The First Week of College

I just finished my first week of college.  I have included some of my thoughts below.

  1. WOAH!  WAIT JUST A NEW YORK MINUTE!  I didn’t sign up for this– and if I did I didn’t know what I was getting into.  I know what they say about going big or going home–I want to go home!!  GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

What exactly was I wanting to escape from?  Well….

  • For one thing, I thought my high school was hard to navigate…. But my college campus makes it look like a walk in the park!  From CB to FL (and all the buildings in between) I felt like a mouse trapped in a man-made maze.
  • Second, living on your own (without your parents) is harder than you might think.  No one is there to tell me “eat your fruits and veggies” and no one is there when I have a question: what do I do when this happens, or is it okay that if this happens…  Making decisions on your own and managing your time certainly makes you grow up fast!
  • Another thing is that (although you hate to admit it) homesickness starts to creep up on you.  You feel trapped in this “game” of sorts where everything familiar is replaced with the daunting unknown.  YOU are the ONLY one responsible for… EVERYTHING!!  Your food, transportation, grades, social life… It gets a little overwhelming.

Despite all of these things, I survived the first week.  I may even survive the second week.  College may even have some upsides: there is a lot of free food available, lots of potential friends to make, some cool teachers, and even some fun classes.  Guess college isn’t that bad after all. 😉

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The Value of the Scientific Method

Science-Lab-Equipment-and-Laboratory-Equipment-Supplies_2

We all remember learning the scientific method in grade school.  From hypotheses to theories, much of what we know about our world today has stemmed from using the scientific method.  So, it may surprise you that many people no longer trust the scientific method or science in general as a source for the answers they seek.  There are many conflicting opinions about issues such as climate change and the possible negative effects of vaccines.

However, I am not writing this post to debate these issues.  My purpose is to convince you that while science cannot prove everything or solve every problem, it still deserves a prominent role in resolving our plentiful and diverse problems.  How can stand up for science?  I have two suggestions based upon David Biello’s article.  First, we need to cultivate curiosity and second, we need to accept that we may be wrong.

But before I explain these suggestions, let’s discuss why science is under attack (and why it needs to be protected) in the first place.  Unbeknownst to most Americans, our leaders often misuse their power to achieve their personal goals and agendas.  They usually don’t care if their agenda violates the people’s needs (or rights).  Politicians will just cover up their evil deeds with propaganda.  Now, I acknowledge this sounds very “paranoid” or “cynical”.  However, that doesn’t stop it from being true.  In fact, politicians are perhaps the biggest culprits of decreasing the value of the scientific method.

According to David Biello, denying scientific discoveries, “…can sometimes kill, whether it’s the children who succumb to preventable diseases or the human lives cut short by climate change–related extreme weather or polluted air from burning fossil fuels.”

The scientific method is based upon using facts to prove a hypothesis right or wrong.  But, when the facts are no longer reliable (because, for example, people make up facts such as propaganda in the media) there are little to no facts that can be used to discover the truth.  In other words, when anyone can make up the facts, they cease being facts.

Therefore, in order to protect the scientific method and science as a respected field, we need to protect the validity of facts.  We can do this by first, sparking curiosity.  It may seem like a simple thing, but curiosity about how and why the world works the way it does would make a BIG difference.  Imagine if the rising generation (and even adults) actually cared about understanding politics.  What would our world be like if people acted upon their newly-found knowledge and understanding?

The second way to protect science is to promote a scientific world-view.  Learning to accept that you might be wrong is a critical scientific and life skill.  Biello says, “The price of a scientific worldview means enduring some level of uncertainty, a heaping dose of humility, and engaging in the never-ending, everyday task of living your life in light of scientific findings. Such evidence-based decision-making is what makes science political.”

When we learn to base our decisions on real evidence, the true value of science and the scientific method will be revealed.  Until then, propaganda and “convenient” truths will continue to plague our society and the media.  Remember this post the next time you come across a questionable article.  Because “facts” are not always facts.

