Friday, 7 September 2018

Summer is over and it’s back-to-school season

The Beginning

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Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to editorial@enterprise.press.

Your Life

We don’t know how, but it’s already back-to-school season. Three months of summer whizzed by and here we are, bracing for the academic year ahead. Whether you’re a parent whose kids are heading into their first day of kindergarten or their last day of high school, or a college student yourself, everybody needs some time to adjust to post-summer life and a few tips to make the next nine months as headache-free as possible.

We all want more of it, but summer vacation may actually be detrimental for children’s education, suggests research cited by the Economist. Other than the fact that three months of summer holiday maybe challenging for parents, who often tend to shape their schedules around their children’s time in school, “children will return from the long break having forgotten much of what they were taught the previous year.” The amount of learning lost during that time “could equate to a quarter of the year’s education.”

Some education experts have suggested solutions such as a longer school year or more spread out holidays. But data from South Korea, for example — where the summer holiday is only three weeks long — shows that even though students achieve top scores on standardized math, science, and reading tests, they also tend to have a relatively high incidence of mental health issues. “We need more learning [over the summer], but not necessarily more schooling,” the National Summer Learning Association’s Matthew Boulay says.

Going to school for the first time or starting a new grade can be unnerving for a lot of kids, who are naturally inquisitive — sometimes to the point of making themselves anxious. Children’s counselors encourage parents to listen to their children’s concerns and help them express their thoughts to set the foundations for logical reasoning and independent problem-solving later on, Mari-Jane Williams writes for the Washington Post.

Staying organized is key to smoothing the transition from laidback summer days to the structure of early mornings and homework-filled evenings, says parenting blogger Becky Mansfield. She suggests taking the time to plan ahead on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis by preparing everything from meals to outfits to study schedules, and creating a designated workspace for homework and studying. Older students should also be encouraged to take the lead in creating their own plans and schedules to stay organized without requiring helicopter parenting.

Our education systems are in need of a serious facelift, Whittle School & Studios founder, Chris Whittle suggests. As he embarks on a mission to revamp the way teaching is done, Whittle argues that while technology seems to have changed every aspect of human life, “a large percentage of schools worldwide seem to be caught in a time warp, trapped in the postwar years of Western economic and cultural hegemony,” he tells Forbes. Most “traditional classes” aim only to have a student pass a test rather than teaching them useful skills or thought-provoking concepts, according to Whittle; and the data seems to back him up. Recent research from Brookings suggests that c. 800 mn children from low- and mid-income countries will reach adulthood in just over a decade “without the skills they need to thrive in work and life.”

Whittle has devised his own method of education and hopes to establish campuses in over 30 cities around the world in the next decade. The idea is simple: “To prepare young people to become truly “global” citizens…by doing and by ‘going places’ in-person to ‘see and feel’ for themselves – not by sitting in a classroom taking a static test.”

Your top 5

The five most important business and economy stories out of Egypt in August:

  • Egypt and Cyprus reached an agreement to connect the Aphrodite gas field liquefaction plants in Egypt — a crucial stepping stone towards Egypt’s energy hub ambitions.
  • The fall IPO season began to heat up as CIRA and Sarwa Capital made their intentions to float official.
  • Business conditions in Egypt’s non-oil private sector reached an eight-month high in July, signaling a private sector recovery, according to Emirates NBD’s PMI reading.
  • The CBE nixed amendments to the Income Tax Act that would have given tax inspectors access to corporate bank data.
  • Egypt and China signed cooperation agreements worth an estimated USD 21.9 bn, including the USD 4.4 bn Hamrawein “clean coal” power plant.

Your Time

When it comes to time management, technology can be every student’s friend: We’re way past the day and age where whipping out a fully-stocked pencil case on the first day of classes is considered enough of an indicator that you’re on top of things. Plenty of us still prefer the touch and feel of a wirebound planner, but it’s hard to discount the benefits of using technology to manage your time and organize your life when you’re getting back into the groove of the school year. From apps that single-handedly manage your class schedule, teacher contacts and upcoming assignments, to ones that annotate PDFs or create citations for your papers, Business Insider has a list of the 12 best apps to help students stay organized and get the most out of their time in school.

