TIME justice

Obama Administration Could Expand Pell Grant Eligibility to Prisoners

Arne Duncan Obama prisoners pell grants
Brendan Smialowski—AFP/Getty Images Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with President Obama at the White House, in March 2015.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan hinted recently that administration is “developing experimental sites” that would make Pell Grants available to prisoners

The Obama administration could soon unveil a plan that would make federal college grants available to prisoners.

On Monday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hinted during a policy speech that the administration is “developing experimental sites” that would, among other things, make Pell Grants available to “incarcerated adults seeking an independent, productive life after they get out of jail.”

The Wall Street Journal reports the announcement could come as soon as Friday, when Duncan and Attorney General Loretta Lynch are slated to make a joint appearance at a prison in Maryland on Friday.

The move would be the latest attempt by the Obama administration to provide opportunities to prisoners that could help reduce the national recidivism rate. According to Inside Higher Ed, six House Democrats introduced a bill in May that would expand Pell Grant eligibility to those behind bars. Congress blocked prisoners from Pell Grant eligibility in the 1990s.

TIME Science

This Affects Your Ability to Do Well on Exams

girl-writing-rear-view
Getty Images

Differences in academic exam results are—to a large extent—explained by differences in people’s DNA

Could it be that genetic differences can affect how well children perform in exams? Our research suggests that this may well be the case and that individual differences between children are, to a large extent, due to the inherited genetic differences between them that predisposes them to do well academically, whatever the subject.

We also found that there is shared genetic influence across a range of subjects, even after controlling the exam results for general intelligence.

It goes without saying that children’s exam results at the end of compulsory education play a significant role in their future education and career paths. And it is also reasonable to assume that schools play a major role in school achievement. But children differ in educational achievement within the same school – and even the same classroom. This suggests that factors other than school or classroom differences explain the wide variation in pupils’ exam results.

Our new research, published in Scientific Reports, examined the GCSE results, using classical twin method, that compares the correlations between identical and non-identical twins, and found that individual differences in exam results are to a large extent explained by the inherited differences in children’s DNA sequence.

We also found that many of the same genes influence achievement across a range of subjects – so, children who tend to do well in one subject tend to do well in others, largely for genetic reasons.

Previous research using data from the Twins Early Development Study (TEDS), found that there is substantial heritability for educational achievement in early and middle school years. Heritability is a population statistic, which describes the extent to which differences between children can be explained by the differences in their DNA, on average, in a particular population at a particular time.

So, for example, a heritability of 90%, means that 90% of individual differences observed in a group of people for a trait are explained by genetic differences between them and 10% explained by environmental factors. What it doesn’t tell us, is anything about an individual.

We already knew, based on our research which was published in 2007, (based on a UK representative sample of 7,500 twins pairs who were tested at the ages of 7, 9, and 12) that the average heritability for literacy and numeracy is almost 70%. In other words, more than two-thirds of the variation seen in academic test results is explained by genetic differences between children.

Further research from 2013 also found that educational achievement, as measured by standardised exams (GCSEs), at age 16 is also substantially heritable, with genetic factors explaining about 60% of the variance in results of the core subjects of English, mathematics and sciences.

How genes influence achievement

Our new study sought to determine whether the high heritability of core academic subjects also extends to various other subjects, such as history and geography, which involve more fact-based knowledge – or art, music and drama, which are more subjective subjects.

We analysed achievement data from the twins in TEDS to assess the extent to which genetic factors influence various school subjects – and, in particular, GCSE exam results.

We found that genes explain a larger proportion of the differences between children across different subjects (54-65%) than shared environmental factors, such as home and school environment combined (14-21%).

However, it’s important to stress that heritability is a population statistic and this does not mean that genetics explain 54-65% of a single child’s school achievement. But it does indicate that differences in academic exam results are, to a large extent, explained by differences in people’s DNA.

Our study indicates that this substantial heritability for school exams is not explained by intelligence alone, as heritability for GCSE grades for all subjects remained substantial even after statistically removing the intelligence scores from the exam results. This finding is in line with our previous research in which we found a similar result for the mandatory subjects of English, maths and science.

We had also found that heritability of GCSE exam results involves the joint contribution of many other factors, including children’s self-efficacy, or pupil’s belief in his/her abilities, behavioural problems, personality traits, well-being, and their perceptions of school environment – as well as their intelligence.

Although our results cannot be applied directly to classroom teaching right now, they do, however, add to the growing knowledge of why children differ so widely in educational achievement.

Same genes, range of subjects

Our new results also indicate that achievement across a wide range of academic subjects including English, mathematics, science, humanities, second languages, business and art are influenced by many of the same genes.

This shared genetic influence is, to a large extent, independent of intelligence, suggesting that there is a genetically driven “general academic achievement factor”. This means that its largely down to genetic reasons that children who tend to do well in one subject also tend to do well in others even when different levels of intelligence is controlled.

Our findings could also facilitate molecular genetic research that aims to identify the genes responsible for academic achievement by focusing on achievement across different subjects, rather than focusing only on a specific subject such as mathematics or English.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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.

TIME Education

George Washington University Drops Admissions Test Requirements

A growing number of schools no longer require the ACT or the SAT

Students applying to George Washington University will no longer have to submit SAT and ACT scores for the upcoming application cycle, a reflection of the school’s desire to increase access to disadvantaged students who typically do not do as well on standardized tests, the school announced Wednesday. According to the new policy, students who want to send their SAT and ACT scores are free to do so.

“Although we have long employed a holistic application review process, we had concerns that students who could be successful at GW felt discouraged from applying if their scores were not as strong as their high school performance,” Dean of Admissions Karen Stroud Felton told the Washington Post “We want outstanding students from all over the world and from all different backgrounds–regardless of their standardized scores–to recognize GW as a place where they can thrive.”

