Category Archives: student

The Thing About Taxes

I will preface this by saying I am not well-researched in the areas of politics, national financing, or whatever actually goes into this mess, in the United States or elsewhere.

But I think it might be worth mentioning my thoughts on a few things, based on personal experiences, and some things I’ve heard that just… don’t make a lot of sense.

Taxes aren’t inherently bad.

The word “tax” in itself has come to have largely negative connotations–if you’re being “taxed” by something, you’re being weighed down or put upon. We have classic examples of people, like the Sheriff of Nottingham from the Robin Hood stories, who abuse taxes.

In a truly ironic state of affairs, my dad is adamantly against any kind of raise in taxes, but he also works for the state of Minnesota, and part of our taxes are what pay his own wages.

But if taxes are being abused, for things like… oh, say, a giant wall, or a football stadium… then, yeah, I wholeheartedly understand the aversion.

I don’t think anyone is ever entirely sure what taxes are used for, but there’s obviously some mismanagement going on somewhere, and that’s the bad thing. Taxes themselves? They have some truly positive possibilities.

Let’s just, for the sake of imagination, pretend that a perfect world is possible. What should taxes, in a perfect world (and my opinion) be used for?

  • Protecting/conserving the environment
  • Researching and developing important new innovations in energy, transportation, and health (cure for cancer, anyone?)
  • Providing/maintaining a basic standard of health and well-being for everyone
  • Paying first responders, health professionals, and peace-keepers
  • Educating people well
  • Preserving culture by investing in arts, museums, libraries, archives, and community centers
  • Community improvements, like road construction, parks & rec, etc.
  • Providing some kind of safety net and/or rehabilitation programs for those who are  out of work and/or homeless. (This would include retirement, and being out of work due to an injury, veteran benefits, and other things of that nature, in addition to being in a bad situation for other reasons.)

Some people are really put out by the thought of providing for others. Which… I get, to some extent. At the moment, it’s hard to fathom providing for myself, let alone anyone else in the country–but that’s because a lot of things in “the system” are broken. They’re not being used the way they should.

If I had the peace of mind that came with guaranteed good health, the basic ability to learn the things I need to know without being in debt for the foreseeable future, and the reassurance that life as we know it wasn’t on its way to being toasted out of the Earth like a bad virus, I would happily give away a third or more of my income for the rest of my life.

In a perfect world, what would your taxes be used for?

What would you be willing to provide, to make your own life and the lives of others easier?

Diversify Your Knowledge Portfolio

In my last blog, we touched on gratitude and the importance of fostering the connections we make while in school. This idea, seeing connections, cannot be understated. The human brain is powerful in large part because of its ability to see and make connections—be it people, patterns, or thoughts. And while I’d love to toot my own horn about how great the benefits of connection and appreciation are (and they are), I have to counter myself a bit. While humans have always been drawn to the predictive power of familiarity, it is not necessarily to our benefit. We can become entrenched in familiar ways of thinking and acting that do nothing to enrich us. In fact, in evolutionary terms, variation is the goal. I would argue, that while networking helps you find a job, embracing diversification will bring you the greatest success in college and your career.

Many of us will stagnate and become dissatisfied when courses begin to rehash the same tired theories we have been covering since freshman year. We are complex, thinking beings. Robots are made for repetition, not us.  While there is a benefit to looking at theories from different angles, there is a balance between reviewing ideas and beating a dead horse. If all of your courses are in the same discipline, you will begin to get tunnel vision or worse, tune out to the lessons. So, rather than sign up for one more “easy A,” why not push yourself to try a new type of class. Maybe biology, computer science, or philosophy? They will give you a view of the world that could open a whole new way of seeing things.

Tip: Find ways to think about your course work from outside their home academic fields. How does human evolution relate to user experience? What about ethics and business communications? These new neural pathways will make your brain more elastic, agile, and creative .