 

Further Reading: http://ideas.ted.com/the-quiet-war-on-science/

 

Got Brain Cells?

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Everyone knows that regular exercise helps promote physical fitness.  But what about mental fitness?  According to Dr. John J. Ratey, exercise affects the brain more than we realized.  He says exercise can, “…supercharge your mental circuits to beat stress, sharpen your thinking, lift your mood, boost your memory, and much more.” 1*  If you think that is cool, wait until you hear about some of the long-term benefits of exercise.

In his book entitled, “Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain”, Dr. Ratey explains that in addition to these short-term benefits, regular exercise causes the brain to produce a protein called BDNF, which stimulates neurogenesis (brain cell growth).  Regular exercise literally makes your brain grow!  If that’s not motivation to go to the gym, I don’t know what it is.

I do know that despite the crazy benefits of working out, life gets in the way of your self care goals such as exercising and eating healthily.  So, here are some small tricks and tips to help you live healthily. They might seem simple, but, if implemented, they will help you become healthier.

  1. I always like to say, “If you don’t buy it, you won’t eat it.”  The next time you go to grocery store, think twice before buying sugary or unhealthy food products.
  2.  When exercising, pick something that you actually like!  Your options may seem limited to running and weight lifting– Not so!  Consider sports like swimming, tennis, soccer, or basketball.  How about riding your bike in the summer or going skiing in the winter?  Yoga or karate are also great options.  Anything that gets your heart rate up will do. 🙂
  3. Keeping a food journal will also help you be accountable for what you eat.  You may even find holes in your diet.  Perhaps you need to eat more fruits or vegetables or maybe you find yourself eating too much bread or starch.  A food journal is a great way to encourage healthy eating.
  4. Perhaps trying goal apps such as Habitica will help you be accountable to yourself.  The more habits you continue doing, the more “points” or rewards you will get.
  5. For both healthy eating and exercising, rewarding yourself will help you achieve your goals.  For example, after reaching your exercising and diet goals you can allow yourself to watch your favorite TV show or spend some time reading a book.  The important thing is that these rewards only come after you accomplish your goals.

So, the next time you are tempted to have some Oreos or to not go for your weekly tennis match, remember the benefits and tips above.  But, more importantly, remember the real reason you are trying to be healthy: to live a happy life!  More brain cells and smaller waistline are just extra benefits (nice ones, though 😉

Masks

masks

I stumbled upon a poem the other day and it really stood out to me.  It is entitled, “Masks”.

She had blue skin, and so did he. He kept it hid and so did she.  They searched for blue their whole life through, Then passed right be– and never knew.

We are all different: from our views on politics and life experiences to our cultural backgrounds.  However, if we spent more time looking for similarities instead of differences, me might be less inclined to don our ‘masks’ every day.  These ‘masks’ hide who we really are.  They hide our quirky personalities, our senses of humor and prevent people from seeing us from the inside out.

Cultural pressures (especially the media) encourage girls and boys from a very young age that they need this product or this mass body index in order to be “beautiful” and “popular”.  We try to mask our imperfections and differences because we are told that these are to be avoided at all costs.  The truth is, beauty does not come from the outside: it comes from within.

Roald Dahl once said, “If you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.”  I know this is true.  If we spent as much time on developing our inner qualities as we did on perfecting our outer appearances, imagine how truly beautiful we would all be!  Instead of perfecting our ‘masks’, let us not be ashamed of who we truly are.  Be yourself!  And look for others who have taken their masks off, and are proud to be themselves: not because they are pretty or have conformed to cultural or social norms.  But because they are working on beautifying their thoughts, actions, and life.  This is what makes people truly beautiful, and their inner goodness will always show.

 

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My Ideal Life

Family

       According to Youtuber Lavendaire, dreaming and writing about your ideal life or day  can really help you achieve your goals.  If you want to learn more, check out Lavendaire’s video HERE

I decided to give this a try.  My “Ideal Life” is below.

