15 Podcasts That Will Make You Smarter

One of the more underrated benefits of the internet era has been access to quality radio style programming at any time of the day or night. Just like DVRs have freed us from having to adhere to rigid television program schedules, podcasting has enabled us to carry excellent radio with us for listening at any time. I struggle with not having enough hours in the day to listen to it all, because there is truly so much quality out there. Here are 15 podcasts in particular that will make you a smarter, more well rounded, and better informed person. Enjoy, and please leave your comments!

15. EconTalk

Econ-Talk

Duration: Roughly an hour

Hosted by professor Russel Roberts, EconTalk is the number one podcast for economics. With “clear and thoughtful conversations about economics”, the show brings the theory behind economics to situations and subjects that a wide variety of people can relate to. The show is usually a one on one discussion between Roberts and another guest.

Check out EconTalk HERE.

14. The Naked Scientists

The-Naked-Scientists

Duration: 60 mins

The Naked Scientists is an interactive podcast covering topical science news stories as well as answering audience questions. The show has featured several distinguished guests such as Alec Jeffreys (the discoverer of DNA fingerprints) and James D. Watson (the co-discoverer of DNA structure). The Naked Scientists have won several awards during their run, including the European Podcast Award.

Check out The Naked Scientists HERE.

13. Common Sense with Dan Carlin

Common-Sense-Dan-Carlin

Duration: Roughly 1 Hour

Dan Carlin is one of those people that has the amazing ability to present all side of an argument but remain non-partisan while doing so. Common Sense takes no prisoners, making all aspects of government and politics fair game for Carlin’s quick witted criticism. Known lovingly as “George Costanza on steroids”, Carlin’s podcast will keep you on your toes and your brain in shape!

Check out Common Sense with Dan Carlin HERE.

12. The Writer’s Block

The-Writers-Block

Duration: 30 Mins

This weekly reading series is targeted mainly at 25-40 year olds, appealing to young, intelligent, edgy listeners. Distributed through NPR, The Writer’s Block features stories, essays and poetry by all kinds of authors, and all kinds of genres, from non-fiction to plays!

Check out The Writer’s Block HERE.

11. The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe

The-Skeptics-Guide-To-The-Universe

Duration: 60 Mins

The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe is a podcast hosted by Steven Novella and his panel of “skeptical rogues”. The podcast discusses myths, conspiracy theories, pseudoscience and paranormal discoveries with a certain level of disbelief and, well, skepticism. Novella and his colleagues have been instrumental in debating with anti-vaccine activists, “homeopathy practitioners” and those who debate the connection between HIV and AIDS.

Check out The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe HERE.

10. Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me!

Wait-wait-dont-tell-me

Duration: 60 Mins

This hour long “quiz game show” is hosted by playwright and actor, Peter Sagal. Every week, three panelists are chosen to compete on the show. Listeners are also encouraged to participate by phone or email, sometimes being chosen as contestants themselves. Prizes for winning often include Carl Kasell recording voicemail on contestants home machines!

Check out Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me! HERE.

9. The Sound of Young America

the-sound-of-young-america

Duration: 30 Mins

Based in Los Angeles, The Sound of Young America is hosted by Jesse Thorn, who spends segments interviewing popular arts and cultural personalities. Guests have included Art Spiegelman, David Cross, Patton Oswalt and even Ira Glass. The Sound of Young America got it’s start as a college station back in 2000 and made the jump to podcast form in 2004. The show has been mentioned in TIME Magazine and Salon.com, who said, “If you’ve never heard of The Sound of Young America, The Sound of Young America is the greatest radio show you’ve never heard of”. Well, now you don’t have an excuse, you’ve heard of it, now you just have to listen to it!

Check out The Sound of Young America HERE.

8. Keith and The Girl Comedy Talk Show

Keith-and-the-girl

Duration: Roughly an Hour

Keith and the Girl is one of the most popular comedy podcasts to hit the airwaves in the past 5 years. Hosted by couple Keith Malley and his singer girlfriend Chemda Khalili, the show features the pair discussing the daily adventures of their lives as well as current events. The show has over 50,000 listeners and has been ranked in the Top Ten Podcasts by Podcast Alley.

Check out Keith and The Girl HERE.

7. NewsPod

Newspod

Duration: 35 Mins

This daily program presents highlights from other BBC news programs, including BBC Radio 1, BBC Radio 5, BBC Asian Network and many more. NewsPod brings the quickest news updates with a wide variety of topics and informed speakers.

Check out NewsPod HERE.

6. All in the Mind

All-in-the-mind

Duration: 30 Mins

All in the Mind host Natasha Mitchell presents one of the most unique podcasts, delving deeply into the human mind, brain and behavior. Topics include depression, addiction, consciousness and free will. This podcast brings educated, although unexpected, voices and themes to challenge the listener to take a closer look at the mind.

Check out All in the Mind HERE.

