About the Author
Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer & social media marketer based in Boise, Idaho. She has a B.A. in Journalism from the University of Montana and is a former newspaper reporter. When she's not hovering over a keyboard, Melissa can be found in the pain cave of endurance sports.

You Really Need To Watch Out For Rental Housing Identity Theft

Renter beware.

You’re scrolling through the rental listings and you come across the perfect house.

It seems legit, especially if it’s on Zillow or Trulia.

The ad isn’t full of typos and the landlord seems like a real person because you Googled them and find out they actually live in the same town in which you are trying to rent.

You click on the ‘request a tour’ button.

They send you an application to fill out first.

You give them your social security number, driver’s license, phone number, email, current address, yearly income, and pretty much every piece of information they can use if they want to steal your identity.

The lack of awareness about cybersecurity makes many people an easy target for anyone trying to hack into their personal data.

An obvious sign of a rental scam is the owner asks for a deposit up front via Western Union Moneygram or prepaid Visa.

Don’t do that.

What if they don’t ask for money?

It can still be a scam because that person gathered all of your personal information.

If you’re new to the rental housing game, do your homework and beware of potential traps.

It’s easy to get sucked into someone’s plot when you are desperate to find a home.

Here are some tips to avoid rental scams used to defraud users, as well as recourse.

Do not fill out an application until you’ve actually seen the property.

Here’s a scenario.

You submit an application and email it to the person or supposed real estate agent on Zillow.

The landlord emails you back and asks if you can see the property on a certain day and time.

Photo Credit: Eelke/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

You agree.

The next day, they email you again and inform you they have decided to rent the house to someone else.

You have just revealed your entire personal and financial history to someone who gave the house to another more “qualified candidate.”

You are left holding the bag.

They have removed the rental listing and changed the status of the property to “off market.”

Even if you verified the property exists, it doesn’t mean it’s really for rent.

People could already be living there, and unbeknownst to them, their house is being advertised as for rent.

It might not be a scam, but it might be.

Either way, all your information is in the hands of a stranger who could have ill intent.

The damage of identity theft sucks.

The tricky part is you don’t know if you’re identity is compromised until it’s too late.

Someone could open credit card accounts in your name, file a fraudulent tax return with your SSN, and claim your medical insurance benefits.

It make take years to fix.

Abuse of your personal information can seriously disrupt your life.

In 2015, a Tennessee woman found out her Social Security disability check – her only source of income – had been canceled because a thief had filed a tax return with her SSN.

The fake return led the Social Security Administration to think she had lied about being disabled, even though the IRS had confirmed she was a victim of identity theft.

Another way credit cards get compromised is through a company’s database.

For example, in 2013, 40 million credit and debit card accounts were compromised when hackers gained access to Target’s database.

What do you do next?

If you think you’ve been a victim of fraud or identity theft, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission.

In 2015, the FTC reported more than 490,000 in identity theft complaints.

Every year, the threat continues to grow as advancements in technology uncover vulnerabilities that could allow fraudsters to get your personal information.

Report the ad to whichever online real estate database company you’re using, such as Zillow or Trulia.

Give them as much information as you can about the property, what happened, and include the email exchanges.

The company is supposed to follow up even if they bear no responsibility and make it clear on their website that they are not involved in the transactions between buyers/sellers, renters/landlord, or borrowers/lenders.

They simply tell you to beware of scams and other internet fraud on a Frequently Asked Questions page.

Photo Credit: Urbane Apartments/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

You can freeze your credit for free and up to three months to prevent someone from opening accounts in your name.

It’s easy to do.

To place a fraud alert on your credit reports, contact, which are then forwarded to Equifax and Experian.

By law, you are also allowed to get one free credit report a year.

Look for sudden or unexpected changes in your free credit report summary, which is updated every month on

Final Advice

Do your research and trust your gut for the legitimacy of potential listings.

Some apartment complexes will offer legitimate applications via a property’s website, but don’t submit an application with personal information until you’ve verified the property exists and you’ve toured it.

The photos online may not match reality.

Don’t get your identity stolen and taken for a ride.

Common cyber crime is more widespread than the occasional or sensational headlines suggest.

Cyber criminals aren’t masterminds or experts, but they can easily victimize people who shop, bank, or send money online.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Michael Dorausch/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Get Your Side Hustle On With These 7 Ideas

Millions of strapped-for-cash millennials are putting their entrepreneurial spirits to good use with the good-old-fashion side hustle.

The sky is the limit when it comes to making money outside of the traditional day job. It’s a good thing too, because collectively Gen Y is facing $1 trillion in student loan debt, according to Entrepreneur.

There’s no illusion that one is going to make a million dollars right out of college, but “don’t let your dreams be dreams.”

Turn a passion into a pursuit for extra cash, pay down student loans, invest in the market, or start a savings account.

Currently, 35 percent of millennials are involved in some type of side business.

So, what are people doing for supplemental income?

Many things, some of which are pretty creative.

Online freelancing

Writing is my favorite gig because it’s fun, flexible, and a great creative outlet.

Proficient writers who are equally good at hustling their work can make $10,000 a month.

For those making that much, though, freelancing is probably their full-time job.

Even if you don’t make a ton of money, freelance blogging on the side can lead to bigger and better opportunities if you’re producing quality work.

The extra cash sure comes in handy, no matter where you are at in life.

“It can be worked into any college student’s schedule and can be a great side income for everyone looking to accelerate student loan pay-off,” writes Alexa Mason, who now earns more than $5,500 a month in freelancing.

Mobile gaming

Turning a childhood passion for computer games into a career may start out as a side hustle.

Dong Nguyen, who created the mobile game Flappy Bird in three days, probably didn’t think he would get rich, but he did.