Many schools now choose to go test-optional because they believe they can recruit an equally strong student body, without requiring standardized tests that tend to disadvantage minority students and students from poor socioeconomic backgrounds.

“I have to question why having less information to make a decision is a good thing. To me, for a good decision, you want as much information as possible” ACT President Jon L. Erickson told the Post.

According to the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, or FairTest, an organization that supports test-optional policies, more than 800 four-year colleges are flexible about applicants submitting test scores

Along with schools that require no test scores, “test-flexible” schools like New York University allow students to choose between submitting the SAT, the ACT, or SAT subject test or AP scores.

 

 

 

TIME Parenting

How to Get Your Kids to Actually DO Summer Reading

reading in the park
Getty Images

It doesn't have to be a chore

As anyone will tell you, kids who don’t read over the summer actively lose some of what they learned the year before.

Summer reading lists are great, and the world is full of them, including this one from the American Library Association. But how can parents get their kids to turn to books when there are so many other distractions that beckon them?

Parents don’t have time for boring newsletters. Sign up for Time For Parents, a fun weekly roundup of parenting news and tips.

With elementary age kids, says literacy advocate Jen Robinson, it’s good to read aloud – even long after kids can read for themselves. “Kids who are read to even after they can read on their own are more likely to continue to enjoy reading as they get older,” she says. And “reading together gives families a common vocabulary, and a springboard for all kinds of interesting discussions.” Parents can get their kids to think about the book with questions like “What do you think will happen next? Do you think that was a good ending?”

Middle school kids probably don’t want to have their parents read aloud to them. But there’s no reason parents can’t read along with them, says Andrew Medlar, president of the American Library Service to Children. At this age, “aspirational reading is very big,” he says: kids are “wanting to be grown up, and be perceived as grown up, and learn about what the teen and grown up world is all about.” It’s a great time for parents to pick up the same book their kids are reading, and start a conversation about it.

Kid not a reader at all? Try Tech Hacks to Help Struggling Readers

High school students are starting to become more independent, Medlar says. So it’s a key time to leave reading materials out that “they can discover.” They also have a lot more reading for school, Robinson observes. So parents can start conversations with them about “how to find time for pleasure reading–and how to keep the assigned reading” from feeling like “drudgery”–so that kids develop, and keep, a lifelong love of reading.

TIME Careers & Workplace

8 Free Online Resources That Will Help You Advance Your Career

man-working-office-rear-view
Getty Images

Pick up a new language, learn to code or develop a financial plan

Whether you want to gain industry knowledge or pick up some new skills, there are plenty of resources online that will allow you to learn at your own pace without having to pay any fees.

From Glassdoor’s job review database to Codeacademy’s programming classes, we’ve rounded up our favorite free online resources for boosting your career.

1. Glassdoor

Glassdoor provides employee reviews of companies of all sizes with insight into what it’s like to work there, as well as compensation data. You can use the info to prepare for job interviews or to negotiate your salary.

Discover job opportunities >>

2. Khan Academy

A Khan Academy account will get you access to hundreds of video lectures and exercises on a wide variety of topics, many of them narrated by the site’s founder and executive director Sal Khan.

The site is especially useful if you want to learn specific topics rather than an entire subject, like how the stock market works and how to build a balance sheet.

Gain some practical knowledge >>

3. Coursera and edX

Coursera and edX may be competitors, but they’re both worth checking out for their selection of in-depth courses from top universities like Stanford and UPenn.

Many courses are also highly practical rather than theoretical, like “Successful Negotiation” from the University of Michigan on Coursera or “Communicating Strategically” from Purdue on edX.

Explore Coursera >>

Explore edX >>

4. Codeacademy

Taking an introductory class in coding isn’t going to get you a top engineering job at Google, but it could help you understand the mechanics of what you’re working with every day, demystifying how software and websites function.

It’s a great way to learn languages like HTML and CSS, JavaScript, jQuery, PHP, Python, and Ruby. Whether you want to become fluent in HTML to better maneuver your company’s content management system or take skill-based classes like how to build an interactive website, Codeacademy will help you get there.

Learn how to code >>

5. LearnVest

Working for your paycheck is one thing, but if you want to learn how to make your paycheck work for you, LearnVest is a great resource. While you can purchase financial advisory services, its free in-depth articles will answer most of your general personal finance questions.

If you never learned how to budget or want to develop a retirement plan, LearnVest has you covered.

Develop healthy financial habits >>

6. Investopedia

Investopedia can be your go-to resource for learning about the world of finance. If you’d like to start taking advantage of compound interest or compound growth but can’t tell a mutual fund from a hedge fund, you can explore Investopedia’s many guides, instructional videos, and encyclopedia entries.

Grow your financial vocabulary >>

7. Y Combinator Startup Library

If you’re considering leaving your job to start your own business or are just wondering what it would be like to have a fun side project, Y Combinator’s Startup Library is a good place to get an idea of what it takes to be an entrepreneur.

Y Combinator is a seed fund that puts promising entrepreneurs through a rigorous bootcamp-like period that ends with a pitch to investors for serious amounts of capital. Its website’s free library features insightful blog posts from YC cofounder Paul Graham on creating and developing companies, as well as links to external sources, like a guide to writing the perfect business plan from renowned Silicon Valley venture capital firm Sequoia Capital.

Pursue your entrepreneurial drive >>

8. Duolingo

Maybe your company opened a new office in Germany that could provide an exciting career opportunity you’ve been waiting for, but you don’t know a word of German. Before pursuing an advanced course, you can learn the basics for free from Duolingo.

A 2012 independent study conducted by Roumen Vesselinov of the City University of New York and John Grego of the University of South Carolina found that 34 hours spent with Duolingo are equivalent to an 11-week semester of a language course.

