You may see them marked as spam in your email. You might get a call from an unknown number. You could even be contacted through a direct message on Instagram. “Get rich quick” scammers try to reach you in any way they can in order to convince you to funnel your money through them, all while promising you fast, easy money.
A constant hustle for funds can lead college students to questionable investing and entrepreneurial pursuits, the most dangerous of which are “get rich quick” scams. Instead of actually making a profit, students may just be helping the scammer maintain and spread their scheme.
By not investing in false opportunities, you not only avoid losing your own money, but you potentially save someone else from losing theirs as well. Here are 6 tips to avoid falling into a “get rich quick” scam, so you can save your money for real investment opportunities down the line.
1. Know the Tricks.
The first step in avoiding “get rich quick” scams is to know what you are up against. By knowing the common schemes that young adults and college students fall for, you can identify them without the hassle of extensive research.
- Ponzi scheme – This scam, named after the infamous Charles Ponzi, can lead victims to believe for an extended period of time that their investments really are paying off. The scammers take the money of new “clients” to convince old ones of growth. This scam only works so long as the victims don’t demand all of their money back and the firm keeps pulling in more “investors.” A company with abnormally steady returns could be utilizing a Ponzi scheme.
- Pyramid scheme – These schemes are easy traps for students to fall into, and they are difficult to catch. Rather than selling a meaningful product, this business model relies on recruitment. Victims are encouraged to recruit more people, and joining usually requires some sort of upfront payment, like a membership fee or the purchasing of a product to resell. Pyramid schemes are not sustainable; when they do collapse, the vast majority of recruits will have lost money rather than gained it.
- Low-risk, High-reward – The very name of this scam should tip you off that it might be a false promise. In investing, high returns are a reward for risking a lot. However, scammers will often promise the victim a high reward for a small sum, “guaranteed.” Be wary of anyone who promises too much, too quickly.
- Becoming a “Partner” – Scammers might offer you a share in their fake or illegitimate company. This may seem like an amazing opportunity, but be wary of taking on additional liability. A partner in a firm may be responsible for its actions, which can lead to some serious trouble if it’s been up to no good.
- The Advance-Fee Scam – This category includes the infamous Nigerian Prince and Spanish Prisoner scams. In this case, the scammer will offer a huge sum of money, which can supposedly only be accessed if the victim provides them with a small up-front payment. Modern scammers can hack your friends’ email accounts and use them to ask you for money, or send you text messages claiming to be someone you know or an organization you trust.
2. Ask yourself: Why me?
Why were you specifically given the opportunity for this investment? Where did you find out about it? Was it from some guy you kind of knew in high school, a cold call, or a random internet ad? All of these sources could very likely lead to a scam.
Remember that pyramid schemes rely on recruitment techniques to perpetuate their scams. They draw college students into the scheme in order to trick exponentially more people into investing in the business, and in the end, almost everyone loses.
You should also keep in mind that scammers often target people who they believe are easy marks, such as the older generation or the inexperienced and young generation.
3. Google and stalk.
Do your research before investing a single cent. You may already do this for other products, but it can be easy to lose perspective when easy money is on the line. Google can serve as an uncomplicated way to check for the validity of a company, though sometimes Google is not enough. Many scammers are becoming more sophisticated and have legitimized their web presence.
Even if you do see evidence of online reviews, look for financial documents that are approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC). While perhaps overly complicated and difficult to read, you should also check their 10-K (a company’s annual report) to make sure the information available at least matches the information the salesperson gave you. This will take you one step closer to verifying the opportunity being offered to you is legitimate. Unfortunately, SEC-verified documents are only available for publicly traded companies, so you may have to request documents from the salesperson. As with anything they give you, take it with a grain of salt.
4. Don’t rush yourself.
Scammers will often attempt to instill a sense of extreme urgency in you with fake deadlines or warnings—don’t fall for it. Any real investment opportunity would give you the chance to thoroughly vet them first. Good companies prefer their investors to be knowledgeable and informed, which is why they self-report a lot of valuable information. It’s the fake ones that don’t want you to do proper research.
