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The Fascinating Histories Behind Your Favorite Fairy Tales

Sunday, May 1st, 2011

It’s a little disconcerting to know that the real stories behind the fairy tales that made your eyes go all sparkly as a child were originally tales of rape, self-injury and forced abandonment. But the inspiration behind these stories simply resonated more clearly and relevantly with audiences at the time they were created, and have since been adapted to please our morals and desire for happy endings today. Whether you’re a literature student or just interested in "real-life" accounts behind fictional tales, here are the fascinating histories behind your favorite fairy tales.

  • The Brothers Grimm adapted existing — darker — folk tales: Many of our favorite fairy tales are actually adapted folk tales that the Brothers Grimm re-appropriated from their Germanic neighbors and surrounding communities. Most of us know now that the Grimm’s tales were much darker and more sinister than our versions today, but even their stories were lighter than many of the original tales that had been passed down before them.
  • Snow White: A German scholar named Eckhard Sander published in 1994 his theory that the Grimm’s tale of Snow White was based on the real-life story of a countess named Margarete von Waldeck, who lived in the early 16th century. Raised in a mining town run by her brother, Margarete would have been surrounded by children who worked in the mines — and who became stunted because of their hard work and malnutrition. People in the town at that time referred to the miners as "dwarves," which, along with a real criminal who at that time was suspected of handing out poison apples to children, backs up Sander’s theory. And when Margarete was 16, she was sent away to Brussels, where she fell in love with the future Philip II of Spain, much to the fury of her stepmother. Sander and his fellow scholars believe her stepmother and Philip’s father hatched a plot to poison her.
  • Alice in Wonderland: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was written by Charles Dodgson, who wrote under the name Lewis Carroll. Though it hasn’t been proven exactly, many scholars believe that Dodgson came up with the story after spending time with a friend’s three young daughters, Lorina, Edith and Alice Liddell. Supposedly Dodgson told the girls a story to keep them entertained, and afterward, Alice asked him to write it down for her. Once he started writing, Dodgson realized the story had potential and completed an entire manuscript called Alice’s Adventures Under Ground, and which he had published after giving the original to little Alice Liddell. Other scholars believe Alice’s father and other real-life people could be inspirations for the story’s main characters, including the White Rabbit.
  • The Frog Prince: Today’s version of "The Frog Prince" may make young children squirm when they hear about the princess puckering up for a kiss with a frog, but the real version is much bleaker. The story, included in the Grimm brothers’ first collection of fairy tales, instead tells of a princess who hurls the frog against a wall, a traditional act from old folk tales to inspire shapeshifting.
  • Cinderella: The Brothers Grimm published their version of Cinderella in 1884, and as upsetting as the poor girl’s slavery is even today, their version is much bloodier. During the party scene, Cinderella wishes to leave after dancing with the Prince, but the Prince won’t have it. He "had caused the whole staircase to be smeared with pitch, and there, when she ran down, had the maiden’s left slipper remained sticking." The next day, the magician/prince goes to look for the slipper’s owner, and after Cinderella’s stepsister’s feet are proven too big, their mother — Cinderella’s wicked stepmother — forces her to slice off her heel with a knife. She does, and "forced her foot into the shoe, swallowed the pain, and went out to the King’s son. He took her on his horse as his bride, and rode away with her," until little pigeons adorably cooed that blood was filling up the shoe, staining the stepsister’s white stocking. After this graphic scene, the prince goes back and finds Cinderella.
  • Little Red Riding Hood: Called Little Red Cap by the Brothers Grimm and Little Red Hat in an Italian and Austrian fairy tale, Little Red Riding Hood got the name we know her by today from the folk tale writer Charles Perrault. In his story, once Little Red Riding Hood figures out the wolf is hiding in her grandmother’s bed, the "wicked wolf fell upon Little Red Riding Hood, and ate her all up." Not much of a Disney ending, there.
  • Sleeping Beauty: One of the more shocking histories behind fairy tales is Sleeping Beauty’s. The Charles Perrault-penned story — published in 1697 — involves a king’s daughter named Talia, who (despite a warning from wise men) pricks her finger with a poison splinter and dies. Her father left her body in the palace and moved away, but a prince found Talia one day, had sex with her dead body, and impregnated her. Somehow, Talia was able to develop the fetuses and give birth to twins, who were then cared for by fairies. And one magical day, her son sucked her poison-pricked finger, and she came back to life. Of course the prince — who was actually married to someone else — returned, but his wife learned of his affair, and ordered Talia’s twins captured and cooked for supper. The cook couldn’t bear to kill the children, and when the wife found out, she tried to burn Talia at the stake. The prince saved her in the end.
  • Hansel and Gretel: There are many different versions of Hansel and Gretel (originally called Little Brother and Little Sister,) but one of the most surprising real-life histories behind the tale is the reason the siblings’ parents abandoned them in the first place. Now, the story blames an evil stepmother for banishing the children to the woods, as audiences today can’t imagine a birth mother abandoning her children. But during the time when the original folk tale was created, parents apparently used to abandon their kids semi-frequently, most likely in the story’s case because of famine.