5. Material World

Material-World

Duration: Roughly an hour

Each week on Material World, scientists discuss and describe their work and projects. The program is split into two sections, spending 15 minutes on each topic, and interviewing scientists and engineers. Although this is one of the most scientifically informative podcasts, it’s only downfall lies in the abundance of cheesy science jokes and puns.

Check out Material World HERE.

4. The Dave Ramsey Show Podcast

Dave-Ramsey-Show

Duration: 3 Hours

The Dave Ramsey Show is a self-syndicated program that takes live calls regarding personal finance. Ramsey offers step by step guidance to listeners experiencing financial difficulties. The defining factor between Ramsey’s show, and other financial podcasts, is Ramsey’s willingness to take more than just the mathematical/statistical aspects into account. Ramsey relates to his audience through a spiritual and emotional connection, making him more like a friend or mentor than just a financial adviser. There are many roads to financial security and stability, but listening to Ramsey’s common sense proclamations is a great motivation for keeping on track to anyone who struggled with debt or their finances.

Check out The Dave Ramsey Show HERE

3. TED Talks

ted-talks-ideas-worth-spreading

Duration: Varies

TED talks is one of those rare shows that spans a large quantity of topics, without sacrificing the quality of discussion. This series of lectures features some of the best concepts (”ideas worth spreading”) as well as amazing speakers. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown, Jane Goodall, Al Gore and Bill Gates have all been noted speakers. By April of 2009, the talks had been heard over 100 Million times by over 15 million people.

Check out TED Talks HERE.

2. NPR Intelligence Squared

NPR-Intelligence-Squared-US

Duration: 60 mins

This NPR podcast brings an “Oxford-style debating to America”, your basic motion, one moderator and 3 on 3 debating. NPR markets this podcast toward a wide range of people, it’s discussions including American religions, Hollywood, and even terrorist organizations. The topics are timed with world events, but this podcast tends to shine a light on events you might not be hearing about on the nightly news.

Check out NPR Intelligence Squared HERE.

1. This American Life

This-American-Life

Duration: 60 Minutes

This hour long program, hosted by Ira Glass, is a journalistic non-fiction program, featuring essays, memoirs, short fiction and much more. The show, which first aired on the radio in 1995, is one of the most listened podcasts of our generation. The show’s incredible value was recently on display when it tackled the housing crisis and economic collapse with two episodes entitled “The Giant Pool of Money” and “The Giant Pool of Money Part 2″. TAL excels at taking the esoteric and making them understandable – relatable even – to the average Joe. Each week’s episode tackles one issue or topic in a variety of ways, ensuring that you will come away each week with a deeper understanding of the world.

Check out This American Life HERE.

Chegg.com Textbook Rental Service

Does it bother you when you spend hundreds of dollars at your local college bookstore on books for your current semester? Does it bother you even more to find out that you get pennies back during the buyback period for what you paid so much for? Well if you are like many other college students who buy books and get frustrated when they find out that the book they paid $150 for is only worth $20 at buyback, then maybe renting textbooks would be an option for you.

I recently had the chance to try textbook rentals out for myself. Of course, since I was so use to purchasing textbooks, I was hesitant to try out rentals, but I gave it a shot anyway. I used Chegg Textbook Rentals for my books last semester. Overall, my personal experience with Chegg was positive. There were only a few things that bothered me about them, however it was not bad enough to make me stop doing business with them.

How Chegg Works

So how do textbook rentals work? With Chegg, you go onto their site and enter your ISBN number for the book that you need. They will display the book information if they have it in their inventory for rental. Keep in mind that they do not have every single book available for rent, however so far I have not had an issue with lack of inventory. Once the book information is displayed, you have the option to rent the book for a semester, quarter or summer session. You can even alter the dates to match the class dates for your school. Once you have the book you want, you do the traditional checkout by entering your credit card information for payment of the rental. You will receive your book within seven to ten days. You will also be given the return date when you are due to send your book back to Chegg. There are no shipping charges for returning books back; you just log on to Chegg, print out a label and return the book(s) via UPS.

Money Saved

When I first checked out Chegg’s rental prices, I was a little skeptical. The prices were so cheap that I thought it couldn’t possibly be right. I just did not understand how a brand new textbook at my college bookstore cost $160 but Chegg was going to rent it to me for a semester for $55. However I ordered the books anyway and my total rental for four classes was $232. I rented books for four classes. The cost of the books for me to purchase brand new from my college bookstore would have been $562.

Customer Service

Chegg’s customer service department is excellent. I had an issue where I did not receive a specific book that I ordered. I sent an email to Chegg through their ‘contact us’ link on their website. Within twenty-four hours, I received a phone call from one of their customer service representatives offering to help resolve my issue ASAP.

Going Green

Chegg has jumped on the going green bandwagon and for every book that you rent, they plant a tree to try to preserve the environment. It is true that we are destroying our planet and Chegg is trying to do their part to save it.