Learn a new language >>

This article originally appeared on Business Insider

More from Business Insider:

TIME Education

Meet the Mother-Daughter Team Set on Saving Cursive

It's not as loopy as it may sound

A mother-daughter team is fighting a battle that should inspire bands of ruler-wielding teachers to join them in the fray—and will lead others to accuse them of being out of touch with the modern student. Linda Shrewsbury and Prisca LeCroy want America’s future generations to learn cursive, and they’ve just finished publishing their first book on the subject, which Kickstarters gave them over $33,000 to design and produce.

It’s easy to make the argument that class time would be better spent teaching kids to type 80 words-per-minute (or to code for that matter). In this digital age, isn’t giving cursive pride of place in the curriculum the didactic equivalent of teaching teens to ride horses instead of drive cars? After all, the Common Core standards being adopted by states around the country don’t waste any space on laying out penmanship goals.

Courtesy Linda ShrewsburyLinda Shrewsbury, left, and her daughter Prisca LeCroy are on a mission to preserve cursive.

The ladies have plenty of retorts to this line of thinking. Chief among their scientific missiles are studies that show cursive fires up areas of the brain that tracing, typing or even printing letters does not. “They’re doing some studies that seem to suggest there’s something special about cursive,” says 34-year-old LeCroy, who was home-schooled by Shrewsbury before becoming an attorney and is now a full-time stay-at-home mom in Dallas.

Teaching kids old-fashioned penmanship, proponents like her argue, helps refine their fine motor skills and their visual cognition, while beefing up the lobes known to underline successful reading. One study found that students who handwrote rather than typed on writing assignments tended to write more and come up with more ideas.

Then there is the cultural ammunition. Only kids who can read cursive will make a jot of sense out of the original copy of the Constitution on display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.—where the two of them recently gave a presentation on this very topic. “Do we want them to actually have the capacity to be historians?” says LeCroy. “Or do we want them to be lemmings?” For Shrewsbury, cursive is a proud old vehicle for fostering artistry and individuality in people, as well as a line the ties us to the past.

“My strongest feeling about cursive is the idea you can capture individuality and personality in a signature and have it be preserved for generations,” says Shrewsbury, a 63-year-old who has taught government to students in Tulsa and English to students in Africa. “I think about the fact that I know the handwriting of members of my family. The idea of throwing away a tradition that powerful and simple makes no senses to me.”

Shrewsbury got started on this mission while volunteering to tutor a 23-year-old student named Josh in a local literacy program. He had learning difficulties, but as they bonded over improving his reading skills, he confessed to her that he had never learned cursive and wanted to be able to sign his name. While it might not make a difference in a legal sense whether one prints or loops their autograph on a contract, to him there was a sense of dignity that he was missing (and, it’s worth noting, printed signatures are easier to forge). So Shrewbury tried to figure out a simple way to teach him the letters and noticed patterns in how the letters are formed—four patterns to be exact: an oval, a loop, a swing and a mound.

These, for instance, are letters that are all formed using a move they call “over oval, back trace.” If you trace the movements, you’ll see what they mean:

CursiveLogic

Using these insights, Shrewsbury says she was able to get Josh writing in cursive in about 45 minutes. “I hear all around me that cursive takes too long to teach and is too hard to learn,” she says.

Unfortunately, TIME cannot reveal all their secrets because rather than tackle this issue through lawmaking—as many would-be saviors of cursive have—these ladies are trying to win the battle through business. The book on their method is called CursiveLogic, and in Shrewsbury’s dreams, these guides will sell like such hotcakes that she can eventually use the proceeds to start local education programs in Tulsa for African-American boys and men who, like Josh, “have fallen through the cracks” of the educational system.

The ladies aren’t arguing that teaching kids cursive should displace typing classes, but not be lost in the dust of progress. LeCroy says that with even the suggestion that it might have benefits—in an era when we’re making more things with pixels and fewer with our hands—cursive is a craft worth preserving. “Wouldn’t it be bad if a generation if kids didn’t learn it?” she says. “Why would we want to strip away that little bit of creativity?”

TIME Workplace & Careers

10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn’t Worthless

HBO, Starbucks, and Disney's CEOs were once disgruntled liberal arts majors, too

Hearing a son or daughter say they’re majoring in the liberal arts has never made more parents’ hearts sink into their stomachs. STEM degrees appear atop nearly every ‘best majors’ list, President Barack Obama has made jabs at the usefulness of a humanities degree, and college dropouts have colonized the Fortune 500. So when unemployed English majors joke that no degree would be better than one in liberal arts—they might actually not be kidding.

But there is life after liberal arts — just ask these 10 CEOs. From a self-proclaimed “completely unemployable” history major, to a B-average communications student at a No. 91-ranked state school, to a hippie philosophy dropout who wanted to fix capitalism, here’s how these formerly disgruntled liberal arts majors beat everyone else to the helms of some top companies.

  • Howard Schultz, Starbucks CEO

    Howard Schultz Starbucks CEO
    Stephen Brashear—Getty Images Howard Schultz speaks during an annual shareholders meeting March 18, 2015, in Seattle, Wash.

    Degree: B.S. in Communications, Northern Michigan University, 1975

    On worrying about his post-college job prospects: A first-generation college student, Schultz grew up in a working-class family in the Projects of Canarsie in Brooklyn, and later attended NMU on a football scholarship. “During senior year, I also picked up a few business classes, because I was starting to worry about what I would do after graduation. I maintained a B average, applying myself only when I had to take a test or make a presentation,” Schultz wrote in his 1999 business memoir, Pour Your Heart Into It. To my parents, I had attained the big prize: a diploma. But I had no direction. No one ever helped me see the value in the knowledge I was gaining.”

