Sunday, February 10, 2008

Sales Turning Up Poem

10 Amplifying Ways To Turn Up Your Sales Volume

1. Make your potential customers forget about the competition. Just tell them to forget with a factual and believable reason why they should.

2. Joint venture with your competition if you can't beat them. You could agree to work together and beat the other competition then share the profits.

3. Visit chat rooms were your potential customers would gather. You can lurk and do market research or mention your product to people.

4. Make your web site sticky by building a large directory of web sites your visitors would enjoy. It saves them precious time searching for them.

5. Start a free-to-join business association from your web site. Just ask all members to place your association logo and link on their web site.

6. Make extra revenue for your web site by selling advertising space on your web site, in your e-zine, in your free ebooks, on your classified ad site, etc.

7. Switch your marketing plan when your market dies for your product. Be flexible and redesign your product for a different market.

8. Make your web site worth revisiting. Give your visitors original content, free ebooks, information web site links, free useful software, etc.

9. Build your opt-in e-mail list using an FFA (free-for-all links page). People can submit links to your links page and you can send them a thanks e-mail.

10. Reward your customers for giving you product feedback. It could be discounted products, useful software, information products, etc.

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Sales Gaining Ode

10 Ways To Gain An Avalanche Of Sales

1. Utilize holidays to increase your visitors or sales. You could give away free electronic greeting cards, hold discounts, send customers holiday cards, etc.

2. Become well known by speaking or chatting at seminars. The seminars could be held offline, in a chat room, by telephone or via e-mail.

3. Start a free ebook club on your web site. People could sign up to receive a free ebook from you each month. Just include your product ad in the ebooks.

4. Give away your products or expertise to internet business newbies. Just ask them in return to place your link on their web site.

5. Trigger your visitors to buy your products by using colors. You should totally relax and think about which colors would compel prospects to order.

6. Let your past offline customers know about your web site. When they visit and sign up to your e-zine it will remind them to shop at your online store.

7. Create a long term relationship with your entire customer base. You can stay in touch with them through an e-zine, with greeting cards, etc.

8. Repeat the 3 most powerful or appealing benefits throughout your ad copy. Repetition can brand your product's benefits quicker in your prospects mind.

9. Give your new customers surprise free gifts. This will increase their loyalty and give you more word of mouth advertising.

10. Make your long ad copy interesting enough so people click through to the next web page. If it's not, they won't take the time to click and read more.

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Service Level Agreement Serenade

Service Level Agreement (SLA) Boot Camp

Service Level Agreements, or "SLA's" are tricky but useful mechanisms for managing the risk of an on-going relationship with IT service providers. Unfortunately, most SLA's that show up in service contracts as worthless, cosmetic paper additions. SLA's can be extremely powerful tools to help you and your service provider get the most out of a relationship.

What is an SLA?

A service level agreement (SLA), in its most basic form, is a contractual commitment to meet specific goals. If, for example, you sign up for a hosting contract with a provider, you may desire an SLA that measures the up-time of your website. If you outsource your help desk, you may want an SLA that measures the time it takes to answer the phone. Usually, an SLA includes a penalty and/or reward framework. For example, many web hosting companies offer a refund based on the number of hours your website is unavailable. On the flip-side, an SLA may include an extra bonus to your help desk provider if all calls are answered within 30 seconds. The following are typical examples of SLA's:

"All help desk call will be answered within 90 seconds"
"95% of all bills will be printed and delivered on time"
"The website will be available 99.99%"
"Project X will be delivered within 2 weeks of the planned schedule"

What isn't an SLA?

An SLA is not a way to cut your costs. Rather, SLA's are mechanisms for managing risks, sharing pain, and benefiting from success. Many SLA's are setup as "outs" to contracts that allow customers to penalize technology providers for non-performance. Although penalties do reduce costs and they do send a strong signal to service providers to improve their service, neither you nor the service provider "win" if an SLA is missed. Think of an SLA as a shared goal.

SLA Philosophy

The best SLAs are setup to allow both you and your service provider to share in the success and failure of an agreement. If you intend to turn over the operation of your billing system to a service provider, getting the bills out on time is critical. Whether you do it yourself or partner with someone, if you fail to produce invoices, you delay incoming revenue. In this example, your SLA should inspire your vendor to deliver on performance levels that have an actual impact to your business. Let's say your current billing accuracy is 90%. If you increase this accuracy to 95%, you have directly improved your company's bottom line. If you intend to outsource this function, your SLA should include a shared billing accuracy reward to the service provider if they help you improve revenues.

