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  • April/2012

Placement Testing Might Save You Time and Money

by South University
April 25, 2012

Did you know that taking a placement test could potentially save you money and time by allowing you to complete your degree faster? Placement Tests like those offered at South University Online Programs measures students’ knowledge and skills in certain subject areas before their academic schedule is determined.

If students receive sufficient scores on the Placement Tests, they might qualify to receive an exemption for a course, such as introductory math, thus reducing the time and money spent on the path to graduation.

Besides the benefits described above, Placement Tests can also serve to be beneficial to students in other ways, including:

  • Placement Tests are a great way to get “back in the habit” of going to school.
  • Placement Tests allow you to familiarize yourself with the user-friendly online classroom environment that you will use for all of your classes.

The tests are usually only 25 – 50 questions and the results at South University are automatically reported the school’s student information system, which can automatically update student schedules. There is no need to request scores to be sent to your school. All you have to do is enter the classroom and complete the tests!

To learn more about Placement Testing and to get started, contact an Admissions Representative at South University.

 

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Where's Your Classroom? We Want to Know!

by South University
April 5, 2012

One of the best parts about being an online student is that your classroom is wherever you are.  That means, with over 14,000 students, South University Online Programs has classrooms all over the map! So today we are asking you to show us YOUR classroom – share a photo of your hometown and you could be featured on our Facebook page and win a $50 gift card to Amazon.com.

Here’s how to enter:

  • Download/Print the Show Us Your Classroom PDF, which can be found in the Campus Common under Top Stories.
  • Write in the name of the town you live in on the PDF.
  • Take a picture that represents your town/city/area (don’t forget to include the image you printed out!)
  • Write a brief essay of between 150 words and 350 words explaining how your photo represents your classroom.
  • Submit your photo and essay to this site.

That’s it!

The best submissions will be featured on our brand new Facebook Timeline cover photo.

The three most creative submissions will be named winners by our panel of judges and will each be awarded $50 gift cards to Amazon.com. We will only be accepting submissions until April 26th – so get out and capture the perfect photo today!

Some helpful tips:

  • Use things that are easily recognizable (“Welcome to [city/state]” signs, iconic buildings, sports stadiums, food items)
  • Make sure your sign is readable in the photo – don’t take it from too far away and use a black marker to write in the town/city/area on the PDF image.
  • Include yourself in the photo! 
  • Don’t forget to follow the directions and make sure to fill out an electronic release on the submission site.

Good luck everyone!

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Genetically Modified Foods Explained

by South University
April 5, 2012

Genetically modified (GM) foods have generated plenty of debate, with some saying these foods are hazardous to our health and the environment, while others say they are safe, resist disease better, and can provide food in starving nations.

With all of the controversy swirling around, it can be difficult to keep up. Learning some of the facts about genetic engineering and GM foods can be a good way for consumers to decide on which side they stand.

What are GMOs?

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), genetically modified organisms (GMOs) can be defined as “organisms in which the genetic material (deoxyribonucleic acid, or DNA for short) has been altered in a way that does not occur naturally.” Recombinant DNA (rDNA) technology, also called genetic engineering, allows selected individual genes to be transferred from one organism into another, also between non-related species. The resulting organism is said to be genetically modified, genetically engineered, or transgenic.

The top genetically engineered crops in the United States are corn, soy, canola, and cotton.

Are GM Foods Safe?

Among the biggest aspect of the debate on food derived from rDNA biotechnology is whether they are helpful or harmful to humans and the environment.

Opponents of genetically modified foods have several criticisms, saying:

  • the food causes harm to other organisms
  • genetically modified crops could inadvertently crossbreed with other crops
  • insects might become resistant to the toxins produced by genetically modified crops and these pesticide-resistant bugs could damage crops without anything to stop them
  • the food could make disease-causing bacteria that is resistant to antibiotics

Although a major news topic today, the genetic engineering of foods is not a new concept, says Mahlon Burnette, who teaches the biological sciences at South University. Burnette is the former director of scientific affairs for the Grocery Manufacturers of America, now the Grocery Manufacturers Association. The association is the trade association for corporations making food, beverage, and consumer products. In his former role, Burnette worked in many areas of food science, manufacturing, and safety.