    On getting his start in business: After graduating from college in 1975, like a lot of kids, I didn’t know what to do next… I took some time to think, but still no inspiration came,” Schultz wrote in his memoir. “After a year, I went back to New York and got a job with Xerox, in the sales training program. I learned more there than in college about the worlds of work and business.” After three years, Schultz joined a Swedish drip coffee maker manufacturer before moving to Starbucks as director of marketing in 1982. He has served as CEO since 2008.

    On success: It took years before I found my passion in life,” the coffee exec wrote. “But getting out of Brooklyn and earning a college degree gave me the courage to keep on dreaming.” Schultz added: “I can’t give you any secret recipe for success. But my own experience suggests that it is possible to start from nothing and achieve even beyond your dreams.”

  • Andrea Jung, Former Avon CEO

    Andrea Jung, CEO of Avon Products Inc., accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award during the Clinton Global Citizen Award ceremony marking the culmination of the Clinton Global Initiative in New York
    Lucas Jackson— Reuters Andrea Jung accepts the Leadership in the Corporate Sector award at the Clinton Global Citizen in New York on Sept. 23, 2010.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature, Princeton University, 1979

    On whether she had ever imagined being a Fortune 500 CEO: A trailblazer for female CEOs, Jung finds it hard to believe how a Princeton bookworm came to lead the world’s largest direct cosmetics seller, where she was chief from 1999 to 2012. “What I find myself doing [now] was pretty unimaginable for me in 1979, after I finished my much-loved thesis on Katherine Mansfeld and my junior papers on Virginia Woolf,” Jung told students in a 2012 speech at her alma mater.To be standing here, and saying, ‘I now run a $10 billion global company’—I would’ve said, ‘Couldn’t be possible, that is not an imagined career path, not an imagined journey.’ Things have certainly taken a wonderful, but different, path.”

    On being an English major: “Because I was an English major, I loved journalism, I thought perhaps I’d go back to journalism school or law school,” Jung said during her speech. But her friends told her about a training program at Bloomingdale’s to gain experience in marketing and merchandising before hitting the books once more. “I fell in love with the business and the consumer,” Jung recalled. So she ditched her grad school plans, and dove into the women’s apparel, accessories and cosmetics industry. “The rest is history.”

     

  • Michael Eisner, Former Walt Disney Company CEO

    Disney CEO Michael Eisner
    Hector Mata—AFP/Getty Images Disney CEO Michael Eisner (R) and his hand-picked successor Robert Iger pose for a photograph in Disneyland in Anaheim, Calif., on July 17, 2005.

    Degree: B.A. in English Literature and Theater, Denison University, 1964

    On the importance of liberal arts: “Literature is unbelievably helpful, because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick,” argued Eisner, who served as Disney CEO from 1984 to 2005, in a 2001 interview with USA Today.

    On failed dreams and unemployment after college: “After graduating from Denison, I set off on the ocean liner Mauritania for Paris, figuring that I’d find some café to write in, live the bohemian life for several years, and turn out plays that would eventually find their way to Broadway,” Eisner recalled in his 1999 autobiography, Work in Progress. Realizing quickly that he didn’t have the talent to become the “next great American playwright,” Eisner moved to New York to find a steady job. “The only problem,” he recalled, “was that I couldn’t get a job… My inability to land a job left me feeling lonely, dislocated and slightly frantic.”

    On starting off at a $65/week job: A few months later, in late 1964, Eisner received his first job offer, an NBC clerk where he logged the times each commercial appeared on air, and whether they were black-and-white—for just $65 per week. “It was far better than being unemployed,” he wrote in his autobiography. Later, he quickly scaled the corporate ladder at ABC and Paramount Pictures, before serving as Disney’s chief from 1984 to 2005. As the New York Times said of Eisner’s skill set in a 1998 article: “Eisner is unusual among entertainment moguls because he has had both creative and corporate experience. He knows how you put a show together and avoid going broke doing it.”

     

     

  • Richard Plepler, HBO CEO

    Richard Plepler HBO CEO
    Frederick M. Brown—Getty Images Richard Plepler speaks during the 2011 Summer TCA Tour on July 28, 2011, in Beverly Hills, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in Government, Franklin & Marshall College, 1981

    On drawing inspiration from his liberal arts studies: HBO’s chief since 2013, Plepler recalled in a commencement speech this year at his alma mater that, when trying to land his first job, he turned to Ralph Waldo Emerson’s writings. “I believed, with Emerson, that if a man planted himself on his convictions and hopes that, ‘the huge world will come ’round to him.’ I always felt that, and all these years later, still do,” he said. “I decided to do everything in my power to secure a job, however lowly, in the nation’s capital. I got in my little Honda, and I drove to Washington, used all my energy and power of persuasion to try to talk my way onto the staff of a young U.S. Senator from my home state of Connecticut, Christopher Dodd.”

    On the chance encounter that led to his HBO career: After four years in D.C., Plepler moved to New York City in 1987 and started a one-man consultancy. One night, at a Chinese restaurant, he looked up and saw Benjamin Netanyahu, then the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations. That year had marked the first Palestinian uprising against Israeli occupation, a topic familiar to Plepler, who then decided—on the spot—to pitch to him a documentary film about the conflict. “He barely looked up from his dumpling,” Plepler admitted. “He finally asked me to sit down, he listened, nodded and after a variety of happy accidents in the coming weeks and months, I produced a film… The film captured the imagination of the then Chairman of HBO, who invited me to join the company.”

    On what young grads can learn from reading Game of Thrones: As Plepler said during his speech: “While the road ahead, to quote from Game of Thrones, is ‘dark and full of terrors,’ it is hardly insurmountable.”