Photo Credit: giochi Android iPhone/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Granted, he began coding his own video games at age 16 after being inspired by Super Mario Bros.

In 2014, Nguyen said his simple game was earning around $50,000 a day in revenue through its in-gaming advertising.

Aspiring entrepreneurs can learn a great deal from the successes of people who’ve gone before them.

A prime example is Niantic, Inc. CEO John Hanke, who created 2016’s hottest trend: Pokémon Go.

“A TRS-80 was the math computer in our school when I was in probably the seventh grade,” Hanke said in an interview. “I was hanging around watching older guys and they were playing the original Star Trek game with ASCII graphics. I ended up spending hours and hours in the computer room doing that. A couple years later, I saved up my money mowing lawns and bought an Atari 400 with $500 and a tape recorder to save all my programs.”

Sell Products

Everywhere you look on Facebook, someone is trying to sell something to you.

To make money, you need to sell the products to your friends and family.

These multi-level marketing companies come in the form of Avon, Amway, Scentsy, Rodan+Fields, and doTerra.

People know these high-profile brands, and buy the products.

Multi level marketing (aka pyramid selling) is not a new concept, is completely legal, and is a big-dollar industry.

“Amway’s global sales in each of the past few years have exceeded $8.8 billion,” according to the company’s blog. “Since 1959, Amway has paid out nearly $60 billion in bonuses and incentives to its distributors worldwide – more than any other direct sales company in history.”

Not a path for everyone and not without controversy, the move in recent years to encourage millennials to try their hand at “salesmanship” by selling products has gotten many pushing products on the side.

Tutor children

Are you a music or math wiz? Pass your passion on to kids who could use your help. Tutoring is a legit side hustle – one you can feel good about. Teachers will often tutor on the side after school or during lunch to make extra cash. There’s also online tutoring available via Skype, for example.

Another advantage of tutoring is the ability to set your own rates. Some people make anywhere from $25-$90 an hour, depending on skill level and what the market will bear.

Pet sit

Die-hard dog owners love their dogs more than life itself, so the thought of leaving their beloved pet for a few nights in a cold kennel by himself is truly heart breaking.

Photo Credit: brando.n/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

People would rather hire ‘temporary pet parents,’ or pet sitters, as an alternative to boarding their animal.

After a rather unpleasant and expensive kennel experience, Aaron Hirschhorn found the pet sitting niche to be rather lucrative.

He decided to start his own company after boarding his dogs in a kennel on the West Coast while he traveled to the East Coast.

It cost him $1,400, and one of his dogs was hiding under the desk for two days afterwards.

He rounded up a hundred pet sitters for beta testing, started his own website called DogVacay and convinced investors this was a business worth funding.

Today, the company has collected more than $22 million in venture capital and spans 10,000 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

Uber – Lyft – Juno

The ride sharing economy has boomed over the past several years.

The crazy thing is it’s not just a simple side hustle of driving people around anymore, either.

Photo Credit: Carl/ Flick (CC By 2.0)

There’s a side hustle within the side hustle.

There are people selling tomatoes out the back of their Uber cars, others passing out “life coach” business cards as their passenger gets out, and there’s even a guy trying to rope his passengers into a life insurance pyramid scheme, you name it.

One of the most famous stories is of the guy who came up with rideshare karaoke. Jonathan Guarano bought a camera and a GorillaPod, attached the setup to the dashboard of his silver 2014 Nissan Versa, and asked his passengers to sing along to the music.

The video of him and his passengers singing to the Weeknd’s “Can’t Feel My Face” went viral with over 4.7 million views.


Etsy is transforming itself from a niche craftseller website into a launching pad for at-home entrepreneurs with the creation of Etsy Studio, which is a marketplace dedicated to selling craft supplies and DIY tutorials.

Etsy is simultaneously adding a new service called Shop Manager to improve the seller experience.

Etsy that up, yo. Photo Credit: Toms Baugis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“It’s the company’s largest expansion ever,” according to Fast Company. “And while Etsy is still dwarfed by the likes of eBay and Amazon Marketplace, the Dumbo, Brooklyn-based company attracts a loyal following of 1.7 million active sellers who reaped $2.3 billion in sales in 2015.”

As you can imagine, all of the above side hustles take hard work and perseverance. The money is there for the taking if you want to invest your time and energy…or you can always put off paying back those student loans for another 20 years.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

10 Of The Biggest Misconceptions About People Who Live In Rural Areas

The tiny towns that dot the landscape of every rural region in the country provide endless fodder and perpetuate many a myth and misconception, the kind of stuff urban legends are made of.

I can only speak to the Rocky Mountains because I grew up in Wyoming where “men are men and the sheep are scared,” and have spent most of my adult life in Idaho where potato trucks have been known to tip over, spill thousands of pounds of spuds onto highways, and force temporary closures.

I’ll share what I know.

I can also say with 100 percent certainty that the wide open spaces we are known for promise to embrace anyone brave enough to endure the howling wind.


Here are 10 misconceptions about people who live in rural areas:

1) We are all farmers

Photo Credit: Susanne Nilsson/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

As much as I love home-grown food, I wouldn’t know the first thing about tilling the land. Too bad for me.

What’s more unfortunate is the fact that farms and other rural businesses are dwindling, which means the lack of job availability is driving country people into larger cities.

After the recession, deep poverty hit across the board, making rural life unsustainable for a large chunk of the 46 million people who live in rural communities.

But rural tradition is still strong in Idaho, especially during the fall potato harvest, when students in the eastern part of the state get a two-week break for “spud harvest.”

Yep, that’s right.

Kids get to miss school because farmers rely on the extra, strong hands to help with the potato crop, which will eventually be turned into delicious french fries.

2) We tip cows for fun

Photo Credit: Mikel Ortega/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

No, we don’t.

Because it can’t be done.

