Request Info

Avoid Identity Theft Scams with 5 Steps

written by Georgia Schumacher 30 January 2012

These days, it's easier than ever to acquire information. This can be a great thing—after all, you can now attend school online, when it would’ve been impossible not too long ago. The downside, however, is that it’s easier than ever for your personal information to be stolen. If you want to avoid scam artists and protect yourself, you may find it useful to follows the tips listed below.

    Computer Lab
  • Invest in a Paper Shredder. If you’re like many Americans, you probably receive new credit card offers on a regular basis. Avoid the temptation to simply toss these in the trash; it’s much safer to put all unwanted documents containing your personal information through a paper shredder. These can be acquired rather inexpensively, and are well worth it in the long run.
  • Use Complex Passwords for Personal Accounts. Sure, you may think that typing 12345 as your password is the path of least resistance—and certainly easier for you to remember down the road—but it’s also easier for scam artists to ascertain. It’s best to choose a more complex password that includes letters, numbers, and special characters.
  • Monitor Your Credit. You can receive a copy of your credit report free on an annual basis from the three credit bureaus. Also, if you want to take a look at it on a more regular basis, free websites like can be a big help.
  • Keep an Eye on Your Belongings. Crimes of opportunity occur when you leave your purse or wallet unattended. They contain valuable information about you that can be like liquid gold to a scam artist, so make sure, particularly when you’re out and about, that your personal belongings are in your field of vision at all times.
  • Keep Your Personal Information Personal. Don’t give out passwords or other secure information to people you don’t know. This may seem obvious, but it’s easier to do than you think. Some scams work by sending you an email that appears to be from a company you do business with asking for personal information with a link they want you to click on. In order to check the legitimacy of this, navigate directly to the website rather than opening the link in the email.

Social Networking as the New Norm

written by Georgia Schumacher 26 January 2012

In this day and age, those who don't have a Facebook account are probably in the minority. In the past few years, thanks to social networks like Facebook, we’re able to cast a wider social net than ever before.

Working on Computers

It used to be that once a person graduated from high school, they’d have to make an effort to keep track of fellow classmates via letters and phone calls. Now, we can connect with those old friends and quickly and easily share photos and news with them. Excited to announce your engagement or the birth of your first child? All you need to do is log in to Facebook to get the word out to your extended network of connections.

Of course, there are some that argue that while Facebook makes it easier to keep in touch, the connections are often superficial. In a recent New York Times article entitled “The Facebook Resisters,” several individuals who are not Facebook members are profiled. One remarked that they found that because of Facebook, they rarely called their friends to speak on the phone anymore. Another recounted an odd situation in which he was in an elevator with a friend of a friend, and, thanks to Facebook, he already knew everything about her, despite the fact that the two had never spoken to each other.

While the Facebook naysayers may be in the minority today, they certainly have some fair points. As we build our social connections, what purpose do they serve for us? Do we really feel connected to our “friends”? If someone sends you a friend request, what determines whether or not you’ll accept it?

In the case of the online student, Facebook can be an invaluable resource. It allows you to connect with fellow classmates from all over the country, share experiences, and provide each other with support. Social networking, whether via Facebook or some other medium, can provide a wonderful supplement to a student’s online learning experience.

While Facebook and other social networks are deeply ingrained in our everyday lives, most of us can remember a time when that wasn’t the case. How have our interactions with those we consider close to us evolved since those days? Provided that we are mindful of how we interact with one another online, we can find that our lives are actually enriched by the ease with which we are able to connect with each other today.

In This New Year, Resolve to Prioritize Your Education

written by Georgia Schumacher 23 January 2012

We're nearly a month into 2012, a time when enthusiasm for New Year's resolutions begins to wane. While New Year's Resolutions seem like a brilliant idea on the surface, most of us have given up within the first month of trying, so that by this time, everything is basically back to “normal.” Girl on LaptopThis most likely occurs due to unrealistic expectations we have of ourselves. As 2011 rolls into 2012, we think we suddenly have super powers that will help us to achieve lofty goals where we have failed in the past.

But now we’re getting to the heart of the issue: those lofty goals. Should we really expect ourselves to go from sitting on the couch all day to running a 5K three times a week? Or to move from smoking a pack of cigarettes a day to quitting cold turkey, with no desire to light up again, on January 1st? Of course, this may work for some people, but for the majority of us, slow and steady wins the race—or, at the very least, keeps those pesky New Year's Resolutions in check.

