Thursday, April 26, 2012

Arizona State University (ASU) Is Not a Party School!

Within the recent years, Arizona State University (ASU) has been wrongly branded with the label of being a party school. Running with this stereotype in order to make news more enjoyable, some media outlets have put a huge focus on isolated incidents of large parties and party aspects of many of ASU's events, as well as the actions of the minority of students who put partying before academics.


How the Media Sees ASU
NOT TRUE!
Arizona State University is actually a highly academic research university which puts a lot of focus on excellence. They hold events such as the annual Undie Run which is put together to facilitate clothing and food donations while making the even fun for students. However, the actual intent of the event is often overlooked and the actions of a few drunken college students who are trying to relieve stress from finals (but end up taking it too far) and get in trouble often get highlighted instead of the positive outcome of the event.

Along with events like the Undie Run, Arizona State University has a ton of great academic programs for students who are interested in getting a great education and a degree that matters, including the Barrett Honors College which is one of the top colleges in the nation, available to students who have shown a history of academic excellence with the benefit of better facilities, better food, and a greater access to resources, which are well deserved to any who are willing to put forth the effort to get accepted and can pay the extra several hundred dollars it takes to maintain these projects.

Arizona State University hosted
MUNFW 2012
Another great academic organization that Arizona State University can be proud of is the Model United Nations, which I am proud to say that I am a part of. Since the organization has been re-established, we have hosted two high school conferences at ASU for local high schools and have given hundreds of high school students a chance to further their own academics, while giving college students new to the program a chance to experience Model United Nations and gain a better understanding of United Nations practices before attempting to take on a national conference.

In the Model United Nations organization, we also participate in the annual Model United Nations Far West Conference in San Francisco California, where we act as delegates of particular countries and try to form resolutions with other countries that reflect our countries policies. This process requires a lot of academic research and practice on our own behalf without the added benefit of college credits or certificates, and in the case of this past year, a lot of financial burden on each one of us personally. However, I can truly say that the experience of being a part of the Model United Nations Far West Conference is completely worth it.

To further the academic benefits of being a part of this organization, not only did we send a team of competitive delegates who had spent weeks preparing for the conference, but we also sponsored the conference and were put in charge of a great deal of the operations that took place at the conference, including being a part of the secretariat, chairing, and even developing the topics that would be discussed in the various Model United Nations committees and the issue books that come with them. There is a huge amount of time, money and effort that goes into being a part of this conference, but it only shows ASU's dedication to academic excellence at the grassroots level.


video
Our Secretary General Making a Speech at
The Opening Plenary of MUNFW 2012
(sorry that it's sideways)



I will post further details about the actual conference later, but in the meantime, I hope that it's the strong academic efforts of dedicated students who strive for excellence that goes noticed and not the isolated mistakes of a handful of individuals that honestly don't deserve to be there. I hope that our program is one of the highlights of Arizona State University, which truly shows ASU's commitment to academic excellence, and that our efforts to give ASU the academic reputation that it deserves does not get overlooked.

It has been a great year, and while I am happy to see it end and the Summer begin, it is also a sad good-bye to my beloved campus until next year. I look forward to working hard and continuing a strong academic commitment that will rival my academic accomplishments this year in the upcoming semesters.


--Koi

Friday, April 20, 2012

The 5 Best Pizza Restaurants in the Phoenix -- Quality, Quantity, Price, and Uniqueness (ASU Arizona State UniversityTempe Arizona Maricopa)

Today, I decided to go and try a new pizza place because they left a flier on my door and it seemed like they had some good prices. So after having their pizza, it inspired me to write about the Top 5 Best Pizza Restaurants that I've had in Phoenix and Tempe.

I'm going to do my best to rate these from 1 to 5 based on Quality, Quantity, Price, and Uniqueness, but I will also take some time to explain more about each restaurant.

1. Valley Pizza Downtown (1348 W Roosevelt St)

Valley Pizza Downtown Menu
(Click to Enlarge)
Coming in at #1 is one of my personal favorites Valley Pizza home of the Phoenix Style Pizza! This place is easily number one because not only do they offer a lot of great pizzas that you can't normally find anywhere else, but they also offer the one and only Phoenix Style Pizza including the Monsoon pizza which you literally CAN'T find anywhere else. The genius behind this delicious pizza pie is so confident in his pizza, in fact, that when my friend and I went there for the first time, he encouraged us to try it and said that if we don't like it, he will make us any other pizza of our choice for free.

So, of course, we ordered it, and neither one of us could possibly say we didn't love it.

When you hear the list of ingredients, it can be a little bit intimidating: spicy tangy sauce, cheese, chicken, bacon, pineapple, tomato, yellow peppers, jalepenos, and ranch. But just as their signs promise, this pizza is a balanced blend of different flavors so expertly crafted that they come together in one amazing taste. The spicy is balanced out with the sweet. The tangy is balanced out with the creamy. And the ingredients and sauce are even laid on their with extra care to ensure that every bite is a masterpiece. This pizza is absolutely worth buying at least once, and perhaps he will even cut the same deal with you if you go -- though I doubt you will be able to say you didn't love it. It's a little pricey, but if fills you up, it's amazingly delicious, and it's the most unique pizza I've ever had.

2. Big Jimmy's Pizza in Tempe  (1330 E. Apache Blvd)

Coming in second is Big Jimmy's, the pizza place I just tried today. But I'm already hooked on it! After having only one slice, I knew that this place makes some of the best pizza that I've ever had -- EVER! Their ingredients are so fresh, they offer lots of choices including feta cheese, they've got $4 cheesy bread that is supposed to feed up to 4 people or $3 garlic butter and parmesan bread. And they have good prices on their subs as well, which I am looking forward to trying soon. But really, what made this pizza so delicious is just how fresh and authentic it is. Just every bite was just amazing. The tomatoes and mushrooms tasted like they were just bought from a farmers market, and they did not go light on the feta either, which made the pizza oh-so-much better. They also have flavored crust like Hungry Howie's!

Other than the quality, this pizza restaurant gets second place because they give you huge portions for a good price. Their 14" large is only $5 plus $1.50 per topping, or $9 for an 18" with 1-topping ($2.50 for each additional), and they even serve pizza by the slice. It's only $2 for a huge slice (.50 per topping) or $3 for a slice and drink, which is rather ideal for someone who just wants to get some lunch and doesn't want to have leftovers for the next week.