Careers are no longer a straight climb up a ladder. Today, versatility and multi-faceted skill sets are in demand. And that is not a bad thing. The truth is, very few jobs will fulfill your head, heart and stomach. And those jobs that fill you with love, often don’t fill your fridge. As more and more people realize this fact, the popularity and acceptance of modular careers will continue to increase. Use your time in college to gain some transferable skills by broadening your academic focus.

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If you end up with a career path that jumps around, you will be glad of your diverse coursework. You will have gained knowledge and skill in areas that will become relevant in financial ways. Having a diverse course load will make you a more complete, interesting person. Don’t sell your time in school short by going only for those courses that are required for your degree. If you don’t take the time to explore now, you may never get the chance again.

Teamwork Makes Your Dream Work

groupwork-652547-unsplashAt this point in the school year, most students find themselves full swing on one of the most-dread-of-all class assignments: the group project. We bemoan navigating group dynamics, schedule conflicts, and technology shortfalls. Wouldn’t a simple paper suffice? But remember, you will collaborate in your future career.

HINT: Educators create these assignments because teamwork, problem-solving, and communication are requirements in virtually any job.

According to the career experts at Glassdoor, many of the soft skills you hone during group work are the exact skills employers look for. Remember last time, when I told you about Facebook CEO Sheryl Sandberg’s policy of focusing on natural strengths? That’s code for soft skills. Working with others will help you succeed, both in class and on the job.

Know when to say thank you


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Equally crucial to (grudgingly) sharpening our collaboration muscle is remembering to say thank you to our teammates for those ways they contribute to the project. Besides helping you to become a better communicator, they bring valuable alternative views to projects.

Moreover, your classmates today may be your coworkers tomorrow. After all, if you are in the same class, you likely have some career goals in common. Why not use these professor imposed connections to forge real world contacts?

TIP: Consider group work as networking 101.

Create a network of nice

Studies show that practicing gratitude can change your outlook for the better and help foster a community of people who support each other. Researchers published on the University of California, Berkeley’s site, Greater Good, asked, “Is Gratitude a Moral Affect”? They concluded—yes—gratitude is more than good manners; it motivates and reinforces empathetic behavior in the person practicing and the person receiving thanks.

The article noted that “the emotion of gratitude might also have motivational value, prompting grateful people to behave prosocially themselves…[motivating] reciprocal altruism.” In other words, gratitude can start a pay-it-forward-style social movement on campus and in your everyday life.

You never know when common courtesy could pay big dividends—in friendship or while networking. So, in the spirit of the season, go out and flex your “thank you” muscle. The Metro State community will be all the better for it.


Glassdoor is a site that allows you to search millions of jobs. They have an impressive portfolio of blog topics covering virtually every subject related to careers.


Greater Good, hosted by the University of California, Berkeley, offers tips, quizzes, videos, and articles on the human quest for happiness.

If you missed my last post, you can find out why knowing yourself is the key to school success here.

Budge Challenge App: Is this a new way to donate to meaningful charities?

Have you ever made a bet with your friend or significant other that was a win-win situation? Probably not—more like a win-lose situation. It’s okay. That is why in today’s post I would like to tell you about a win-win opportunity but with a charitable twist. It’s pretty neat app, called: Budge and you can create challenges about almost anything with your friends for great causes such as cures for cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, AIDS, or understanding climate change, or searching for extra-terrestrial life. I first saw this app on Buzzfeed: 25 Free Apps That Are Making The World A Better Place.

“Budge was born out of our vision that giving to charity should be a fun and super easy process,” said Hillan Klein, CEO and co-founder, Budge. “With this goal in mind, we set out to build a new culture in charitable giving specifically aimed at Gen Y by combining social gaming with micro-donations. We want to educate people that it’s okay to give in small amounts–casual deeds can truly have a meaningful impact.”

