rising cost of attending college has had a serious impact on the finances of most students and their families, but the burden has been distributed unequally. Various studies point to the negative, long-term effects of taking on education debt, and considering debt levels vary greatly by race and socioeconomic status, there’s concern over how trying to get a college education actually exacerbates inequality in America.

Demos, a progressive public policy organization, published “The Debt Divide” in May to highlight research that points to growing inequality in higher education and how that translates to postgraduate well-being. The 30-page report covers a lot of ground, citing data from Department of Education surveys, the Federal Reserve’s 2013 Survey of Consumer Finances, Gallup polls and other existing research, and some of the figures may give you a different perspective on the state of education debt in the U.S.

1. Black and low-income students borrow more than others to receive a bachelor’s degree.

Among bachelor’s degree recipients in 2012, black graduates from public colleges borrowed an average of of $29,344, compared with $25,807 for white graduates and $23,441 for Hispanic or Latino graduates. For those who earned degrees from private nonprofit schools, debt levels were understandably higher (they’re more expensive, generally), but white students borrowed significantly less than the other two subgroups. Hispanic or Latino graduates took on an average of $36,266 in debt, black graduates had $35,477 and white graduates had $31,508.

There’s a similar gap when looking at the wealth of student borrowers. Students who received Pell Grants (which are awarded on basis of financial need) had higher education debt loads than those who did not receive Pell Grants. For public-school graduates, the difference in debt was $27,307 (Pell recipient) to $22,888, and at private nonprofits, it was $34,206 and $30,089.

2. White and high-income students are least likely to take out student loans.

At public institutions of higher educations, Latino students are least likely to have debt — about 63% borrow, the same as white students, and Latino students borrowed an average of $2,400 less than white students. Other than that, white students have the lowest debt burdens and are least likely to borrow in the first place.

The vast majority of black students use loans to pay for college. Among those who graduated from a public school, 81% had student loans, and 86% of private school graduates had student loans. Latino students at private schools were most likely to have debt, with 87% graduating with loan balances.

The difference is much more stark when you look at income level. At public schools, 84% of students who receive Pell Grants also graduate with student loans, compared to 46% of those who don’t receive Pell Grants, and at private schools, 91% of Pell recipients take on debt (60% of those without Pell Grants took out loans in order to graduate from a private school).

3. Black and low-income students are most likely to finance an associate’s degree.

Less than half (42%) of associate’s-degree earners take out student loans. If they do, it’s more likely they are black and have received need-based aid: 57% of black students who graduate with associate’s degrees have student loans, and 55% of Pell recipients have student loans from two-year degrees. Those students also take on more debt than other people with associate’s degrees.

4. A lot of education debt among Latino and black students comes from for-profit education.

If you attend a for-profit college, it’s highly likely you need student loans to do so: 86% of white students, 89% of Latino students and 90% of black students take out loans to get a bachelor’s degree from a for-profit college. The fact that blacks and Latinos make up a significant portion of the for-profit student population intensifies the debt inequality. Nationwide, black and Latino students account for 29% of college students, but they make up 45% of the for-profit student body.

5. Dropout rates are higher among poor students and black students.

While taking on a lot of debt to earn a degree has its negative repercussions, those people generally reap the benefits of having a college education, which helps with the high debt load. Most people who default on student loans are those who never got their degrees, meaning they have to try to tackle their loan payments without the benefit of higher earning potential. Not only are white and high-income students dealing with statistically lower debt loads, they’re also most likely to graduate.

On the other end of the spectrum, there are black and low-income students who take on the most student loan debt, and they’re least likely to earn a degree with it. Thirty-nine percent of black student borrowers drop out (according to 2009 data), compared to 31% of Latino borrowers and 29% of white borrowers. The greatest gap comes from where the students start financially: Those who are at 200% or less of the poverty line are much more likely to drop out (38% did), while those with family income more than twice the poverty level had a lower dropout rate of 23%.

Student loan debt is a concern among most people these days, but it’s far more burdensome for some groups. When taken on in affordable amounts and managed well, student loans can be a great investment in your future, and repayment can help you establish a good credit history. However, because loan payments can soak up a significant amount of borrowers’ resources, student loan debt can make the many years after graduation less financially productive. Because student loans are rarely dischargeable in bankruptcy, they need to be a top priority if borrowers hope to achieve financial stability and a good credit standing. As the statistics show, that’s a lot easier for some consumers than for others.

More From Credit.com:

TIME Education

Watch John Waters’ Unconventionally Inspiring Commencement Speech

'Make me nervous!'