Make It Count

Some web hosting plans offer an up-time measure that, if not met, will result in a refund to you. Unfortunately, this "refund" may be calculated as a credit based on the time that your site was down and your monthly hosting fee. For example, if you pay $100 per month for hosting services, and your site is down for 1 hour, your credit may only be 14 cents! $100/720 (number of hours in a month) = $0.14. If, on average, you sell $50 worth of goods through your website each hour, 14 cents isn't much of a blow to your hosting company. I recognize that my example is slightly exaggerated. Many hosting companies offer a more material penalty and most web sites do not generate $50 in sales per hour. But you can see how this penalty and SLA is mis-aligned with the business model. If you know you make $50 per hour in sales through your website, your hosting company should incur a much greater penalty for not keeping your website up and running! Whether you negotiate an SLA with a hosting company or a large IT company, create an SLA that is specific to your business and truly establishes risk sharing (i.e. we "win" or "loose" together).

Devil In The Details

A good SLA has four critical components: description, target, measurement, and penalty/reward. If you have an SLA that is missing one of these components, you run the risk of losing the benefit of having the SLA to begin with. In the web hosting example above, the SLA sounds good, but the actual measurement and penalty weigh heavily in the favor of the hosting company (they have little to loose!) Make sure your SLA's are well defined and agreed upon before you ink the deal. Here's an example of a good SLA:

Description: Billing - All bills will be rendered, printed, and mailed on a timely basis to ensure unbilled revenue is minimized.
Target: 90%
Measurement: Ratio of number of planned bills / number of bills actually produced. The calculation is based on the number of records in the billing input file compared against the billing output log file which lists the bills actually rendered.
Reward/Penalty: If billing accuracy is below 90%, penalty is calculated as 1% of the unbilled revenue for that billing run. If billing accuracy is above 90%, a bonus is calculated as 1% of the additional revenue billed.

In this SLA example, your service provider stands to loose or gain substantially based on their performance. Similarly, your company stands to loose or gain substantially based on the performance of the service provider. Depending upon your daily billings, 1% could be significant. Note the specificity of the SLA measurement and calculation in my example. If you are not very specific with the calculation methods, actual performance against service levels are open for debate.

Negotiate Up Front

Many businesses strike deals with IT companies and leave SLA's as an open item. Many IT service providers will want to establish a "base line" period where SLA's are measured and then negotiated. In many cases, this request is reasonable, especially if an IT company has little to no understanding of your environment and your current performance record. However, if you wait to negotiate service levels until after you ink a deal, you loose tremendous leverage with your provider unless you really think you can walk away from the deal. Ideally, choose a provider that is willing to negotiate a service level up front. In my experience, these SLA negotiations are much more difficult on the back-end.

Raise the Bar

A service level agreement should be changed periodically. Let's look back at my billing SLA example. Let's assume that after 1 year of service, your provider is billing at an accuracy, on average, of 95%, and in turn, you are rewarding them consistently for beating the original service level. It's time to raise the bar! If your provider can increase your accuracy from 90% to 95%, maybe they can increase your accuracy from 95% to 99%. Raise the SLA bar (target) to 95%, and only reward them if they beat this new level of quality. By providing the right incentives to improve upon service levels, both you and your service provider can benefit.

The Shorter, The Better

I have seen service contracts with dozens and dozens of SLA's. If you establish multiple SLA's, you and your service provider will have broad visibility into performance levels. However, establishing many SLA's can water down the over-arching performance of a service provider. Put simply, a service provider can "make-up" poor performance on one SLA by beating the performance target of another SLA. To keep things simple, pick the few critical success factors of your business and establish applicable service levels that your provider can truly focus on.

Service Level Agreements should be established as a "dashboard" for you and your service provider to share in the success and failure of your arrangement. SLA's are less effective if they are established as contract "outs" or as penalty frameworks, because they fail to drive a partnering relationship. Negotiate SLA's which, if met or beaten, truly benefit your company and your service provider. Always define SLA's to the lowest level of detail possible before you finalize the arrangement since negotiations become even more difficult after the deal is executed. And never commit to an SLA that could hurt you but not your provider.

Written by Andy Quick, co-founder of, a free web hosting directory offering businesses and consumers a hassle free way to find the right hosting plan for their needs.

