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  • December/2011

Your Guide to Responsible Borrowing: Part Four

by South University
December 29, 2011

Welcome to part 4 of Your Guide to Responsible Borrowing. Today, we’re looking at the value of an education.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau EDUCATION PAYS! Workers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $53,976.00 in 2010. By contract, those with some college or an Associate’s degree earned an average of $39.884.00 during the same period; a difference of 74%. The average earning of those with just a high school degree in 2010 was $32,552.

Education Pays

Undoubtedly, the investment you make in your education is a sound investment, but how can you maximize the benefit while minimizing your long term debt?

Stay Tuned for Part 5: Taking Control of Your Future!

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More Than Meets the Eye

by Student
December 29, 2011

By Guest Blogger

Bethany Crowley
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

I have a job for you:

Stand in heels for ten hours in a noisy convention center while you try and grab the attention of every person walking by. They’re probably going to all be male. Half will want to talk to you while the other half will not. Either way, sell this product. You might not get a full half hour for lunch, and that will probably be your only break, but you can certainly keep the provocative outfit we’ve given you to wear. Oh and, one more thing, don’t forget to smile. The reason this other half won’t care enough to talk to you about this product is because they don’t think you know anything about it. To them, you’re just another girl who has been hired by this company to stand in front of their booth, look very attractive, and hand out t-shirts or blinking stress balls. And, actually, they’re right.

At its core, the “booth babe,” as she has come to be known, is a promotional model, hired by companies to attract clients/customers in order to gain sales, offer promotions, and educate the convention’s population about their product. More often than not, these girls know nothing about the product they’ve been hired to “promote.” They’ll admit this to you, then offer you a chance to win an iPad 2 or that car over there. While I know nothing about car shows, IT conferences, or many other conventions that are held each year, I do know about those events centered on the video gaming world. Why? I’m a promotional model for this industry.

I’d like to think that they’re all the same though, these mass conventions. Even the smaller promotional opportunities harbor the same need – to sell their product by someone who can hold your attention. If you want to attract potential customers or clients, who are mostly all male, an attractive female will almost always do just that. While it can be considered a stereotype, it is a fact that these companies hire promotional models for this very reason. And while I could divert into a novel, large blog rant, or thesis project that may argue whether this position objectifies women or not, there are already one thousand and one that do just that floating around out there.

I wandered into this controversial industry of promotional modeling only recently. After reading an article on a different kind of promotional model in a gaming magazine so sweetly delivered to me every month, I became curious. After further research, I nearly fell in love with the idea that my now agent built upon. It is true that the women I have the pleasure of working a gig with are hired as promotional models. The catch to this position, however, requires that these girls possess a vast knowledge of and experience with video games.

While I’m limited in what I can tell about the companies I have worked for, for confidentiality purposes, it has been proven that hiring us for any promotional gaming needs will enable you to be a bit more successful than that other booth over there. Why? Because we know what we’re talking about. There are still some uncertainties to the controversial world of promotional models. We are often viewed as objects, props that have a single use in this role.

While I keep my opinion to myself, I’m still reminded at every event that we are all different, therefore we view the world and its people, male and female, differently. I have my own reasons for being there too.

I love to play video games. Ultimately, it was the passion for art and concept that drove me to enroll at the Art Institute in pursuit of a Game Art and Design degree. I am excited to be here, but I am also excited to share with others that I have had some amazing opportunities come my way already through my line of work and my persistence in the Game Art and Design program. I am an active member of our chapter of IGDA, helped create and host an event that featured the Lead In-Game Animator from God of War II and III, and have even done some background work on a feature film. Do I have an advantage? No more than anyone else does. In most ways, I prefer going to school online – although I am faceless, my name means more, in a way. I have accomplished these things not through my looks, but in my drive and dedication to this field. All of these things manifested through my own network connections, and those began through being a diligent student online and simply keeping in touch with the right people.

I began the journey into promotional modeling because it gets me that much closer to possibly working for a major game development studio. If you had a chance to get your foot in that door, I am willing to bet you’d take it as well. Mingling with the gaming gods is something that appealed to me. It just so happens that I am female. It would probably take me five more years just to have the means to get to these conventions myself if I were not promotional modeling. Even then, I’d be just another lone female waltzing around with stars in her eyes when she chanced to happen upon her favorite game’s Art Director and the booth they were at. By being front and center, I have the opportunity to talk with the masterminds behind some our favorite games.

Ideally, I’ll end up devoting my time and talents to a development studio as a Character Artist, Quest Designer, or by being on the Concept team. How will promotional modeling tie into these dreams? I’m sure that meeting and greeting gaming companies up close has some merit. In this way, I’m creating initial, professional relationships with heavyweight names. Perhaps I’ll have a demo reel with me at a show. And perhaps the right person will be wanting to see it since I’ve already established that I possess some knowledge of their product. Rubbing elbows with these gaming industry giants has to mean something when I arrive at that level, and I’m at that booth to find out exactly what that something is.