What has been usually done in the past is that the leaders of charities set up a table to have you sign and make a donation that way or hold special events that promote support by donations and then people can pay to enter the event. But I feel like by using those techniques to reach the charitable goal can somewhat take forever to reach because most people are going through a “Charity Fatigue”. In which, many but not all feel like that charity can be a bit too much and just feels sometimes forced. But with the Budge app, it feels less forced because you are donating money in a enjoyable way. Just like it states on the Cision website, “From there, it takes only a few seconds to create a “budge,” select a charity and challenge their friends. “Budges” can be anything – a game of chess, meeting for coffee, a pizza-eating contest, you name it.”


Now, before you think or say that donating to charities can be a pain at times, especially for the reason that they usually require commitment and emotions run high as well as leave the wallet somewhat dry. I came across an app that includes fun ways to give to charity by interacting with friends with cool challenges. I can remember when donating was not as fun, specially when it came to church charities or food drives.



I have used this app before with a couple of my friends and for one challenge I can recall is that we put in the challenge of not eating unhealthy foods and to drink plenty of water for 1 week or so, in which I won with another friend but the other friend lost. But we enjoyed it, because who really doesn’t like a challenge?


Know Yourself


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Writer James Joyce extolled, “A man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery.” It’s great to know it’s okay to try and fail. However, focusing on your strengths can be the actual key to success in the classroom and beyond.

In a New York Times interview, Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, explained, “We try to be a strengths-based organization, which means we try to make jobs fit around people rather than make people fit around jobs. We focus on what people’s natural strengths are and spend our management time trying to find ways for them to use those strengths every day.”


Luckily, Metro State’s Career Services Center (CSC) has fantastic resources to help you uncover your talent and channel it into a successful career. As a student, you have access tools like, FOCUS, online assessments created to help you discover careers and majors that use your strengths. You will need to create an account the first time you sign on. Use the access code: “METRO” and fill in your information to gain access to career planning, academic strengths identification, and a multitude of self-assessments. You may find out something you didn’t know about yourself.

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TIP: Even if you think you have yourself pretty well figured out, you can still utilize assessment keywords as a resume database!

  1. Start a file on your computer (or use a notebook if that’s more your style), and copy down all of the skills, strengths, and personality traits.
  2. Write down examples of them in your work or school life. Think objectively about difficult situations or mistakes you’ve made. What qualities did you rely on to get past those pitfalls? Acknowledging your strengths can provide insight when choosing a major or a career.
  3. When the time comes, integrate those words into your resume, portfolio, and interviews.

TIP: FOCUS offers an easy way to create a report from your results, just click on the Review and Print My Portfolio button, toward the bottom of the home screen.

Now that you know a little about me, and how I harness my strengths, go find out how to harness yours! I’d love to hear about your strengths and how you use them in the comments below!

Tessa Gedatus’ strengths: Activator, Strategy, Ideation, Adaptability, and Intellection.


Navigating Social Media Can be a Nightmare for us Older Students

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As an older student returning to college after thirty years has been a challenge. Learning how to do and submit class assignments electronically has been a culture shocking experience. Depending on your career prior to returning back to school can make a huge difference in your chances to be a successful student and acquire a degree. I will use my self for an example. Prior to my returning to college i was a furniture mover. I was required to know or use zero social media or electronic communication engines. I did have a Facebook  and an E-mail account. These were the extent of my electronic and social media communication experiences. After taking the placement examination i was placed in the classes appropriated from my scores, OK dandy. Where i immediately hit a road block was navigating D2l and understanding the language of the instructions by the instructor. I was clueless and scared to death. But willing to give this college thing a shot.