 

       I awake to my alarm and smile as I remember my plans for the day: work at the hospital from 8am until 5pm and then a date with my husband Liam at 6pm.  I am jolted from my thoughts as I feel three little bodies jump onto my bed.  Liam has already left for work and I realized with a start that the kids were going to be late for school.
I hurridly get them ready: Sam in his favorite dinosaur shirt, Olivia in her light-up princess shoes, and Ambrielle in her pink ribbon pigtails.  “Okay, kids.  There’s the bus. Have a good day.”  I watched as Sam and Olivia ran out to meet the bus.  “Love you”  I called.
       I then got Ambrielle in her car seat and drove to her kindegarten, about 4 blocks away. “Mommy?” Brielle asked. “What’s for dinner?”  I laughed as I realized that the apple didn’t fall that far from the tree.  Probably leftovers I thought.  But, not wanting to dissapoint, I told her, “It’s a suprize” Her face turned into a pout but quickly brightened as I unbuckeled her carseat.  “You have fun, now” I said, waving goodbye as she joined her friends.  “Daddy will pick you up at 2pm.”  “Bye Mommy” she called back.
I smiled to myself as I got back in the car, driving to work.  It took me about 15 minutes to reach the hospital so I usually listened to the radio.  Today, though, I decided to hum some hymns instead.  It was my last shift of the week, and was 8 hours instead of 10.  That means date night!  I thought, thinking about the restaraunt menu.  I’m as bad as Brielle!  I shook my head as I pulled into my usual parking spot.  Let’s deliver some babies!
      I have been working in the labor and delivery department for 3 years now and having had 3 of my own, I know how stressful the process could be.  This gave me a lot of empathy for mothers having babies, and I loved quieting all their fears.  “It may be an ordeal, but it is worth it!” I would assure them.
The most magical part of my job would definitely be the babies.  Yes, I have yet to deliver an ugly baby; but more importantly, each baby had a special glow that always reminded me of our heavenly father and home.
      My shift passed quickly as I delivered 3 babies and helped work in the Nic-U.
Before I knew it, the clock read 5pm and I needed to go home and make dinner.  After saying goodbye to my coworkers, I drove home.  I opened the front door and was welcomed by Sam and Brielle’s laughter.
“Hi, honey” Liam called, giving me a peck on the cheek.  “Hi. How was your day?” “Pretty good.  Sealed a deal with an important client.”  “That’s great, Liam!”  I exclaimed, suddenly distracted by Brielle’s poking.  Resting her on my hip, I asked her how she was doing.
      “I’m hungry” was her standard reply, so I was suprized when she replied, ” Mommy, guess what?  I made a new friend today.  Her name is Isabell and she drew me a horse– see?” She handed me a colorful drawing of a stick-figure horse. “Very nice!” I told her.  “It’s great you are making friends”.
After somehow turning leftovers into something my picky eaters would eat, I sighed gratefully as our favorite babysitter showed up.  “Hi Natalie.  Just to warn you, the kids are a little hyper tonight”  I said, watching Olivia jump on the trampoline.  “Just the way I like them” she joked, and I thanked her for always being so flexible.
      Our date was at our favorite restaurant, a local chineese place in town.  After a lovely evening, Liam and I returned to find the kids in bed and the house tidied up. “I don’t know how you do it” I complemented her, handing Natalie some money.
After exchanging thank you’s and goodbye’s, Liam and I got ready for bed.  While brushing his teeth, Liam asked, “So how was your day?”  We had speant most of our date celebrating Liam’s buisness deal at work.  “Good.  I got to work in the nic-U for the second time this week.  We got to send a baby home today.” Liam and I both smiled at this news and his toothpaste nearly fell out of his mouth.  “Carefull there”, I teased, patting his side of the bed and encouraging him to join me under the covers.
      We then watched an animal documentary, always in awe of God’s creations.  After the show we talked for a while and then said couple prayers.  “I’ll say it” Liam said, sitting up and bowing his head.  “Dear Heavenly Father.  We’re very grateful for the success at both of our jobs.  We thank thee that we can afford to eat out and for the means which we have to take care of our family.  We ask thee, if according to thy will, to bless Sam that he might be able to make friends at school and that Olivia may learn to control her temper.  Also, if it’s thy will, we ask that we may have thy Spirit to be with us and to be able to grow closer as a family.  In the name of thy son, Jesus Christ, Amen.”  “Amen” I said, smiling as I thought about our many blessings.  We then retired for the night, filled with the peace and light that living the Gospel brings.