An instant favorite!

http://bigjimmyspizza.com/

3. Pizza Heaven Bistro (5150 n 7th st)

I grew up eating Pizza Heaven when I was in high school, but that's not the only reason it makes it on this list. For me, Pizza Heaven has always represented quality, quantity, and affordability. I used to go there and get their two slice special with a drink all the time for I think only $3-4. And the slices are HUGE! But best of all, they offer high-quality food with really fresh ingredients. And Pizza Heaven  has something that Big Jimmy's does not -- Spinach! I don't understand how this is not a pizza staple everywhere!

Pizza Heaven started out as a small pizza diner that only had a few tables, but over the years, it has grown into a very high-end and attractive restaurant. Their service is fantastic, the environment is fantastic, and best of all, they still offer the same affordable, quality pizza they always have with the addition of new menu items and even alcohol. This place is amazing,  and you should try it at least once. I have always loved Pizza Heaven, and I always will!

http://pizzaheavenbistro.com/Pizza_Heaven_Bistro/Home.html

4. Hungry Howie's Pizza and Subs (1045 East Lemon Street)

Hungry Howie's Pizza and Subs Menu
(Click to Enlarge)
Hungry Howie's is a fantastic pizza place, and it was a really tough decision to put it down as 4th, but when you consider that it's up against the unique taste of the Phoenix Style Pizza, the fresh ingredients of Big Jimmy's, and the Exquisite pizza that you get from Pizza Heaven, it's an understandable place to put it. Plus, if you want more variety, you're going to have to pay more here.

However, even though most of Hungry Howie's pizzas and other menu items cost a bit more, they always have $5 large 1-topping pizzas, and they definitely have one of the best tasting pizzas I've ever had. But besides the deliciousness of their cheese blend and they're quality ingredients (mind you not quite as quality as the three above), Hungry Howie's is also known for their flavored crusts. And although Big Jimmy's does flavored crust as well, sometimes I would rather pay $5 for a one topping than $6.50. Great pizza, good price. I could definitely never turn down Hungry Howie's.

5. Gus's New York Style Pizza (933 E. University Dr)

Gus's New York Style Pizza Menu
(Click to Enlarge)
Finally, we come to Gus's. If it was a difficult decision to put Hungry Howie's in 4th, it is even harder to put Gus's in 5th because Gus's New York Style Pizza offers some of the cheesiest, most flavorful pizzas around, and they even offer my two favorite ingredients -- feta and spinach. They are fresh and filling and huge and delicious. There really isn't much else to say.... except that they also have a THIRTY TWO INCH PIZZA!

If you're going by area alone, a gus's 32" pizza is the equivalent to 4 16" pizzas (which makes sense because you double the diameter which means you double the radius, and that gets squared so 2x2=4x! Go ahead and do the math, I assure you it adds up.)

Gus's gargantuan 32" is enough to fill up probably 5-6 people easily -- to the point where everyone is full! My friend and I took on this bad boy once, each eating half of a thirty-two incher, and I swear to god I thought I was going to die because I was so incredibly full.

Their is a downside to their pizza though, which is that the crust is kind of bland, which is easily overlooked by how delicious the rest of it is and how big the slices are. But the real reason why this pizza gets a spot in #5 is because it is just so damn expensive. But they are also they only pizza place I know that is open 24-7! That's right, you can get a delicious new york pizza at any time, day or night. It's just a fantastic idea. And I would eat here a lot more if I just had more money.

--Koi

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

What Does College Really Cost? A Response to CNBC's Report: Price of Admission

These days, the choice of going to college can be difficult. There are a lot of risks involved and a huge potential payout. Students may go to college, get a great education, get a degree, and go on to find a job that they love and pays well. On the other hand, students may face life challenges which force them out of schools and putting a halt to their hard work, time, and money invested; or they may get out of college and find that there are no jobs available and still have to figure out how to pay off their student loan debt. What does this mean?

For me, it spells out a huge problem. Thinking of all of the money that I will have to pay back when I graduate, I can hardly imagine what it would be like if I had made it this far and suddenly wasn't able to complete my education and being faced with tens of thousands of dollars in debt that I had no way to pay off.

I'm not terribly concerned about this possible scenario because I am already very far in my education, have learned a ton of useful skills, and ultimately have already built up a fairly impressive resume through my accomplishments during the course of my education. Even more important is that what I'm planning on doing with my life doesn't necessarily call for a college degree. My main focus IS education and understanding how we can provide education to a greater number of people for less money and with a greater benefit. If I can develop those ideas and sell them (not literally -- any great idea I have I will get out there whether it makes me money or not, as long as it is for the benefit of many) to the right people, I can see those ideas come to life whether or not I am recognized as an educated, well-qualified person. My biggest concern is that my education is part of that discovery of exactly what those ideas are.

For other college students, the idea of financial success is a key motivator, and it would be a crime against humanity if thousands of students weren't able to achieve that goal purely because of a broken system after making honest efforts to make them happen and investing a lot of time and money into seeing them become a reality. Even worse would be if education lost its influence in society purely based on the lack of benefits and the cost of attendance.

How then, can we address this on-going problem with education?

We are really faced with two options: either we can increase the benefits for education or we can reduce the amount of risk involved in pursuing one.

To this end, the Quality Education and Jobs Act that is being pushed forward by a ballot initiative is aiming to reduce the risk by increasing the amount of available funding for financial aid on a state level. This is done through a 1-cent sales tax that is going to guarantee $300 million for higher education. When we consider this figure on a per student basis, that amounts for approximately an average of $2000 per student or about 1/5 of the cost of attendance for one year at ASU -- in other words 20%. All things considered, this is a pretty impressive figure, especially considering it only imposes 1 cent per sale for consumers.

Another idea that I would like to explore is a targeted tax system, which specifically targets various areas of sales in order to generate money to help subsidize the ever-increasing cost of education. Some possible candidates for this would be cigarette and alcohol sales, sales on exorbitantly expensive purchases (which would take a certain threshold like say purchases over $500,000 dollars and impose an additional tax on it to contribute to education), as well as other commodity based items, especially those that would be considered problematic for society. Along these lines, states could make marijuana legal for recreational purposes and tax the hell out of it sending the majority of that money to universities. Or something along these lines. It doesn't necessarily have to be these ideas specifically.

The state could even impose additional charges on certain fees for criminal behavior such as drug trafficking, speeding, domestic violence, court fees, or other related criminal charges which could provide an excellent source of income to universities without costing most law-abiding citizens any money at all!

The state could also open up a fund where it collects voluntary contributions from tax payers and reminds them to donate to it on tax return forms, much in the way that tax return forms ask for donations for the clean elections fund. This sort of measure would cost absolutely nothing to anyone who didn't want to pay it but provide an excellent source of income from those who were willing to help education.