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IT Contract Negotiating Opus

Negotiating Technology Contracts

Have you ever tried to negotiate a deal for software, computer equipment, or consulting services with a technology company? The task can be daunting. Unfortunately, the sales forces of most IT companies are armed to the hilt with techniques to get the best deal for them, and not necessarily the best deal for you. And even worse, most of us computer folk (like myself) have never been trained in the art of negotiation, so it can be difficult to spot a snake in the grass. Before you begin negotiating a technology deal, know what you're getting in to.

Solicit, Don't Be Solicited

I receive at least three calls each day from technology vendors interested in selling something: hardware equipment, software tools, consulting services, etc. Usually, these calls are "cold". My name somehow landed on a telemarketing list in the hands of some vendor who is calling me out of the clear blue sky hoping that what they sell somehow matches what I need. You can waste hours on the phone letting some non-technical, script-reading, telemarketer or sales representative chew your ear off about their latest and greatest gizmo. Very rarely do these types of calls ever translate into a real business opportunity.

The most popular cold call opening is "Good morning. This is Joe from the XYZ software company. We offer break through whatever solutions to help you reduce your total cost of ownership for whatever. Let me ask you, are your responsible for managing your companies whatever investment?" I get so many of these calls that I can answer them in my sleep. Years ago, I used to engage in some level of discussion with these people and it always went nowhere. Unless you really think they've got something you might want to buy, cut them off immediately. And just like any telemarketer, they have a scripted response for anything. If you answer the above question with "No. I am not". The immediate response will be "Could you direct me to someone in the company that is responsible for whatever". If you hand out a name and number, you're just passing the buck to some other poor soul in your organization. My favorite response is "No. We don't respond to phone solicitations." Nine times out of ten, they will give up. Sometimes, the cold caller will make another run at it and re-state their purpose or as they close the call, sneak in another sales pitch. "Yes sir. I understand. We offer something really great for your company and would love to send you a free trial version at absolutely no cost. Its free to try." You could be tempted to say "Free? Tell me more." Again, this type of response will just open up the sales speech flood gates and you will be wasting your time trying to get a word in edge-wise. Stick to your guns: "As I said. We don't respond to phone solicitations." is the proper response. If they make yet one more run at it, the final blow would be "Not sure if you're deaf, but I said we don't respond to phone solicitations. Tell me your name and transfer me to your supervisor." You will either hear apologies or a dial tone. Either way, you've just gotten yourself off of a call list and will never be bothered again.

If you're interested in buying something, you do the calling, not the other way around.

Put The Horse Before The Cart

Never begin looking for technology solutions without knowing what you're looking for. Know the business problem you're trying to solve. If you know you need a software package that automates statistical analysis, flush out a more detailed set of statistics requirements (types of model, sample sizes, etc.) before you begin to shop around. Usually, software products have bells and whistles that, although look cool, are not absolutely needed. Before you begin comparison shopping, define your basic technology and business requirements. Knowing what you really need will give you confidence and leverage in a negotiation.

Always Comparison Shop

No matter what, always evaluate multiple options. If you're looking for software, don't get excited and latch on to the first package that looks good. And certainly don't give a sales rep. the impression that you're overly interested in their solution. They will be less likely to move during a negotiation. The IT market is over abundant with hardware, software and services solutions. Probably, you will have many options to choose from. Be picky!

Create Your Game Plan

Before you begin negotiating a deal with any technology vendor, plan your negotiation carefully. I have included some general planning questions that you should answer in preparation for a negotiation. The questions I have listed below may not make sense for your negotiation, so feel free to modify them for the occasion. The point here is to prepare in advance. You don't want to figure out the answers to these types of questions in the middle of a negotiation as it may give an inch to the sales person. I would even recommend writing the questions and answers on a sheet of paper for reference.

(Price) How much do you think you should pay for this software or service? What is the market rate or street price? What are you prepared to spend? What is the highest price you would be willing to pay?

(Features) What key features and capabilities are you looking for? Force rank the features. What does the prioritized list look like? Of the features you need, categorize them into two categories: "must have" and "nice to have".

(Service Levels) Do you expect some level of performance from the equipment, software, or service? Are there up-time requirements? Do you need 24x7 technical support? Do you expect the vendor to incur a penalty if they don't perform up to your service levels?

(Trades) What is most important to you: price, features, or service level? Force rank these in order of importance. Would you be willing to trade items between categories? For example, would you be willing to give up a certain service level for a lower price?

