Monday, May 19, 2014

Merit Aid, Financial Aid, and Scholarships at US Colleges

What you see is not what you get when it comes to the "sticker" prices at many US colleges and Universities. Expert Susan Goodkin explains why you shouldn't write off Harvard or Yale based on the price. In fact, you shouldn't write off any college based on the sticker price because there are many merit aid options, too!

Listen as Susan explains it all.

(Note: we didn't have time to talk gap year.)


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Join in a for a College Admissions Chat

What parents need to know about college admissions
Here we go again! What do parents need to know about college admissions? Join in this Thursday at 1:00 Central to find out. Once again, I'm hosting a Google Hangout On Air with Jen and national college consultant Susan Goodkin of  the California Learning Strategies Center.

This month we'll talk merit aid, scholarship dollars and the value of a gap year. If you miss the conversation live, you can always watch it later on YouTube. Even so, you can leave us related questions here right now (or in the comments below) and we'll weave them into our discussion.

Our discussions are quite informative, so if you've got a child in middle or high school and are starting to explore colleges, I encourage you to join in or at least give a listen.

During our April admission chat we talked about 2E kids, SAT subject tests, the Fisk guide and more. Click for a recap.

March College Admissions Hangout.

Thursday, May 08, 2014

Shark Rocket Vacuum

Shark Rocket Vacuum
I enthusiastically received a Shark Rocket Vacuum for review, but I've lagged on reviewing because I'm somewhat ambivalent about it. Here's the good, the bad, and my lazy.

I received this months ago and I use it often, like 3 or more times a week (thanks, dog). Yet, I don't love it.

The Shark Rocket comes with a looooong 32-foot cord, which means I can move around quite a bit without have to stop and unplug it in one spot and plug it in elsewhere. Yeah for convenience.

The Rocket collects dirt in a small cup. I have an odd fascination with dirt cups. When I see what gathers in the cup, I'm more motivated to vacuum regularly. So the Rocket gets a plus for the cup. The Rocket can deep clean carpets and can also handle area rugs. The amount of dog hair I suck up from our area rug and a couple of doormats is nothing short of astonishing.

The Rocket can be used on bare floors, too. I do use the bottom attachment "brushroll" (as pictured) on our durable ceramic kitchen floor, but not on the wood floors that cover most of our house.

The Rocket has a duster attachment "(a Dust Away) for wood floors, but this leads to one of my complaints about the vacuum, it has such a minimalist profile, there's no room for "on board" tools. My Rocket came with a cleaning wand/crevice tool as well as an upholstery tool, said duster attachment, and big black bag in which to store the tools. That system doesn't work well for me. In fact, I received the vacuum months ago and I'm not even sure where the bag of extra goodies is right now.

My vacuum also came with a wall mount that, in theory, makes it easy to store the sleek Rocket. But we just didn't have the right place to hang it. As a result, it tends to sit in a corner of my living room or my office. This is both good and bad. Bad as in it clutters up the space. Good as in, hey, the vacuum is out, I might as well use it.

I noted that I don't like to use the rollerbrush on our wood floors, so what I tend to do is use the crevice tool, but unlike the woman in this photo, I tend to use it on the floor, going around the edges of the room where much of the dog hair and such tends to gather. I also use a broom to sweep larger sections of the floor and suction up the resulting piles of gunk.


I also find the crevice tool very handy on our main staircase (also wood). The Rocket is lightweight and convenient (e.g. never put away), so I use the vacuum quite a bit.

True to its promise it was easy to assemble and it's easy to swap out heads or tools. It's a breeze to empty the dirt cup, however, I'm admittedly a slacker when it comes to cleaning the filters that come with the unit--they are supposed to be hand-washed monthly. That's another downside for me.

The Rocket has several add-ons available for purchase:

  • Home and carpet detail kit for keyboards, car vents and other tiny spaces
  • Under apliance wand
  • Motorized hand tool for pillows, carpets and upholstery

The Shark Rocket sells for $180 and can be purchased directly from Shark or through a variety of national retailers.