Tips For Doing Better in Your Classes

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

Whether you get dressed and attend actual class lectures at a traditional university or take courses online from the comfort of your own home, chances are there are always ways to improve your study habits and aim for higher grades in your classes. If putting in a little extra effort to strive to get better grades in your classes is something you are interested in, the following ideas may be of interest to you and may be able to help you.

If a professor tells you that you are going to need something specific for their class, it is probably a good idea to get it. Some students opt to skip out on purchasing text books and other items for class in an effort to save some money, but sometimes that may hurt your grades. Whether it is a specific supplement or book, specific tool or learning device, chances are the professor is telling the class to get it because it is something that is useful and that can help you. And if it is about the money you have to dish out, chances are you can sell it to someone else that needs it for the class later and you can make some of your money back.

It’s usually a good idea to get involved with your classes, ask questions, and visit or have some sort of communication with your professors outside of classes. Asking questions and making an effort to learn more in your classes is something that your professors are likely to remember. Engaging with them about course information, material, and the like, whether it is in person or through email for distance learning, shows that you are interested in their instruction and in your grades. It may also be your saving grace come grade time when you need that little extra push.

Chances are, your professors will let you know what reading needs to be done before class lectures and to keep up with the materials being covered in class and for exams. This assigned reading may be to supplement lectures and assignments or may be assigned because it will not be covered through class lectures. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep up with assigned reading. Not only does keeping up with reading help you understand what material is being covered, but it is also a good way to ensure that you will be prepared for your tests come exam time.

Tips for Adjusting to Distance Learning Settings

Tuesday, April 26th, 2011

For some students that take online courses or are enrolled in distance learning programs,the style of learning can be a bit different and the transition isn’t always exactly easy. Students that are used to going to class everyday and interacting with classmates and professors, may have a problem at first with becoming disciplined, developing and maintaing time management skills, and understanding that online courses require students to be focused and dedicate time to completing work, reading and studying, and preparing for exams. And while adjusting to taking online courses may not be easy for some students, there are things to keep in mind to help with the process and make it an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Adjusting to taking courses online will take a lot of discipline. You don’t have traditional class lectures where you have other students and professors reminding you about exams, projects, and assignment due dates. You will need to discipline yourself to keep note of when deadlines are assigned. Because you don’t actually have to attend a class or lecture physically, it may be easy to blow off school for a couple of days, but even that can severely impact your grades. While all distance learning environments are different, students will still need to read, study, complete assignments, and take exams, so it is important to keep that in mind.

Like most college students, you will probably need to learn to balance school work with other extracurricular activities, family, jobs, and other time commitments. This can be done as long as you make a schedule and be sure to allot time for studying and school work. Determine what days and times are best for you to be able to dedicate to school and make a schedule that allows you to give proper time to the everyday activities associated with your life and your lifestyle. When you make a schedule, try as hard as you can to follow it and feel free to modify it if it really is not working with your other commitments.

Setting goals for yourself is a good way to adjust to distance learning and taking your courses online. Once you know what classes you are taking and what is expected of you throughout the semester, set goals for yourself to ensure that your are transitioning in a positive manner and so that you know you are learning everything you need to in order to succeed in your classes. Setting goals is a good way to ensure that you are not only getting your work done, but it can reassure you that you are keeping up with the things that you wish to achieve.

10 Campus Buildings That are Totally Haunted

Sunday, April 24th, 2011

Plenty of college campuses have creepy spots. Desolate library stacks, bathrooms that no one uses, and dark pathways have been giving college kids the willies for years. But there are some spots that are bona fide haunted, with a history to prove it. Read on to learn about 10 campus buildings that are more than just a little creepy.