  • Carly Fiorina, Former Hewlett-Packard CEO

    Carly Fiorina HP CEO
    John G. Mabanglo—AFP/Getty Images Carly Fiorina responds to media questions after an HP shareholders meeting in Cupertino, Calif., on March 19, 2002.

    Degree: B.A. in Medieval History and Philosophy, Stanford University, 1976

    On becoming CEO of a leading computer company: Armed with a Stanford history degree yet still “completely unemployable,” Fiorina worked short stints as a receptionist, English teacher and secretary. At 25, she landed a sales rep job at AT&T, and quickly rose up in the IT and tech industry, eventually becoming HP’s chief from 1999 to 2005. When asked in a 2001 USA Today interview whether her degree was of any use, Fiorina said how studying the transformation from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance helped her approach the ongoing technological revolution: “We have, in fact, seen nothing yet.”

    On being proud of her liberal arts background: “While I joke that my medieval history and philosophy degree prepared me not for the job market, I must tell you it did prepare me for life,” the 2016 Republican presidential candidate said in March, speaking of education policy. “I learned how to condense a whole lot of information down to the essence. That thought process has served me my whole life… I’m one of these people who believes we should be teaching people music, philosophy, history, art.”

    (Fiorina also earned an MBA from the Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, in 1980; and an MS from the MIT Sloan School of Management in 1989.)

     

  • John Mackey, Whole Foods Co-CEO

    John Mackey Whole Foods CEO
    Andrew Harrer—Bloomberg via Getty Images John Mackey speaks at the World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C., on April 6, 2011.

    Degree (dropped out): B.A. in Philosophy and Religion, The University of Texas at Austin, 1977

    On the benefits of being a literary hippie and college dropout: “I accumulated about 120 hours of electives, primarily in philosophy, religion, history, world literature, and other humanities. I only took classes I was interested in, and if a class bored me, I quickly dropped it,” Mackey wrote in his 2013 book, Conscious Capitalism. Mackey, a shaggy-haired yogi, meditator and vegetarian living in a commune, ended up not taking a single business class: “I actually think that has worked to my advantage in business over the years. As an entrepreneur, I had nothing to unlearn and new possibilities for innovation.”

    On philosophy and founding Whole Foods: During his college years, Mackey drifted into a progressive political philosophy that taught him “both business and capitalism were fundamentally based on greed, selfishness, and exploitation,” the self-described “classical liberal” wrote in his book. That, he said, was the motivation for his girlfriend and him to open a natural foods store, Safer Way, in 1978. In two years, they renamed it Whole Foods Market.

  • Susan Wojcicki, YouTube CEO

    Susan Wojcicki YouTube CEO
    Kimberly White—Getty Images for Vanity Fair Susan Wojcicki speaks at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit on Oct. 9, 2014 in San Francisco, Calif.

    Degree: B.A. in History and Literature, Harvard University, 1990

    On majoring in the humanities: Wojcicki, an early Google employee who became YouTube’s CEO in 2014, credits her parents — both of whom were teachers — with encouraging her broad interests: “Their goal wasn’t to become famous or make money… They found something interesting, and they cared about it. I mean, it could be ants, or it could be math, or it could be earthquakes or classical Latin literature,” the California native told Fast Company in 2014. “No one in my family had ever worked in business beforehand. So there was the expectation that I would just go into academics.”

    On becoming one of the most powerful women in tech: Wojcicki had originally planned on getting a PhD after graduation, but her career path changed when she discovered the power of technology her senior year at Harvard, when she took the school’s popular intro computer science class. “CS50 changed my life,” she recalled in a video encouraging students to take the class. “When I graduated from Harvard in 1990, I went to Silicon Valley, and I got a job, and I’ve been working in tech ever since.”

    (Wojcicki also earned an MS in Economics from University of California, Santa Cruz, in 1993; and an MBA from the UCLA Anderson School of Management in 1998.)

  • Steve Ells, Chipotle Co-CEO

    Steve ells chipotle CEO
    Victor J. Blue—Bloomberg via Getty Images Steve Ells on a Bloomberg Television interview in New York on June 27, 2014.

    Degree: B.A. in Art History, University of Colorado Boulder, 1988

    On his liberal arts education: “In college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I studied art history and had a great time, but I didn’t have any sort of career aspirations,” recalled Ells in a 2004 interview with Westword. “I never took business classes in school. I never really thought about the economics of a restaurant — only the food and the experience,” Ells added in a 2011 video interview about Chipotle’s beginnings.

    On founding the now-$20 billion burrito chain: After college, Ells, who had always been passionate about cooking, attended the Culinary Institute of America, graduating in 1990. When he launched Chipotle three years later, he had to play catch-up with his business smarts. “Raising money for Chipotle was really my MBA,” Ells said in a 2009 Wall Street Journal interview.People asked a lot of questions about the business that forced me to take a critical look at how it ran.”

  • Alexa Hirschfeld, Paperless Post Co-Founder

    Alexa Hirschfeld Paperless Post Ceo
    Ramin Talaie—Bloomberg/Getty Images Alexa Hirschfeld speaks at the Empowered Entrepreneur Conference in New York on Oct. 18, 2011.

    Degree: B.A. in Classics, Harvard University, 2006

    On quitting her first job to co-found Paperless Post with her brother: The e-vite service was conceived in 2007 by her younger brother, James, while the Harvard undergrad was planning his 21st birthday party. He then called his sister, who had planned to leave her first job as an editorial assistant at CBS, where she was often stuck opening mail. “I wanted to be in something that was not figured out yet,” Alexa said in a 2011 interview with Cosmopolitan. “I imagined that if I were, there would be more room for creativity.”