Find out what those agencies we have to trust, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and WHO, have to say about our food.

Traditional breeding involves crossing two organisms usually within the same species to combine desirable characteristics. On the other hand in modern biotechnology, desired genes can be inserted into a non-related individual, so the DNA is recombined. 

“If you do genetic modification the old-fashioned way, you do one blending and hope the desired traits are passed on,” Burnette says. “Plant and animal breeders have been doing that since agriculture was first domesticated. We are doing the same things, except faster.”

Agencies responsible for ensuring food and health safety say foods from rDNA technology are safe to eat, and newer biotechnological techniques can rapidly improve the quantity and quality of food available.

In a 1991 joint report, WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) concluded: “Biotechnology has a long history of use in food production and processing. It represents a continuum embracing both traditional breeding techniques and the latest techniques based on molecular biology. ... The use of these techniques does not result in food which is inherently less safe than that produced by conventional ones.”

Genetically Modified Foods

Doubts remain despite the support of GM foods by U.S. government officials. Since the application of modern biotechnology in food production was started, there’s been mounting concern about such GM food among consumers and politicians, especially in Europe.

In 1998, a de facto moratorium led to the suspension of approvals of new GMOs in the European Union (EU) pending the adoption of revised rules to govern the approval, marketing, and labeling of bioengineered products. The EU lifted the moratorium on GM crops in 2004. And in a recent development, the EU has allowed member states to choose whether to restrict or ban the cultivation of GM crops in their countries.

Although he believes foods produced by rDNA technology are safe, Burnette says it is good that people question the food sources and processes.

“The people who call them ‘frankenfoods’ have a right to ask ‘is someone is watching,’ because one of the first things I learned about computers is that computers allow us to make bigger mistakes faster, and that is not [to] be discounted,” he says.

Possible Benefits of GM Foods

GM food crops have been altered to have shorter growing cycles, stronger resistance to both insects and disease, and produce higher yields, which proponents say could help feed people in developing countries. In addition, some say these foods are also more nutritious and have a longer shelf life.

Consumer Awareness

Less than 1% of Americans claim farming as an occupation today, so the majority of the public does not know where their food comes from.

With most of the population far removed from their food supply, education on food sources and processes is important in being a savvy grocery shopper.

“Find out what those agencies we have to trust, including the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and WHO, have to say about our food,” Burnette advises. “Also, learn what their scientists say about the food product and process. Then make a decision.”

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Life as a Restaurant Owner — An Inside Look at the Ingredients to Success

by South University
April 5, 2012

Many people believe that opening a restaurant is as simple as putting on an apron and heading into the kitchen, but every successful restaurant owner knows this couldn’t be further from the truth. Behind every profitable eatery is a restaurant owner with a solid business strategy.

Tony Sturniolo, a Business instructor at South University, Online Programs says the first step towards opening a restaurant is creating a business plan.

“They need to write down what they want to do, how they will get their funding, what customers they want, identify the risks, etc.,” Sturniolo says. “The business plan is [the] necessary first step to avoid disaster.”

Sturniolo says it’s important to consider the wants and needs of the customers when creating a business strategy for opening a restaurant.

“For a restaurant to succeed, the owner should first determine who the restaurant customers will be and then find out, possibly by a survey, if they would want the food the restaurant will serve,” Sturniolo says.  “You could have the best recipes in the world, but if customers don’t want the food the restaurant will not be a success. Just because you like the food you cook, it doesn’t mean customers will.”

Sturniolo says one of the most common reasons restaurants fail is because they don’t know what customers in their market want or need.

For example, planning to open a vegetarian restaurant in New York City might be a viable business, [but] opening one in Mexican Hat, Utah, would probably fail,” Sturniolo says.