  1. Jennings Hall, Bennington College: This building now houses the music department of Bennington college, and students have often witnessed paranormal activity. It was the inspiration for The Haunting of Hill House, a Shirley Jackson novel. Strange voices, footsteps, and instruments that play themselves have been heard. The area Bennington College is located in is known as "Bennington Triangle" where many people went missing between 1920 and 1950.
  2. Strayer College: The Strayer College building in Bensalem, Pennsylvania is the former site of Eastern State School and Hospital. The building is rumored to be haunted by patients who were killed or treated unfairly. Figures follow people, doors slam shut to trap people inside, and the former morgue is cold and breezy even without windows. The 4th floor is believed to be especially treacherous, so much so that it’s life threatening.
  3. Pemberton Hall, Eastern Illinois University: At Pemberton Hall, a girl was brutally murdered and raped by a psychotic janitor. The hall is now haunted, with doors mysteriously locking after young girls enter, bloody footprints, and clocks that turn back in time. Music plays from the piano the victim played on, even though the entire floor is boarded up.
  4. Alpha Theta House, Dartmouth College: The Alpha Theta fraternity house experienced a boiler explosion and fire, killing fraternity brothers and their female companions. These spirits are said to haunt the house, particularly in the house basement, which is the remaining original structure.
  5. Alpha Omicron Pi Sorority House, Ohio University: This sorority house was once a private residence and a stop on the Underground Railroad. It was stormed when locals found out that the owner was harboring fugitive slaves, and a slave named Nicodemus was shot there. He has since haunted the house, which has passed hands among several Greek groups in the university, presumably due to the disturbances.
  6. Sage College of Albany Fine Arts/Graphic Design Building: Sage College of Albany’s Graphic Design building is located in a former children’s orphanage, and has ghosts from the children who died in a fire set by the caretaker. Numerous ghosts can still be heard in the building.
  7. Baylor University Library: Baylor University’s library has some original works from Elizabeth Barrett Browning, with a statue in her likeness in front of the building. The statue’s arms are said to move, and she has been seen peering inside the top floor window. She may also be seen walking the halls at night in a white gown holding a candle.
  8. Graceland House, Davis & Elkins College: In the Graceland House, a slave was beaten to death and buried in the dirt floor basement, and may still be there. This house has noises and feelings of being watched or followed, so badly that a prom held there had to be shut down.
  9. Shelton Hall, Boston University: This dorm was once a Sheraton Hotel overlooking the Charles River and Fenway Park. Before it became a dorm, playwright Eugene O’Neill lived and subsequently died in room 401. He now haunts that floor, which the school reserves for writing students.
  10. Texas Tech University Water Tower: On the coldest night of the year in Lubbock, 5-6 young men can be seen on the top catwalk going around the water tank. They will stay up all night as if spending the night. This sighting has happened each year from around 1949 on.

Online College Degrees for the Criminal Justice Student

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

As cities and communities continue to grow, the need for skilled and trained law enforcement to uphold laws and ensure public safety will continue to rise. The need for trained officers to promote rehabilitation and ensure that offenders are working to better their lives is also an important role of the criminal justice system. For this reason, criminal justice degree programs are not only offered at different degree levels including at the associate, bachelor, and master degree level, but also in different specialized areas such as law enforcement and police administration, correctional administration, and legal studies.

Law enforcement and police administration criminal justice degree programs prepare students with the concepts, knowledge, and training they will need to work in law enforcement careers. Students explore and learn about the law, individual rights of people, ethics, the responsibilities of police officers and law enforcement, and how to promote and manage public safety. Some of the courses include (but are not limited to): community policing, ethics in law enforcement, politics in law enforcement, and management in law enforcement. Graduates of law enforcement administration degree programs are qualified to pursue careers with local police departments, Sheriff’s departments, and correctional facilities.

Correctional administration degree programs in criminal justice prepare students with the skills they will need to work in corrections within the criminal justice system. Correctional administration degree programs focus on teaching students about the correctional system, how probation and parole work, social work, psychology and sociology, and human behavior. Courses may include (but are not limited to): corrections, project management, criminal behavior, substance abuse, rehabilitation, and the roles of correctional officers. Graduates of correctional administration degree programs will be qualified for work with local, state, and Federal agencies and in jails and prisons for careers in (but not limited to): probation and parole officers, correctional officers, wardens, and correctional treatment specialists.

Legal studies degree programs prepare students with the skills and knowledge they will need to excel in the legal field. Legal studies degrees focus on the fundamentals of the law, ethics, the legal and courts system, law theories, and researching the law. Common courses in legal studies program may include (but are not limited to): criminal studies, legal research, civil law, the legal system, criminal justice, constitutional law, and social control. In addition, these courses will help students develop and enhance legal writing and research skills, comprehend different areas of law, create effective policies, and understand law procedures. Graduates of degree programs in legal studies can pursue careers as paralegals, legal researchers, and data entry clerks, amongst others.

How Will You Pay For College?