    On developing Paperless Post: “[James and I were] really focused on not having lives that were really awful and conventional,” Alexa told the Harvard Crimson in a 2011 interview. But starting out wasn’t exactly easy, she said: “The gestation period was really painful. It felt like, ‘Is this ever going to be real?’ We sat in my parents’ living room and we didn’t celebrate any holidays for two years — we both lost a lot of weight.”

    On how her non-technical skills helped her in the tech field: “We’re very contrary to the Internet,” Hirschfeld said in a 2013 interview with The Huffington Post. “So these people who were the scions of the Internet did not get it. They were like, ‘Why would you care what it looks like? Wouldn’t you just want a calendar invite? Why would you want to have an image?’ Like, you know, the Internet’s not about that — we left those formalities back in the real world.”

  • Jack Ma, Alibaba Chairman

    Jack Ma Alibaba CEO
    Andrew Burton—Getty Images Jack Ma poses for a photo outside the NYSE prior to Alibaba's IPO on Sept. 19, 2014 in New York City.

    Degree: B.A. in English, Hangzhou Normal University (Hangzhou Teacher’s Institute), 1988

    On struggling to put his English degree to use: After graduating from college — it took Ma three tries to even pass China’s college entrance exam — Ma faced a string of over 30 job rejections, including a rejection from Kentucky Fried Chicken. He was eventually was hired to teach English at a local college for $20 a month, while also running a small translation company and peddling flowers, books and clothes to support himself on the side. Ma’s English skills later caught the attention of some entrepreneurs, through whom he learned about the Internet. In 1999, he and 17 friends founded Alibaba.com, the global wholesale online marketplace. Its $25 billion IPO in 2014 was the largest ever.

    On why liberal arts education matters, especially for China: With entrepreneurship and innovation critical for China’s future, Ma has emphasized repeatedly why Chinese education needs to be less pre-professional. As Ma shared in an internal speech to his Alibaba employees: “I told my son, ‘You don’t need to be in the top three in your class. Being in the middle is fine, so long as your grades aren’t too bad.’ Only this kind of person has enough free time to learn other skills.”

TIME Education

5 Tips for Completing AP Summer Homework

man-reading-grass
Getty Images

Create a schedule

Across the United States and abroad, thousands of high school students are enrolling in and preparing for Advanced Placement (or AP) courses. The AP curriculum is rigorous, and as a result, many AP programs assign homework during the summer. Although this homework carries a significant cost in time and effort for reluctant students, it can help you maintain and strengthen your academic skills during the long summer months.

The total “cost” can move well beyond time and effort, however — if you reach the week before school begins without having completed this assigned homework, you may run the very real risk of struggling in the class before it even starts. Even if your AP summer homework is not factored into your regular grade (and at many high schools, it is), you could be starting the academic year at a disadvantage.

Luckily, AP summer homework is not insurmountable. If you are facing a mountain of required reading, problem sets, and essays, here are several tips and tricks that can help you complete your AP summer homework:

Acknowledge its importance

For AP-level students, one of the most challenging aspects of summer homework is believing in its importance. “It’s summer!” your mind might unhappily shout. “Summer is for fun!” Unfortunately, the reality is that true learning is a continuous process. Completing your AP homework does not need to be an all-consuming task (and reaching that state is unhealthy), but it does need to be a task this summer. Think of it this way — world-class athletes do not train for part of the year. They instead follow a consistent schedule that varies in intensity. The summer is a time that your brain can use to recharge, but it still needs stimulation. Consider your AP homework that stimulation.

Create a schedule

Before you begin your AP homework, make a plan. On the first day of summer vacation, it may seem as though you have months in which to do your work, but this time quickly disappears. Procrastinating can be a recipe for disaster.

To ensure you remain on schedule, purchase a calendar and set milestones in pen. Do leave time to enjoy a family vacation or an outing with friends. If you have two books to read for AP English Literature and Composition, for example, note the page counts, and divide the total pages by the days until school begins. This is your daily minimum.

Reward your progress

Write each of your milestones, or goals, on an index card with the target date of completion and a reward for adhering to that schedule. Post these index cards where you will see them — beside your television, next to your laptop, on the refrigerator, etc. Choose a reward that is truly motivating, such as seeing a highly anticipated movie. If you tend to procrastinate, consider leaving a favorite video game or personal possession with a friend or family member who will only return the item to you when you reach your goal.

Stay in contact with classmates and teachers

Summer homework is far less beneficial if you do not understand the assignment. Some AP teachers will provide you with a reading guide for AP United States History or an answer key for your AP Calculus BC problems. You can also look for relevant resources online. Ask if your teacher welcomes questions over summer vacation, or start a study group with your classmates. Without the consistent feedback that you receive during the school year, it can be difficult to know when your summer homework is done well. Communicating with your classmates and/or teachers can help you avoid that uncomfortable, sinking feeling when you reach the first test of the school year, only to find that your leisurely pool-side skimming of A Tale of Two Cities was insufficient.

Continually challenge yourself

The best architects, athletes, doctors, lawyers, teachers, and, yes, students become better at their trades by constantly challenging themselves. Signing up for an AP class certainly counts as a challenge, but once you have your AP summer assignments in hand, begin looking for ways to improve your knowledge base and your performance as a student. This advice is doubly true if your AP program does not assign much (or any) summer homework. Seek out AP practice tests in AP Biology or AP Statistics, and experiment with the problems they contain. Not only can you work these problems into the schedule you created, you can also utilize them to identify your class-specific strengths and weaknesses. If you are focusing on courses that are literature-heavy, look for each class’s reading list, and get a head start on the books that will be assigned early in the school year. It can seem near-impossible to motivate yourself in the summer months, but come fall, you will likely be very glad you did. Good luck!

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.

More from Varsity Tutors:

TIME Education

I Use Star Trek in My Classroom to Have Difficult Conversations About Race and Gender

A scene from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."
Paramount A scene from "Star Trek: The Motion Picture."