 

Meditation: More Powerful Than You Might Think

yoga

You’ve heard the hype: daily yoga practice will help you find inner peace.  Meditating daily will help you deal more effectively with stress.  While meditation practices may not be your cup of tea, they are more effective at improving your mental health than your daily coffee or stimulant.   In fact, according to a recent Science Daily article, mind body interventions (MBI’s) such as yoga or Tai Chi, “‘reverse the molecular reactions in our DNA which cause ill-health and depression..”  Read on to discover how it works.

Experts concentrated on gene expression, which is, “..the way that genes activate to produce proteins which influence the biological make-up of the body, the brain and the immune system.” 1*  When you are stressed, your Sympathetic Nervous System (SNS), which is responsible for your “flight or fight response” is activated.  Your SNS then activates a molecule called the nuclear factor kappa B (NF-kB).  This molecule is in charge of your gene expression.

NF-kB then activates genes to produce proteins called cytokines.  These proteins cause cellular inflammation.  While this inflammation can be helpful with flight or fight responses, its benefits are short-term.  If this inflammation continues, your risk of cancer, accelerated aging and psychiatric disorders like depression dramatically increases. 1*   On the other hand, as many as 18 studies conducted over the past 11 years have found that individuals who participated in MBI’s experienced, “…a decrease in production of NF-kB and cytokines, leading to a reversal of the pro-inflammatory gene pattern and a reduction in the risk of inflammation-related diseases and conditions.” 1*  It turns out, those who do yoga or meditate might be onto something.

According to Lead investigator Ivana Buric from the Brain, Belief and Behavior Lab in Coventry University’s Centre for Psychology MBI’s are, “…leaving what we call a molecular signature in our cells, which reverses the effect that stress or anxiety would have on the body by changing how our genes are expressed. Put simply, MBIs cause the brain to steer our DNA processes along a path which improves our wellbeing.” 1*

While you may still drink your daily coffee and think you don’t have time for this meditation mumbo-jumbo, these gene-expression benefits just might be too good to ignore.  After all, what’s more important: increasing your life-expectancy or completing everything on your to-do list?  That’s what I thought.  😉

 

NOTE: For more information, please visit Science Daily (or paste this URL into your browser: https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2017/06/170615213301.htm)

 

 

Is College The Right Path?

Many of us have grown up believing that to be self-reliant and have a promising future we must go to college. Liberals continue to believe that college is (as a general rule of thumb) the best way to lead a happy and successful life. However, many Conservatives argue college simply is not worth the time, money, and effort, and claim happiness and success can be found through other paths. While no one path is right for everyone, there is a compromise to be made between these two extremes. As a general rule, I believe college is worth the time, money, and effort. Nevertheless, Conservative concerns such as the huge amount of student loan debt, the skills gap and lack of employment opportunities should be taken into account when deciding whether to attend college. If you are interested in pursuing a very specific career field like medicine or law, college is a great option for you. On the other hand, if you find yourself either unsure about your future career or wanting flexibility in your career options, the Conservative alternatives of vocational schools or starting your own business might just be your best bet.

