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  • January/2012

Scams to Steal Your Identity and How to Avoid Them

by South University
January 30, 2012

Information can be a great thing, especially when it's so easy to acquire. After all, you can now attend school online, when it would’ve been impossible not too long ago. The downside, however, is that it’s easier than ever for your personal information to be stolen. If you want to avoid scam artists and protect yourself, you may find it useful to follows the tips listed below.

    Forensics
  • Invest in a Paper Shredder. If you’re like many Americans, you probably receive new credit card offers on a regular basis. Avoid the temptation to simply toss these in the trash; it’s much safer to put all unwanted documents containing your personal information through a paper shredder. These can be acquired rather inexpensively, and are well worth it in the long run.
  • Use Complex Passwords for Personal Accounts. Sure, you may think that typing 12345 as your password is the path of least resistance—and certainly easier for you to remember down the road—but it’s also easier for scam artists to ascertain. It’s best to choose a more complex password that includes letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Monitor Your Credit. You can receive a copy of your credit report free on an annual basis from the three credit bureaus. Also, if you want to take a look at it on a more regular basis, free websites like CreditKarma.com can be a big help.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Belongings. Crimes of opportunity occur when you leave your purse or wallet unattended. They contain valuable information about you that can be like liquid gold to a scam artist, so make sure, particularly when you’re out and about, that your personal belongings are in your field of vision at all times.
  • Keep Your Personal Information Personal. Don’t give out passwords or other secure information to people you don’t know. This may seem obvious, but it’s easier to do than you think. Some scams work by sending you an email that appears to be from a company you do business with asking for personal information with a link they want you to click on. In order to check the legitimacy of this, navigate directly to the website rather than opening the link in the email.
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The Psychology Behind Love and Romance

by South University
January 30, 2012

We spend our lives craving it, searching for it, and talking about it. Its meaning is felt more than it is clearly expressed. It’s called the greatest virtue.

It’s love.

Love is fascinating and complex. Romantic love, in particular, seems to be a beautiful mystery we find hard to explain.

Although poets and songwriters can put many of our romantic thoughts and feelings into words, love is so inexplicable we need the help of science to explain it. After all, psychologists have a lot to say about how and why people fall in love.

This is Your Brain on Love

During romantic love there are many changes that both men and women experience. It seems rather inaccurate to say “falling in love” because experiencing love is more of a high that puts people on cloud nine.

“The first step in the process of falling in love is the initial attraction,” says Elizabeth Kane, a South University adjunct faculty member who teaches clinical psychology and behavioral science. “It’s the powerful moment when we meet another person and feel energized and are immediately aware of our heart pounding.”

According to licensed psychologist Dr. Rachel Needle, specific chemical substances such as oxytocin, phenethylamine, and dopamine, have been found to play a role in human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love. They function similar to amphetamine, making us alert, excited, and wanting to bond.

It’s the powerful moment when we meet another person and feel energized and are immediately aware of our heart pounding.

“Falling in love is associated with increased energy, narrowing of mental focus, sometimes sweaty palms, light-headedness, racing heart, and a lot of positive feelings,” says Needle, an associate professor and coordinator of Clinical Experiences at South University, West Palm Beach.

In his book, The Brain in Love: 12 Lessons to Enhance Your Love Life, Dr. Daniel G. Amen says “that romantic love and infatuation are not so much of an emotion as they are motivational drives that are part of the brain's reward system.”

Kane agrees, saying that the human brain supports falling in love, which is why we have such a strong physiological response when we are attracted to another. Once a romantic couple begins to spend time together, they are in a sort of love euphoria.

“A person newly in love sees the world through the lens of love and most everything is tolerable and everything their partner does is delightful,” says Kane, who is also a marriage and family therapist.

According to the triangular theory of love developed by psychologist Robert Sternberg, the three components of love are intimacy, passion, and commitment. Intimacy encompasses feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness. Passion encompasses drives connected to both limerance and sexual attraction. Commitment encompasses, in the short term, the decision to remain with another, and in the long term, the shared achievements and plans made with that other person.