Cows weigh a thousand pounds or more and don’t sleep standing up.

If you want a good kick to the gut and risk death, go ahead and stand behind or next to a cow while trying to tip it over.

3) We are uneducated

Photo Credit: JACK SPARKS/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Just because the mainstream media attributed Trump’s presidential win to ‘uneducated rural America’ (the people who came out in droves to vote), doesn’t mean it’s true.

Rural areas are filled with all types of yahoos – from Harvard-educated yoga instructors, to small business owners and blue-collar workers, to freelance writers and tech gurus.

4) We are racist rednecks

Photo Credit: Joe Sepielli/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Here’s a stereotype that runs deep and can’t be summed up in one paragraph.

Let’s just say we don’t all accuse Mexico of sending rapists and criminals over the border, or call for a complete halt to Muslims entering the country.

We have been known to drive out white supremacist colonies, however.

5) We don’t know how to use the internet

Photo Credit: Toms Baugis/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

For eight years, I worked for a thriving e-commerce company that is well-known nationwide for its booklets of admission tickets to the most iconic attractions in big cities.

It was/is a highly coveted place of employment in a town of 3,000 people.

Because millions of ticket booklets are sold online, it’s kind of mandatory to know how to use the internets to be employed there.

6) We are survivalist nuts

Photo Credit: ▓▒░ TORLEY ░▒▓/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

While possessing canning and freezing techniques are great skills to have, not everyone is that resourceful.

Not everyone stocks their basements with bottled water, cans of beans, Spam, fruit cocktail and powdered Tang.

Maybe we should, though, with the way the world is heading.

7) We all shoot guns

Photo Credit: Peretz Partensky/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We don’t all shoot and kill animals in the woods for meat.

The hunters I know are very respectful of the animal and the land.

Poachers are considered bad people.

The gun menacingly placed on the rack in the back of the pickup always intimidated me.

Can’t they just buy a handgun and put it in the glove box like everyone else?

8) We don’t have indoor plumbing

Photo Credit: Bill/ Flickr (CC by 2.0)

This is actually partially true.

It’s crazy to think that nearly 63,000 households in this country do not have complete plumbing.

This means 1.6 million people are living without indoor plumbing, including toilet, tub or shower, or running water.

Many Americans can still remember what it’s like to use an outhouse.

Relics of the past, outhouses are now cute little storage sheds with the crescent moon carved neatly into the door.

9) We use to find dates

Photo Credit: Joey Harrison/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We find our mates like everyone else – in bars, at the gym, and on the internet.

What’s funny is I’ve seen people on Tinder making the joke that they thought they were joining

The joke is on them: They are on Tinder.

10) We ride our horses to the bars

Photo Credit: Jean van der Sluijs/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Ok, this is true.

I’ve seen it in remote, rural towns, places where Butch Cassidy and the Sundance kid used to raise hell.

Although a horse probably isn’t the best designated driver, cowboys have been known to tie their horses to the hitching post in front of the bar.

Why else would a hitching post exist in front of a bar?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Robb North/Flickr (CC By 2.0)

10 Reasons to Go Back to College

By Melissa Davidson

It’s never too late to go back to college.

In fact, the number of students “returning” to school is now outpacing first-time students.

Traditional-aged students between 18 to 22 are no longer the majority of students in the higher education system in our country.

Attending college is a rite of passage after high school for some, while for others jumping into the job market is the way to go. No matter where you are in life, here are 10 great reasons you should go back to college and get the degree.

  1. Earning potential

Having a college degree not only increases your career earning prospects, it may make you eligible for a pay raise or promotion.

The difference in median weekly earnings between a high school diploma and a bachelor’s degree can be $20,000 a year or more, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Yes, college can be expensive but the return on investment may be worth it down the road.

More education could qualify you for that promotion you’ve been gunning for.

Likewise, if earning a salary boost means going back to school, it seems like a no-brainer.

For new job hunters, the degree will likely land you a higher paying job with health insurance and vacation time.

  1. Career change

Sometimes we don’t know what we want to be when we grow up, so we work jobs to make ends meet until we figure out something more lucrative.

Or, maybe your current career feels like a dead end and pursuing a different path seems like a logical next step.

In fact, just getting a degree in anything can help you get a better paying job or open up opportunities for more senior positions.

According to, only 27% of college graduates have a job related to their major, so go study  what your heart desires and still have a worthwhile career as anything from an entrepreneur to project manager to a realtor.

  1. New challenge

A mid-life crisis sometimes yields an expensive new Ferrari or an equally expensive divorce.

How about investing in a new life challenge?

Furthering your education! Taking courses is a positive pursuit of a new-found passion or playing off your current strengths. Learning new things keeps life spicy.

  1. Financial aid incentives

This is interesting: Big employers – like Pizza Hut, JetBlue and Starbucks – help older students finish their degrees through incentive programs.

Nearly 3.5 million Americans over 50 years old have taken some college courses, but have not earned a degree or certificate, according to the National Student Clearinghouse Research Center.

For students like 63-year-old Diane W. Tavoian, the only way to finish her degree was by returning to college at Arizona State University, who partners with Starbucks to provide financial aid for employees.

Tavoian was already a student at ASU, but after hearing about the Starbucks College Achievement Plan, offered by ASU, she begged Starbucks to hire her as barista.

Starbucks got a good employee and Tavoian finished her bachelor’s degree.

  1. Positive role model

Your decision to return to school is an inspiring one for your friends and family.

You never know what your determination sparks in others.

It certainly sets a good example about finishing what you start. Good stuff.

  1. Personal achievement

Nothing is more satisfying than earning the degree you worked hard to get.

No matter what you study, your education leads to a richer life experience.