(Suppliers) Which vendors offer something that you think could meet your needs? How long have these companies been in business? Are you doing business with them already? Do you have a good business relationship with them?

(Gravy) If you had your druthers, what extras would you like the vendor to throw in for free? Would you like training or extra manuals? Would you like special reporting?

You will probably have more questions in addition to the ones listed above. Take the time to write them down and create the answers. Once you have established your position, you will save a great deal of time evaluating your potential vendors and negotiations will be less painful.

Lead The Dance

When you are ready to face off with a vendor, do your best to drive the discussion. Get as much information about the vendor and their product and service before price enters into the discussion. Just like car buying, pick out your car (or choice of cars) before you negotiate a price. If you find that the discussion is prematurely heading toward pricing, bring the conversation back to understanding the product or service itself. If you're not ready to talk price, say something like "Right now, I am just evaluating your product (or service). Unless I think there's a real opportunity, I'm not prepared to negotiate price right now."

Pricing for hardware, software, and services follow very different models. Hardware prices are fairly standard unless the product is new. Usually, the mark-up on hardware is very small (1-15%). On the flip- side, the mark-up for software is huge (100%+). Software is priced based on value, not the cost to the vendor so you can usually negotiate software prices down substantially. Services are usually based on labor rates and are marked up based on the demand for those skills (15-50%).

When you are ready to discuss pricing, take the lead in the dance. Here are the steps to follow (in this order):

1. Make the vendor throw out the first offer. Never be the first one to suggest a price. Although rare, you could hear the question "how much would you be willing to pay for our product?" A good response would be "As little as possible. What's your offer?" This response puts the ball firmly in the vendor's court. Remember, if you've done your planning, you really do have the answer to this question, but your job is get a price far below your maximum, so don't tell the vendor up front!

2. Express concern. Never get excited about the first offer no matter what. If you're considering other alternatives, you may be able to get a better price. My favorite tactic is to say nothing and simply make a non-verbal expression of concern. Usually, the vendor will come back with either "but I'm sure we could sharpen our pencil", or "we could probably come down lower if that price is too high", or the ever popular "but we're willing to work with you". You may also be prodded with "You don't seem to like that price. I seem to be out of the ball park. What price would you be comfortable with?" Here's where the dance gets interesting.

3. Make the vendor throw out the second offer. This can be difficult, but by making the vendor throw out more prices, you are lowering the ceiling of the negotiation going forward. If, in step 2, the vendor says "we could probably come down lower if that price is too high.", immediately respond with "How much could you come down?" or "It seems you didn't give me your best price to begin with. What's your best price?". Latch on to what a vendor is saying and keep asking questions. Stay on this step as long as possible and try and keep the vendor to continue to provide better pricing.

4. Counter offer. Propose a different price than what's on the table. Be reasonable. If you've done your homework and checked the going price for the product or service, you know what the range is. If you throw out a price that you know is ridiculous, it will look like you don't know what you're doing. However, if you counter with a price that demonstrates that you've done your homework, the vendor will know you are serious. Justify for your counter offer. For example, you may want to reveal that you've done some market analysis by saying "I've researched the market a little and think my offer is more in line with market prices." Obviously, the vendor may disagree, but at least you're backing up your counter price.

5. Trade. Unless you can land on a price outright, there will likely be gives and takes on both sides. Go back to your to plan and begin proposing trades. Always make trades that bring you little to no value but may be perceived as valuable by the vendor. This can be very difficult, but can pay huge dividends. Here is a perfect example. Let's say you want a service contract to outsource your help desk (technical support phone service). Let's say you really want the help desk to answer your calls within 1 minute (you've already figured out this requirement in your plan) but the vendor's first offer is to answer your calls within 30 seconds. Let's also assume that price is more important to you than having your calls answered 30 seconds faster (remember- the vendor doesn't know this). And let's say the offer on the table is $5 per call. A great trade proposal would be "Your price is too high for me. I can recognize that you need enough people to answer those calls within 30 seconds and that has value. I would be willing to sacrifice an extra 30 seconds on each call if you could bring your price down." If the vendor responds with a counter-offer, circle back to steps 4 and 5. Try and keep the counter offer / trade cycle going as long as possible.