All of these ideas are of course associated with raising revenue to help lower the cost of education for students, but there are other ideas that could be put into place that could have a similar effect but be targeted toward helping the nation as well.

The state or federal government could open up grants and tuition discounts for students who promise to open up businesses in the future, which would be perfect for students under almost any degree track, as well as be beneficial to the economy. And then much like the TEACH Grant that is currently offered for future teachers, if that student graduates and decides not to open a business, they can pay back the money in the form of subsidized or unsubsidized loans, depending on which the legislature finds more feasible. This has amazing potential not only to help students get a good education without the enormous financial risk of doing so, but it also has a huge potential to boost our economy and encourage business growth which will ultimately lead to potentially millions of jobs in America.

Similar provisions could be taken for students who either during their education or after dedicate a predetermined number of hours to non-profit and volunteer work specifically targeted at helping those in need, such as working at hospitals, food banks and more. This has the potential to not only help the student by decreasing the cost of getting an education, but it also has the potential of helping those people in the country who have the greatest need and building up our society to help promote a stronger whole, not to mention the fact that the student would be directly putting in work to earn this money while learning valuable job skills and building their resume. This proposal has enormous benefit when you think about it because it is practically a winning solution for everyone.

Not to mention that, but the government can also put together a committee within existing government organizations which is designed specifically to evaluate the costs of education and find effective ways to cut down those costs which will have on effect on tax payers, government spending, or the quality of education. Such proposals as online syllabuses, which while being good for the planet is also good for schools who save money on printing costs. Or perhaps just addressing redundancies in how schools are managed in order to help schools be more efficient.

These are some excellent ideas that I would definitely support in helping make schools less risky for college students. The main ideas are to make schools more affordable. In order to increase the benefit of an education, we need to address the other end of the problem by making financial success more available to those who have graduated. While this is certainly more difficult than addressing the other problem, it is still something we can feasibly improve on.

One idea would be to have governments help streamline the process of getting a job out of college by encouraging businesses and schools to work together, both on what sort of skills an employer wants a student to have, as well as actively looking for students to hire out of college. To this end, governments can propose financial incentives to businesses, either in the form of funding or tax benefits, that reward businesses for hiring newly graduated students. We could even give it a catchy name like the "Get It While It's Hot Act" or something.

Other ideas may include giving students more opportunities for paid internships which could help the drastically by contributing to their education, giving them job skills, helping them to establish business networks and connections, and having an opportunity to provide their selves with some additional income through educational endeavors instead of working at a dead end job. This reciprocally helps businesses by providing cheap labor. And while it is not FREE labor, it certainly can help businesses make good decisions about who they hire in the future as well, thereby helping businesses as well.

The government can also help by creating a separate fund specifically for recent college graduates to give small business loans to students, both encouraging students to create more businesses which will expand economic growth and helping students secure an opportunity to be successful through their own business as well.

These are just some ideas. I hope that someone out there can see the potential of at least a few of these and knows or can help me figure out the potential steps to make these ideas come to life. I would be more than happy to front a campaign for something like this if I were to feel that A) I had a plan that was well-developed enough to be ready to put into law and B) That I felt that getting it to come to light was possible. Until now, I will just be developing these ideas in my head until I can one day make them happen.

--Koi

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Internship at Arizona Students' Association

This semester, I had the honor and the privilege of being a part of history for Arizona students, and I owe it all to the Arizona Students' Association for accepting me as an intern.

For those of you who don't know who the Arizona Students' Association is, it is a student-run, student-funded, student-directed organization that advocates on behalf of students for more affordability and accessibility to higher education. Their four main focuses are on tuition, books, financial aid and total cost of attendance.


This semester, we played a major role in a lot of excellent campaigns to meet this goal. One of the things that we accomplished this semester, which I am very proud of personally, was that we were able to kill HB 2675, the minimum tuition contribution bill. This bill, introduced by Representative Kavanagh in the Arizona house was going to require all public university students in Arizona to pay a minimum of $2000 out of pocket in order to qualify for financial aid.

Arizona Representative Kavanagh (R)
While his intentions were good, and he only wanted to make sure that students had "skin in the game" and were invested in their education, this bill had a lot of potential to hurt Arizona students, especially those who were truly in need of financial aid, came from a rough background, and were  hoping to get a good education in order to better their lives and secure a good life for their families and future children.

Arizona being one of the lowest ranking states for financial aid in the United States (51 out of 52 including Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.), it is already hard enough for students to be able to afford an education especially after the state withheld nearly 1.4 billion dollars that we promised to go to higher education, which forced universities to use up all the money they had saved to protect tuition rates and eventually have to raise tuition by around 90% in the past 5 years, and 40% in just the previous year alone! Considering that my full $7500 federal student loans I take out annually on top of the $3000 grant I received last year barely pays for tuition and books, while at the same time having to maintain a job to pay for housing and food, I don't blame students for getting riled up about the issue.
Arizona Representative Campbell (D)

Representative Campbell made some excellent points in the Appropriations Committee where the bill was being held (and where Kavanagh was chair) when he said: "There are over a thousand students who said they disagree with this bill, and not a single person said that they support it. Who are you trying to pass this legislation for?" And when he said, "Nobody is asking for this bill. I don't understand why you are so desperate to get it passed. This is just creating another unnecessary barrier for students who want to get a good education."

After witnessing the dialogue that took place in that committee from both defenders of the bill and by those who supported it, as well from a lot of people who attended the committee in order to get it shut down and hearing the responses from different representatives, I truly gained a new respect for Representative Campbell who truly fought very hard to help protect our education.

This bill did pass in committee, and for a moment, I was very concerned. But ultimately, this was a victory for students, thanks to the efforts of the Arizona Students' Association, which I was able to be a part of, and because of the amount of support and effort we were able to get from fellow students, truly showing that students do have a voice.

Through my internship, with the Arizona Students' Association, I was able to directly lobby my legislatures, organize students under one voice, and was able to learn more about the political process and ultimately how to effectively campaign for something you believe in.

We have made a lot of efforts to reach out to students which has given us leadership skills, such as phonebanking, finding volunteers, making announcements in front of classes and creating databases. We also had a lot of success with our vote campaign where we were able to register thousands of students to vote and effectively increase our political voice.

Now we are working on the Quality Education and Jobs Act to help increase state-based financial aid by over $150 million and increase educational spending for higher education by an additional $150 million, through a 1-cent sales tax. This will certainly become another historic victory for Arizona students which thanks to the Arizona Students' Association, I can say I was a part of.