Both of my parents attended college and received post-graduate degrees. My mother was a high school and college math teacher and my dad was an attorney. With my parents’ educational background, I have never really considered not attending college. My career goal is to become a registered nurse, perhaps in surgery or labor and delivery. Ever since I started high school I have eagerly anticipated going to college. Because my career choice is very specific, attending college is probably my best option.

However, upon researching the costs and benefits of college, I realize it would be naive of me to assume that college is the best option for everyone.   For those unsure about their career paths, college probably is not the best option. Dr. Fritz Grupe, founder of MyMajors.com, has found that “Eighty percent of college-bound students have yet to choose a major.” Also, according to NBC News, “…Indecisiveness can drain college savings accounts as students restart course sequences or transfer schools — losing credits in the process.” 1* The College Board has found that five and six-year students are not uncommon. They also found that roughly 40 percent of those who start a four-year degree program still have not earned a degree after year six. 1*

The bottom line is this: the sooner you choose a career, the better. The clock is ticking and according to the National Association of Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys, your indecisiveness effects more than just you. They claimed that, “…student loans are ‘beginning to have the same effect’ on the economy that the housing bubble and crash created.” 2* This issue must be taken seriously and into account when deciding to pursue a college education.

The skills gap must also be considered. According to a CNN article, employers may be expecting too much of their employees. Colleges are just not equipped to give them the skills companies want their employees to have right after graduation. Patrick Gillespie, a CNN journalist found that, “65% of job postings for secretaries who work for executives require a college degree.” But, according to Joseph Fuller, a Harvard Business School professor, among current executive secretaries, only 19% have college degrees. 3*

“According to the labor department, there were 5.3 million job openings in America in May. That’s better than the meager 2.1 million job openings at the depth of the recession.”

“However, the rise in job openings is running parallel next to a bad trend: the average number of days a job posting remains available is going up”, Harvard professor Fuller says. 3* There is an acute shortage of skills in the U.S. and many Conservatives blame the quality of our college education. Procon.org found that “in 2013 56% of employers thought half or fewer of college graduates had the skills and knowledge to advance within their companies.” 2*

A final consideration is that many colleges are very Liberal. Some claim that colleges may be “brainwashing” students instead of educating them. David Horowitz, MA, conservative activist and author, claims that university, “curriculum has been expanded to include agendas about ‘social change’ that are overtly political.” 2* Some conservatives argue that attending college may not teach you to think and learn things for yourself. These are two very important skills employers are looking for in their employees.

To conclude, there really is no definite answer to the question, “is college worth it?”. I hate to say that, “it depends”, but in all honesty this question should be considered on a case-by-case basis. If you know where you want to go, there is a good chance college can take you there. If you have no specific future plans, college very well may end up a waste of time and money. But, ultimately, the choice is yours. As I have discussed, college is not the only way to succeed; but it is my way.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://www.nbcnews.com/id/10154383/ns/business-personal_finance/t/college-freshmen-face-major-dilemma/#.WObPaOgrK00

2* Procon.com

3* http://money.cnn.com/2015/08/07/news/economy/us-economy-job-skills-gap/

Conservatives See Better Alternatives to Attending College

Despite many Liberals’ claims, Conservatives believe that a college education is not what it used to be. Good-paying jobs are getting harder and harder to find with young adults graduating with useless or soon to be obsolete degrees like anthropology or psychology. Conservatives believe that many people should consider starting their own business, building their own brand, or attending a vocational school. These alternatives are not only less expensive but help you gain the skills you need to secure a stable job.

First, it is no secret that student loan debt is a major financial burden on college graduates. According to the Huffington Post, “America now holds $1 trillion in student loan debt. This is more than home mortgages, car loans and credit cards….” 1* To add insult to injury, college tuition prices are skyrocketing. In fact, “the cost of college has gone up 1,000% in the past 40 consecutive years.” 1* This growth rate has far surpassed the inflation rate. Those who are college-bound need to be prepared to pay an average of $920/month to $1,840/month of student loans for ten years. 1* Let those numbers sink in for a minute before you decide to earn a degree that will leave you grossly unqualified for the real world job market. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, there is only about 56% percent chance that students who start college will finish earning a degree within six years. 2* Many college students who do not finish their degrees only have large debts in exchange for their trouble.