Choosing a good location for the restaurant is also critical. If multiple restaurants have failed in a certain location, Sturniolo advises anyone thinking about opening a restaurant to think twice about choosing that spot.

Once the restaurant is up and running, quality service, cleanliness, value, and, of course, good food are ingredients for success.

Running The Lady & Sons Restaurant

When they are not making countless television appearances and hosting a show of their own, Jamie Deen and his brother Bobby are in Savannah, Georgia, running The Lady & Sons restaurant with celebrity chef mom Paula Deen.

Jamie Deen says there’s no such thing as a typical day in his life as a restaurant owner.

“On any given day, we could be at the restaurant checking in on the day-to-day stuff, on the phone with an interview, or traveling to do a live show or appearance,” says Deen, who is also an author, and stars on the  Food Network’s Road Tasted, with his brother Bobby. “Just last week, we were both in Miami for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival, which was such a blast.”

Restaurant work is hard, don't get us wrong, but it's some of the most rewarding work out there.

Deen credits his mother for guiding himself and his brother into the restaurant industry.

“Honestly, the restaurant kind of chose us,” he says. “It was what Mama was doing and she pulled us along, and we just stuck with it. Now we couldn't be happier, though. Restaurant work is hard, don't get us wrong, but it's some of the most rewarding work out there.”

When in the planning stages of opening The Lady & Sons, the Deens knew that location would be a major factor in their. Deen says they strategically chose the downtown district of Savannah for the location of The Lady & Sons, because it’s a highly visible area.

“We knew that we wanted to be in the downtown district of Savannah,” he says. “We moved down there at a time when the area was going through this really great new growth of new businesses and lots of tourists, which is really important when you own a restaurant. But, a lot of what happened was just luck and determination.”

Deen says an ongoing challenge faced by restaurant owners is trying to make sure every aspect of the business is running smoothly at all times.

“The number one goal in a restaurant is making sure the people are always happy,” he says. “It’s a real balancing act between making sure that your staff is happy, your food is the best it can be, and giving your guests a full belly and a big smile.”

Although being a restaurant owner is challenging, Deen enjoys the job. His favorite part about his work is spending time with his mother and brother.

“We're in this together as a family,” he says. “That’s definitely the most rewarding part.”

Behind-the-Scenes at The Greenhouse Tavern

Chef Jonathon Sawyer, co-owner of The Greenhouse Tavern and Noodlecat, both in the downtown Cleveland, Ohio, chose the area to open his restaurants, as the location offers access to a wide variety of people.

“We felt that downtown gave us a great opportunity to make an impression on a multitude of different walks of life,” says Sawyer. “Sports fans, foodies, office people, etc. It all happens downtown.”

Owning a Restaurant

Sawyer, who recently competed on Iron Chef America, says his typical day as a restaurant owner and chef starts off by having breakfast with his family, and helping his wife send the kids off to school.

He then bikes down to his restaurants and makes sure everything is ready for the lunch crowd at Noodlecat, and then heads over to The Greenhouse Tavern to work with his brand manager for a few hours before dinner service begins.

“These ‘typical’ days are becoming few and far between due to travel and special events, and as we prepare to open our third restaurant,” Sawyer says. “Typically I spend about 100 days a year on the road.”

Sawyer says the frequent travel and long hours are one of the most difficult aspects of being a restaurant owner, as it can be challenging to balance home life with restaurant life.

Although the restaurant industry can be demanding, Sawyer says the most rewarding thing about being a restaurant owner is seeing the positive effect his restaurants have on the community.

“I do feel like we’re changing the world one customer at a time and I love the idea of having a positive impact on downtown Cleveland and the local agronomy,” Sawyer says.

Doing their part to make the city a better place to live in is one of the main reasons that motivated Sawyer and his partners to open their socially conscious restaurants.

“For us it's very important that we leave this world in better shape than it was left for us by our parents and grandparents, and running a green restaurant is great way to do so,” Sawyer says. “We support local farmers. We compost. We fought the city to get a recycling bin behind our restaurant. And we're able to share this with every person that dines at the restaurant.”

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