6. Nibble. Just as you and the vendor are about to agree to terms and everyone starts smiling and shaking hands, start asking for the gravy. Let's say you've just negotiated a software deal and you would really like some training. Just when you think the vendor believes the negotiation is at its very end, you could say "I am really glad we could work this out. I'm looking forward to using your software. One more thing- would you mind spending a couple days showing me how to use your product. A little training could be useful. Is that ok with you?" You run the risk of opening up the negotiation, but you stand a better chance of getting a few extras free of charge.

7. Walk The Talk. If you've set your maximum price and you can't seem to negotiate what you want even with trades, walk away. Be firm and truly be prepared to walk away. Be blunt. "It seems we're not getting anywhere. I think I'll take my business elsewhere. Thanks for your time." Shutting the discussion down can sometimes break the log jam. If a vendor really thinks they're going to loose the business, they may suddenly move.

8. Patience is a Virtue. Negotiations take time. Before you begin, know what your timeframe to make a decision is. Never act hurried or anxious. Come across to the vendor as relaxed and confident (but not cocky). The message you want to send to the vendor is "I've got all the time in the world."

9. Never Lie. Although this happens in many negotiations, telling lies will hurt your reputation and could poison vendor relationships. I am not a proponent of outright fibbing. Be honest but don't give away your hand.

Follow these steps, and you will strike better deals and build confidence in your ability to negotiate. What I have left out in the steps above are standard questions that vendors love to ask. Let me leave you with these questions, their underlying motive, and what you should say. The trick is to always put the ball back in the vendor's court to better your position:

Question: "What's your budget for this project?"
Motive: Setting the price floor
Answer: "That's confidential. Why do you need to know that?"

Question: "What's most important to you? Price or service levels?"
Motive : Prioritizing your trades
Answer : "They're both important to me. I'm looking for the best package"

Question: "How soon do you need to make a decision?"
Motive: Setting the timeframe
Answer : "I will make a decision when I can get the overall best deal"

Question: "Can you make decision quickly. I've got to make my sales quota and our quarter is ending soon. I can't guarantee I give you the same discount"
Motive : Apply pressure
Answer : "I'm not going to rush my decision because of your company's business calendar. We may need to re-think things..."

There are others, but always maintain your control, patience and poise and always take the lead in the negotiating dance!

Written by Andy Quick, co-founder of, a free web hosting directory offering businesses and consumers a hassle free way to find the right hosting plan for their needs.

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Spam Spasmatic Verse

Spam Spasms & Spamocidal Mania

Below is a letter I wrote to the following organizations:

S.H.U. (Spam-Haters Unanimous)

N.A.A.P.W.H.S. (National Association for the Advancement of People Who Hate Spam)

P.W.H.P.W.D.H.S. (People Who Hate People Who Don't Hate Spam)

P.F.W.S.H.I.A.L.C. (People for Whom Spam-Hating is a Lifestyle Choice)

S.A.P.W.R.R.R.H.S. (Society for the Advancement of People Who Really Really Really Hate Spam)

P.W.H.S.S.M.I.M.L.W.S.C.O.T.E. (People Who Hate Spam So Much It Makes Little Wisps of Steam Come Out of Their Ears)

And, of course: Spam Haters In The Business of Internet Resource Directory Services.


I'm writing to suggest that we combine forces in order to present a common front in our righteous war on unsolicited commercial email:


I suggest we disband the myriad sites and organizations now opposing unsolicited commercial email in order to form a single, unified organization:

The Spammish Inquisition!

And I further suggest we elect me, Linda Cox, as our leader. Our Grand Inquisatrix!


You think YOU hate spam? You don't even know what hate is!

I hate spam so much that I... well, just a LOT! That's how much!

If I hated spam any more than I already do, I think my head would burst into flames and spin like a top! Can you say that?

Don't think so.

I don't mean to say that I don't hate other things too, like pedophiles and nazis and that drunk guy who backed over my cat when I was seven.

But spam... hooboy!


I believe we should have a constitutional amendment allowing cruel and unusual punishment in the case of spammers. Maybe that tummy thing like the Japanese do when they get depressed.

As with drugs, mere possession of bulk emailing software should result in the immediate confiscation of the computer it was on, as well as any nice clothes, jewelry, or lawn statuary that might have been purchased with spam profits.

Just thinking about sending spam should be illegal, like joking about bombs in an airport. If I get to be Grand Inquisatrix, I'll have my own force of men-in-black dudes to sniff out spamsters and be really mean to them and call them names until they promise to be good little netizens again.

It's for their own good.


Having looked at the websites of some of the anti-spam crusaders, I know that I am not alone in my revulsion, disgust and utter skin-crawling contempt for spam.