And although this internship has taken a lot of time and effort throughout the semester, it is about to come to an end in the next few weeks. I have definitely learned a lot and have acquired a lot of new skills. I will benefit from this experience for the rest of my life and have had an opportunity to make some changes through my own efforts and contributed to my own education with some real-world experience. I absolutely recommend this internship for anyone who is interested in expanding their horizons and furthering their education while learning a ton of new skills. I met a lot of great friends. I had a lot of great experiences. And now I am looking forward to the future where I will probably pursue an advanced internship in the fall.

--Koi

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Why Do Frozen Hamburger Patties Taste So Bad?

Man.... I made a huge mistake. That's right! I bought frozen hamburger patties.

I thought, "Oh, these are cheaper and convenient!" But it turns out that they are nothing but disgusting. I mean, really. These things are practically flavorless, they have a weird texture (despite how many different ways I try to cook them), and somehow they don't even seem like real meat! I mean, when you get them, they are white for God's sake! WHITE! When was the last time you ever saw white hamburger? Me? Last time I opened my freezer and saw those terrible hamburger patties staring me in the face.

And the worst part is that there are so many of them -- 16 in a box. And I just can't stand to waste my money by simply throwing them out. Ugh! I'll have to force them down my throat one by one.

To be honest, they aren't completely horrible if you ignore the fact that they are supposed to taste like hamburger, put tons of seasoning on them, and drown out the flavor with ketchup. But I would have rather taken my chances with those nasty veggie burgers than ever buy those stupid things again. Don't do it!

This has led me to an interesting revelation. That is, even though I'm poor and living on a college student budget, I can still eat pretty decent foods. Like for instance, have you ever had freshly pureed tomato sauce? It's AMAZING! It's way better than that crap you buy in the can! Which makes me think I should put a lot more effort into getting all kinds of foods I can make from scratch because in the end, it's usually cheaper, healthier and better tasting.

There are some things I will probably still get premade, like frozen burritos. I mean, they are delicious and horrendously inexpensive. But for the most part, I will probably try and stick to fresh, home-made food from now on. After all, it doesn't take an amazing amount of creativity to figure out how to make flavored rice or pasta sauce.

--Koi

Monday, March 26, 2012

Organizing, Running, and Operating Clubs, Campaigns, Fundraisers, and Organizations at College Campuses and Universities

This topic is HUGE! In fact, I think this is one of the most important topics that I have ever posted on.

Organizing campaigns, projects, and organizations is one of those skills that once you enter college, you are going to have to deal with for the rest of your life. It doesn't only affect what you do in college, but it's something that you're probably going to be doing no matter what kind of job you decide to take, especially if you do anything in politics or in higher positions in business.

Organizing campaigns, projects, and organizations takes a lot of skills and planning that you develop through time and repeated practice, but I'm going to get you a few tips right now that will make it easier.

If you're running come kind of campaign where this may apply, you want to find volunteers. If you are supporting a cause or running an event that people might be interested in, or whatever the situation, you are going to want to go out and find people outside your organization that might have an interest in helping what you're doing. You can collect names and contact information, and then when something comes up, call on those people to help out, especially with fundraising. You will be a lot more successful if you have more people helping to raise funds for your campaign or club.

Also, with everything you do that involves organizations and people, you want to keep in mind the rule of halves. That is, half of the people you talk to are going to be interested, half of those people are going to say they will help, half of those people are actually going to show up, et cetera. For every step of the planning process, divide everything in half. If you want to raise $1,000, set a realistic goal as to how many fliers, or donations, or whatever you will need and think about how many people and how many hours that would take. Then, multiply that number by how many steps along the way you have to lose half of the people you organized for that event. And that is how many people you realistically need to agree to help or get information from, or whatever step along the way you are in.

If you are hosting a business dinner, for instance, for a product you want to market to people and you want 1,000 people to be there, you might want to organize people to get people to that dinner.

If you want 1,000 people there, you need to invite 2,000 people.

If you want 100 volunteers to help get those 2,000 people to come and you think they can find 10 people an hour at an hour a piece, you need to find 200 people to volunteer to come and help find those 2,000 people.

If you want to find those 200 people to volunteer, you need to get information from 400 people.

And to get that information, you're going to need to plan to talk to 800 people.

That's how the rule of halves works. And using that technique, you can almost always meet your goals and you will never have anything but a full conference room for  your business proposal.

You're also going to want to delegate responsibilities and help develop people into roles where they are organizing the ground work. At first, you might be stuck down in the trenches, talking to people, getting people interested, and making follow-up calls. But eventually, you can have volunteers that go down there and talk to people, get them interested, and make follow-up calls. Then you can develop those people to be leaders that organize new people to do that work, helping each person advance in their own skill set.

To be successful, you have to know how to manage, organize, and how to get the help you need for projects. And it all starts with recruitment, training, and implementation.

--Koi

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Why Do I Have Such Bad Study Habits?

It's Spring Break now, but I recently went on the My.Asu website and saw that in my Calc II class I'm currently getting an E, which is an F in case you didn't know. This is entirely due to the fact that I haven't really shown up to class for the past couple of weeks, and it really really bugs me. I mean, this is my second time taking Calc II, and if I had just shown up instead of missing class, I wouldn't now be at the mercy of my teacher. It is just getting so tough to get good grades and maintain focus. I just feel exhausted all of the time, and I seriously don't think I'm going to take 12 credits next semester (namely because I don't need to). It is just getting to be way more than what I want to deal with right now.

If I fail Calc II again, I will have to simply retake it, but the main problem for me is that I will have to choose between A) taking it during the Summer B) taking an additional semester on top of the extra time its taking me to graduate or C) dropping any plans of getting a degree in economics and just being satisfied with my political science degree for right now.

And let's face it, for what I want to do (Education reform advocacy) I don't really need to have a degree in economics. But I will have to understand it at some point to make the real important changes with a great amount of success, and the best way to do that is through education.

But other than that, I finally have food in my cupboards but now my bank account is nearly empty. But DAMN its nice to eat again.

Ugh... school.... please be over for the semester soon.

But MUNFW is coming up, and that is going to be so so so so so much fun. In fact, even if I ever do get my PhD and graduate for good, I might still go to ASU just to go to the MUNFW. =3 It's my guilty pleasure.

--Koi

Monday, March 19, 2012

How to Make Money, Save Money, And Live Better All at the Same Time -- A Great Part Time Job for Students -- At Home Business

Ever since I was little, I remember my parents telling me to take my vitamins, brush my teeth, and take showers. I never realized then that all of the products I grew up with were all made by the same company that was making better, cheaper products for families all around the world.

Today, I know a lot more about the products that my parents buy. They don't buy high-end products from a catalog or watered-down chemical-ridden products from the huge shopping centers. They buy high-quality, low-cost products that get shipped directly to their door by Melaleuca!