While Liberals claim more and more jobs are requiring their employees to have college degrees, Conservatives argue that college no longer provides graduates with the skills required for today’s job market. While an annual study conducted by the consulting firm Accenture found that 80% of graduates from the Class of 2014 expected on-the-job training, more than 50% of graduates from the Classes of 2012 and 2013 report receiving no on-the-job training. 1* These statistics demonstrate that employers are looking to hire people with skills and experience: not just those with college degrees.

We are living in a technology-driven world economy. While our technological advancements are amazing, colleges are growing more and more inadequate in their ability to teach students marketable skills. According to Huffington Post journalist Michael Price, “If you obtain a business or marketing degree you will never be anything more than a project manager, and over-time more and more technologies will become available that will automate much of what you do making you completely dispensable.” 1* Colleges just cannot seem to teach the skills that jobs in the real economy require.   Price claims, “Millennials are the most educated generation in human history, which is why they are also one of the most underemployed generations in human history… college graduates can’t find meaningful work because there’s too high a supply of the same people with the same credentials and not enough jobs to fill them all with meaningful work.” 1*

These statistics make going to college sound like a waste of time. While this seems to go against everything we have ever been taught in public schools, there may be a lot of truth to this belief. Michael Price claims that, “[a college education] will never be effective or progressive enough to keep up with the growing needs of employers who look to college institutions for their future employees.” 1* Price suggests starting your own business or attending trade schools which will help you gain the skills you need to obtain stable employment.

Trade or vocational schools are a great option for those not interested in starting their own business or creating their own brand. According to The Huffington Post, “There are an estimated 3 million labor jobs available; 90% of them don’t require a college degree and most of them pay more than white collar jobs. They simply require a skill.” 1* However, Price cautions that many vocational schools are more expensive and less beneficial than traditional universities. Price also suggests that we take advantage of the many non-traditional learning methods, including YouTube and other online education programs. 1*

It is clear that a college education is not required in order to lead a productive and happy life. The question is, are the costs of not obtaining a college degree outweighed by the benefits of saved time and money? The answer to this and other important questions will be addressed in my next post.

 

SOURCES:

1* http://www.huffingtonpost.com/michaelprice/7-reasons-why-you-shouldn_1_b_5501111.html

2* http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/30/5-facts-about-todays-college-graduates/

ALSO SEE: www.Procon.com

Is College Worth It? Let’s Do The Math

With college tuition continually on the rise and many degrees failing to guarantee employment, many wonder if college is worth the time, effort, and resources. Liberals are eager to convince us that without a college degree our future is bleak. They tell us to expect very few job opportunities, poor health, and even a shorter life expectancy. While studies have shown that college graduates tend to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise”, this is not the full picture. In this post, I will explore the Liberal’s arguments. In my next post, I will discuss why college might not be the right option for you after all.

Despite the costs of time, effort, and money, gaining a college education does have significant and noteworthy benefits. On average, college graduates have more and better employment opportunities, make more money, and tend to lead happier, healthier and more productive lives. The phrase, “healthy, wealthy, and wise” may be cliché, but in this case, it does apply to most college graduates when compared to their less-educated peers.

Perhaps the most obvious benefit of being a college graduate is that you tend to make more money. According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor, “…students who receive a Bachelor’s degree or a more advanced degree have, on average, more than twice the income of high school drop-outs and students with just a high school diploma…Bachelor’s degree recipients have estimated life-time earnings that are more than a $1 million greater than the lifetime earnings of people with just a high school diploma.” 1* If being financially self-reliant is important to you, then graduating college should be on your bucket list.