5. Is it too good to be true?
After you’ve done your research and seen all of the numbers, make sure you really question if the deal is too good to be true. If making money quickly was easy, everyone would be rich. Any real investment comes with some risk; if the salesperson attempts to assure you that there is none, then they are either exaggerating or scamming you. Be wary and carefully weigh the risks of any investment, even if you’re certain it’s not an illegal scam.
As a student, it can also be difficult to make this determination. It’s a good idea to talk to an independent authority before investing any large sum of money. Exercise caution when in doubt.
6. Report, report, report!
If after all of these steps you believe you have encountered a scammer, report them! The Federal Trade Commission is the primary agency you would report a scam to, but there may be a local, more immediate organization that can act faster. For example, many universities have an Information Security Office where you can report scams, especially those you encounter through your university email or on campus. By reporting fraudulent activity, you may be able to help another college student avoid falling for a “get rich quick” scam.
Is Rate My Professors Worth the Hassle? 6 Reasons You Should Avoid It
When it comes to choosing classes, students often turn to Rate My Professors to learn more about which professors and courses to take. However, with lack of accurate information and biased opinions, Rate My Professors isn’t as helpful as students think.
Class schedules are the bane of a college student’s existence. Creating a perfect one is impossible and picking professors is a gamble. Unless students can see the future, they won’t know if a class is going to be interesting or if the teaching style is going to be boring.
Students have to create backup schedules and sometimes even backups to the backup schedule. It’s unpredictable. The only way to get some insight into the process is by doing research.
There are a couple of ways students can guess at how a class will be. First, universities provide descriptions of courses, and departments post more specific information on their own websites. This usually helps students decide if the material will be interesting and something they want to learn.
The other way to gain perspective on a class is through other students. Turning to friends who have had the professor or taken the specific course before can be useful. However, with large universities, a friend may not have even heard of the one in question. So, students then turn to the “trusty” old site, Rate My Professors.
Rate My Professors is a website where anonymous users post reviews on professors and their courses so that others can gain insight. People have been using this site for over a decade, ranking quality and difficulty of the class on a scale of five with a brief explanation.
The problem with this site is that it’s really inaccurate. Relying solely on this information is a mistake. Students shouldn’t trust Rate My Professors, and here’s why:
1. Posts are outdated.
Sometimes, users haven’t posted about a professor in years. Julia Keefer from New York University has 6 ratings, the newest from 2010. Similarly, Michael Himes from Boston College hasn’t been rated since 2011.
These professors still teach at the universities yet they are being judged by opinions from ten years ago. Teaching styles, material, and people change over the years. It is inaccurate to trust opinions that are so old.
2.Opinions are the extremes.
When someone posts a review on a restaurant, they either loved it or had the worst dinner of their life. The same goes for Rate My Professors. Alan Fridlund from the University of California Santa Barbara is, as one student puts it, “a divisive professor. Some people love his humor and passion for the subject while others hate his politics.”
His ratings are all over the place. Some give him a 4.0 to 5.0 quality rating while others give him 3.0 or even a 1.0. They say he is a “Very funny guy, [and] makes what he talks about seem very interesting.”
However, a student also said, “I found many things he said to be quite inaccurate in his lectures. His Republican viewpoints often collided with his teachings, and he misinformed so many students.” With drastic viewpoints, Fridlund seems questionable. Which review should potential students for his classes trust?
3.Few ratings give good (or bad) overall reviews.
With any collection of data, the more input, the better the conclusion. Professors can have hundreds of ratings, which provides a more accurate judgment, but they can also have as few as three or less.
Cameron Myler from New York University has one rating, which happens to be a good one. This gives Myler an overall quality of 5.0. However her fellow colleague Jing Yang, also has one rating that gives her an overall quality of 3.0.