Melaleuca calls itself the "Wellness Company" for good reason. They are constantly investing millions of dollars of research into making better, healthier and safer products for household families. They make vitamins, shampoos, exercise bars, bath soaps, laundry detergent, fiber bars, household cleaners, and a ton of other every day products cheaper than name brand companies do. And the best part is that you can make money just by telling people about Melaleuca's revolutionary products!

Having grown up using their products, I know how awesome they work. Their Melaleuca oil is one of the best products I have seen for scrapes and cuts, and their MelaPower is one of the best cleaners I've ever used. And these products don't come with a huge price tag. In fact, they are cheaper than the products you buy in stores. Each of these products is so amazing it sells itself! You don't have to do anything except let people know that they can Make Money, Save Money, and Live Better, all by switching to Melaleuca.

Melaleuca saves costumers money by:

  • Shipping products in a concentrated form, saving costumers money on shipping.
  • Investing in research to make products even more effective, cheaper, and more cost-effective.
  • Selling products by word of mouth, saving millions of dollars a year on advertising.
  • Rewarding costumers for signing people up for Melaleuca.
  • And much, much more!
Melaleuca even comes with a 100% No Questions Asked, Money-Back Guarantee -- Done to the LAST DROP! If a Melaleuca costumer is ever dissatisfied with a product, they can return it for a full, money-back refund.

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--Koi

Monday, March 12, 2012

Pennsylvania Cuts to Education -- Proposing New Ideas

Pennsylvania, like a lot of states, are facing huge budget deficits like the federal government, and they are forced to make some pretty tough decisions. Unfortunately, those decisions often lead to cuts to education.

Though this is a noble effort, it doesn't seem like raising taxes is on the table at all. Arizona passed prop 100 several years ago which has provided millions of dollars of funding to schools. This program is flawed because it doesn't indicate how much money goes to education from this fund, and realistically, a lot of the money that was expected to go to education went to other programs. But this is certainly a step in the right direction.

Though it is not societies job to ensure that each and every person gets a good education, it is the job of a democratic society to ensure that access to education is available. More so, it just makes good economic sense. For every dollar you put into education, eight dollars of economic growth are produced. College graduates fuel the workforce and are the leading cause for our massive success. And it has been proven that countries that focus on areas like education and research and development are overwhelmingly more successful than those that don't. Countries like China and India are experiencing huge economic growth, which easily stumps ours, because higher education is so affordable in those countries, and it is truly paying of for their economy.

"Where would you have me take it from? Would you have me take it from social services? Would you have me take it from law enforcement or from the functions of government?"

-Corbett (R) Pennsylvania

Corbett raises an excellent point. There is just not enough money to fund all of the programs we have. We need to cut back unimportant programs and cut the fat (reduce money leakages) in other existing programs. However, this only solves 1% of the problem, if that. Most of the cutting that can be done has already been done, and this puts legislatures in a very tough position. That is why the people need to be supportive of other alternatives, mainly temporary tax increases. It is difficult to say this because of the fact that the whole country is facing tough times, but those tax increases don't have to be all encompassing either!

For instance, we could put an increase on taxes for alcohol and earmark that money to go towards education. Or we could increase taxes on cigarettes, or put an additional fee for certain tickets or something of this effect for people who break the law earmarked to go towards education. The government could even start a fund and simply just ask for people to make donations to education such as putting such a request on tax return forms. There are SO many options for getting more revenues to schools that don't impose too much burden on society at large.

And what's more important, as executive vice president for Pew, Paul Taylor said, "'What the public understands is that the only thing more expensive than going to college these days is not going to college,"

Education is our future. It is our way to a stronger economy. It's our way out of debt. It's our way to grow our influence in the world (which has been diminishing all throughout my lifetime), and it's a way to strengthen other social programs as well. We have to invest in our education. We have to invest in our future.

--Koi

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/12073/1216289-454.stm#ixzz1oydCf87b

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Why Should I Go to College?

Throughout my years of going to college, I have been a strong advocate of the importance of getting a good education and gaining institutional recognition of your skills and capabilities. I know a lot of people who go to college and a lot that don't.

Working at Walmart, I see lots of people who are unhappy with where they are at in life. Some of them are in the later years in life (many of which regret not having gone to college), and a lot of them are young and less than 5 years out of high school but aren't already going to college. I ask them, "Do you want to work for Walmart for the rest of your life?" and not a single one has said that they did.

But essentially, this is what it boils down to: without going to college, you are forever limiting the kind of jobs you can get. Sure you don't have to work for Walmart. There are any number of companies that you can spend your time working for. But the fact still remains the same-- you are limited to a very small category of jobs, and most them are going to be just as bad as working for Walmart.

So many people get stuck doing jobs like cashiering or waiting because they never went to college to get the training that they needed. A lot of these people have hopes and dreams, most of which have to do with this idea of being "successful," but beyond that, everyone has ideas of what they would like to do if there weren't any barriers for entry. Computer programming, scientists, business owners, and so forth. There are any number of jobs that person would want to do but couldn't without education.

Beyond that, a lot of people just don't know what they would want to do. But chances are, those same people have a list of interests that could relate to any number of jobs that they would be very happy with.

Going to college isn't for everyone, or so people say. But I believe that it is! NOBODY wants to be stuck doing lame dead-end jobs that pay low wages. Nobody ever says, "When I get older, I want to be a Walmart door greeter" or "I would really like to clean bathrooms for the rest of my life." No. That sucks. Why would anyone want to do that for the rest of their life?

It's important to go to school, and coming back to this idea of "success," we have to understand what success really is.

Success isn't simply making a lot of money; rather, success is doing something that you love doing. It's really easy to get passionate about something when you job is challenging and rewarding. When you are doing something that makes you feel like you're making significant contributions to society or to a team of people, you feel way happier than when you're getting bossed around by managers all day.

Education is a seriously risky endeavor. You can pay thousands of dollars into it and get so caught up in life that you end up dropping out without the benefits of graduating. It's a huge time commitment that requires a lot of effort, and most people who aren't going to college would say that they just don't have the time or motivation to do it. But you have to plan ahead. You can't just sit there and let the rest of your life pass you by because you aren't willing to do the work now.

I'm going to college because I want something. What I want can't be achieved simply by the act of wanting it. I have to have knowledge and skills, and I also have to have recognition of those knowledge and skills. What I want to do is change the world. I want to spend my life working for humanity, making sure that everyone in the world has a chance at being happy and achieving self-realization (the act of making use of one's full potential). I want to make sure that people are able to have dreams and act on those dreams. I want to make sure that people have access to adequate resources. I want to make sure that people can provide for their families and not spend so much time being miserable because they can't pay the bills.