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Resistance 3 Review

by Student
December 28, 2011

By Guest Blogger

Joseph DelFranco
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Developer: Insomniac Games
Platform: PS3

Resistance 3 is a first person shooter developed by the world famous Insomniac Games (Also creators of Spyro and Ratchet and Clank Series). In this third installment, you play as Joseph Capelli, a different protagonist from the first two games in the series (Previous protagonist was Nathan Hale). Joseph must battle the chimera across the United States, the chimera have all but won, and Capelli is the world's last hope. Starting in Oklahoma and ending in New York, Resistance 3 has some awesome set pieces along the way!

There are some pretty huge boss battles that don't feel extremely shoehorned into the game like they were in Resistance 2. These enemies flow seamlessly into the experience, creating a realistic feeling threat throughout the game. Beside bosses, new enemies have greatly enhanced the gameplay as well. Some of the new enemies include long legs (Enemies that jump hundreds of feet into the air to move to a different location), invisible snipers, and leeches. Each of these enemies make you choose a new strategy when playing your game. You also find yourself wondering which gun you should use for each encounter, this creates a diverse set up that always keeps you on your toes.

I can't review an Insomniac product without mentioning the insane weaponry. Some of the newest additions to this installment are a blast to use. All weapons have a primary and secondary fire that allows for different tactical options. The Cryogun freezes enemies in their place and it's secondary fire shatters them with a powerful gust of freezing wind. If you simply use the secondary fire, you can freeze enemies and/or halt them momentarily. I think my favorite addition to the weapons isn't any specific weapon, but the upgrade system Insomniac Games incorporated into the game. The more damage you do with each weapon, the more it will level up. This made me use all weapons to see what happens when they upgrade to their full potential!

The story isn't on par with games like God of War or Uncharted, but it has a comprehensive story that will definitely keep your attention. Once you finish the singe player, you can jump onto the multiplayer! The multiplayer lets you slowly unlock weapons from the single player and allow them for use against other players. The more you play, the more skill points you will get. You can use these to level your weapons and abilities up. The multiplayer mode greatly increases the replay value of this game. Also, there is a co op mode for the campaign. Here, you can team up with a friend and tackle the single player experience together!

Resistance 3 is an awesome first person shooter and definitely worthy of being an Insomniac game. The game play is smooth, the guns are great fun, and the campaign and multiplayer will keep you hooked for some time to come! Definitely a must buy for fans of first person shooters.

Final Score: 9/10

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Your Guide to Responsible Borrowing: Part Three

by South University
December 27, 2011

Welcome to part 3 of Your Guide to Responsible Borrowing. Today, we’re looking at Direct Loans.

What are direct loans?

Direct Loans are monies that must be paid back with interest. To qualify for these funds, you must be enrolled at least half time.

Direct Loans for undergraduate students come in two forms: Subsidized and Unsubsidized. In both cases, you do not have to make payments while you are attending school at least half time and during your six month grace period after you graduate or drop below half time. Unsubsidized loans are traditional loans that accrue interest from the date they are certified by your school, while subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you are in school and during your grace period.

Direct Subsidized Loans

  • For students with financial need.
  • No interest is charged while you are in school at least half time, during your grace period, and during deferment periods.

Direct Unsubsidized Loans

  • Not based on financial need.
  • Interest is charged during all periods.

 

  Dependent Students Independent Students
1st-year undergraduate $5,000 $9,500
2nd-year undergraduate $6,500 $10,500

Aggregate (or lifetime) Loan Limits for Subsidized Loans and Unsubsidized Loans

 

  • Dependent undergraduates: $31,000
  • Independent undergraduates: $57,500

When considering the use of federal loans, we must also consider the cost of paying back these loans and ask ourselves, “What other means do I have for financing my education?” “Do I have other sources that could subsidize the difference between my other benefits and the cost of my education?” So, remember to access every source before taking out loans that have to be paid back.

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Your Guide to Responsible Borrowing: Part Two

by South University
December 22, 2011

When it comes to paying for your education, you have several options available. Let's look into each option:

Cash payments and tuition payment plans can greatly reduce the cost of your education by reducing interest and fees. So this should always be your first source. Whether your monthly contribution is large or small, every dime you pay now can be a dollar you do not have to pay later.

Many employers provide education benefits through tuition assistance or tuition reimbursement. Speak to your employer (and all prospective employers) about any benefits you may be eligible for.

In recent years, educational benefits for veterans and active duty personnel have been expanded. These benefits come with an expiration date, so know your entitlements and use them wisely. In many cases, you may be able to get your degree with no cost to you. Military specialists are available to guide you here at the University.

State Grants and Funding are a great source. Most states maintain extensive programs of grants, scholarships, tuition assistance and fee reductions. Be on the lookout for these. There is a lot of action on the state level to help you succeed, you just have to ask the question and do the research.

There are many college scholarships and grants that are offered by national private or non-profit organizations. In order to qualify for one of these private grants or scholarships, there are often requirements, such as an essay or other documentation. Taking the time to research and apply for these monies can pay big dividends.

Federal Education Assistance is available to students that qualify. This benefit includes Pell Grants, which is money that you do not pay back and Stafford (or Direct) Loans which do have to be paid back, with interest. This should be your last source of funding as the majority of these funds are loans.

Stay tuned for Part 3: What are Direct Loans?

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