4.Professors have no reviews or a page.
Some professors don’t have any reviews at all, as is the case for Lisa Samuel from New York University. There are also times where they do not even have a page on the site, like Elena Kalodner-Martin from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This can make students jump to the conclusion that the professor is new to the school and lacks experience, which can deter them from taking the class.
5.The course isn’t reviewed.
Specific courses oftentimes don’t have any reviews, but the professor is rated on others. Judging them based on a different class is jumping to conclusions. They may teach a 100 level course in a completely different way than an upper-level one.
6.Users don’t provide details.
Students can be lazy. They want to help other college kids, but they don’t want to put in too much effort. Descriptions on Rate My Professors can be very short. For Harold Peterson from Boston College, his three reviews say, “Best professor ever,” one is blank, and, “Very easy. Don’t take anyone else for Principles of Economics.” Judging Peterson based on those few words is unfair.
If students are going to use Rate My Professors, they have to look beyond the site. They shouldn’t trust these anonymous opinions alone. University websites provide professors’ profiles through faculty directories. This gives more information on their qualifications, accomplishments, and personality.
Students can also ask classmates that they’ve worked with before. Asking others within a major, increases the likelihood that they have taken the course or had the professor. Alternatively, students can post in Facebook groups to see what other peers who’ve recently taken classes with the professor have to say.
In the end, picking a professor is still a guessing game. Thankfully, the Add/Drop period at the beginning of the semester allows students to change their mind after attending the class a few times. It’s okay to change a schedule once the semester begins. Students have to be happy with their courses in order to gain the most from them and keep a healthy mind.
Are Ethical Fashion Brands the Solution for a Better World?
Fast fashion brands have grown in popularity for their low-cost clothing and convenient accessibility online. However, these brands bring about major consequences in the world. From maltreatment of workers to heavy environmental damage.
First, the workers in the fast fashion industry are often underpaid and overworked. Some are abused and must work in poor conditions, such as overseas. Human beings should not have to undergo this brutal treatment or face such exploitation. Instead, they should be paid fair labor wages for their hard work, time, and efforts.
In addition to this, fast fashion heavily contributes to the pollution of our water. After fast fashion brands manufacture clothes made of synthetic fabrics, consumers buy them and wash them. Every time someone washes these materials, it leads to polyester pollution.
Since the water inside washing machines, which is now contaminated with microfibers from these synthetic fabrics, streams into fresh bodies of water, a large portion of wildlife actually ingest these unhealthy and inorganic fabrics.
Another impact on the environment is excessive waste. These fast fashion companies produce clothing in bulk, leading to more than what is necessary.
If people don’t buy all of the excess inventory, then it goes to waste. The clothing made of synthetic fabrics is incinerated or goes to landfills and never decomposes.
Lastly, the fashion industry is responsible for 1.2 billion tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Fast fashion also uses up 79 billion cubic meters of fresh water every year. All of these factors are destroying the Earth’s ecosystem.
These effects make it important for all of us to do our part in decreasing our consumption of the industry. Thankfully, there are many ways to address the problems above.
First, you can do research on different brands with the help of the internet. You can find out if your go-to stores are actually the perpetrators of workplace abuse and stop shopping there, and research brands that are kind and caring towards their employees.
With more research, you can also look for organic and vegan brands. Their fabrics, which most likely consist of organic cotton, won’t do as much damage to the Earth. There are hundreds of these stores out there, and with online shopping, it’s easy to buy from them.
Another environmentally friendly option is shopping at thrift stores. They sell gently used clothing that isn’t ready to be thrown away. If you live in a big city, there are many thrift stores you can visit. There are also online thrift stores such as ThredUP, Poshmark, and Depop.
When thrifting, you can find unique and vintage items that can’t be found elsewhere. This can upgrade your closet significantly.