My first college essay was due in three weeks and I was determined to write it and turn it in on time. My instructor directed us to turn in our essays via Dropbox by a certain date and time. So i work on my essay with vigor and pride. finally I am done and ready to turn in my first essay. I find my professors office but cant find the dam Dropbox. I looked all over for the dam thing but i found nothing. Well i get to class on Monday, paper was due Friday, pissed off because my instructor did not have her Dropbox where i could access it. I approached her stating that i looked for her Dropbox on Friday and could not find it. She looked at me with a huge smile and said “its OK Albert, stay after class and i will show you how to use the Dropbox on D2l”.\

So since that time i have learned how to navigate D2l, write 8 page essays( with supporting references) and even copy/paste, lol. I am 8 credits away from attaining my BA degree in Org Comm. I figured this should be smooth sailing the rest of the way. Well after walking in MDST 485 i realized how smooth was not gonna happen. I don’t know how to Blog, tweet,re tweet or re- Blog. I am hanging on a thread. However i will learn this stuff but for know, Steve Carell says it best for me.

Revolutionary Communication: 1968 Paris Uprising Posters

Cook’s Choice- POST 5

My first sighting of Shepard Fairey’s “Hope” poster was at Barbette in Minneapolis. I routinely peruse billboards and I don’t think I hesitated more than five seconds before I unpinned it from the cork board, rolled it up and gently tucked it under my arm. I knew I had a treasure (and besides, there was more than one). The bartender noticed and I had to do a little sweet talking, but I still have that poster, among others. Not all of the posters I’ve collected are political, but it seems that some of the best posters in history have been either musically or politically oriented. 

“Return to Normal”

It’s widely acknowledged that the political posters from the Paris Uprisings of 1968 greatly define the genre. I was first exposed to this period of French history through the steamy film The Dreamers, directed by Bernardo Bertolucci and set before and during the uprising. The posters shown briefly in the film piqued my interest more than the NC-17 content did, yet I could only find limited information, most of which was in French. Thanks to the Arab Spring and Occupy, the history of protest and protest art seem to have gained a lot of attention lately. There are all kinds of sources on the net and also a few beautiful new books dealing specifically with the poster art of this brief period.

“Be Young and Shut Up”

The uprising started with a small student protest and burgeoned into a 11,000,000 worker labor strike- 22% of France’s population at the time. They shut down the country and President Charles de Gaulle’s government was dangerously close to being toppled. You will often see de Gaulle caricatured as a large-nosed figure (see poster to the left). At the end of the protests, the National Assembly was dissolved and new parliamentary elections were held. The uprising forever changed France- all in two weeks!

“A Youth Disturbed Too Often by the Future”

The posters are the product of a group of art students called the Atelier Populaire (Popular Workshop). They took over the printing studios of their own university and cranked out an impressive volume and variety of posters in a remarkably short time. They switched from lithography to silkscreen because the prior method was too slow– the group often produced over 2000 posters per night. Most of the posters are monochrome, simple in design and direct in message. Posters were chosen by vote within the group and then posted nightly for the public to see current issues every morning. I will never again complain about how much work a social media campaign can be!

Although Occupy and these students share a common root (Situationist International), there is nothing vague about the poster messages of May 1968. They express anxiety for the future and distrust of authority and the press. They warn and inform of police brutality and call for for unity of the workforce and a better quality of life. They express that merely producing and consuming goods is not a good way to live and encouraged the viewer to believe that so much more was possible. They encouraged people to fight for change.


Atelier Populaire Mission Statement:
“The posters produced by the Atelier Populaire are weapons in the service of the struggle and are an inseparable part of it. Their rightful place is in the centers of conflict … in the streets and on the walls of the factories. To use them for decorative purposes, to display them in bourgeois places of culture or to consider them as objects of aesthetic interest is to impair both their function and their effect.”

Individual artists never took credit nor signed their work and long after these events had passed, the Popular Workshop refused to put any of the posters up for sale. I’m sure if these students had the media at the time, they would of been gods of Twitter and Facebook. Fortunately the media of the time left us a lasting and powerful record that is still relevant today. Despite the fact that the Popular Workshop would despise and discount me for a bourgeoisie, I would love to have just one of these posters prominently displayed in my collection. Ça, c’est dommage!  

To view more posters check out Art for Change.
To buy a book, see Beauty Is in the Street: A Visual Record of the May ’68 Paris Uprising