Star Trek has stories and characters that give meaning and purpose to our collective sense of identity and existence

The television series Star Trek: The Original Series (1966–1969) debuted one year after my immediate family and I relocated from the Harlem district of New York City to an area of South Central Los Angeles in 1965. This was also the year in which that latter metropolis erupted into riots that became known collectively as the Watts Rebellion. The television series became a form of escape from the surroundings of a depressing urban reality and envisioning a more tolerant future.

As it turned out, however, TV was not to be the key to that future. Rather, that entrée would be provided by many subsequent years of formal education that would spark in me an intellectual curiosity about the inner workings of the trek of life—engaging the tangibles of this world as well as the intangibles I imagined to exist beyond the stars.

It was through the arts and humanities that I attempted to grapple with the many intersecting questions I had about things that mattered most to me, such as race, gender and sexuality, as well as technology of the past, present and future.

Fast forward half a century—to where I help my students attempt to make sense of exactly those same relevant, complex questions.

Teaching complex, contemporary issues

After earning a doctoral degree in art history and teaching at the university level for 25 of those intervening years, I have observed a contradiction in the majority of students of this Generation Y: They seem connected and yet very distanced from the overwhelming complexities of the world around them.

The point of connection appears strongest in the area of popular culture. The disconnect, ironically, seems vested in a contemporary (sometimes blind) obsession with technology.

As a historian of art and visual culture by training, I wrestled with how popular culture and technology might be combined in a thought-provoking fashion with difficult and uncomfortable social and personal matters. How might these issues be made important to a student’s contemporary situation, to her or his daily experiences and encounters?

I found part of the answer by traveling back to the 1960s, when difficult social change movements around race (civil rights, black power), gender (the women’s movement) and sexuality (the gay and lesbian movement) were in full swing and paralleled the national obsession with technology, the space race and indulgence in popular culture as a way to both escape and liberate ourselves.

The result of my time travel was the creation of a new course for the 21st century entitled “Roaming the Star Trek Universe: Race, Gender, and Alien Sexualities.” The course explores the Star Trek universe of science fiction television as one way to probe critical issues of race, gender and alternate forms of sexuality. The response to the course offering was overwhelming.

But why would students be interested, and why teach such a course in today’s complex world?

Why does it matter?

Certainly, this is not the first nor last course to be taught on Star Trek. However, what makes it different, or at least unusual, is its open-ended interest in the intersecting dynamics of race, gender and varying forms of sexuality.

As a persuasive tool in imagining the possibilities of the future, Star Trek has the power and pull to immerse the individual completely through stories and characters that give meaning and purpose to our collective sense of identity and existence.

For instance, in the original series episode, called “Let that be your last battlefield” (1969), the conflict between two bi-colored humanoids named Lokai and Bele leads to questions of racial and political friction, assigning racial designations and bringing out the tensions of identity politics.

As with real life, there are no pat solutions but many consequences.

The science fiction genre, as part of popular culture, provides a seductive means of examining the intersections of the concerns of race, gender and sexuality in exciting and daring new ways such as, for instance, using Klingons as metaphors for Muslims and Vulcans for Jews.

The linking of past, present and future through subjects such as slavery, racism, colonization, feminism, reproductive technologies, homosexuality/homophobia, spirituality and religious fundamentalism, just to name a few, stimulates critical reexamination of today’s very real problems.

One way to do this, for example, is to ask probing questions so to get students thinking about ways in which interspecies conflicts among humans, Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, Andorians, Betazoids, Cardassians and Bajorans, to name a few, are portrayed and how they mirror or parallel disagreements between today’s nations, races, genders, religions and classes.

The idea of creating futuristic spaces, places and experiences that are modeled on past and contemporary situations poses questions about the possibility of achieving optimistic futures and the inevitability of being left with pessimistic ones.

Science fiction is about everything

Counter to stereotype, science fiction is not only about the future of technology and science, but encompasses what the writer and educator Thomas Lombardo calls “the future of everything” – the future of society, culture, ethics, the environment, the human mind, races, genders, sex and sexuality.

It is in respect to the complex narratives about thoughts on the future of everything from a variety of perspectives that the Star Trek universe presents a challenge and is overwhelming even when restricted to the intersecting matters of race, gender and sexuality.

Of these three concerns, race is perhaps the most difficult to figure out. There is a constant struggle over what race means, and, in most instances, its definition and significance remain unresolved.

There are a host of characters from the Star Trek universe that speak to the logic and illogic of race, signaling the importance and timeliness of racial matters today.

Characters in the television series who are readily identified by the color of their skin include Uhura, Worf, Geordie Laforge, Guinan, Captain Benjamin Sisko and Tuvok. All of them can teach us something about contrived racial (and gender) categories that also go beyond skin color.

However, in order to think more deeply about race, we also have to look at what the series says about the power of whiteness and its tendency to reinforce racial as well as gender stereotypes.

Captain Kirk of the original series, the Prime Directive, and the United Federation of Planets all come to mind here. Characters such as Mr Spock, B’Elanna Torres, Odo and even Commander Data reference the complexity of ethnicity and racial mixtures disguised as hybrid alien species struggling for identity and a sense of belonging in an extended humanoid and technological universe.

Relevance to our lives today

These issues and the struggles they impose are important because they continue to resonate with us today and have direct bearing on the quality of our lives.

The process of teaching and learning about race, gender and sexuality through science fiction stories and technology in television and film can be challenging and even daunting.

But Star Trek may well be one of the more significant ways (even boldly so) through which to not only teach and learn about the past, the present and the future, but to willfully shape the contours of the latter.

This article originally appeared on The ConversationThe Conversation

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.