John Waters isn’t known for his scholarly works, but he is well-qualified to dole out some life advice to the 2015 graduating class of the Rhode Island School of Design. After all, the director of Hairspray, Cry-babyand Serial Mom has been doing what he loves “for 50 years without ever having to get a real job.” That alone should be inspiring for those graduating from an arts college.

In his commencement address the auteur encouraged graduates to, “Go out in the world and f–k it up beautifully. Design clothes so hideous that they can’t be worn ironically. Horrify us with new ideas. Outrage outdated critics. Use technology for transgression, not lazy social living. Make me nervous!”

He went on to remind the graduates that it’s their “turn to cause trouble – but this time in the real world, and this time from the inside.” Not bad advice from the director who was suspended from high school and kicked out of college in the “first marijuana scandal ever on a university campus,” only to go on to build “a career on negative reviews.”

[H/T Boing Boing]

TIME Business

10 Ways to Maximize Your Summer Internship

Be proactive in your work and relationships

As a former Google intern, I want to pay forward all the help I got in landing my full-time offer. So I asked the Every Vowel community along with managers and top interns from Facebook, Microsoft and Amazon to see what advice they had. Whether you’re working at a financial firm, fashion company, or fast-paced startup, these 10 tips can help you land an offer and have an awesome summer.

1. Send weekly recap emails to your manager — Every Friday, I emailed my manager and included bullets under the following categories: Things I did for Project A, Things I did for Project B, Things I learned, People I met, and Random. To be mindful of his inbox, I made sure to ask if he wanted me to continue after I sent my first recap email. Not only did he like the concept, but he later told me that this was vital when it came time to writing my evaluation because he had concrete material to draw from. Not to mention, it was a great way to stay organized and track my progress over the summer.

2. Send biweekly “industry digest” email to your team — Become a curator. Full-time employees are always trying to learn more about their industry but don’t always have the time. That’s where you can help. Check out trade magazines — if you’re a marketing intern, read AdAge and Adweek. Public relations interns, see PRWeek. And so forth. Read up, curate the best articles, and summarize them in an email. But be careful: there’s a difference between being knowledgeable and a know-it-all. Ask your manager before sending this digest email as it could cause colleagues to perceive you as overeager. If you get the green light, perhaps open your first email with: “Hey guys, I was speaking with [Manager Name] and we thought it could be a good idea to send a biweekly digest of all that’s happening in our industry so it’s easier to keep up…” so they have a bit more context and you’re not coming off too strong.

3. Schedule weekly meetings with your manager and routinely ask for feedback — If your manager doesn’t immediately schedule weekly check-ins, ask to set them up as soon as possible. Kellen Donohue, former intern at Facebook, Google, and Microsoft, emphasizes the importance of using these meetings to ask for feedback “even if your manager doesn’t volunteer it.” He says, “You don’t want to be surprised at your midterm or final evaluation with feedback you could have used earlier.” To get great feedback, be open and honest with your manager. Don’t be afraid to signal when you’re stuck and ask clarifying questions instead of nodding along.

4. Ask senior executives if they would be open to doing a “roundtable chat” or “lunch and learn” — If you cross paths with an inspiring senior level manager, don’t hesitate to ask for their email and follow up. I’ve found that this particularly works well if you suggest inviting four to five other interns and making it a discussion as opposed to a one-on-one meeting. That way, you’re spreading the love and the executive may feel like it’s a better use of their time to speak with more people at once. But be warned – the meeting may not last long and it could easily take over a month to actually happen, if at all. Nonetheless, by taking this approach, my intern friends and I had dinner with Danielle Tiedt (CMO of YouTube), lunch with Stacy Brown-Philpot (Former Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Google Ventures, current COO of TaskRabbit), and an unforgettable meeting with Salar Kamangar (former CEO of YouTube).

5. Master Gmail shortcuts — While many people focus on learning Excel shortcuts (makes sense for investment bankers), the real time saver comes when you can navigate your inbox with just a few strokes of your keyboard. If you’re in Gmail, click the gear icon in the upper right, select settings, and scroll to “keyboard shortcuts” to turn them on. Print out this cheat sheet and download a chrome extension called KeyRocket to learn quickly. Other email clients (such as Outlook) have shortcuts, too.

6. Become a morning person — As a former career advisor, Erin Rovner read over 1,000 intern evaluations and found that “the most common negative feedback came from being late, even if it was just by a few minutes.” Arriving to the office on time (or even before your manager) does wonders for establishing your reputation as someone who is always ready to go. For college students, however, this is much easier said than done. If you’re a night owl, I highly recommend reading about how Jason Freedman, CEO of 42Floors, systematically ended his terrible habit of insomnia.