I want to work for better education, to make it cheaper, more efficient, more effective, more personal. I want to evolve education into something that is innovative and creative, not rigid and stagnant.

I can't do that without getting an education first myself! Education is my key to changing the world, but your dreams don't have to be that big. If you want anything, anything at all in this world, you should pursue it with all of your strength. There is no reason to let petty excuses get in your way of acquiring the skills and credibility you need to do something that is truly important to you. And chances are, even if you end up doing a job (like teaching) that doesn't pay off as well as other jobs you could get through education, if that is what you choose to do, you will be much happier than if you hadn't.

Employment should be something personal that calls to each individuals interests and capabilities. That can only be achieved by getting an education, and that is why you should go to college and live out your dreams.

--Koi

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Students Fight for Education -- 68 students arrested in California

According to an article posted by U.S. News at MSNBC.com (http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/03/06/10589957-police-arrest-68-people-protesting-education-cuts-inside-calif-state-capitol), 68 students were arrested after protesting funding cuts for public education. According to the article, the protesters were arrested after blocking hallways and conference rooms at the state capitol. The protesters were also warned for an hour that they would be arrested if they did not leave. However, other than one man who was arrested for carrying a switchblade knife, there wasn't any other reasons given for the arrests.

While I do sympathize with the protesters, I think that the arrests were probably justified. It is important for legislatures to be able to conduct daily business, and if the protesters were blocking entrance to the building and conference rooms and making it impossible for legislatures to do their job, it is perfectly understandable that they would get arrested.

It's important to fight for education, but it's also a good idea to keep protests orderly. There have been a lot of protests that have gotten out of hand like one protest that happened earlier this year in California where protesters got maced by cops. Though it got bad media coverage and the cops were seen as using excessive force, the students were blocking the cops from leaving because they felt like a few students that got arrested (all for legitimate reasons such as disorderly conduct) were arrested unjustly and wanted the cops to let them go. Thus, they were in effect conducting a threatening act towards cops and endangering public safety by making it impossible for a large number of cops to leave and attend to other more important business.

For the students in this particular protest, they should have taken to the lawn and made sure to leave room for people to enter and exit the building. While obstructing the legislatures ability to do their job is a fast and easy way to get attention, it doesn't pay off in the long run.

I think it's awesome though that California students have been so actively involved lately. Like Arizona universities, California's universities are seeing major cuts in education leading to nearly double the tuition rates.

This is a bad policy for lawmakers. These students are our future. By making cuts to education, they are effectively raising tuition rates and creating more barriers for people to get an education. Without educated citizens, it is impossible to have a strong economy because we depend on college graduates to fuel  our workforce with experienced workers, start businesses, lead major non-profit campaigns, and generate ideas. Further more, education is responsible for a large portion of research that is developed in the country.

By cutting funding to education, you are not only hurting students, you're hurting the economy and the future of America.

The alternatives would be of course to cut spending elsewhere (though this is easier said than done seeing as how education and health care take up such a large portion of the state budget), or increasing taxes to make up for the shortage of state revenues such as Gov. Jerry Brown (Cal. D.) is proposing.

This is a move that Arizona made with Prop-100 which has brought in $62 million since it was enacted (which is short of what was projected by about $12 million). Though the revenues generated weren't as much as was hoped, this $62 million dollars has been a substantial help to education in Arizona. Though it hardly makes up for the shortfalls in government funding to public universities, it is definitely a start. And by only increasing sales tax 1% it doesn't have a large impact on the community either.

Remember, education should be our main priority. If you cut funding to education, you're not going to have a very bright future. America used to be #1 in the world, and even though we still have the largest economy, it's not nearly growing as fast as it used to because of a lost focus on education. Other countries like China and India that are putting a huge focus on strengthening their education systems are seeing amazing growth in their economies, despite having a shrinking population (where the amount of people born each year does not make up for the number of people that die) and an aging population.

We have to fight for our education (responsibly) and let legislatures know why education is important to everybody, not just students. We need to write our legislatures, call them, have meeting with them, vote, and bring awareness to cuts to education funding. When students unite, we get things done. Just take a look at HB 2675 in Arizona, where we worked together and got the bill pulled by the representative who introduced it.

Students do have a voice.

Students do have power.

And by using our advantage of numbers to influence politics, we can help create a better America tomorrow.

--Koi

Guns on Campus Bill -- AZ -- SB 1474 -- Not Dead Yet?

Though we thought it was dead, rumors are now circulating that SB 1474, the Guns on Campus Bill in Arizona, may be rearing its ugly head once more.

The recent speculation about the bill coming back up is due to a lot of interest taken by the National Rifle Association (NRA) who has recently started pouring a lot of resources into getting this bill passed.

As the lead proponent of the right to bare arms, it seems that the NRA has no limits as to where and when they think it's appropriate to have a gun. I'm sure that if it was up to them, citizens would be able to bring guns anywhere they want and get guns pretty much anywhere they want without any major restrictions.

I'm honestly not opposed to the right to bare arms, though I often question the "need" some people feel to own them. I could see how it would be important in case the government ever somehow got infected with some kind of malicious virus that made them evil and wanted to turn America into a tyrannical dystopia, or more practically speaking, if you lived in a really crappy neighborhood (though then I would question why you stay or why you think that a gun is more necessary than like a baseball bat that would be less lethal?).

Anyway, obviously I'm not terribly supportive of people's personal decisions to get guns, though I am supportive of the right to own them.

But despite my support of the 2nd amendment, I think that there are some places where it is just inappropriate. One of those places would be bars. You should, by law, have to leave your gun at the very least in your vehicle when you go to places that serve alcohol. Guns and alcohol DO NOT MIX, EVER! I don't care how trained someone is or what they think qualifies them to drink and have a gun handy, it does not make a situation safe ever!

And of course, another place where guns are inappropriate are schools. I know at ASU we already have a police department ON CAMPUS. We have armed officers who patrol our campus and make sure we are safe. We do not need to carry our own guns to keep ourselves safe. This bill won't make campuses any safe, all it will do is give people more lethal ways of solving fights, arguments, and other disputes, especially for those people who can't control their temper.

I mean, I'm not afraid of the military-trained, college undergrad who is there to study and take his schooling seriously; I'm afraid of that one guy that won't back down from a fight, regularly scruffs it up with people because he can't control his anger, and might pull that gun out if he feels like he's being disrespected. Those kind of people don't just exist in the ghetto; they are on college campuses, too, unfortunately.

And I'm sure that as well as increasing violence on campus, it will increase armed robbery as well.