While the financial benefit of going to college is often overstated, it is important to know that the, “cost of not going to college has risen.” According to a Pew Research study, “Millennials with just a high school diploma are faring worse today than their counterparts in earlier generations by almost every economic measure examined.” 2* Keep this and the graph below in mind the next time you are about to dismiss the financial benefits of going to college.

ST_14.02.11_231_HigherEd_Earnings

College graduates also have more and better employment opportunities than those without a college degree. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, those who obtain a bachelor’s degree or higher have “…half the unemployment rate of people with just a high school diploma.” 1* The truth of the matter is, more and more jobs are requiring college degrees. In fact, “only 34% of American jobs require a high school diploma or less in 2017, compared to 72% in the 1970s…. According to a June 2016 study, 99% of job growth (or 11.5 million of 11.6 million jobs) between 2010 and 2016 went to workers with associate’s degrees, bachelor’s, or graduate degrees.” 3* More and better employment opportunities also means going to college helps to reduce poverty and the burden on tax payers. College graduates are also more likely to have health insurance and retirement plans. In 2008, 70% of college graduates had access to employer-provided health insurance compared to 50% of high school graduates. 3* This means most college graduates tend to be more economically valuable and less burdensome to society.

Henry Bienan, PhD, President of Northwestern University, argues that a college education results in “greater productivity, lower crime, better health, [and] better citizenship for more educated people.” 2* Studies have even found that college graduates are more likely to do volunteer work (43% compared to 19% of high school graduates) and donate blood (9% compared to 4% of high school graduates and 2% of high school drop-outs). 3*   A Pew Research Study found that, “…college-educated Millennials also have lower unemployment and poverty rates than their less-educated peers. They’re also more likely to be married and less likely to be living in their parent’s home.”

SEE GRAPH BELOW

ST_14.02.11_232_HigherEd_Benefits

Psychologist Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity stated, “I think most social scientists would put their money on education as the most important factor in ensuring longer lives,” Scientists and other experts also claimed in a paper published earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research, “Education not only predicts mortality in the U.S., it is also a large predictor of health in most countries, regardless of their level of development.” Experts have found that there is as much as a seven-year gap in life expectancy between high school and college graduates. 4*

SDT-higher-education-02-11-2014-2-08

While college may be expensive and a major sacrifice of time and effort, experts and college graduates alike claim it is a worth-while investment. In fact, “…about nine-in-ten college grads in every generation say college has been, or will be, worth the investment. Despite a steep rise in college tuitions, Millennials agree.” 2* It is true that going to college is not the right option for everyone. But for many people, going to college is a tradition they intend to pass on to future generations.

SOURCES: 

1* www.edvisors.com/plan-for-college/benefits-of-college/why-college

2* http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/02/11/6-key-findings-about-going-to-college/

3* http://college-education.procon.org

4* http://money.usnews.com/money/personal-finance/articles/2012/04/10/why-learning-leads-to-happiness

Marijuana: Pandora’s Box Has Been Opened

Got pot?  Conservatives do not!  All kidding aside, Conservatives have legitimate concerns about legalizing medical marijuana, such as the gateway effect and lack of needed research into the effectiveness of medical marijuana. However, Liberals also pose arguments that should not be ignored, including the right of an individual to self- medicate. At a minimum, medical marijuana should be legalized for medical research. When, and if, research demonstrates that marijuana is more effective for specific diseases and conditions than existing medicine, marijuana should be legalized to treat those diseases.

Many Conservatives worry about the “gateway effect” and claim that, “There is ample evidence that early initiation of drug use primes the brain for enhanced later responses to other drugs…Establishing it as a third legal drug, along with tobacco and alcohol, will increase the expanding opioid epidemic.” 1*

However, Liberals disagree, and state that marijuana is not a gateway drug. According to a Fact check article, “Though there are correlations between marijuana use and other drugs, there is no conclusive evidence that one actually causes the other.” Liberals make the point that, “Just because marijuana smokers might be more likely to later use, say, cocaine, does not imply that using marijuana causes one to use cocaine.” 2* Careful analysis tells us that just because two things are correlated does not mean that one caused the other.