Like them, I have turned a blind-eye to more mundane problems like hunger, illiteracy, disease, country music and poverty so as to focus on the true menace ravaging our cyber-society.

If you wish to support my crusade, you may do so by sending me $99, and as a free gift I'll send you a CD with the email addresses of 40 million netizens eagerly awaiting news of your latest product or service.

Linda Cox, G.I.W. (Grand Inquisatrix Wannabe)

P.S. Oh yeah... stale croutons. Hate 'em.

Author, Linda Cox (J.A.M.G.), was born in a speeding stagecoach amid the screams of fellow passengers as insane, wild-eyed horses dragged them all crashing toward the brink of destruction. That stagecoach was the planet Earth, those passengers were the human race, and Linda Cox is Just Another Marketing Guru. (The horses were just regular horses.)

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College Payments Ode

Paying for College

College Payments

Paying for college is one of the largest expenses a parent will face in their lifetime, other than paying for a house. Because of this, care needs to be taken as well as special planning and allocations of finances in order to take the burden away from this expense. Starting early is the best option, even when your child is a toddler is not too soon. Consider the following timeline for saving for your childs college education.

When college is 15 years or more away, then you should open and education IRA that will allow you to save conservatively for your childs college. Also, since there is a lot of time before your child will need the money this is the time to invest in aggressive funds or stocks. As the time for college nears, you will want to save money in conservative ways, but now is ok to be aggressive if you wish.

When college is 10 15 years away for your child, then there are some additional things you can do. First, consider prepaid tuition plans that allow you to pay for college over a period of time before your child ever reaches the first day of school. The problem with this is you take the decision away from your child of which college they want to attend. Also, talk to your accountant about different savings plans your state offers for college savings. More than likely, there are some plans that will help you meet your savings needs or receive tax breaks. Also, make sure your portfolio is more secure and stabilized. Try to get your investments in order and start saving more conservatively.

When there are only five years until college, make sure your portfolio is stable and all investments are conservative. This is very important because the time til college is narrowing down and at this time you will want to have your savings stable and in tact.

When there are only five more years until your child enters college, make sure your investments are safe and secure and not in any aggressive funds. This is the time to guard the money rather than risk it on aggressive markets. If you realize that even though you have been saving for more than 15 years, you will not have enough money to pay for your childs tuition, you can consider different student loans that do not need to be paid back while the child is enrolled in school and that have low interest rates. There are loans available for the parent as well as the child, so whatever works for your family is the best option.

As you can see, when you start planning and saving early, the idea of paying for college is not nearly as frightening as waiting until the last minute.

Author, Joyce Dutton, is the CEO and Operative of Lacon College Inc which is an excellent place to find College links, resources and articles. For more information on this article, please visit

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School Uniforms Plus Poem

Pros and Cons of School Uniforms

We have worked with schools across the United States, and believe us, you are not the only person asking this question! The answers that we have heard from our customers are as varied as our customers are. The debate over school uniforms is complicated, so we've included highlights from both sides for you to consider:


Some say that a child in a school uniform is more likely to take school seriously. Putting on the school uniform signals he or she is going to school just like dad dresses up to go to work. Schools report that when students dress in "work clothes" rather than "play clothes" they take a more serious approach to their studies.

Promotes Good Discipline:

Many think that school uniforms help maintain school discipline, decreasing the amount of discipline problems. The argument is that children today are lacking in self-discipline because parents refuse to discipline them. This makes it more difficult on the teacher who has to deal with classes of 25-30 students at a time.

Reduces Fighting and Violence:

Schools report that school uniforms decrease fighting and violence that arrise out of arguments over fashionable clothes. Children invariably tease those who do not have trendy clothes. Those who can't afford name brand clothes are often sensitive about their clothing. Schools struggling with gang problems report that school uniforms help ease tensions.


Many parents believe that students wearing school uniforms look nicer and that a school uniform policy ensures that children will come to school in appropriate clothing, avoiding distractions such as fads considered to be outlandish or overly revealing. Some students have turned school into an unending fashion show. This disctracts from learning, as some kids spend more time focused on thier clothes than on homework.


School uniforms stress that individuality and self-expression are not determined by designer clothing or the latest fashion fad.