The same principle can be applied to your studies at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division. Perhaps you’ve resolved to be a better overall student this year, but you can’t go from making C’s and B’s to A’s without a plan in place. Instead, it’s best to break it down into smaller, more manageable goals that help you work toward your overall goal, including being more organized by keeping a calendar of important assignments and commitments, devoting more time to your studies, and making use of the resources you have available to you such as tutoring and the online library.

Happy 2012! With planning and dedication, you can help to make it one of your best years yet!

It's a New Year, Get Started on the Path to a New Career

written by Georgia Schumacher 19 January 2012

It’s always a cliché, the New Year’s resolution. “I’m going to get back in shape” or perhaps “I’m going to quit smoking.” We seemingly always make them, but so few of us follow through. Maybe we weren’t really serious, or maybe we didn’t have the support we needed to make our resolutions a reality.

However, if you made your resolution that you were going to try for something different in life – to go back to school, to find a new career, then there is a place that, if you’re serious, you’re going to get all of the support you need – and then some.

At The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we help students like you every single day to get started on the path to changing their lives and creating tomorrow in careers that they’re passionate about.

Have a listen to people like you tell their stories of what it was like for them to return to school.

Responsible Borrowing and You: Part Six

written by Georgia Schumacher 17 January 2012

Welcome to part 6 of Responsible Borrowing and You. Today, we’re looking at more ways to save on your education.

How else can you save for your education- think about it! The possibilities are endless and you are in control!

Complete your degree in a timely manner

  • The longer to complete your degree, the more cost you will incur. Successful completion of your classes is important. Every time you fail a course, you will need to pay additional to re-take it.
  • Set a goal to complete your degree with your academic counselor.
  • Use your timeline to stay on track and complete on time.

Have good study skills

  • Don’t let social and financial commitments divert you from your degree goals.
  • Speak to your academic advisor or instructor about coping with stresses of going to college.

There is a direct correlation between student borrowing and success, so this is as important as the lessons you learn in the classroom. Students that find alternate means for funding their education tend to graduate sooner; they place themselves in better positions for other “lifestyle” loans; and in the end, they graduate with less student debt.

So, as you embark on your educational venture, take the time to discuss your options with your Admissions Representative and your Finance Counselor, but do not stop there. Ask your employer, your friends and family; search the web and apply for all grants and scholarships.

Though this can be time consuming, every effort you make will be paid back in large dividends! That monthly payment towards your education, the hours you spend applying for grants and scholarships and the extra time you take to complete each class with the best grade is your investment in you!

We hope that our series on Responsible Borrowing has been helpful and informative. Congratulations on your decision to make a brighter future for yourself and good luck!

Avoid Job Application Mistakes

written by Georgia Schumacher 12 January 2012

You're completely excited to begin applying for jobs in your chosen career field. You just know that you’re the right person for the job, and surely anyone who receives your job application will know this too, right?

Wrong. Unless you’re close friends with the hiring manager, you need to do what you can to ensure that your application enables you to put your best foot forward. To that end, we’ve compiled a list of four job application blunders to avoid:

  • Having an Unprofessional Email Address – Your name is Lawrence, but your friends have always called you “Smilin’ Larry,” prompting you, years ago, to adopt the email address Before you send in your job application with this email address attached, stop and think for a moment. Would it be considered professional? If you didn’t know the person attached to the email address, would you take them seriously? The answer to both questions should be a resounding “no.” So what should you do instead? Generally, it’s best for your email address to only include your first and last name before the @ sign, and a number or two if needed, so becomes
  • Ignoring Typos and Spelling Mistakes - In order to avoid sending in a job application with these errors, proofread it carefully. On top of that, you might also find it helpful to have a friend or two give it a read as well. As they say, two pairs of eyes are better than one!
  • Stuffing Your Application With Buzz Words – If you want your job application to stand out, it’s helpful to include as many action words as possible, but it’s best to avoid common application buzz words that everyone and your brother is probably also using. These are generally meaningless words and phrases like “team player,” “proven track record,” and “results-oriented.” When in doubt, show, don’t tell.
  • Submitting an Incomplete Application – Before submitting your application, make sure that you’ve followed the potential employer’s directions carefully. No matter how much care you’ve put into presenting yourself well, it will all fall flat if you fail to provide the complete package of information requested.

Responsible Borrowing and You: Part Five

written by Georgia Schumacher 9 January 2012

Welcome to part 5 of Responsible Borrowing and You. Today, we’re looking at ways to take control of your future.

When we last left off, we were discussing how to how you can maximize the benefit of an education while minimizing your long term debt. Here are some more tips:

Borrow only what you need

Do not borrow more than you need and always look at student loans as your last resort for funding.