“When I was young for 15 minutes it was fashionable to tell your parents you weren’t going to go to college, “ writes higher education author Donald Asher. “My father, a design engineer, was driving down the freeway trying to convince me of the folly of my ways.

“Do you see that bridge,” he asked me, pointing to an overpass. “Sure,” I said, the typical insolent teenager. “Well, you see something different than I see. You see an overpass, and I see stress analyses, load factors, and fifty-year cycles of planned obsolescence. So I am getting more out of life than you are, and it’s because of my education.”

He was right, of course.

  1. Confidence boost

Learning new things makes you feel smarter, right? When you feel smarter, you’re enhancing your self-esteem. With a healthy self-esteem, your confidence shows, which shows your employer how valuable you are.

  1. Flexibility

You don’t have to attend a brick and mortar college or university to get your degree. Many students prefer online classes, especially busy people with families and current jobs to earn a bachelor’s or master’s degree.

You find a way to fit distance learning into your life in a timeframe that works best for you.

  1. More job options

Acquiring a new skill set makes you more marketable.

Not always, but college grads tend to have more job prospects because of the specialized skills they gain.

For example, many hospitals in the country will no longer hire registered nurses without a bachelor’s degree in nursing.

Nurses who’ve worked in the professional nursing field for decades are now going back to school to complete their degrees, sometimes on the hospital’s dime.

The degree also gives them more job options within the field.

  1. Meet new people

Classmates sharing the same interests is a good way to make connections that could eventually lead to a new job.

Having fun and meeting people is just part of the whole “college” experience.

If you’re nervous, like I was, about starting out on your college path, there are some things you can do to prepare so you will have the best time, like researching which campus group looks the most fun, or seeing if there are any out of the box classes that your school might offer that you could take for fun.

Plus, practicing those networking skills could serve you well in your new career.

Financially fit?

As you can see, going back to college has many advantages.

You’ll have to determine if the financial investment is worth it.

If you’re going to accumulate debt by going back to school, evaluate whether your potential salary will allow you to pay it off in a reasonable amount of time.

The goal is finding a career in a growing field with a paycheck that will do more than offset the costs of getting your degree.

But maybe the paycheck isn’t what it’s about at all.

College graduates tend to be happier and healthier and more optimistic about their past and future progress.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Vincent LaConte/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

We Should Put Old People In College Dorms. Seriously

By Melissa Davidson

“Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength.” Betty Friedan (1921-2006)

If one takes this quote to heart by feminist icon Betty Friedan, it’s clear that successful aging should be considered a time of growth in life rather than an inevitable decline.

By redefining aging, we can start tackling some of the challenges and needs of a dramatically growing older population.

One of these challenges involves reinventing how people are housed in our country.

The two largest generations in our nation – Baby Boomers and Millennials – are finding common ground on the housing front, literally.

The concept of merging college dorms with nursing homes to create a multigenerational living situation is less radical than one might think and is actually becoming more common throughout the world.

Boomers are traditionally community-oriented and have probably lived in college dorms in a former life, which makes them more open to living with people they are not related to.

Meanwhile, Millennials are open to new ideas and ways of thinking, especially if they can save money on rent as they attend college.


The Dutch have already figured this out.

In exchange for spending at least 30 hours a month with the elderly residents at Humanitas retirement home, college students in the small town of Deventer get to live rent-free in their own apartments within the facility.

As part of their volunteer agreement, the students spend time teaching older residents new skills, such as how to use social media, email and tablets, or they’ll simply make dinner and watch TV.

Bringing the outside world into the retirement community is a refreshing change for the residents.

Research has shown that social interaction with friends leads to less loneliness and mental decline and increases overall health in older adults.

At least two more nursing homes in the Netherlands have opened their doors to college students since Humanitas laid the groundwork in 2012.

Spain and the city of Lyon, France have also started similar programs.

United States

Historically, 5 to 10 percent of the U.S. population has been 65 and older at any given time, but within the next four decades that percentage is expected to grow to 20 percent, according to Renae Smith-Ray, a research scientist in the Center for Research on Health and Aging at University of Illinois at Chicago.

Older generations are living longer and the impact on caregivers, social service agencies and government spending are issues that need to be addressed now, Smith-Ray said in the Chicago Tribune.

Photo Credit: jamieleto/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: jamieleto/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

“We’re going to need to begin thinking outside the box much more regularly to deal with the needs of our aging population,” Smith-Ray said. “This type of housing arrangement is one terrific example of that.”

Smith-Ray is referring to the three multi-generational homes in Chicago run by non-profit Housing Opportunities & Maintenance for the Elderly (H.O.M.E), which helps low-income seniors stay independent for as long as possible.

In some cases, seniors live with college students and even middle-aged married couples.

The combination of college dorm/independent senior living facility (all rolled into a three-story brick building) seems to work.

Living spaces and bathrooms are shared, but each resident gets his/her own bedroom. Meals are prepared by a cook during the week and college-age resident assistants on the weekends.

Some organized trips are planned, but most of the bonding happens during downtime at the house.

Sharing a laugh over a favorite show or getting help on the computer creates a connection.

Many seniors aren’t particularly computer-savvy, so learning how technology can benefit them is a way younger generations can help.

With apps like Doctor on Demand and NowClinic, senior residents can connect with a healthcare practitioner face-to-face through a mobile device, instead of depending on a ride to the clinic.

Multigenerational housing isn’t just for college students or low-income seniors.

More families are living under one roof – millennials returning home to pay off student loans and grandma or grandpa need more assistance so they move in, too.

One big happy family as they say.

Builders are capitalizing on the multi-generational trend by designing homes featuring shared space, but also with separate living areas and private entrances.

Sort of looks like a dorm room, doesn't it? Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Sort of looks like a dorm room, doesn’t it? Photo Credit: Sean Hayford Oleary/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Miami-based homebuilder Lennar has made a big push into multigenerational space with its NextGen line of homes as has Palm Beach County-based Kotler Homes.