7. Pitch new project ideas — Doing well at what you’re told is expected; doing well at what you create makes you exceptional. Once you’re comfortable with your current responsibilities, tackle something new. Are there small projects sitting on your colleagues’ to-do lists? Can you help create an internal database of some sort? Would it be helpful to provide an analysis of the competitive landscape? Ask around and keep your ears open for new ways to contribute. Of course, don’t just run off and start working on whatever you feel; bring a list of ideas to your manager and go from there.

8. Meet with non-team members — Sit down with people from different departments and get a more holistic view of the company. Ask about their role, how they got there, and what they would improve about the company if they had the opportunity. Here’s a list of really illuminating questions that could also spark interesting conversations. Along the same lines, seek out alumni from your school and hear their perspective.

9. Go out with interns and colleagues — Elynn Lee, former intern at Google, Amazon and Facebook, says it best: “If you’re excited about the place you’re living in, you’ll be motivated to do well to earn a return offer. If you have fun in and out of work with coworkers and other interns, it’ll also be more clear that you’re a great fit for the company.” Exploring your surroundings doesn’t mean limiting yourself to restaurants, bars, and coffee shops either. For instance, my intern class rented a house in Lake Tahoe during the Fourth of July weekend and we did everything from hiking to kayaking to barbecuing. It was easily one of the most memorable experiences of the summer.

10. Ask to do a recap presentation before leaving — This is a perfect way to leave a strong last impression and thank all the people who helped you throughout the internship. Invite anybody who had an impact on your summer experience — and be sure to ask a few weeks in advance. In the presentation, emphasize all the work you did for your projects and lessons you learned — look back at your weekly recap emails for reference! Have fun with it, keep it brief, and allow time for questions.

Whatever you do, stay focused. Meeting interesting people, exploring your surroundings, and finding new opportunities is great, but never lose sight of your project goals and timelines. Find ways to have an incredible internship experience while advancing the company mission and thinking about the bigger picture.

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MONEY College

You Won’t Believe How Much Some Commencement Speakers Get Paid

Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey gives the University Of Houston Commencement Address at TDECU Stadium on May 15, 2015 in Houston, Texas.
Bob Levey—Getty Images Academy Award-winning actor Matthew McConaughey gives the University Of Houston Commencement Address at TDECU Stadium on May 15, 2015 in Houston, Texas.

Matthew McConaughey got a cool $135,000.

“Alright, alright, alright.”

Yes, Matthew McConaughey used his famed catchphrase while giving the commencement speech at the University of Houston this spring. The Oscar-winning actor also mentioned that while working on the movie that gave birth to the much-repeated phrase—Richard Linklater’s legendary 1993 film Dazed and Confused—he was psyched to be earning $325 a day.

Fast-forward to 2015, and McConaughey is doing better than merely “alright” in terms of his earning potential for a given day. After hounding the University of Houston to release the terms of the actor’s commencement appearance, the Houston Chronicle reported that McConaughey’s fee was $135,000 plus travel and expenses—money that McConaughey said he was giving to charity.

The University of Houston is hardly the only public university that paid a handsome sum to a high-profile commencement speaker this spring. The Boston Globe just revealed that three state schools in Massachusetts paid $25,000 to $35,000 apiece, “or amounts totaling more than a year’s worth of the tuition and fees they charge students,” for graduation speakers. The University of Massachusetts-Amherst (disclosure: I work there part-time) paid Neil deGrasse Tyson $25,000 for a speech that lasted roughly 15 minutes, plus almost $3,000 extra to cover the celebrity astrophysicist’s expenses and expected taxes. UMass-Lowell paid actor LeVar Burton $35,000 total for three speeches (two commencement events and a fundraiser), while Westfield State University paid $30,000 plus expenses for a 14-minute commencement speech by Brandon Stanton, the photographer and creator of Humans of New York.

These fees may seem exorbitant, but they’re actually on par with what many colleges have paid for commencement speeches in the past. According to InsideHigherEd.com, Katie Couric received $110,000 for the 2006 commencement address at the University of Oklahoma, and High Point University paid Rudy Giuliani $75,000 to be commencement speaker in 2005.

Universities defend such fees as necessary and worthwhile because they raise the profile of their institutions and help attract new students and increase involvement and donations from alumni. Still, it’s been estimated that only about 30% of colleges pay for commencement speakers. That means the majority of speakers offer their commencement addresses for free.

Read next: Great Career Advice from 2015 College Commencement Speeches

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