“Romantic love evolves when one feels a sense of interdependence, attachment, and that their psychological needs are being met,” Kane says. “Some researchers say oxytocin plays a part in the evolution of romantic love as it is released in the brain during orgasm, which contributes to the couple’s ability to bond with one another.”

They Call Me Dr. Love

Understanding the psychology behind falling in love can also help therapists treat people dealing with heartbreak.

When a therapist understands the meaning that romantic love has in one’s life and the traumatic effects of the abrupt and sometimes unexpected end of a relationship, they can address their client’s ability to move on and strengthen their resiliency.

romance

“Moving beyond the pain of a failed relationship requires a shift of focus back on one’s self and to their own unique ability to give and receive love,” Kane says. “When we understand how we fall in love, we can connect to the difficulties in moving forward after our heart has been broken. We can then connect again to the beauty of the experience and an optimistic understanding that if it has happened to us once that it can happen again to us.”

Needle says therapists need to understand each individual and how they fell in love and what they currently experience in terms of heartbreak in order to best help them work through that difficult time.

“A therapist can be helpful in supporting clients in understanding and learning from the past,” Needle states. “Many people choose similar partners from relationship to relationship, but are unaware of it, as well as why these relationships continue to lead to disappointment and not last.”

Keeping the Fires Burning

Some of us may have committed ourselves to the fantastical notion that romance is just an act of spontaneous combustion. But, Needle says it’s time to ditch the myth.

“Get rid of the myth that these things should just happen spontaneously and that there is something wrong with the relationship because you are not all over each other every minute, as when you began the relationship,” Needle says. “The truth is that you have to put in time and energy and make a conscious effort to sustain the relationship and the passion.”

Healthy relationships require regular communication, she adds.

“Basic communication with your partner on a daily basis is important to continue connecting on an emotional level,” Needle says. “Also, remind yourself why you fell in love with this person.”

Predictability can also dampen desires, so couples should strive to keep a sense of adventure and surprise alive in their relationships.

“Break the predictable pattern every so often,” Needle advises.

People can let their partners know how much they love them by the little things they do every day.

“To be romantic is to make a choice to wake up each day and ask yourself what you can do today to let your lover know they are adored,” Kane says. “Have fun in your romance and remember that the more effort you put into your romantic relationship, the more love you will receive in return. Be the partner that you seek and live a life filled with passion and romance.”

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Strategies to Beat Cabin Fever

by South University
January 26, 2012

By now, winter is here in full force. The days are shorter this time of the year, and also colder. In many parts of the country, the snow is flying outside, causing traffic hazards and inspiring us to curl up with a blanket and some hot cocoa on the couch.

But surely we can’t spend the next few months in this position, as tempting as it may seem. Other animals like bears hibernate in the summer months, but we, as humans, must press on and continue with our everyday lives.

For the South University Online Programs student, that means keeping up with your studies.

So how can you use these frigid winter months to your advantage, without developing a serious case of cabin fever in the process? Check out these tips.

  • Get Plenty of Rest. While you can’t exactly follow the bear’s example and sleep until the first day of spring, you’ll find that getting enough sleep – perhaps more than what you needed when it was warmer outside – will make you more productive as an individual. Now, before you start protesting with excuses like, “but I could use that time when I’m sleeping to finish my homework assignments,” consider how much more productive you’ll be when it’s time to do your schoolwork if you have a good night’s rest.
  • Go Outside. Maybe this is the last thing you want to do right now, but think back to when you were a kid, anxiously waiting to find out whether or not today would be a Snow Day. You’d spend hours outside with your siblings and friends building snow forts and snowmen. You’re an adult now, but that’s no reason you can’t have a little fun. If you have kids, get out and enjoy the snow with them. If you don’t, consider taking up a winter sport like cross country skiing. Exercise and fun are just as important in winter as they are at any other time, perhaps even more so!
  • Enjoy a Change of Scenery. If your normal workspace is becoming a little stale, consider changing it. Can you bring your laptop to a nearby coffee shop or restaurant? Perhaps you can get together with a friend and find a new place to study together. You may find that camping out in a public place to complete your work can be inspiring. People watching is always a fun activity, and may provide you with inspiration for your next assignment.