Statistics show that a record of 57 million Americans, or 18.8 percent of the population, lived in multigenerational family households in 2012.

Historically, older Americans were the ones most likely to live in multigenerational households, but younger adults are now surpassing them.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Paul/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

ITT Tech Closed Down Out Of The Blue, And Its Students Got Royally Screwed

The dramatic and sudden closing of all ITT Technical Institute campuses earlier this month left 40,000 students and 8,000 employees wondering what’s going to happen to them in the future.

The good news is debt incurred by ITT Tech students will likely be forgiven.

The bad news is that the credits they earned may not be transferable.

Plus, because of ITT’s reputation, it’s embarrassing for current students and even former graduates to list it on their resume.

What’s more is the closures could lead to a housing crisis for some veterans who were receiving housing allowances. The list of potential problems goes on and on.

As a for-profit school, ITT Tech was not accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, which requires certain standards from its schools.

ITT Tech had 130 campuses in 38 states. Thirty percent of ITT students nationwide are veterans.

The Higher Learning Commission will not allow regionally accredited schools to accept credits from for-profit schools that are not regionally accredited, like ITT, for example.

Why did this happen?

A week before ITT closed its doors, the government banned the school from enrolling new students receiving federal aid. ITT relies on federal grants and loans from students for the majority of its revenue. ITT pulled the plug on operations as a result.

However, the Department of Education has been worried about the college for several years.

ITT was facing lawsuits and federal/state investigations from the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the U.S. Securities Exchange Commission.

The last straw happened last month when the college’s accreditor (Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools) said that ITT was not in compliance and “unlikely to become in compliance” with its criteria.

Today’s postsecondary environment is in a constant state of flux and adapting to the changes is an opportunity for institutions to adapt to and succeed in the current climate, writes Jay Halfond, the former dean and professor at Boston University Metropolitan College.

Unfortunately, it isn’t happening on every level.

“For-profits pray for someone in the White House who will protect their federal source of funds and ignore their (own) accountability,” Halfond wrote.

In 2014, Time magazine ranked ITT Technical Institute No. 2 on its list of “The 5 Colleges That Leave the Most Students Crippled By Debt”.

Among ITT Tech graduates with loans due in 2011, 22% had defaulted by 2014.

The for-profit University of Phoenix had a lower default rate by percentage – 19% at Phoenix vs. ITT Tech’s 22%.

But the total number of students in default from Phoenix was much higher – 45,123 Phoenix students versus 11,260 ITT Tech students.

Now what?

The death of for-profit schools will likely continue which gives other institutions like online colleges with hearty programs the opportunity to absorb some of that business.

A prime example of a school that saved itself from closure is Regis College in Boston. Regis was once a small, private, all-women’s college. They opened their doors to men in 2002, which helped the school thrive. Another move that helped saved the brick and mortar school is when Regis expanded their nursing program into the online realm.

Online options could be a way for former ITT tech students to re-enroll in school without having to move.

A list of career colleges and trade schools that have formed agreements with ITT to make it easier for students to transfer credits can be found here.

There are two main options for the ITT students left in a lurch.

They can transfer credits to another school with a comparable program, but those students won’t be eligible for federal student loan forgiveness.

If they choose to cancel their loans instead, anyone enrolled at the time or withdrew within 120 days of the school’s closure has the legal right to have their federal loans forgiven under a “closed-school discharge” agreement.

The problem with that route is that students must start all over if they want to further their education.

U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King Jr. has warned students to steer clear of companies offering to help in exchange for money.

Applying for any form of loan forgiveness is free.

The future of for-profit colleges

Enrollment in for-profit colleges is declining.

DeVry University said the number of students taking classes is down 23% this year and the University of Phoenix is down 22%.

Harder government scrutiny is one of the reasons.

Other major players will start to shut their doors if they don’t change the way they do business, which is one of the reasons DeVry is trying to differentiate itself.

A few days ago, DeVry Education Group announced it will voluntarily limit the amount of federal revenue it receives back to the 1992-98 federal ratio.

Today the rule requires for-profits to receive at least 10% of their revenue from nonfederal sources, and DeVry plans to increase it to 15%.

Regulatory scrutiny is not going away. Here’s another interesting thing to follow: The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) is the organization that accredited ITT Tech and said they were fed up with the school’s noncompliance issues.

But ACICS may be terminated real soon as recommended by a federal panel, according to Inside Higher Ed.

“When we see schools provide extremely poor outcomes for students – or even commit fraud – while maintaining accreditation, that is a black mark on the entire field,” said Ted Mitchell, the under-secretary of education in the Inside Higher Ed article.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: ITT Tech/ Facebook

WATCH: What Real “Ladies Of The SEC” Have To Say About That Slut Shaming HuffPost Piece 

So How Many Of The Bachelor Couples Are Actually Still Together?

The record of long-lasting love is a bit of a heart breaker for America’s darling of reality romance shows, The Bachelor.

If finding love on camera seems close to impossible maybe that’s because it is. Competitive reality TV dating is hard.

Just ask the 20 bachelors who’ve vied for the attention of swooning women since the show’s inception in March 2002.

In 20 seasons of The Bachelor, 12 men have popped the question on air, which is a solid 60% of couples who came out of the show engaged.

However, relationships start to fall apart when the cameras disappear: Only two of the 20 couples are still together, one of whom is married.

Season 17 winners Sean Lowe and Catherine Guidici got married in 2014 and recently celebrated the birth of their first child. Success!

Season 20 winners Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell are currently enjoying their engagement.

Hopefully, their new reality spin-off show will still send them happily down the aisle and not running for the hills.