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

An important consideration that many students have to take into account when looking to earn a college degree is the financial cost of such a program. Especially in today’s economy, such costs are not to be taken lightly, and for many potential students these costs determine how much a student can fully commit to an academic program.

As a former student, I can attest to the challenges that go along with paying for an education. Fortunately, there are many options to help you overcome those challenges.

Probably the best source of aid you can easily get comes in the form of federally backed student loans. Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education, handles all of the federal student aid programs. These programs include Stafford Loans, PLUS Loans for parents of students, and grants. Often these loan programs offer incentives for students that make taking out a federal education loan much easier: lower interest rates, grace periods to help you defer payment, and even subsidized loans, the interest for which the government covers while the student is in school. For more information regarding these loans, please visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Grants and scholarships are another form of popular aid, and many are especially coveted because they do not have to be repaid. However, because of this, many grants and scholarships are competitive or specialized. For example, the federal government offers grants for military veterans or students in educational programs. Individual institutions also offer grants and scholarships, based on merit, athletic ability, economic need, and race and gender. Before you apply for a grant or scholarship make sure you meet all of the eligibility requirements. For more information on grants and scholarships, talk to an admissions officer at your school. Also check out some of the free scholarship databases, such as

In addition to receiving financial aid or scholarships, students can also choose to work while they attend classes. Obviously, this brings a completely new setoff factors to consider when thinking about your college career, so carefully weigh your income options. Can you afford to divert your attention from your academics? How much income can you live off of while in an academic program? In some programs, it’s possible to work part-time, or even full-time, while attending classes. Other schools might discourage such activity. In any case, you should also consider looking into whether or not you qualify for the Federal Work-Study Program. For more information about the Federal Work-Study Program, visit the Department of Education.

Online College Degrees for Those Interested in Education

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

As education continues to be a necessity, particularly for young children and adolescents, the need for trained and skilled educators will be on the rise. In fact, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the employment of teachers in general is expected to grow by 13% over the next several years. There are plenty of degree program levels for those students interested in working in the education field including associate’s, bachelor’s, and master’s level degree programs, with some schools also offering doctoral degrees in education.

Early childhood education degree programs are geared towards providing students with the skills they will need to work with young children, generally up to age 5. Development is important in young children and it is extremely important for children to be able to socialize, develop relationships, and develop the ability to learn in the early years of life. Students in early childhood degree programs are taught the knowledge they will need to teach young students the necessities that will help them to shape and influence their own lives. Early childhood education degree programs focus on the fundamentals of early childhood, growth, development and health of young children, psychology of young children, teaching strategies, and help students understand the learning patterns of young children. Graduates of early childhood degrees can work with young children at schools, daycares, or with organizations that work with young children.

Education degrees are also offered at secondary education levels for those students that wish to earn their degrees and teach students that are older than early childhood. Some of the courses included in secondary education degree programs include foundations of education, development and psychology in adolescents, strategies and methods in teaching, and student teaching. Earning a secondary education degree is also commonly done to teach a specific subject such as English or math. Essentially, after certification, secondary education degrees allows graduates to teach students to teach at the middle school and high schools levels. Those with secondary education degrees can qualify for jobs in teaching, tutoring, and other jobs within education.

Some schools will differ in the way that they offer their education degree programs. Some schools offer education degrees that are specialized with specific concentrations including those in sciences or math. Students that earn a degree in education and intend on teaching must also become certified by the state in which they wish to teach in order to be qualified, with specific requirements varying between states. Either way, most individuals that have earned education degrees and certifications will qualify to teach at most levels and subjects within most schools.

10 Colleges That Allow Guns on Campus

Monday, April 4th, 2011

Unfortunately, shootings at high schools and on college campuses punctuate recent American history. But while some students and teachers feel vulnerable if they’re unarmed and unable to strike back should another tragedy occur, others believe that the more guns that are on campus, the higher the risk for accidents and shootings. The debate is going strong in state legislatures, on Facebook, and at school, and if you’re a prospective college student, you should know the existing gun laws at the schools you want to attend. Besides the schools listed below, even more colleges do allow guns — these are some of the biggest, well-known schools and ones that represent different states and regions.