Other Important Notes

  • Chegg has a buyback program. If you have college textbooks, you can see if Chegg will purchase them. You will receive cash or a Chegg credit.
  • The books that Chegg rents are in excellent condition. The ones I had even looked brand new and there was no writing or highlighting in any of the books I used.
  • Chegg has a purchase option. You are able to convert your rental to a purchase by paying additional charges.
  • There is a thirty-day refund guarantee, just in case you drop a class or your class is canceled for some reason.
  • Chegg does charge late fees for late returns so keep that in mind when renting your book. However in my experience, the return date for my book was three weeks after the last day of the semester so there was no reason for my book to be late getting back to Chegg.

My only complaint with Chegg was that they send some of their books via third party shippers. So you may order five books and receive two from Chegg, one from another company, and the other two from another company. They do advise that you may receive multiple shipments, however they try their hardest to be sure you have tracking information for each of the shipments.

Overall, Chegg is a great alternative for students on a budget. It is perfect for students who do not keep their textbooks for reference and for students who do not write in their books. Before you buy, check out Chegg for rentals. You may save yourself a chunk of change simply by doing what people have been doing throughout time: borrowing.

How to Make Your Commute More Productive – 7 Tips

It’s amazing how much time we spend commuting to school.

Here are 7 productivity tips for your daily commute:

1. Listen to audiobooks or podcasts to expand your mind.
One easy way to stay productive while driving is to simply listen to audiobooks or podcasts that interest you. Expose yourself to new ideas and new subjects. You can also polish your foreign language skills by choosing podcasts or audiobooks in that language.

2. Review flash cards.
When I was an undergrad, my walk from my dorm room to my classes was nearly 2 miles. I spent this time reviewing flash cards for my classical Latin and Greek language courses. Here are some great websites to download flashcards:

3. Set your goals for the day.
Take a few minutes to think about your goals for the week. If you’re driving, you can record your goals on a digital voice recorder, or use your phone’s voice mail system.

4. Critique and proof your papers.
If you take public transportation, pull out a paper you’re working on and start proofing. Don’t just look for grammatical mistakes, but also analyze the argumentation and structure.

5. Review class notes.
It’s difficult to get any serious reading done while commuting, so that’s why skimming class notes is a great way to stay productive. This is only recommended if you walk to class or take public transportation.

6. Return phone calls and/or text messages.
If you owe anyone a phone call, then you could use this time to make phone calls. You could also take this time to call up classmates and set a time to study.

7. Practice breathing exercises.
An easy way to help you reduce anxiety and stress is to practice deep breathing. There are a number of other benefits — like helping you feel more awake, and helping you think more clearly. It’s a perfect way to spend your commute.

How do you stay productive during your commute?

[studenthacks.org]

Tuition is Recession Proof!

With many colleges and universities raising tuition by as much as 30 percent this year, how does this play in with the “recession” that you and I are facing today? Also, if you remember, back in February $17 billion was appropriated to federal student aid, yet in light of this, why is my fee bill from this year significantly higher than that of last years?

Recent studies have come to the conclusion that increase in federal financial aid actually causes an inevitable increase in tuition, so in a sense, colleges are raising the cost of tuition in an effort to compete with the “charitable” efforts of government. The government actually subsidized these tuition hikes, after all a college is not different from any other business that wants to maximize its profits. For example, if the government guaranteed that anyone who wants to buy plasma televisions from Best Buy would get aid from the government, you can bet that Best Buy would raise the price of plasma televisions, in order to make as much money as possible.

“The $17 billion that will be appropriated to federal student aid will continue to fuel skyrocketing college tuitions. Federal financial aid has created a catch-22 for those trying to help students and their families pay their way through college. The goal of federal aid is to reduce the cost that students have to pay to attend college, but the irony is that more federal aid leads to an increase in tuition.
The reason this happens is supply and demand. More aid means more demand. Higher demand leads to a higher price.  Suddenly students that might not have been able to afford college can suddenly afford to pay. Colleges can raise tuition because they know that the government will give more aid if tuition becomes more expensive.”

To back up these claims, I went to the actual College Board website to do some research….of course I had to do some snooping around to find the two different pages that deal with increasing tuition and increasing aid…funny they don’t put them on the same page. They say that “both total grant aid per undergraduate and total federal loans per undergraduate increased by about 5.5% in 2007-08, after adjusting for inflation,” however, just a few clicks over, they also say, “private four-year [tuition is] $25,143 (up 5.9 percent from last year) [and] public four-year [tuition is]$6,585 (up 6.4 percent from last year).”

And so with all this going on, I have made it my duty to bring such news to the average college student….and not just bad news, but good news as well from smart ways to make money to smart ways to save money.

“Waste neither time nor money, but make the best use of both. Without industry and frugality, nothing will do, and with them everything.” Benjamin Franklin