Low Cost:

School uniforms are a bargain. They are becoming far less expensive than many other clothes. Schools argue that school uniforms are economical, especially compared to designer clothing, and parents agree given school uniform durability. They say school uniforms last longer because they are made for repeated wash and wear. Many schools capitalize on this by starting used school uniform stores or swap meets. Parents can get used school uniforms at discount prices, or just use them as hand-me-downs between siblings.

School Spirit:

Some feel wearing a school uniform helps build school spirit. It instills a feeling of belonging. As the Beach Boys said, "Be true to your school." Schools report an increase in school pride.


Supressing individuality is the most commonly cited objection to school uniforms. Educators argue that an academic program encouraging students to pursue individual thought is much more important than what they wear. They inhibit creativity and self-expression, forcing students to conform.

Causes Discipline Problems:

Some students reject any rules. Forcing them to wear school uniforms only aggravates their rebelious spirit. They alter their school uniform by tightening, widening, shortening, or lengthening them, and teachers are given the impossible task of policing the students on a daily basis.

Little or No Relationship to Academics:

Opponents insist that their is no credible evidence that school uniforms improve school discipline or promote higher academic acheivement. The principal argument is that some great students are terrible dressers. Dress does not necessarily improve learning.

Author, Isaac Grauke, is manager of sales and marketing at Hall Closet Uniforms and Apparel, Hall Closet is a supplier of school uniforms to schools around the country.

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Spice Your Lecture Better Serenade

How To Spice Up Your Lecture Notes For Better Grades

When taking notes on a lecture, there are two extremes that present themselves -- to take exceedingly full notes, or to take almost no notes. One can err in either direction. At first, a full blow-by-blow transcript of the lecture might seem best. However, you'll find that this isn't necessary. In fact, you might see that this style of note-taking might end up hampering your efforts. Many lecturers will highlight your assigned reading the night before. This isn't worth writing down twice, as you should have taken notes on your reading yourself. If you occupy your attention with the task of copying the lecture verbatim, you do not have time to think, but become merely an automatic recording machine.

This is good news for those of you that transcribe your class time! Experienced stenographers say that they form the habit of recording so automatically that they fail utterly to comprehend the meaning of what is said. You as a student cannot afford to have your attention so distracted from the meaning of the lecture. Therefore, you should REDUCE your classroom writing to a minimum.

Probably the chief reason why students are so eager to secure full lecture notes is that they fear to trust their memory. Such fears should be put at rest, for your mind will retain facts if you pay close attention and make logical associations during the time of impression. Keep your mind free, then, to work upon the subject-matter of the lecture. Debate mentally with the speaker. This is called Active Listening.

Question your professor's statements, comparing them with your own experience or with the results of your study. Ask yourself frequently, “Is that true?” The essential thing is to maintain an attitude of mental activity, and to avoid anything that will reduce this and make you passive. Do not think of yourself as a vat into which the instructor pumps knowledge. Regard yourself rather as an active force, quick to perceive and to comprehend meaning, deliberate in acceptance and firm in retention.

Active listening is the key to note-taking. This is ironic, considering that we associate note-taking with transcribing. Let your notes represent the logical progression of thought in the lecture. Strive above all else to secure the skeleton -— the framework upon which the lecture is hung. A lecture is a logical structure, and the form in which it is presented is the outline.

This outline, then, is your chief concern. In the case of some lectures it is an easy matter. The lecturer may place the outline in your hands beforehand, may present it on the black-board, or may give it orally. Some lecturers, too, present their material in such clear-cut divisions that the outline is easily followed. Others, however, are very difficult to follow in this regard.

In arranging an outline you will find it wise to adopt some device by which the parts will stand out prominently, and the progression of thought will be indicated with proper subordination of titles. Adopt some system at the beginning of your college course, and use it in all your notes. In other words, be consistent! You have enough to worry about in learning the material. You don't need to spend mental energy trying to decipher your own note-taking system.

The example here may serve as a model, using first the Roman numerals, then capitals, then Arabic numerals:













Being a transcription machine does not equate to being a good notetaker. Not only will you NOT be learning effectively, but you're pretty much wasting your time. When you use your class time more wisely, you'll find yourself able to easily recall material come exam time. Put those last-minute cram sessions to an end!

Written by Elise Royal. Better College Grades is a 100% free resource to help students achieve scholastic success in the smartest and most efficient manner:

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Moms Scholarship Opus

Scholarships For Single Mothers

Are you a single mother in debt trying to make your way through school hoping to attain a better education so you can support your family? If so you should consider applying for a scholarship.