While winter can seem like the most arduous, intolerable time of year for many, with a bit of planning and creativity, you can be every bit as productive as you are at any other time of the year.

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Avoid These Job Application Mishaps

by South University
January 23, 2012

It's time to begin applying for jobs in your chosen career field, and your excitement is palpable. You believe you have all the right skills, and surely anyone who receives your job application will be on board too, right?

Wrong. Unless you’re close friends with the hiring manager, you need to do what you can to ensure that your application enables you to put your best foot forward. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of four job application blunders to avoid:

    Guy on Computer
  • Having an Unprofessional Email Address – Your name is Lawrence, but your friends have always called you “Smilin’ Larry,” prompting you, years ago, to adopt the email address smilinlarry@your-domain-here.com. Before you send in your job application with this email address attached, stop and think for a moment. Would it be considered professional? If you didn’t know the person attached to the email address, would you take them seriously? The answer to both questions should be a resounding “no.” So what should you do instead? Generally, it’s best for your email address to only include your first and last name before the @ sign, and a number or two if needed, so smilinlarry@your-domain-here.com becomes lawrencejohnson@your-domain-here.com.
  • Ignoring Typos and Spelling Mistakes - In order to avoid sending in a job application with these errors, proofread it carefully. On top of that, you might also find it helpful to have a friend or two give it a read as well. As they say, two pairs of eyes are better than one!
  • Stuffing Your Application With Buzz Words – If you want your job application to stand out, it’s helpful to include as many action words as possible, but it’s best to avoid common application buzz words that everyone and your brother is probably also using. These are generally meaningless words and phrases like “team player,” “proven track record,” and “results-oriented.” When in doubt, show, don’t tell.
  • Submitting an Incomplete Application – Before submitting your application, make sure that you’ve followed the potential employer’s directions carefully. No matter how much care you’ve put into presenting yourself well, it will all fall flat if you fail to provide the complete package of information requested.
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Have You Made Your New Year's Resolutions?

by South University
January 19, 2012

Ready or not, it's New Year's Resolution time! If you watch television for more than ten minutes at a time, you’ll likely be bombarded with a barrage of advertisements for programs promising to make your weight loss goals a reality. If you don’t need to lose weight, maybe you need assistance in quitting smoking. There are plenty of products on the market to help with this as well, and you’ll find that they’re suddenly being shoved right in your face.

South University TeamworkWhile New Year's Resolutions seem like a brilliant idea on the surface, most of us have given up within the first month of trying, so that by the end of January, everything is basically back to “normal.” This most likely occurs due to unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves. As 2011 rolls into 2012, we think we suddenly have super powers that will help us to achieve lofty goals where we have failed in the past.

But now we’re getting to the heart of the issue: those lofty goals. Should we really expect ourselves to go from sitting on the couch all day to running a 5K three times a week? Or to move from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to quitting cold turkey, with no desire to light up again, on January 1st? Of course, this may work for some people, but for the majority of us, slow and steady wins the race—or, at the very least, keeps those pesky New Year's Resolutions in check.

The same principle can be applied to your studies at South University Online Programs. Perhaps you’ve resolved to be a better overall student this year, but you can’t go from making C’s and B’s to A’s without a plan in place. Instead, it’s best to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals that help you work toward your overall goal, including being more organized by keeping a calendar of important assignments and commitments, devoting more time to your studies, and making use of the resources you have available to you such as tutoring and the online library.

Happy 2012! With planning and dedication, you can help to make it one of your best years yet!

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