  1. Colorado State University: Colorado schools have the option to allow or prohibit guns on campus, and the large CSU in Fort Collins has granted students permission to carry guns since 2003.
  2. Dixie State College of Utah: This four-year university in St. George, Utah, allows of-age concealed handgun permit holders — they must be 21 — to carry guns on campus.
  3. University of Utah: Located in Salt Lake City, the U of U has a total enrollment of over 29,000, and approved permit holders can carry concealed guns on campus.
  4. Utah State University: Another large state school, Utah State is the number one public university in the West — and one that allows students to carry guns.
  5. Weber State University: Located in Ogden, UT, Weber State is an attractive choice for nontraditional and traditional students alike, but students can carry guns on its 500-acre Ogden campus.
  6. Michigan State University: As more states debate allowing guns on campus, Michigan’s largest state school — one of the largest universities in the country — does allow guns on campus. The ruling isn’t statewide yet, though.
  7. Southern Utah University: Cedar City’s SUU offers technical through graduate programs, allowing approved students to carry guns.
  8. Blue Ridge Community College: Virginia’s Blue Ridge Community College, a Shenandoah Valley-area school, is a rare East Coast school that allows students to have guns.
  9. Utah Valley University: Utah Valley is the second largest institution in the Utah System of Higher Education, and it, too, allows guns on campus.
  10. Community College of Denver: Denver’s community college has also chosen to allow guns on campus. The school actually has four campuses scattered throughout the city.

Balancing Kids and Distance Education

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

Trying to maintain a balanced life when you have children can be a very difficult task as it is. However, for those of us who have decided to go back to school, managing our family life and our coursework can feel completely overwhelming. Even students who opt for distance education, which is significantly more flexible, can still have trouble figuring out how to care for their kids and get something valuable out of their education at the same time. Luckily, there are many ways to make balancing these things easier, it just takes a little extra effort.

The first thing to do is set some ground rules and boundaries. You will have to get together with your family and let them know exactly how going back to school is going to change your day-to-day life. Before you have a talk with your kids, decide for yourself what kind of boundaries you will need in order to get your work done. For example, if the door to your study is closed, that could be a signal to your kids that you’re working and can’t be bothered with anything that isn’t an emergency. Decide for yourself how much time you think you’ll need per day to study and when your best study times will be, and then let your kids know your plans. Discuss with them the difference between an emergency situation and help that can wait until later. Once you all have a chance to talk about the changes that will begin to happen, your kids will be prepared and more able to help.

Next, your kids are not the only ones who will need to make changes and adjustments. You should plan to make some adjustments in your own lifestyle as well. You know that you will not be as available to your family as you have been in the past, so you should be prepared to change your lifestyle a bit in order to become more available in other ways. For example, maybe after getting home from work, you usually like to veg out in front of the TV for a couple hours to unwind. Now, you may have to devote a couple extra hours to studying. Instead of studying, and then unwinding in front of the TV like you usually do, you may need to allocate that time to spend with your kids. Try showing them more attention now during times that you may have once taken for yourself. Just like your kids will have to bend to accommodate you, you should also bend to care for them. While we all need our me-time, just try to take less of it, and add some family time to your plans instead. You can also fit in family time in easy ways. Try setting a timer and using 30 minute study breaks to play with your kids. Or try studying together, if your kids are school-age. You can set a great example for them and be around one another at the same time.

Tips for Online Students Fighting Writer’s Block

Thursday, March 31st, 2011

It’s happened to everyone, and to some more often than not. Writer’s block is an occurrence that pretty much blocks your thoughts and creativity and sort of puts you at a dead end for creating new ideas and thoughts and can obstruct your ability to work. Writers block can not only be extremely annoying, but it can also slow down your productivity and may essentially cause your grades to suffer if it prohibits you from completing your work and assignments in a timely manner. Writer’s block is fairly common and if you don’t let it frustrate you or get to you too much, there can be some easy solutions to fighting off writer’s block and getting back to work.

Writer’s block may be a way for your brain to tell you that it’s time to take a break. Not being able to focus and come up with fresh and new ideas may mean it’s time to come back to work and writing later and to take your mind off of work for a bit. Depending on the amount of time you have, take a break to get your mind off of work, even if it’s just for a couple of minutes. Taking a break to eat, take a short walk, exercise, or take a nap are all good ways to alleviate some of the frustration you experience when writer’s block creeps up on you. Be sure not to completely blow off what you need to get done because you get too comfortable on your break, just take enough of a time out to get your mind off work and rejuvenate your thoughts and then get back to work.

Your comfort level also might have a huge impact on your ability to think and form new ideas. Being in the same place and position for long periods of time may just make you uncomfortable and have an impact on the way you think. Try switching up the room you are working in or even the way you are sitting. Be sure that a television, radio, or other person isn’t distracting you because that can also be a common annoyance and cause for writer’s block. If you feel like you can’t get anymore work done where you are, try switching up where you are working and give going outside, to a local park, or a coffee shop a try to see if that helps.