Giving Thanks and Giving Back: A Family Spends Thanksgiving Volunteering…at a Country Line Dancing Bar

Local church youth group volunteers making some plates to go

This guest post is contributed by Jung Fitzpatrick, a former AmeriCorps VISTA member, and staffer here at

When I called my mom about going home for the Thanksgiving holiday, she told me she was going to volunteer at the Brandin’ Iron. (You may know the BI from a quick mechanical bull riding scene in Borat.)

BI was going to serve a Thanksgiving meal to the hungry.  What else was I supposed to do but say, “Hey, count me in!” I loved the idea of volunteering with my mom.

On the day, my mom and I along with my brother, Sean, and his friend, Will, all headed to BI.  My mom country line dances every week at the BI and heard about the volunteer opportunity from there.  As it turns out, Continue reading

Prospective Grad School Students Meet Schools Face-to-Face at the Idealist Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good

From a recent grad fair (via Julia Smith)

Originally posted on the Idealist homepage blog by Jung Fitzpatrick, who manages Idealist’s Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center.

Tomorrow we’ll kick off the 2009 fall season of our Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good, but instead of doing the normal spiel about where (see the full list of cities) and when (Sept. 10th through Nov. 3rd), I thought I’d step back and answer the question: What are “graduate degrees for the public good”?

It’s a question I get often. Basically it’s any graduate degree that will help you make the difference you want to see in the world.

Want to provide better services for the homeless community? Depending on the approach you’re interested in, a degree in social work or public health could prepare you to provide direct service, or one in nonprofit management could help you run a homeless shelter more efficiently.

If you’re passionate about finding solutions to global climate change, maybe a degree in public policy and a certificate in environmental studies? Or the reverse? If you’re working with both nonprofit and governmental organizations having a degree in public administration might also be useful. If you want to work internationally on the issue, you may also consider a degree in international affairs.

There is no one way to go about making a difference – and those are just some examples of the many graduate education options that a prospective graduate student might consider in each case! At our grad fairs you can meet representatives from a wide variety of international social impact graduate programs and learn more about how their degree offerings can help you serve the public good.

To register (for free!) please click here and then click on the city where you’d like to attend a fair. If you register, you’ll get reminders, tips, and any last minute updates for the event.

Thanks for helping us help you make the world a better place. We’ll see you at the grad fairs!

For more about graduate degrees, follow along on Facebook or Twitter @gradresources. Also check out graduate education-related podcasts.

Idealist Graduate Admissions Fairs – Next Week in Washington DC and New York

Social impact professionals at all stages in their careers get a chance to meet representatives from a school 2 and seekerrange of public-service focused grad schools next week in DC and New York. The events are free, after work, and include information sessions.

Idealist’s 2009 season of Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good launches next week in Washington, DC, and New York.

These events are unique among graduate admissions fairs in that they are completely geared toward degree areas that our Idealist network is looking for—ranging from nonprofit and business management to public policy and social work. Education, divinity, public health, and Continue reading

New Podcast: Grad School Financial Aid for Professionals

Photo via the East SA blog

Photo via the East SA blog

The newest Idealist podcast features Regina Garner, Director of Student Financial Services for the Monterey Institute of International Studies.’s Jung Fitzpatrick talks with Regina who dispels some common myths that working professionals have about qualifying for financial aid and to learn more about the ins and outs of financial aid for graduate education. Listen now!

Whether you’re thinking about graduate school–or are already on your way–this podcast helps answer many questions about the financial aid process. Topics include the basics of how financial aid is determined, the role of The College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 in debt forgiveness and loan repayment as well as other issues for professionals transitioning to graduate school.

If you have more questions about grad school, check out our free Public Service Graduate Education Resource Center, which in addition to articles on financing your graduate education, includes information on preparing for, applying to and alternatives to graduate school. You can also post questions to our Graduate Education Forum! Follow Idealist’s GradResources on Twitter.

Also be sure to check out the upcoming Graduate Degree Fairs for the Public Good this summer in Washington D.C. and New York City and this fall in 16 cities in the United States and Canada.

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College Cost Reduction Act – Basic Facts and New Resources to Help You

Campus building

Update, July 1, 2009! Check out this post about applying for Income-based repayment from your lender!

This July 1st, the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) of 2007 will take effect and includes provisions to make undergraduate and graduate education more affordable for aspiring social-impact professionals.

The CCRAA is a complicated piece of legislation that, if you take advantage of it, can help you retire college and grad school debt early.

The main programs that the CCRAA has created include:

Income-Based Repayment (IBR) — Caps monthly direct and guaranteed (FFEL) student loan payments based on the borrower’s income and family size. According to IBRinfo, “For most eligible borrowers, IBR loan payments will be less than 10 percent of their income – and even smaller for borrowers with low earnings. IBR will also forgive remaining Continue reading