Dr. Crow said that he didn't support the bill, I don't support the bill, most people I know don't support the bill, and anyone who thinks this is a good idea probably hasn't taken the time to think about this question seriously.

--Koi

Thursday, March 1, 2012

House Bill 2675, the Minimum Tuition Contribution Bill, has been Withdrawn! -- A Victory For Education

I am very excited today because I was recently informed that HB 2675, the Minimum Contribution Bill, which would requires students to pay $2,000 out of pocket towards their tuition, was withdrawn from the Arizona House. 

It wouldn't have been possible without the efforts of all the students who were fighting to protect education. It really goes to show you how students can accomplish a lot when they work together towards a unified purpose. It is a proud day for Arizona students.


This is a victory for students everywhere. Higher education is constantly under attack from government, and ironically it is one of the most important contributors to the economy. By killing HB 2675, we have sent a signal to legislatures everywhere that students are engaged and that they are willing to fight for their education.

But it doesn't stop there! Now, more then ever, students are faced with rising tuition costs, as well as decreasing government funding and financial aid. Education is a human right and is the key to economics success and a better future for everyone. It's time to get registered to vote, practice civic engagement, and work together to make our universities institutions that focus on our needs. Education should be as affordable and accessible as possible, as per the Arizona Constitution, and although there are many realities to face when it comes to achieving that goal, by working together, we can accomplish anything!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Fight Against HB 2675 (The Minimum Contribution Bill) Continues -- Tuition Increases -- Kavanagh -- Protect Education!

As mentioned in a previous post, I had the honor's of attending the appropriations committee where the HB 2675 Minimum Tuition Contribution Bill was heard. It was exciting to see politics in action, and as a student, I was very concerned about the outcome of this debate.

Ultimately, the bill was passed in the committee, and it will soon be heard on the floor. Despite huge efforts put forth by students, showing strict opposition to the bill, the legislatures in the appropriations committee felt it necessary to pass this legislation forward for further consideration.

Some of the issues brought up in the committee by representatives such as Rep. Campbell who spoke very strongly against this bill was that Arizona is already provides some of the lowest financial aid. In terms of the country, including D.C. and Puerto Rico, Arizona is 51 out of 52 states in terms of financial aid offered.

Rep. Campbell kept reiterating that he fails to see the point of this legislation. Nobody was asking for it. Nobody was in support of it. And it certainly wasn't going to fix anything.

Amendment after amendment was proposed for HB 2675 after new issues were brought up, desperately trying to save the bill, including an amendment proposed by Representative and Appropriations Committee Chair Rep. Kavanagh which was ultimately passed with the bill to include loans as a means of meeting the $2000 student contribution toward tuition, but ultimately, no other amendments were voted in favor, including one amendment which included veterans as an exemption for the $2000 contribution proposed and strongly argued for by Rep. Heinz.

He argued that we have to acknowledge the duty that veterans have done for our country and make education accessible for them. And truly, it is only fair that we do. After spending years in dedicated service and hard work for our country's national defense, risking their lives and enduring tough training, it is only right that we allow them to take advantage of every financial opportunity afforded to them by the government, including the G.I. Bill.

Kavanagh argued against this amendment saying that he knows plenty of vets who are extremely wealthy, and that they shouldn't be automatically granted exemption. He also argued that the amendment was poorly planned out and needed further discussion before being approved.

Truly, what he said is true to some extent. Having done Model United Nations for several years now and being a political science student, I can fully understand how extensive discussion on legislation is proper and completely in order. However, the way the amendment was framed was straight-forward and didn't need much discussion at all in my opinion. It even used the language of "Honorably Discharged" when referring to vets that have been discharged from service, ensuring that any ex-army personnel would only be granted exemption if they were discharged in good-standing with the military such as in the result of an injury that ultimately makes continued service impossible.

Furthermore, if the amendment was approved, it would likely be tweaked, altered, and further amended before ever being passed as law, and having the amendment on the bill would bring veteran exemption into the discussion on the house floor which is now likely to be neglected as a main topic of discussion.

Student leaders and representatives also came under fire by the hot-headed Rep. Ugenti who kept saying things like "that's life" and asking how it's the state's responsibility to ensure that students have adequate transportation.

As a student, I am very concerned about this bill. With the new amendment, I will not be personally affected because I take out upwards of $7,500 in student loans every year just to meet the financial requirements to attend college, and still having several expenses to pay out of pocket afterwards. So I am not concerned for myself so much as I am concerned for the institution of education and for my fellow students. It is sad to see that the state has taken such a hostile stance towards education, and I don't believe that this legislation will really have any positive effect on education at all.

Rather, instead it will push students away. It will impose another unnecessary barrier between students and education. It will deter future students from ever attending college, especially with the large increases in tuition which are largely the result of poor financial planning on the states behalf which led to delayed funds that the university was counting on.

Meanwhile, as Dr. Crow has said in several conferences, Arizona State University, as a large and growing university which truly believes in making a good education affordable, had actually planned ahead and established funds to help cushion students from exactly this kind of financial crisis. As a result, the university was able to decrease the negative effects of the lack of state funding on the university, but ultimately, the funds were depleted within the first two years, leaving students to pay nearly twice the tuition they were less than 3 years ago.

This turn of events is outrageous, and education in Arizona is now less affordable than it has ever been. Students are facing a crisis where tuition and the total cost of attendance continues to increase, while the state continues to cut back funding and continues to impose unnecessary barriers to higher education which will ultimately have detrimental effects on Arizona's economy and future work force.

Businesses are going to begin fleeing Arizona, and with it, Arizona residence will leave with them, seeking jobs elsewhere where education is valued and jobs are flourishing as a result. Phoenix, which is now considered one of the fastest growing cities in the nation will ultimately fail if policies like this continue to go through.

The real implications of this bill is that it will open doors for more malicious bills that hurt Arizona's education. Despite the extraordinary efforts of universities like ASU to keep tuition rates low through countless efforts including the fact that for the fourth year in a row, says Dr. Crow, the ASU staff will not receive salary increases, Arizona education will continue to struggle to advance in the ways in needs to be beneficial to students, Arizona, and the national as a whole.

Therefore, it is time to do something about it. It is time to organize and use our numbers as our ammo in shooting down this bill and sending a message to legislatures that Arizona values education. It is important for everyone, not just students, but people who employ students, people who are parents of students, friends of students, or people who just think that education should be affordable and accessible and believe in the American dream of advancing one's own socio-economic situation through hard work and dedication.

Students are apathetic or disengaged with education. Students are more dedicated to education than ever before. Almost every student I know on campus (which is several hundred) is involved in some kind of club or organization, truly cares about their education, and works hard every week to secure their future and goals.