It still seems like yesterday the young Missouri banker Aaron Buerge got down on one knee and proposed to adorable school psychologist Helene Eksterowicz in 2002.

The proposal was the first for the show as the winners in the inaugural season did not become engaged.

Long before DVR, social media, iPhones and Kardashian takeover, and way before ABC offered virtual reality (VR) experiences online, The Bachelor was starting to form a match-making empire that quickly evolved into the creation of The Bachelorette in January 2003. (The Bachelorette took a three-year hiatus between 2005-2008.) Then along came the trashier if not entertaining spin-offs, aka Bachelor in Paradise and Bachelor Pad.

The Bachelorette has also yielded a much better success rate than Bachelor in terms of the couple staying together after the show ended.

In 12 seasons, five couples are still together – a 42% commitment rate.

The very first season brought us sweethearts Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter, who’ve been married almost 13 years. They are the king & queen of reality television romance.

Here are the others.

Season 7 winners Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum are married and expecting their second child.

Season 9’s Desiree Hartsock and husband Chris Siegfried are having a baby this fall.

The most recent couples are Season 11’s Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth and Season 12’s JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers.

We’ll see if those two couples go the distance to the altar.

As in real life, not just TV, relationships, dating, love and marriage don’t always work out.

If dreams are dashed along the way because someone is looking for 15 minutes of fame and not love, the success rate is probably even lower.

Add a mix of personality types that only reality TV attracts and a bunch of booze that’s readily available, and you start to see some mental health issues that TV is famous for.

But all that is just a buzzkill.

Here’s to the success of the next Bachelor Nick Viall!

May he find “the one.”

After countless tries, he deserves happily-ever happiness.

We all do.

Here’s the complete list of Bachelor and Bachelorette winner history and their record of keeping it all together after the end of the show:


Season 1
Alex Michel and Amanda Marsh- Not Together

Season 2
Aaron Buerge and Helene Eksterowicz- Not Together

Season 3
Andrew Firestone and Jen Schefft- Not Together

Season 4
Bob Guiney and Estella Gardinier- Not Together

Season 5
Jesse Palmer and Jessica Bowlin- Not Together

Season 6
Byron Velvick and Mary Delgado- Not Together

Season 7
Charlie O’Connell and Sarah Brice- Not Together

Season 8
Travis Lane Stork and Sarah Stone- Not Together

Season 9
Lorenzo Borghese and Jennifer Wilson- Not Together

Season 10
Andrew Baldwin and Tessa Horst- Not Together

Season 11
Brad Womack and no one (sad trombone)

Season 12
Matt Grant and Shayne Lamas- Not Together

Season 13
Jason Mesnick and Melissa Rycroft- Not Together

Season 14
Jake Pavelka and Vienna Girardi- Not Together

Season 15
Brad Womack and Emily Maynard- Not Together

Season 16
Ben Flajnik and Courtney Robertson- Not Together

Season 17
Sean Lowe and Catherine Giudici – STILL TOGETHER

Season 18
Juan Pablo Galavis and Nikki Ferrell

Season 19
Chris Soules and Whitney Bischoff

Season 20
Ben Higgins and Lauren Bushnell -STILL TOGETHER

Season 21
Nick Viall and TBD


Season 1
Trista Rehn and Ryan Sutter- STILL TOGETHER

Season 2
Meredith Phillips and Ian Mckee- Not Together

Season 3
Jen Schefft and Jerry Ferris- Not Together

Season 4
DeAnna Pappas and Jesse Csincsak- Not Together

Season 5
Jillian Harris and Ed Swiderski- Not Together

Season 6
Ali Fedotowsky and Roberto Martinez- Not Together

Season 7
Ashley Hebert and J.P. Rosenbaum- STILL TOGETHER

Season 8
Emily Maynard and Jef Holm- Not Together

Season 9
Desiree Hartsock and Chris Siegfried- STILL TOGETHER

Season 10
Andi Dorfman and Josh Murray- Not Together

Season 11
Kaitlyn Bristowe and Shawn Booth- STILL TOGETHER

Season 12
JoJo Fletcher and Jordan Rodgers- STILL TOGETHER

Read More: Dashed Dreams: How My “Audition” For A Reality Show Opened Up My Eyes To The Fleeting Fame Of The Genre

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: The Bachelor/ Facebook

Is The Green Party’s Jill Stein a Serious Candidate?

If voters don’t like Trump or Clinton as presidential candidates, does that leave Green Party nominee Jill Stein as a viable option?

Not according to a poll released last Tuesday that gives Stein 2% of Texas voter support, the same percentage that supports Harambe, the gorilla shot and killed at the Cincinnati Zoo after a 3-year-old boy fell into his closure. The same poll has Stein trailing Deez Nuts, the satirical

politician, who is actually 15-year-old Iowan Brady Olson.

Stranger yet, this is the second Public Policy Polling survey showing support for the dead gorilla who had 5% of the vote a few weeks ago over Stein, a Harvard-educated doctor. The political arena is really just a bizarre circus.

Continuing to walk the tightrope is Stein, the Green Party candidate who’s been loudly touted as a vaccine conspiracy nut by media and the public. Yet, she is still considered to be a serious candidate (well, at least by 2% of Texas voters polled).

So serious that on her own website, it says, Stein, who was the Green Party’s 2012 candidate, holds the current record for most votes ever received by a woman candidate for President of the United States in a general election.

She is a doctor with an Ivy League degree.

She isn’t Trump or Clinton.

She is not corrupt, at least that’s what she says. She also provides a choice for “disgruntled Bernie backers” who ideologically have more in common with the “progressive medical doctor than the neo-liberal Democratic nominee,” according to RT.

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Snopes even stepped in earlier this month to debunk “myths” that Dr. Stein is anti-science and anti-vaccine. She is not the anti-vaccinating conspiracy theorist people have accused her to be.