In a similar vein, you can rent or borrow clothes online. Apps like My Wardrobe Hq enables people to borrow clothes from each other. An American company called Rent the Runway allows people to use designer clothes for events. These clothing methods lead to less fast fashion consumption and less clothing waste.
Sometimes, you won’t want an item anymore even if it is still in good quality to wear. Instead of throwing it away, you can give it to someone who wants it. Decrease waste by donating your old clothes to charity or taking them to thrift stores.
You can decrease water waste by washing your clothes less often. This puts less fibers into the environment and keeps your clothes in better shape. Fewer washes mean less damage to your clothes. It’s also the perfect excuse for less laundry and fewer chores to do.
All the ways above can be integrated into your lifestyle and shopping habits. The shift doesn’t have to be overnight but can happen in waves. Every action counts and leads toward a better world. We can all do something to decrease our support for fast fashion and shop more sustainably. With these ethical fashion practices, we can make a huge difference.
How the pandemic will contribute to negative social-emotional development
During this pandemic, students across the country have lamented their lack of social interactions, missed their friends, and developed new hobbies to fill their days. The assumption has always been that COVID-19 quarantine is temporary.
Soon, students will be back on campus and the social scene they’ve been missing for the past several months will roar back to life. But by the time life does get back to “normal,” they may have missed out on something much more permanent: growing up.
Usually, when we think of social-emotional development, we think of babies learning to decode facial expressions or to play with other kids their age. But in actuality, we continue to grow and develop emotionally our entire lives, and one of the most pivotal moments in that development is during college.
This kind of development is another perhaps unavoidable casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic. Everyone, from kindergartners to college students, has been pulled from their development and left stagnant in safe and unchallenging social isolation.
For college-age people, this is the period of your life where you are supposed to finally grow up. You might learn to live alone or make friends independent of your family. But throughout you have an institution that, if it’s doing its job right, provides you with a little safety net should you fail.
The social-emotional development college students gain is hard to measure but incredibly important. It helps students thrive in a non-academic setting, fostering healthy relationships and learning to independently manage themselves.
There are few other times in students’ lives where they can learn to build that network of support around themselves, knowing that they still have an institution to fall back on.
During this pandemic, many students came back home, their fellow students scattering across the country and the world. One consequence of returning to a childhood home is the risk of reverting back to high school years and lifestyles. In college, many students develop their personalities and new responsibilities that may be stripped away upon returning home.
Social worker, Claire Lerner, wrote in Psychology Today that noticeable regression in children during times of stress is very common, particularly in the time of COVID-19 where stress seems to permeate the air. Even as someone who is technically an adult, when students aren’t in an environment that promotes growth, then it’s all the easier to backslide or at the very least, remain stagnant.
And social-emotional development isn’t just a meaningless phrase—it can have real importance both academically and professionally. One famous study in the Journal of Counseling & Development found that emotional growth was a better indicator of students persisting (not dropping out) than just academic success.
Students who are well-adjusted are able to cope with the stress of academics and social situations in college, and presumably, the real world better than students who merely get good grades and test scores.
According to another study in the Social Innovations Journal, the real value of a college degree is not necessarily just knowledge actively gained, but in the emotional intelligence and maturity achieved.
David Castro and Cynthia Clyde, the authors of the study, wrote that college is really about learning soft skills, not just technical expertise that is often more job-specific. With school going virtual, students are missing out on the opportunity to develop many of the skills they pointed out like, “communication, negotiation, the ability to work in teams and team-building itself.”
As long as social distancing and isolation continue, students will continue to miss out on deeply important social connections and moments of emotional growth. As more and more universities unveil their plans for fall, it looks like fall will be a new edition of “Zoom school” for students around the country.
The only way for schools to safely reopen is if this virus is stopped in its tracks, and this seems to be quite a challenge for the United States as is has so far, failed to do so. Face-to-face interactions are priceless and an essential part of the college experience. Social distancing is not just about missing your friends—it’s also about losing the chance to transition naturally into adulthood.
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