Send an email to your legislature. Send a letter to your local newspapers. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Talk to everyone you know about this bill and tell them to talk to their legislatures. It only takes a minute. It's really easy to look up your representatives email and send them an email. It takes less than 5 minutes, and so far this semester, I have done it several times.

I am fired up about this bill, and you should be too. And even if you're not going to join my fight to protect Arizona's education, I will continue to fight and find those who are ready to make a difference in their community. I won't let small losses like the passing of the bill in the Appropriations Committee slow me down. I will continue to fight it on the House floor. I will fight it in the Arizona Senate committees. And on the floor of the Senate. I will fight it if it makes it to the Joint Committee. And if it passes there, I will march to the governors office with thousands of students by my side to let her know that we do not support this bill.

It is only by strength in numbers that we will kill this bill. We don't have much else, but the strength of numbers is more powerful than money ever will be. We will make legislatures see that Arizona cares about education, and we will show them that students ARE engaged and are NOT apathetic!

--Koi

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

HB 2675 Passes Appropriations Committee - Destined to Move to House Floor - Minimum Contribution Bill 2012

HB 2675, the Minimum Contribution Bill, is a bill that requires all university students in Arizona to pay a minimum contribution of $2000 towards their tuition. The bill was introduced with 25 sponsors and has been scheduled to be heard in 2 committees: the Education Committee and the Appropriations Committee.

The bill was removed from the agenda (and effectively killed) in the Education Committee, but was still scheduled to be heard in the Appropriations Committee.

The bill which was introduced by Rep. Kavanagh was intended to make sure that "students have skin in the game," as the popular catch phrase of the bills supporters put so elegantly. They want to make sure that students are invested in their education, complaining that an estimated 48% of students pay no tuition, a statistic introduced by the Arizona Board of Regents (the governing body of the Arizona education system), which is no being brought under question as being an anomaly and a bloated figure, especially since the statistic is several years old and does not take into consideration the recent tuition leaps that has nearly doubled tuition in the past several years due to a lack of funding promised by the state.

The bill was heard today in the committee and passed with one amendment that opens up an exception for student loans. Although the bill is no less detrimental than it was before, it is still a step in the wrong direction.

According to statistics introduced by the Arizona Students' Association at the hearing, the actual number of students who pay no tuition is much closer to 7,000 (a drastically smaller number), but that these students are those with the worst financial situation and the greatest need. And as tuition continues to increase and education becomes more and more expensive, these 7,000 students may have to find desperate means of paying for the education anyway because the need-based aid they are receiving now may not even be enough, especially if the state continues to cut back education funding.

I know that I can barely even afford college, and I take out the maximum amount of student loans that I can. If it weren't for my $3,000 / year grant I receive, I might not be able to afford it at all, as that barely even covers books. And even with my grant and my thousands of dollars of student loans, I still have to work just to pay my bills, while trying to balance sleep and school work.

Even with the new amendment that grants me and others and exception for taking out student loans, I still strongly oppose this bill because it is hurting education, students, the economy, and America!

Monday, February 20, 2012

HB 2675, The Minimum Contribution Bill -- Education Under Attack in Arizona!

HB 2675, also known as the Minimum Contribution Bill, is a bill introduced into the House in Arizona. Upon being introduced, it had 25 sponsors! To put that in perspective, most bills that have a lot of support usually only have as much as 5 sponsors.

So far, the Bill has been withdrawn from the agenda from the Education Committee, but is now going to be considered in the Appropriations Committee.

This bill requires all university students in Arizona to pay a minimum of $2000 towards their tuition out of pocket before being eligible for grants, scholarships, student loans, or any other financial aid that is regulated or processed through the university.

This bill does have some exceptions, but they are few. First, full-ride athletic scholarships are excluded from this requirement; and second, full-ride national merit scholarships are also excluded. But only up to 5% of total students can even qualify for an exemption.

Though the intent of this bill was to make students more invested in their education, it is clear that their efforts are misguided. For one, students are already invested in their education!

When you consider how much time, effort, money, and even travel is involved with school and how much sleep and free time students miss out on, it's hard to think that they aren't invested in their education. Not only do students have to pay tuition, but there are also fees along-side tuition, skyrocketing text book costs, expensive parking options, not to mention and tools and materials they might need for specific classes.

Furthermore, by requiring this mandatory contribution, the state is pushing more students out of the education system, which in the long run is going to drastically injure the state's economy further. There will be less skilled workers here, fewer people setting up new companies when they get out of college, and fewer companies that are going to want to settle in a state with a weak education system. And by virtue of the state being a part of the country, it will also injure the nation as a whole.

Plus, the bill has provisions to increase the amount and reevaluate the contribution every year, leading to unforeseeable increases in the minimum contribution until only the richest families can afford education.

That is possibly an exaggerated argument, but it has real implications.

What is even more real is that this kind of legislation opens up doors for other bills of the same nature. If bills like this are allowed to pass, especially with how tight the state's budget is right now, politicians would probably be more than happy to keep shifting more and more of the responsibility of education onto the students, until we're run down, broken, and in thousands of dollars in debt without a degree because we can no longer afford to go.

Education must be protected. It is not only an asset to those who seek to gain knowledge and skills to get a better job, but also to the country as a whole which depends on educated citizens to continue competing in an ever-growing, complex world market.

--Koi

I can't wait to start my life

I've been going to college now since I was 18. Since then, I have learned a lot and had a lot of great experiences. I started off in community college where tuition was only about $2000/year, and it was reasonable enough that my dad paid it for me. But when I went to a university, the cost more than tripled! What more, my dad was no longer willing to support my education. I had to spread my wings and fly.

So I've been pretty much racking up debt ever since then. Every year, I happily take on thousands of dollars of debt, knowing that one day I will be able to accomplish my dreams. But now, I'm finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel as I finish up my 5th or 6th year of college..

Come May 2013, I will be graduating with both of my bachelor's degrees, and I couldn't be more excited. As much as I want to keep going to school and learning more, I hate this limbo I'm in where I can't afford to not work, and I can't find work that I like. I struggle with money every month, and it only gets harder from here.

On the other hand, I have my Model United Nations and my internship which are lots of fun and keep me motivated. I know that I wouldn't have the life I do now unless I continue to work and make my way through every hardship that follows. And once I graduate, I can finally apply for a PhD and get all kinds of funding, and then I will never have to work a crummy retail job again! It will just be study, study, study, and then finally I will be able to move on with my life and do the things I want to do.

And then I can go back for another PhD! =3

--Koi