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  • November/2011

Help Ease Your Financial Burden with These Tips

by South University
November 28, 2011

You're excited about the prospect of heading back to school online, and it will certainly fit your busy lifestyle and make it easier to balance your other responsibilities; however, there’s always been one nagging concern in the back of your mind: money. How are you going to be able to afford this? It’s not like you’re independently wealthy. If you don’t have a great sense of how you spend your money now, it’s difficult to ascertain what you can afford.

  • Track Your Spending. Keep track of every penny you spend for a month. You may be surprised at the areas where you can afford to cut back and put the money toward your education.
  • Save Wisely. If you find that your budget does have some wiggle room, put any extra money you identify aside to use for your education or other expenses that may come up along the way.
  • Set Priorities and Goals. Once you have identified money you can set aside, develop a plan for what you’d like to do with it. If it’s going toward your education, how much can you afford to contribute each month? If it’s a rainy day fund, will it go in your savings or somewhere else?

In this economy, saving money is more important than ever. If you put those savings toward your education, you can help to reduce the cost of student loans and other forms of aid. By being mindful of your spending and income, you can help set yourself up for a less stressful financial future.

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The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving

by South University
November 28, 2011

It’s that time of the year when people’s attention is focused on the holiday ritual of gift-giving. Shoppers are scurrying about looking for the right gift for the special people in their lives.

Gift exchange is a major part of celebrating the holidays, but did you know the whole act of gift-giving can offer psychological benefits? Giving a gift is a universal way to show interest, appreciation, and gratitude, as well as strengthen bonds with others, sources say.

“There is the whole act — determining what needs to be given and making sure it fits with the person,” says Devin A. Byrd, Ph.D., associate professor and chair of the Department of Behavioral Sciences at South University — Savannah. “There is an emotional lift when searching for the gift.”

Better to give than to receive, gift-giving is also an act of altruism — unselfish concern for the well-being of others. When we give without expecting anything in return, we are improving our psychological health.

“In lifespan and developmental psychology, we teach about altruism and how it benefits individuals and society,” says Dr. Darlene Silvernail, owner of Silvernail Consultant Services and Psychology instructor at South University — West Palm Beach. “Gift-giving feels good internally, and there are extrinsic benefits also.”

There is an enormous sense of satisfaction when seeing the expression on the face of someone you’ve given a gift to. A way to express feelings, giving reinforces appreciation and acknowledgement of each other. The feelings expressed mainly depend on the relationship between giver and recipient.

Gift-giving feels good internally, and there are extrinsic benefits also.

“If it is friend to friend, people will remain thoughtful,” Byrd says. “If it is a romantic relationship, people will try to go for sentiment as well. [Gift-giving] taps into how we want to connect with that individual.”

He says gift-giving is also a way for the giver to reduce guilt.

“That really comes into play when you have people giving from afar,” he says. “Now, it is a lot easier to order a gift online and send it. It can be a replacement for not being there with the person. They gain satisfaction when they find the right gift and that brings emotional happiness.”

“If you do something positive, positive psychology says you attract positive,” Silvernail says. “People don’t always give just to get something back, but many times we think ‘if I do a good deed, something good will happen for me.’”

gift giving

The expectation of reciprocity often comes with gift-giving, Byrd says.

“I imagine that there is a small subset of us who do give and expect nothing in return. You can tag that with those who give anonymously,” he says. “But, I think there is an innate desire to receive when we give. No matter the gift, people want to receive.”

Psychologists aren’t the only ones who understand the mental and emotional benefits of gift-giving. The holiday season is also a big time for advertisers to tap into the feelings of consumers in an effort to get them to buy products. It seems as if Christmas advertising arrives earlier every year.

Whether it’s through television commercials and shopping websites filled with holiday music and graphics or store displays offering festive cheer, consumers can’t escape holiday advertising.

“Advertisers are very good at creating a culture of giving and being prepared for finding that right gift,” Byrd says. “There is a great expectation and buildup of what it will mean when a person receives it. Advertisers also know about the satisfaction of the deal — something that looks like an expensive gift but the person purchased it for a deal.”

Gifts can also bring on feelings of negativity for both the giver and recipient when the gift is much more or much less than they expected.

“A person can have immediate feelings of resentment if they feel a person has not spent enough,” Byrd says. “They feel undervalued or cheated. Or perhaps the gift expresses more feelings than expected.”

Although gift-giving can be a de-stressor and create balance, the hunt for the perfect gift for friends and family can also cause a lot of stress. The costs of gifts and what it takes to package them can be a financial burden.

