College Planning Specialists

May 24, 2008

Virginia Tech Tragedy: Always Pay Attention To Signs

The horrible tragedy at Virginia Tech last year is a reminder to always be aware of your friends and fellow students, watch for signs that something is not right, and be willing to get involved to help. The following is a retrospective from deansguide on the tragedy:

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Monday April 16, 2007, the day a very disturbed Virginia Tech student shot and killed 32 people, will be remembered for many things. It will be remembered as the worst case of gun violence on a school campus in American history. It will be remembered for those lost and those who were left behind. Most importantly it should be remembered as a wake up call to everyone around the country: A call to each one of us to take personal responsibility in our everyday life to spread love and goodwill to our fellow man.

The mainstream media, as predictable as ever, focussed on sensationalizing this tragedy. Their sound bite mentality and catch phrase riddled reports (ie “Massacre at Virginia Tech”) concentrated on garnering sympathy and ratings. Consequently the issues of campus police response and gun laws in the state of Virginia were emphasized with a very heavy dose of personal information about the victims. Impact upon the family members, surviving students and teachers, and their biographical information (one student “loved Nintendo”) was the focus. We watched people grieve, cry, and hold vigils.

Yet no collective social behavior was ever explored as a possible solution to these kinds of events. Here in lies a huge problem we face as a nation: gun violence apathy. Our complete and collective acceptance of gun violence as a part of American society is the status quo. People are so desensitized by the astronomical incidences of gun violence in this country, they have come to accept these events without question. If we as a society do ask questions, they always seem to focus on gun control laws, ease in purchasing guns, and the psychology behind the perpetrators.

We have reached a point in our violent history where we as a country and as individuals need to take a collective approach to creating a safer planet. On a grassroots level each one of us can and should at least attempt to spread love and care to our fellow human beings. We need to watch out for those people who display irrational behavior; we need to follow up those observations with action and a loving-caring response.

It is time to get involved. It is time to reach out to one another. We must not accept gun violence in our society. Instead we must become more tolerant, observant, caring, loving, and active in our responsibilities to each other.

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May 21, 2008

San Francisco’s Horrible Secret: Golden Gate Bridge The Last Destination

The clip above from “The Bridge”

I am stunned! I am sitting here trying to wrap my arms around what I just witnessed. No film has had the effect that “The Bridge“, playing on the Independent Film Channel, has had on me in a very long time. It is a documentary about the Golden Gate Bridge. Unlike every documentary I have watched on our beloved landmark, this one focuses on the bridge’s notorious reputation as the #1 spot in the world for suicide.

In 2004 Eric Steel set up multiple cameras trained on the Golden Gate Bridge. What he caught was 20 separate suicide attempts; Steel spotlights 4 cases with interviews with family and friends of the victims. In two cases, he interviews the actual subjects of this documentary.

Although all of the cases were extremely compelling and shocking, the most important message came from the story about “Ken.”

This story is about a young man who suffers from bi-polar disorder. “Ken” describes his illness with passion and honesty. He describes his torn relationship with his father which is a central theme in “Ken’s” life. Interjected within this vignette, is “Ken’s” father’s description of “Ken’s” history and struggle with this illness, his own search for answers for his son, and a forlorn resolve that his son is one bad day away from tragedy.

The results of “Ken’s” struggles with family relationships and his illness was his attempted suicide from the deck of the Golden Gate Bridge in 2004. Ken, in minute horrific detail, gave his account of his last minutes before his leap. Although he jumped from a height of 220 ft., traveling at 75+ mph, “Ken” survived the leap with multiple fractures of his lower back.

Since his suicide attempt,”Ken” has become a very spiritual person; he seems to have taken steps toward a better more normal life. “Ken’s” father sums it up best: “Ken” has resigned himself to the fact that he must stay within the boundaries, the safe brackets if you will, of his medications.” “Ken’s” illness is controllable.” According to “Ken’s” father, it (bio-polar disease) is unlike a serious case of cancer where a person has little control over their destiny; he believes “Ken” should feel lucky to have control through medication of his medical situation.

The reality of this problem is the role we all can and should play in helping our fellow human beings. If we could feel compassion, take action, and believe in being proactive in a “My brother’s keeper” way. . . maybe together we could help spare just one lost soul from a permanent horrible decision.

May 4, 2008

Student’s #1 “Cost Of Living” Tool: Economic Research Institute

The best source for students to find free “calculator” tools, to help decide on the best cities in the US to live, are provided by the Economic Research Institute. The best page to find these valuable tools is the ERI “Career and Cost of Living Comparison” page which includes the following free tools:

2 Career Cost of Living Comparison Tools For Students

1. Salary Potential 2023: This tool “reports the estimated annual mean salary potential for 5,634 positions in the Year 2023.”

2. Student Cost of Living: This tool is a fantastic point of reference. It calculates cost of living for cities around the world and in some cases neighborhoods within the cities.

In my example I found the following information about San Francisco’s Pacific Heights neighborhood: “Student Cost of Living for Consumables as a percentage of the U.S. National Norm: 125%”

There are many more detailed reports comparing cities globally or nationally, cost of living conversion rates and economic condition calculators. Although these reports are not free, the descriptions of the reports can give you a starting point to performing your own (free) research.

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