What is a scholarship?

A scholarship is a grant of financial aid awarded to a student, as for the purpose of attending a college.

Scholarships are beneficial because it allows a student to cover all or a fraction of his/her college expenditures without having to pay the money back. The majority of scholarships come from federal funds, with the remaining balance coming from private organizations. As a student takes a step forward in his/her education and chooses a career path, more opportunities will become accessible. Scholarships can be based on: region, academic performance, religious affiliation, sports, ethnic background, military status, intended major.

Where to find out more information on scholarships

As a single mother it's always best to investigate on known avenues, such as State Department for Higher Education for residents, a high school guidance office, an academic department or college's financial aid office, free internet searches or libraries. One area that is not searched as often but should is a parent's company, or even student employers, so if you are a single mother working and going to school contact your employer to see if there are scholarships available.

Scholarship for Single Mother

With so many scholarships being available it can often be difficult to choose which one is best for you. Narrow your search by which you believe best meets eligibility factors, and then take the time to devote persuasive applications that include transcripts, proof of eligibility, personal essays, recommendation letters, etc. Make sure to follow directions carefully, as well as giving yourself enough time to put together a great application opposed to something being done at the last minute. Follow directions, proofread your work, double check that, apply early and keep copies for your records. Scholarship for Single Mother: Beware of Scholarship Scams

There are entities that state that there's millions of scholarship dollars that go unused every year. This is incorrect, as the greater part of the funds comes from the federal government and the private scholarships come from organizations that are willing to let students utilize them. The Federal Trade Commission alerts families to beware of scams that encourage students to make a payment to hold the scholarship, or if the student has been selected for an unknown scholarship. Schools have a given amount of funds to make use of for students, and no one can change the system to get more money for scholarships than they are granted through the standard financial aid process.

Why Should I Apply?

As a single mother, don't let high costs be a reason not to go to school. Bettering your education should be a top priority because it will pay off in the future and you will be able to support yourself and your family. Apply today for a scholarship and it will be one less financial cost you will have to worry about, every little bit helps, right?

Author, Kelly Kennedy, writes for, a great online source for single mothers.

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Homeschool Gifted Verse

Characteristic Of A Gifted Child

Since it is widely agreed upon in the educational and child development communities that early recognition of the characteristics of a gifted child, is a key factory in successfully developing the child, it is important for the parent to have at least a general understanding of these gifted characteristics.

First of all in order to be classified as a gifted child, the child must have the ability to perform at a level that is significantly beyond other children of like age. O.K. So, for a parent, what might this look like or what should I look for in my child?

The following are some guidelines to help your awareness when it comes to recognizing the characteristics of a gifted child. Keep in mind that there are varying levels of giftedness, as you view the guidelines.

Cognitive Skills (thinking or though processing)

Ability to master new skills with extraordinary speed.
A deeper knowledge than other children the same age.
Extraordinary memory and recall of events, facts, and/or figures.
Advanced creativity and ability to improvise.
Acute alertness to their surroundings.
Advanced or more complex sense of humor.

Learning Patterns

Great and constant curiosity along with high level of motivation to learn.
As a result of the previous, being bored easily if not challenged
Advanced ability to stay focused or lengthy attention span. Even with more difficult topics.
Advance organizational or planning skills.
Advance logic and problem solving skills.

Speech and Language

Well developed word vocabulary and language compared to children of the same age.
Creative uses of words and sentence structure and again, sense of humor.
Ability to adapt their use of the language to a given level to fit the situation.
Ability to understand and carry out complex instructions.
General advanced ability in reading, writing, and working with numbers.


Sensitivity to other’s feelings
Use of their advance language skills to resolve conflict or debate.
Organize and direct behavior of other children (may seem bossy to other children).
Many times will feel more ‘at home’ with older children.
May have high expectations of themselves (and others) that can lead to frustration and even anger.


A generally high aptitude for logical problems, games, puzzles, or any type of problem solving or activity that requires creative thinking and reaction.

Final Note: Although these characteristics of a gifted child may provide you with some initial insight and understanding, it is important to seek a formal assessment of your child in this area if you feel that your child exhibits several of these characteristics.

Author, Mary Joyce, is a former educator, successful homeschool parent, and the primary contributor to the Homeschool-Curriculum-4u website. Please visit for more of Mary's articles, resources on homeschool, ideas, and curriculum information. Also tips guides and how-to's to help you successfully teach your child at home.

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