“Dr. Stein’s stated position is that she ‘supports vaccinations’ and acknowledges that ‘we have a real compelling need for vaccinations,’ so it’s not true to say that she is on record as holding an anti-vaccination political position,” according to Snopes.

“I think there’s no question that vaccines have been absolutely critical in ridding us of the scourge of many diseases — smallpox, polio, etc. So vaccines are an invaluable medication,” Stein said.

“Like any medication, they also should be — what shall we say — approved by a regulatory board that people can trust,” Stein said. “And I think right now, that is the problem. That people do not trust a Food and Drug Administration, or even the CDC for that matter, where corporate influence and the pharmaceutical industry has a lot of influence.”

She mentions smallpox and polio, which are pretty old-school diseases.

What does she think about vaccines for more common illnesses such as influenza and pneumococcal?

Other media outlets have come to her defense as well saying, Stein, like many people, has ‘concerns’ about the effects of GMOs and pesticides.

But Stein’s vagueness also leads Snopes to add: “However, her somewhat equivocal statements surrounding that issue allow for a fair bit of leeway and interpretation — many others who proclaim to ‘support vaccinations’ in concept effectively undercut their positions by raising objections to the ‘vaccination process’ or the ‘vaccination industry.’”

It’s not that she opposes vaccines, it’s the terminology she uses to describe her position, which is consistent with a conspiracy theorist, according to an article in Patheos.

Nobody these days really comes right out and says they are “anti-vaxxers.”

“I received dozens of comments from Dr. Stein’s supporters cheering what they took to be a strong anti-vaccination message: They said her statements were, for them, proof of a government conspiracy covering up harm from vaccines, that we should stop vaccinating our children, or vaccinate for fewer diseases, or ignore vaccine schedules,”  Dr. Paul Offit, a pediatrician who heads both the Division of Infectious Diseases and the Vaccine Education Center at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia said. “So the concern that she’s sowing vaccine distrust isn’t hypothetical or exaggerated, it’s very real and already happening.”

The Huffington Post has written several articles against Stein which say she is a peddler of fear and paranoia and a panderer to the fringe.

She also doesn’t have any political experience which people are quick to point out on social media.

In the comments section of this PBS article, some guy named Steve said: “Stein would never recommend that her patients go to a quack, why does she think that governing a country doesn’t take training and specific knowledge, too?”

Stein may at least be right when she called her opponents the “most disliked and untrusted candidates for president in our history.”

But with a national average of 3.6% of the vote, which isn’t enough to qualify her for the presidential debate in September, it’s going to be tough for her to do anything of note this election.

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in the world. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Paul Stein/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Why the Olympics Has The Worst Ratings in Years

By Melissa Davidson

Unless Bob Costas gets pink eye again, is there anything that can save NBC’s ratings and coverage of the Olympic games in Rio thus far?

Opening ceremony TV views were less than steller – down 35% among all viewers from London’s opener four years ago.

The following night fared only slightly better, down about 28% from London but still at a 20-year low, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Ratings are starting to see an upswing as American men and women sweep swimming medals and magical gymnast Simone Biles continues to shine. Total viewing data, including digital formats, will be available later this week, NBC promises.

Time will tell, but the way millennials are viewing sports, including the Olympics, is changing with the times.

Let’s look at the trends to see why.

1) Social media and livestream

What catches the eye throughout the day on Facebook, Twitter and Snapchat, may determine if you tune into watch the Olympics on TV. Seeing something on social media influences one’s decision to tune in.

Now, after reading about #PhelpsFace on Facebook, I really want to see him win the 200-meter butterfly because it would prove his shade is justified.

NBC’s livestream multicast has taken some of the audience away, but TV is still king with 60% of consumers saying they will watch the games on TV.


Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

However, several millennial friends of mine say watching coverage on TV is plain “annoying” with all the commercials and weird commentary from old men who just don’t get it.

It’s great that NBC is optimizing with mobile devices, even if the set-up isn’t flawless.

You can watch video with the NBC app without having to listen to Olympic commentators, whose words really rub some people the wrong way.

2) Traditional cable and video

To back up the claim that millennials are seeking out videos instead of traditional television and cable, a study found that young people are into YouTube celebrities just as much as traditional TV celebrities.

As for sports, the study found that millennials are more accustomed to seeking influencers on YouTube and Facebook than from ESPN.

ESPN – either the cable channel or the app – is still the place to go for 25- to-34-year-olds: 58% list ESPN as their resource for sports-related video content, followed by Facebook at 52%.

Among younger people, 13- to 24-year olds, YouTube gets 64%, Facebook with 53% and ESPN just 42%.

Interestingly, 4% of this younger group discover sports videos by looking to experts like sports pundits and analysts.

3) NBC strategy

Creating strong, positive, emotional reactions to a product fosters the desire to remain loyal to a brand over a long period of time.

But if the brand isn’t delivering, my word-of-mouth promotion isn’t going to be great, and I’m not likely to return in the future.

That’s marketing 101 and the reason why location and relationship are marketing buzzwords in 2016.

Some people are loyal to the “packaged” programming that NBC says the majority of the viewing public prefers over the actual, live competition.

I read a story recently in the Humanist, written by a millennial, who says she loves the inspirational stories that are rolled into a couple of weeks of programming.

Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

I’ve also spoken with friends who say they don’t care for the “soft-focused story aspect of competitions” and simply want to see the games.

These opinions align with a piece written by columnist Sally Jenkins in the Washington Post that says NBC’s packaging of the Olympics is an insult to viewers and the athletes themselves.