TIME Parenting

How to Raise Kids Who Actually Understand Money

child-piggy-bank
Getty Images

Allowance should not be given in exchange for chores

There are parenting books you should read but can’t because you’re too busy parenting, and then there are … pretty much no other kind. So, use our Crib Notes to make sure you always sound like you know what you’re talking about. Next up, The Opposite of Spoiled: Raising Kids Who Are Grounded, Generous, And Smart About Money, from New York Times money columnist Ron Lieber. The book explores ways to think and talk about money with children, and offers some best practices for bringing up kids who are financially savvy without being entitled or avaricious.

Sign up here for TIME for Parents, a weekly roundup of the most interesting parenting stories.

1. Start talking to your kids about money early and often

An understanding of money is no longer optional Your kid will likely grow up in a world where college loans are massive, health insurance is self-provided and retirement savings are ill-defined. At the same time, social media will amplify wealth disparities amongst them and their peers, so they’re at risk of developing animosity or self-esteem issues. On the plus side, there might be hover boards.

Traditional objections to discussing finances with kids are misguided — Talking to your kids about family finances won’t steer them toward greed. To the contrary, money is a great tool to encourage positive traits like curiosity, patience, thrift, modesty, generosity, perseverance and perspective. And, no, that doesn’t mean you should just spend a bunch of it on a life coach for your kids.

What you can do with this

  • Your kids will naturally start to express curiosity about money at some point. When they do, don’t evade them; engage them.
  • Whatever their questions — and the most common are “Are we poor?”, “Are we rich?” and “How much money do you make?” — respond with “Why do you ask?” This will give you and your kid context to explore the more complex answers, and it’s a better response than, “Yes, no and less than that jagoff Alan in accounting.”
  • With older kids, go over some facts and figures about your income and the family’s expenses. This gives them an understanding of the difference between what you make and what’s actually in your wallet, and it keeps them from Googling “How much does that jagoff Alan in accounting make?”, which will lead to all sorts of misconceptions (not to mention an understanding of what jagoff means).

2. Yes, you should give your kid an allowance; No, it shouldn’t be in exchange for chores

Allowances are about teaching kids how to save and spend — A work ethic is something kids should learn outside the home, in school or at a part-time job. Chores are how they gain an understanding of the family unit and the role they play in maintaining it (since Mommy will leave both of you if those Legos don’t get cleaned up).

What you can do with this

  • Start them with $.50-to-$1 per year of age, which means they get a nice raise each birthday and will distract them when you forget to buy them a present.
  • Give them 3 money jars: a “Spend” jar for impulse buys, a “Save” jar for big-ticket items and a “Give” jar for charitable donations. Help them establish how much goes in each, and as they get older give them increasing control over that decision. Establish incentives for saving (like interest) and encourage them to research the charities that they’ll donate to before doing so.
  • When they inevitably want to spend their own money on something stupid, don’t feel obligated to give them a detailed explanation of why you won’t allow on the spot. As the parent, it’s your prerogative to think it over carefully before explaining why sex-worker Barbie doesn’t jibe with the family values.

3. Both spending and giving present opportunities to teach money smarts

Set spending guidelines and model sensible tactics — Your kids are unmolded lumps of clay in their understanding of how money really works, so go beyond simple rules that dictate “what” and provide explanations of “why” you do the things you do with your money, from a practical standpoint but also a values standpoint.

What you can do with this

  • Introduce the “Hours-Of-Fun-Per-Dollar” test. Which purchase will bring your kid more long-term bang for the buck — a $2 deck of cards or a piece of plastic that blares catchphrases from the latest animated blockbuster? And if your kid doesn’t like cards, now’s the perfect time to teach them poker so you can get some of that allowance back.
  • Introduce the “More Good/Less Harm” rule. Does the t-shirt with the fart joke that’s made in an Indonesian sweatshop for the brand with discriminatory hiring practices do more harm than good? Could you buy something from a local business that’s just as awesome and also helps the neighborhood in a tangible way?
  • Explain to them what charitable causes you give to and why. Let them select their own charities for their “Give” jar and always make sure the donation is made in their name. You’ll forfeit the tax deduction, but they’ll establish a personal relationship with the charity that encourages future giving. Also, why do you care about a 2-digit tax deduction, you cheap bastard?

4. Put the kid to work

Little kids like to have jobs to do — Encourage their innate industriousness before they get old enough to realize that work is work. You might change the trajectory of their lives (or you might just get a few more months of room cleaning out of them).

Employment looks good on a resume — There’s a strong correlation between teenagers with part-time jobs and good GPAs and college expectations. Furthermore, college admissions officers are often as impressed by evidence of a work ethic as they are with academic or athletic accolades.

What you can do with this

  • In little kids, the usual: Lemonade stands and collecting and redeeming recyclables. But, also, look around the house and figure out what labor they can subcontract from you — small hands can be surprisingly adept at certain cleaning tasks (like car detailing).
  • With older kids, don’t always prioritize academics over employment. Of course a balance needs to be struck, but recognize the value to their long-term prospects that a good part-time job provides. Also, it will save you money.

5. Don’t let your kids be ungrateful

Foster an understanding of different circumstances — Even if your kids want for nothing, it’s important that they’re exposed to other situations.

What you can do with this

  • If you don’t live in a socioeconomically diverse community, make the effort to ensure they meet kids from other backgrounds through sports, play dates and other activities.
  • Even if you’re not religious, make a ritual of articulating thankfulness at family meals. A secular version of grace isn’t going to assuage the wrath of any vengeful gods, but it’s just as good as a religious one for encouraging kids to reflect on their family’s good fortune.

This article originally appeared on Fatherly

More from Fatherly:

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.

Your browser is out of date. Please update your browser at http://update.microsoft.com