Just like it can be your friend, technology can also be your foe: Before you decide to dedicate too much time studying flashcards from an app, be wary that research has found that allowing smartphones in classes actually leads to a drop in grades. A new study published in the journal Educational Psychology concluded that students who use digital devices in classes perform worse, specifically on exams. "The intrusion of internet-enabled electronic devices (laptop, tablet and cell phone) has transformed the modern college lecture into a divided attention task," according to the study’s findings.

Online classes can be a way to better career prospects, but not every class is the same. Online classes have been growing in popularity in recent years mainly because they “provide meaningful access to affordable education,” according to Business Insider, and also because they award students the flexibility of setting their own schedules. That is if they decide to show up. Research appears to indicate that the success rate of an online learning experience is amplified by a teacher’s presence. Whether through video conferencing, discussion boards, blogs, or any of an unlimited number of available tools, a decent amount of student-teacher interactions are crucial to creating a conducive and collaborative learning environment. “Research [also] suggests recorded lectures and tutorials are particularly ineffective as they reflect the worst of the information transmission model of teaching and none of the benefits of the constructivist approach.”

The complex issues of human existence, however, can be explored in an eight-minute YouTube video. The School of Life is a YouTube channel that tackles philosophical questions (such as what makes life meaningful) that don’t necessarily make it into everybody’s classroom learning. The short, compact “classes” are coupled with animation that keeps students engaged, says Crixeo.

Your Money

The value (and cost) of higher education degrees is also pushing up student debt worldwide: Young men and women are increasingly aware of the importance of a college degree in a competitive job market, and many resort to taking out student loans to finance the costly endeavor that is higher education, according to YaleGlobal. As the proportion of young adults with college degrees has increased and governments have stepped away from subsidizing higher education, leaving students to grapple with the economic burden. The issue with this model is that poor job prospects and relatively low wages in several areas of work means that more students are defaulting on their loans or, at best, find their (metaphorical) knees buckling under the weight of loan repayments after graduation. “Economies will struggle under the growing mound of student debt as young adults delay marriage, home purchases and childbirth and have less money to spend on housing, food, clothes or entertainment … Students especially those with limited resources, struggle over whether to borrow, delay or forgo higher education.”

The heavy burden debt poses means students need to find ways to cut costs wherever possible. The day-to-day expenses of a new school year are undeniable, but, with some master planning, students and parents alike can keep these expenses in check throughout the year. Budgeting and setting financial goals are important practices for students to take up while in college, according to Collegiate Times. Mashable has also put together some tips to help students save money on back-to-school costs, including buying (or renting) second-hand textbooks, exchanging class notes for cash (which, yes, is apparently a thing), or just being mindful of your expenditures by using an app like Digit.

Even though the school year has begun, college students may still be able to scrape together a scholarship: College students who are starting out the school year strapped for tuition financing actually have a few options for finding a last-minute scholarship, Anna Helhoski writes for the Seattle Times. Some universities have specific profiles for their financial aid packages that they have difficulty meeting, and others may have found a student back in May who ended up opting for another school altogether — meaning the scholarship is waiting to be snapped up. If you’re a student who would rather circumvent the loan system, poking around your university’s financial aid department now might turn up unexpectedly positive results. In the meantime, get your ducks in a row: “To make the late-scholarship-application process easier, polish your résumé and have a basic essay template on hand. The template should include information about yourself, why you’re attending school and why you need the money.”

Tuition fees also weigh heavily on families who pay their kids’ way through higher education: Two researchers have found that American families who send their kids to college are significantly more at risk of foreclosure, says the Washington Post’s Andrew Van Dam. Sociologists Jacob Faber and Peter Rich examined college attendance rates and foreclosure rates across the country, and believe they have found a causal relationship between the two variables — in most areas, foreclosures spike one year after college attendance rates rise. “Previous research has shown that having kids at all boosts your foreclosure risk significantly. It cost an average of USD 233,610 to raise a child through age 18, according to 2015 figures … ‘In addition to kids being generally expensive, having a kid in college is particularly financially stressful for households,’ Faber said.” The findings are “troubling” considering how valuable highly-educated individuals are in the workforce, he says.

When it comes to planning your future and personal finances, CIB has your needs in mind. Before tying yourself to a loan to secure your future and that of your family, choosing the right financing options that cater to your needs is the most important part of the process. Knowing that not all loans are created equal, CIB is now offering a customized package for Wealth customers looking for a personal loan of up to EGP 3 mn. Wealth customers can apply for a loan without proof of income and will get life insurance covering the loan, which will be afforded to them at a preferential interest rate. You don’t have to fret about your repayment schedule, either — CIB offers its Wealth customers a 7-year installment plan to round off the experience.