Indeed, Liberals advance an intriguing argument that medical marijuana is the solution to the opioid epidemic because it is a solution to many people’s problem with chronic pain. Medical research has been severely limited by federal classification as a Schedule One drug. Researchers and doctors are hesitant to seek approval of medical marijuana research projects because approval is rare. They also have legitimate concerns about their licenses and jobs. 3* However, much anecdotal evidence indicates that marijuana is an effective treatment for chronic pain. According to CNN.com, “Some medicines based on cannabis such as Sativex are being tested on multiple sclerosis patients and used to treat cancer pain. The drug has been approved in Canada and in some European countries. In another trial involving 56 human patients, scientists saw a 30% reduction in pain in those who smoked marijuana.” 3*

There are additional Liberal arguments that should not be ignored. For example, why should the government dictate what an individual uses to control their pain or other medical condition?   You would think that Conservatives would argue for individual liberty and less government interference with individual choice but they do not. In fact, this is one of the Liberals’ arguments.

It is clear that both sides of this issue pose legitimate arguments. However, the solution to this issue is not so clear. A compromise must be made between the Conservative and Liberal perspectives. A reasonable compromise would be to legalize medical marijuana for medical research and legalize it as medically appropriate. If existing or new research demonstrates that marijuana is more effective for specific diseases and conditions than existing medicine, marijuana should be legalized to treat those diseases. The FDA should treat marijuana as they do any other drug and can approve its use to treat specific medical conditions.

According to a 2013 survey in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly 8 in 10 doctors approve the use of medical marijuana. Additionally, survey results from the California Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System found that, “92% of patients said that medical marijuana alleviated symptoms of their serious medical conditions, including chronic pain, arthritis, migraines, and cancer.” 4* Many doctors and their patients support the legalization of marijuana for medical uses. To ignore the 23+ states that currently allow for both medical and recreational use would be unwise. 4* Like it or not, the cat may already be out of the bag, and Conservatives may not be able to close Pandora’s box. The majority of our society is leaning towards the legalization of marijuana’s medical and recreational use. 57% of U.S. adults are in favor of the legalization of marijuana. 5* If we cannot stop the use of marijuana, the least we can take advantage of its potential medical benefits.

HelloMD CEO Mark Hadfield claims, “There is overwhelming evidence that marijuana helps to alleviate a range of conditions that affect millions of Americans. If you take into account the relatively benign nature of marijuana—with zero deaths from overdose—and contrast that with this overwhelming benefit, it is really quite an eye-opener.” 6*

Despite an increase in medical research showing positive effects for chronic pain, epilepsy, cancer, and many other diseases, marijuana still carries a significant drug stigma. As Dr. Sanjay Gupta said, “It can be tricky to be on the right side of science, but on the wrong side of ideology.” However, this stigma is well worth fighting to overcome. By at least legalizing marijuana for medical research, we can help stimulate the “medical marijuana revolution”. 7*

I must admit that I have a preference bias. I have a disorder that scientists claim would be helped by medical marijuana.   Therefore, who could blame me for encouraging this drug’s legalization for medical use? I hope that future research of the medical uses of marijuana reveals many life-saving and pain-relieving solutions to many conditions, including my own.

 

SOURCES:

1* www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2016/04/26

2* http://www.factcheck.org/2015/04/is-marijuana-really-a-gateway-drug/

3* www.CNN.com/2015/04/15/health/marijuana-medical-advances/index.html

4* https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/10/01/92-of-patients-say-medical-marijuana-works/?utm_term=.dd00d6f2aefc

5* http://www.pewresearch.org/author/ageiger/

6* www.attn.com/stories/6135/how-people-use-medical-marijuana

7* www.CNN.com/2015/04/16/opinions/medical-marijuana-revolution-sanjay-gupta/