“People need to remember there are ways to acknowledge others without having to purchase something,” Byrd says. “Christmas cards and photos tell you that you are in that person’s network and you are important enough to keep updated with what’s going on in that person’s life.”

Activities such as gatherings or parties are also a good way to share the holiday spirit without exchanging gifts.

“I think the focus should stay on what the holidays are really about and not on the commercial aspects of it,” Silvernail says. “Gifts don’t have to be huge monetary things to make everyone feel good.”

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Five Tips to Survive the Holidays as an Online Student

by South University
November 23, 2011

Is your to-do list a mile long? Not sure how you're going to squeeze your studies in over the already packed holiday season? At South University Online Programs, we understand those challenges, and have put together a list of tips that help you make progress on your path toward graduation - even as your prepare for the hectic and happy holidays with your loved ones!

  • While standing in long lines at the checkout, use your smart phone to browse over to and see what's happening in the online classroom!
  • You're an online student, so you know the flexibility and convenience the web allows - use that knowledge to use web sites such as,, etc. and find out the best deals. Use the time you save by shopping online to get ahead on your readings and assignments - something unexpected always comes up during the holidays, and you don't want to get behind!
  • Take some time today to print out a few of your readings and tuck them in your purse or your bag with a highlighter or pen!
  • Add your assignment due dates to your personal calendar. Whether you use a paper planner, the calendar on your mobile phone or a product like Outlook or gMail, it will help you manage your deadlines during this busy season.
  • Make sure to get enough rest during this busy time. It may seem unconventional, but making sure you are well rested will help you to think clearer when you are taking time out for your studies, as well as improve your mood and enjoyment of your celebrations with your family and friends. Here are some tips from WebMD on maintaining healthy sleep habits.

On behalf on South University Online Programs, we wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!

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Voting Via the Internet: Is it in Our Future?

by South University
November 21, 2011

On Tuesday, November 8, Election Day was held across the country, and, as has been the case in recent years, the topic of voting via the internet has come to the forefront. discusses the topic in the article “Why Can’t Americans Vote Online?” The article presents both sides of the argument, with the conclusion that there won’t be widespread internet voting in the United States in the foreseeable future.

When you think about all the ways our society has advanced over the past twenty years, it’s almost unbelievable that online voting isn’t the norm. After all, we do nearly everything else online: pay our bills, set up appointments, purchase concert tickets, and even vote in various inconsequential polls. But the primary concern in rolling out online electoral voting to the masses is security. There is a strong argument for the fact that our computers are not secure, and are vulnerable to viruses and hackers that could tamper with the votes.

On the other hand, countries like Canada have experimented with online voting in certain municipalities with great success. Part of the appeal of online voting is not only convenience, but participation as well. People can always come up with an excuse not to head to their local polling station (“I have to work late,” “I need to pick the kids up from school,” etc) but online voting greatly decreases the validity of those excuses. According to the article referenced above, early voting increased 300% the first year that online voting was allowed.

It seems that online voting will have to become more widespread at some point, but in the meantime, we’ll continue to head to our local polling stations.

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My Journey Back to School

by Admin
November 21, 2011

By Guest Blogger

Sandra Robinson
Fashion & Retail Management Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Deciding to pursue an online degree brought on an unexpected mix of emotions. I went from feeling nervous and excited to feeling anxious and, at times, overwhelmed by this potential new adventure. Can you imagine?! It was 10 years since I had completed any sort of college level classes! At this point, I wasn’t even sure if l still possessed the skills to be a successful student…I just knew that I desperately desired the opportunity to have a more rewarding career. You see, fashion is what makes my heart go ‘pitter-patter’. I love every aspect of it…the clothing, shoes, hair and make-up…I just can’t seem to get enough! I am constantly scouring the internet and fashion magazines to see the latest trends or what the stars are wearing.

After some initial research into the various options available for a career in the fashion industry, I apprehensively approached the Admissions Team of The Art Institute of Pittsburgh- Online Division to see if their Fashion and Retail Management program would be a good fit for me. From the very beginning the counselors made me feel as though my dream of earning a fashion degree was not only realistic but totally attainable.

That was about two years ago and I am proud to say that this has been one of the best decisions I have made to improve my outlook for the future. The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division team has been with me every step of the way to provide invaluable information, resources, support, and key academic guidance to promote my success. Courses are designed to provide a solid foundation of knowledge and introduce the latest industry trends to the discussion in an interesting and inviting way. In my opinion, The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division is a perfect fit for me or anyone who is determined to succeed.

Are you an Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division student interested in writing for this blog? Check out the Welcome Center in the Campus Common to find out how!


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