Your Family

Learning in two languages is better than one: It is quite common to assume that non-native English speakers would fare better at school if they are taught exclusively in English. Recent findings, however, suggest otherwise, claiming that not only do bilingual children end up with equal or superior English-speaking skills, “by middle school, they have equal or better outcomes in math and stronger problem-solving skills,” says CBC. Teaching students in both English and their native tongue, was also found to boost self esteem and create a stronger sense of identity, in addition to building a base for the learning of more languages, according to research conducted on Inuit students in Greenland.

Schools can be a breeding ground for bullying, and it’s on us to deal with both the perpetrators and the victims. Parents can introduce their kids to various coping mechanisms to manage non-physical bullying, such as disengaging from and de-escalating the situation, and relying on a support system of family and friends for guidance, therapist Rachel O’Neill suggests. If you suspect that your child might be a victim of bullying, here are some signs to indicate if that is indeed the case.

On the other side of the equation, teaching mindfulness can help to reduce bullies in schools, according to Positive Psychology Problem. According to a 2015 study on incorporating mindfulness in education, the benefits transcend an increased sense of empathy and understanding among classmates: Mindfulness can lead to better grades, better social skills and better emotional regulation.

The effects of bullying extend beyond inflicting emotional and psychological stress. Research published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information found that high school students involved in bullying (either as a bully or as a victim of the practice) are at risk of suffering from poor sleep quality, which can snowball into a host of other issues such as reduced performance in the classroom. “A typical bully or victim is likely to experience difficulties in solving social problems and usually has negative attitudes and beliefs and poor interpersonal relationships. Researchers have found an association between involvement in bullying an a number of social stresses and psychological symptoms, including depression, anxiety, fears of going to school, and feelings being unsafe and unhappy at school.”

What we put in our systems is important year-round, but is particularly impactful when it comes to students. The necessity of eating a balanced breakfast every morning can’t be understated, “especially for those growing brains,” says dietary consultant Tara Collingwood (watch, runtime: 26:21). What’s even more important than breakfast is what breakfast is made of. Plenty of protein and fiber are key to keeping your child satiated and at ease until it’s time for lunch, according to Columbia Tribune. If you’re the creative type, here’s a list of 25 back-to-school recipesthat you can use or expand upon.

Good food becomes a question of striking the right balance for college students. It’s tempting to subsisting on just coffee, noodles, and other low-cost food items when you’re on a tight budget and schedule. College students often fall prey to the demands of college life, but failing to follow a healthy and balanced food regimen can have more long-lasting effects than we realize. “Short-term effects of diets that lack basic nutrients, fruits and vegetables [include] decreased energy and focus [and] an unhealthy body weight. Serious, long-term effects include an increase risk of cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and cancer,” Maddie Buxton writes for Collegian.

Your Style

Chances are, your kid doesn’t like their uniform, but the benefits of having one speak for themselves: There seems to be a correlation (but not necessarily a cause-and-effect relationship) between wearing a school uniform and improved student performance and academic achievement, according to a study by Walden University’s Attilah Brookshire. “Students in schools with school uniforms had a significantly more positive perception of security and maintenance, teacher relationships, and parent and community-school relationships.” Part of the benefit of uniforms is that it reduces how much students think about what their peers are wearing in comparison to what they are wearing, and are therefore able to redirect that time and mental energy towards schoolwork. Other research has even indicated that schools adopting a uniform policy saw declines in felonies and gang activities, according to Brookshire.

Kids whose schools do not require uniforms (and college students) now face the daunting task of selecting their back-to-school apparel. The first few days of the year can feel stressful as students want to make a good first impression, so parents are encouraged to let their young ones’ clothing preferences be the guide when embarking on that September shopping spree, clothing expert Shelly Brier says. That doesn’t necessarily mean letting your six-year-old choose to wear their pajamas to school everyday, but it might be wise to limit your role as a fashion consultant to “guiding friend.”

As for university students living alone for the first time, your interior decor can be just as influential as your wardrobe. The internet as a whole (and platforms like Pinterest in particular) can overwhelm even the most savvy among us, so we suggest keeping comfort and coziness as your two top priorities when decorating your dorm room or apartment. The Independent has put together a list of 8 essentials to bring along to your new home. Once you settle in, other things you need will become apparent as days go by.

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