“Even if you buy NBC’s argument that the majority of the public prefers edited, packaged programming over the vagaries of live sports competition, then ask yourself this question: Why aren’t NFL football telecasts tape delayed and packaged? Why don’t the networks delay and collapse the games in favor of sugary features showing childhood films of the Manning brothers on a swing set instead of wasting viewer’s time with a penalty-filled second quarter?”

“The fact is, no network would do that. Why? Because the networks assign a dignity and an import to a live NFL game that they don’t to women’s gymnastics.”

4) Women ‘do’ sports

Most of the money and attention spent on sports and athletes is directed at men, both at the professional and amateur levels.

Of the 150 million NFL fans, 45% are women and over one-third of viewers are women. Women on Team USA make up 53%.

A lot of American women are going to bring home medals. In fact, the women’s gymnastics squad just won the team All-Around Gold Medal for the second consecutive Olympics.

And because so many women watch sports on TV, NBC broadcasters need to stop with comments like “the man responsible” for Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s world record in the 400-meter individual medley is her husband/coach.

The current strategy of NBC Olympic coverage isn’t winning over the public.

What if the execs listened to what the customer wants to see and how they want to see it?

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: Jorge Andrade/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

Colleges Around The World Really Aren’t So Good At This “Free Speech” Thing

Watch what you spout on Facebook – and anywhere on social media – because it could come back to bite you. Or get you kicked out of college.

Today’s college students grew up with social media, so it’s easy to make a connection as to why in recent years an increasing number of students all over the globe have been under fire for expressing their opinions, on platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. One of the most controversial subjects is, not surprisingly, religion.

Should universities and colleges regulate and prohibit certain types of speech? In a new survey of college students, 69% said colleges should be able to establish policies that restrict the use of racial slurs and other language that is intentionally offensive to certain groups.

Gallup surveyed more than 3,000 college students for the study conducted by the Knight Foundation and the Newseum Institute.

When it comes to free speech and First Amendment rights, all speech isn’t created equal in the eyes of colleges, and in some cases students have been expelled for unsavory code of conduct, with religious issues at the heart of it.

Sheffield, England

Earlier this year, a Christian university student in England was expelled from his courses in social work after he expressed views about gay marriage and quoted the bible on his Facebook page.

Someone filed a complaint, and the University of Sheffield suspended him two months later.

Felix Ngole, 38, was in the process of getting his master’s in social work, when he posted a supportive message about Kim Davis, the Kentucky marriage clerk who refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The university argued that Ngole’s beliefs are discriminating and not appropriate for someone entering the social work profession.

Ngole says he’s the one being discriminated against. Universities censoring students for their views and beliefs raises major concerns about the value of free speech, his supporters say.

“The university has failed to protect his freedom of speech under Article 10 [of the British Human Rights Act] and his freedom of religion under Article 9,” Andrea Williams, chief executive of the Christian Legal Centre, which is supporting Ngole said in a statement. “Students are entitled to discuss and debate their own personal views on their own Facebook page.”

Some people do in fact use a public forum like Facebook as if they’re having a conversation in their living room.

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

A student at DuPage University in Glen Ellyn, Illinois talking at an on campus event. Questions about free speech on campus is back in the news. Photo Credit: COD Newsroom/ Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The old adage “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it,” typically describes principles of free speech, although not so much in the university setting lately.

Ngole is a prime example.

“The university claims my views are discriminatory, but I am the one being discriminated against because of my expression of Christian beliefs,” he said in an interview with HuffPost UK. “I wonder whether the university would have taken any action if a Muslim student who believes in Shari’a law, with its teaching about women and homosexuality, had made moderate comments on his Facebook page. I don’t think so.”

Fort Worth, Texas

In a similar case, a student at Texas Christian University was kicked out of school last year and instructed to take a diversity class and see a psychiatrist. Student Harry Vincent described Baltimore rioters as “hoodrat criminals” on his Facebook page and in a tweet, on a different topic, stated Islam is “clearly not a religion of peace.”

His messages offended a woman named Kelsey, who compiled his “disgusting and racist” posts and shared them on her Tumblr asking people to email TCU to let the university know Vincent was “shedding a bad light” on the institution.

The dean’s office received more than 20 complaints and Vincent was suspended by the university. He was charged with infliction of bodily or emotional harm and disorderly conduct. He appealed the decision but the university denied his appeal, stating “The choices you made caused harm to other individuals. These types of comments are not acceptable at TCU and directly contradict our mission of being ethical leaders and responsible citizens in a global community.”

Vincent said he probably won’t return to TCU because he will not attend a school that doesn’t support the Constitution or the school’s own student handbook.

Nampa, Idaho

Religion is a touchy subject, and universities don’t want their constituency threatened – whether by a student or faculty. In a case involving a tenured professor in Idaho, social media wasn’t necessarily at play, but the broader spectrum of First Amendment rights.

Professor Thomas Oord of Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho was laid off last year under the guise of budget cuts.

Oord, a prolific writer and popular theologian, believes in evolution and he clashed with the university’s president on theology.

One writer pastor named Tim Suttle put it brilliantly when he said Northwest Nazarene should have just been honest and “own up” to why Oord was fired via email by president David Alexander.

“It’s such a failure of nerve to call it a budget cut,” Tim Suttle wrote. “Be straight about it, man… ‘I fired him because I disagree with his theological positions and he’s a pain in my butt. He’s a brilliant theologian but I don’t want him at my school and that’s my call.’ I would disagree with it, but at least your integrity is intact as a leader.”

As institutions of higher education continue to wake up to the realities of social media, there will no doubt be more flash-points in the fight for free speech.

Melissa Davidson is a freelance writer and social media marketer in Idaho. She has a degree in Journalism from the University of Montana. 

RISE NEWS is a grassroots journalism news organization that is working to change the way young people become informed and engaged in public affairs. You can write for us.

Cover Photo Credit: mckinney75402/ Flickr (CC By 2.0)

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