Why Do Students Get Summers Off?

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It’s commonly believed that school kids started taking summers off in the 19th century so they’d have time to work on the farm. Nice as that story is, it isn’t true. Summer vacation has little to do with tilling fields and more to do with sweaty, rich city kids playing hooky—and their sweaty, rich parents.

Before the Civil War, farm kids never had summers off. They went to school during the hottest and coldest months and stayed home during the spring and fall, when crops needed to be planted and harvested. Meanwhile, city kids hit the books all year long—summers included. In 1842, Detroit’s academic year lasted 260 days!

But as cities got denser, they got hotter. Endless lanes of brick and concrete transformed urban blocks into kilns, thanks to the “urban heat island effect.” That’s when America’s swelling middle and upper class families started hightailing it to the cooler countryside. And that caused a problem. School attendance wasn’t mandatory back then, and classrooms were being left half-empty each summer. Something had to give.

Legislators, in one of those if-you-can’t-beat-‘em-join-‘em moments, started arguing that kids should get summers off anyway. It helped that, culturally, leisure time was becoming more important. With the dawn of labor unions and the eight-hour workday, working adults were getting more time to themselves than ever before. Advocates for vacation time also argued (incorrectly) that the brain was a muscle, and like any muscle, it could suffer injuries if overused. From there, they argued that students shouldn’t go to school year-round because it could strain their brains. To top it off, air conditioning was decades away, and city schools during summertime were miserable, half-empty ovens.

So by the turn of the century, urban districts had managed to cut about 60 schooldays from the most sweltering part of the year. Rural schools soon adopted the same pattern so they wouldn’t fall behind. Business folks obviously saw an opportunity here. The summer vacation biz soon ballooned into what is now one of the country’s largest billion-dollar industries.

Writing a Term Paper? This Font Is a Sneaky Way to Meet Your Page Count

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iStock

Stretching the margins, widening line spaces, making your periods slightly larger than the rest of the text—these tricks should sound familiar to any past or current students who've ever struggled to meet the page requirements of a writing assignment. As more professors get wise to these shortcuts, students are forced to get even sneakier when stretching their essays—and the digital agency MSCHF is here to help them.

As Fast Company reports, MSCHF has released an updated version of Times New Roman, the only difference from the standard font being that theirs takes up more space per character. When developing Times Newer Roman, the designers manipulated one character at a time, stretching them just enough to make a difference in the final page count without making the changes look noticeable. The result is a typeface that covers about 5 to 10 percent more line space than Times New Roman text of the same size, saving writers nearly 1000 words in a 15-page, single-spaced paper in 12-point type.

Getting the look right wasn't the only challenge MSCHF faced when designing the font. Times New Roman is a licensed property, so Times Newer Roman is technically a twist on Nimbus Roman No.9 L (1)—an open-source font that's meant to look indistinguishable from Times New Roman.

If you'd like to test out the font for yourself (for curiosity's sake, of course; definitely not to use on your term paper), you can download Times Newer Roman for free.

[h/t Fast Company]

The Most (and Least) Valuable College Majors, Ranked

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iStock

While choosing a college degree shouldn’t be entirely a matter of following the money, most students do want to know that their chosen field of study will eventually lead to a paying job. But the most valuable college major probably isn’t the one you’d think. A new study finds that actuarial science majors make the most money after graduation, according to Forbes.

To determine the most valuable college majors, Bankrate analyzed 2016 data from the U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey to see how many people with bachelor’s degrees were employed in a job related to their major. The survey looked at data related to 162 college majors, analyzing unemployment rates, incomes, and the number of people with higher degrees. These factors were weighted to show which jobs pay the most, have the lowest unemployment rates, and require the least schooling.

The data showed that people with actuarial science degrees—who go to on to become risk assessors in the insurance and finance industries, among other jobs—make an average of $108,658 a year, with an unemployment rate of just 2.3 percent. Compare that to people with a degree in something like clinical psychology (No. 160 on the list) who make an average of $51,022 and have to contend with a 4.8 percent unemployment rate. The study also found that actuarial science is a valuable degree because most graduates don’t go on to get advanced degrees, meaning those high wages aren’t going toward paying off grad school debt. Only 22 percent of those actuarial science students went on to get master’s degrees or doctorates.

Below are the 10 most valuable degrees and their average annual incomes. These jobs pay, on average, between $96,000 and $130,000 a year.

1. Actuarial science
2. Zoology
3. Nuclear engineering
4. Health and medical preparatory programs
5. Applied mathematics
6. Pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration
7. Molecular biology
8. Mechanical engineering
9. Civil engineering (tie)
9. Finance (tie)

And these are the least valuable, making between $40,000 and $51,000 a year, on average:

1. Miscellaneous fine arts
2. Composition and speech
3. Clinical psychology
4. Cosmetology services and culinary arts
5. Visual and performing arts
6. Human services and community organization
7. Educational psychology
8. Drama and theater arts
9. Interdisciplinary and multi-disciplinary studies (general)
10. Library science

If you don’t have an interest in math and engineering, don’t be too dismayed. Plenty of those with liberal arts degrees still manage to make a living after graduation. Even if your drama degree doesn’t lead to a job in Hollywood, it isn’t necessarily a waste. But if you’re debating between mechanical engineering and civil engineering, we recommend going mechanical.

You can view the entire study here.

[h/t Forbes]

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