  • Can you cover some expenses with a part-time job?
  • Have you researched and applied for grants and scholarships?
  • Do not take stipends, as these are usually generated by loan monies that must be paid back.

Reduce School Costs

  • Cut down expenses while you are in school. Remember you are investing in your future, so to skip that once a week movie or that daily cup of coffee at Starbucks is well worth it when you consider the impact it will have on your future.
  • Little things like cooking meals at home versus eating out, carpooling or using public transportation can cut your monthly household expenses and give you the means to insure that you can make a comfortable monthly contribution to your education.
  • If you have to buy books, get creative! Though most of your books are available in your classroom, there may come a time when you have to buy a book. New textbooks can be hundreds of dollars each, so finding used books, renting or sharing books is a great way to put money back in your pocket.

Surviving the Holidays

written by Georgia Schumacher 5 January 2012

With the holidays now behind you, after the dust settles, you can reflect on the ways that you survived this hectic season, particularly as an online student.

Chris Bahr, a student in the BS in Graphic Design program at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, offered these general tips to help you survive the chaos.

  • Define what the holidays mean to you, and celebrate them as such. We all come from different backgrounds, faiths, and cultures, but the holidays mean something to all of us in one form or another.
  • Gifts carry meaning not by how nice they are or how expensive they are. They carry meaning in showing that you care about the people close to you. Your best bet is to have the person to whom you’re giving the gift in mind as you purchase it. It’s not about how much you spend, but about the meaning the gift will have to that person.
  • Have fun and enjoy this time with your family and friends. Go look at lights, do fun things together, and eat grandma’s awesome home cooking.

As an online student, you obviously had additional priorities to navigate, from assignment due dates to participating in classroom discussions. As you spend time with family and friends, don’t look at your school work as a burden, but as an important step for you to help secure the creative career you want. Continue to be mindful of deadlines and keep up with your reading. This time will help you to appreciate the holidays even more.

From all of us at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh – Online Division, we hope you had a wonderful holiday season.

Portal 2 Review

written by Georgia Schumacher 4 January 2012

By Guest Blogger

Joseph DelFranco
Student at The Art Institute of Pittsburgh - Online Division

Developer: Valve
Platforms: PS3, PC, Xbox 360

Portal 2 is a first person puzzle game that puts you in the shoes of a silent protagonist. As you try to make your way through a testing facility, you find yourself taking sides with the most unlikely of characters. Plot twists galore and awesome voice work make this a fun game from beginning to end.

The premise of Portal is simple; use portals to escape whichever obstacle is in your way. In practice, this works extremely well. You are given a portal gun that shoots out two portals, once you've used both portals, you can traverse them at you leisure. Eventually, you will have to take physics into mind. Building up speed and shooting through one portal will make you fly out of another, allowing you to reach a place you couldn't before. Eventually, the game introduces a host of new mechanics that allow for interesting gameplay segments that keep you guessing!

The voice work is absolutely delightful. The voice actors are spot on, and they do a wonderful job of making you laugh. The characters are vivid and all display their own unique sense of humor that will make you wonder which character is your favorite. I tend to lean toward Glados, but that's just me. Throughout the game these voices guide you through different parts of the story mode, allowing for a fun play through from start to finish.

If the single player were the only part of Portal 2, it would still be a great game, but there's more!!! Portal 2 has a cooperative mode that allows two players (online or off) to complete a full multiplayer campaign that is completely separate from the single player. None of the levels are borrowed from the single player, allowing for even more replay value. Instead of thinking with two portals, you and your team mate have 4 portals at your disposal. This allows for even crazier puzzles, but you'll definitely need coordination and cooperation to get through.

Portal 2 is absolutely amazing. The level design, characters, sound effects, and gameplay mechanics are terrific pieces of a video game developer's ingenuity. Valve has outdone themselves with this unique experience.

Final Score: 9.5/10

Responsible Borrowing and You: Part Four

written by Georgia Schumacher 3 January 2012

Welcome to Responsible Borrowing and You Part Four. Today, we’re looking at the value of an education.

According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, U.S. Census Bureau EDUCATION PAYS! Workers with a bachelor’s degree earned an average of $53,976.00 in 2010. By contract, those with some college or an Associate’s degree earned an average of $39.884.00 during the same period; a difference of 74%. The average earning of those with just a high school degree in 2010 was $32,552.

Education Pays

Undoubtedly, the investment you make in your education is a sound investment, but how can you maximize the benefit while minimizing your long term debt?

Stay Tuned for Part 5: Taking Control of Your Future!