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Monday, February 24, 2020

Five tricks to preparing your Personal Statement, from the Admissions Committee

It’s early November, September LSAT scores have arrived, and if you plan to matriculate in the fall of 2017, you are probably deep in the work of law school applications. If you’re like many students, the part of the application you dread most, and may even be avoiding, is the personal statement. This blog offers some guidance to help you through that process.
Last week, admissions representatives from Berkeley Law, Northwestern Law, USC Gould School of Law, and Texas Law were on campus speaking with AU students about the admissions process, and turned to the topic of Personal Statements. If you weren’t able to join them, here is a taste of what they shared.
First, the basics. Follow the directions. This includes responding to the exact prompt posed, the page limits, the specific information requested, and any other guidance. Don’t cheat with tiny fonts – admissions committees are wise to that trick. They will use your personal statement to judge your writing skills, for sure. They will also use it to assess your judgment, decision-making, and ability to read and follow specific instructions.
Now that you have the formatting down, consider the statement itself – what you will share, how you will share it, and what it will tell admissions committees about you. Use this moment to be genuinely introspective and tell a story – your story, in your own words. Think of your life as a path. You don’t want to write about where you are now on the path, or where you plan to go next. Instead, consider your backstory. How did you get where you are now? Avoid starting your statement with a quote – the best stories are in your own words and voice, not someone else’s.
Give the admissions committee the opportunity to get to know you beyond your LSAT score. Don’t repeat your transcript or your resume in narrative format. Instead, share how you got here from there. Write in more depth about that experience from your resume and why it matters. Explain how it has become part of your story.
Treat your personal statement as if it is an admission interview. Answer the questions you wish they would ask. Share something new that the admissions committee can’t learn elsewhere in your application. This is your chance to make your case for admission and to communicate what law schools should know about you, but otherwise won’t. 
Avoid answering questions asked elsewhere – for example, if there’s a supplemental question that asks Why Our Law School? don’t use two paragraphs of your personal statement to explain that. Use the optional questions as clues to what is best covered elsewhere. Each part of the application is a chance to enhance the committee’s sense of who you are, and how you will fit into their community of scholars. Use each and every piece you can to your best advantage. And when you have done that, hit Save, and walk away.

 

Sunday, February 23, 2020

Should I Go to Law School? Four Questions to Help You Decide

There are a few important questions you should ask yourself in deciding if law school is the choice for you. Some of them are philosophical, and some are practical. All of them are important, but this fir  st one is essential…

Do I want to be a lawyer?

Before you decide to attend law school, ask yourself: do I actually want to practice law? That is the core of the profession – representing clients. If the idea of working with clients doesn’t excite you, then this might not be the right career for you.

Why do I want to go to law school?

Be honest. There are many reasons people attend law school.  Some have always known this was their path. Some have friends and family telling them they will be a great lawyer. Maybe someone, somewhere, told them, if all else fails, you can always try law school. Whatever your motivation, you should be able to identify it. That’s the only way to decide if law is the right choice for you. Before applying to law school, seriously consider your interest in becoming a practicing attorney and how that balances with the cost, the employment prospects, and the minimum three-year intensive academic commitment required to graduate.
REASONS to attend law school include knowing what lawyers do (and wanting to do it) and having a sense of how prepared you are for law school and the practice of law.
REASONS to keep considering your options include not knowing what else to do after graduation, making your parents happy, thinking it sounds like fun, or planning to figure it out later (when you get to law school, or after graduation).

Am I in it for the paycheck?

If you answered the first or second questions with MaybeI’m not sure, or No, but the salary…, keep reading. Even if you score the job that brings that check you dreamed of, if you don’t love (or even like) the work, you may find you aren’t long for the field, but you might still be paying the loans from that JD.
Many students are drawn to the legal profession by the promise of future income. But like any career path, your decision needs to include more than the salary prospects. A law degree doesn’t guarantee of a high salary. According to a Washington Post article from April 2015, “nine months after graduation, a little more than half of the class of 2013 had found full-time jobs as lawyers, down from 77% of 2007, according to the most recent data from the American Bar Association and the National Association for Law Placement. Those who did find jobs had starting salaries that were 8% below the 2009 peak, averaging $78,205 in 2013.” In recent years, bar passage rates have also declined creating a challenge for new graduates hoping to begin their legal practice.
Doing your research will go a long way in helping you manage your salary expectations. Look at the employment statistics and average salary for students from schools you are likely to attend (based on your GPA and LSAT – if you have taken it). Factor the specialty you wish to practice, and the region.

What do I know about the practice of law (In other words, have I talked to any lawyers)?

Answering this question requires you to research and talk to actual lawyers.
Current law students and pre-law advising can help with your law school application, but lawyers – those practicing law every day – are the ones who can help you decide if this is the path for you. They can tell you how much their legal education cost, what they actually do on a daily basis, how many hours a week they work, how much they make, and what they like (or don’t) about their careers. You should ask about personal attributes needed to be successful in a legal career and the impact of a legal career on personal lives. If law school still sounds like the right plan for you, you can ask for advice about where to go from here.
Learning about the practice of law from lawyers (as many as you can, from different practice areas) will spotlight the different career paths in the legal profession, and which might be right for you. You may notice that lawyers with very similar experiences may have very different thoughts on their careers. Ask them why. This is your chance to get a feel for what type of people like what types of legal jobs (e.g. litigation or public interest law), and what that might mean for you. Thinking proactively about your potential place in the legal profession will help you in choosing a law school, finding funding for school, and planning your job search.
You may not know any lawyers firsthand, or they may all be relatives or family friends. Talk to them, and lots of other lawyers, also. If you don’t know how to begin, making an appointment to see the pre-law advisor in the Career Center is a great start.

What’s next?

Now that we’ve talked about the philosophical questions, if law school still sounds like the thing for you, consider meeting with your Career Advisor to discuss the practical considerations of applying for and funding law school.

 

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Health Studies Career Night, February 15 2017

Prepared by Alexandra Jones, CAS Career Advising Team Assistant
Did you miss the Health Studies Career Night, but are still interested in the information provided? Well, although you did miss the opportunity to directly communicate and network with professionals working in what may be your future career field, this blog post may help you.
The panel, moderated by Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Studies (DHS) Kathleen Holton, and co-hosted by DHS and AU Career Center, consisted of four alumni:
  • Annika Bergstrom, TB Investigator at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • Ryan Paquin, Research Scientist at the Center for Communication Science at RTI International
  • Elizabeth Prevou, Clinical Practice Manager at GWU, and
  • Justin Morgan, Research Assistant at the Health Policy Center at the Urban Institute.
Each speaker talked about the most and least favorite aspects of their careers, as well as gave advice to aid students’ future success, which is shared below.
How do you get your foot in the door?
There are various ways to go about entering a career in the health field. This information was posted at https://www.vocationaltraininghq.com/how-to-become/home-health-aide/ for longevity and so people that did not attend could peruse online. While Bergstrom simply applied through USA Jobs, this may be difficult as it is a competitive process, in which your resume has to stand out to employers from hundreds of others. Other panelists recommend that students work their networks to obtain a job lead, or get connected to someone from the organization you are interested in.
At times, your personality may be enough to get your foot in the door; the issue is displaying your character to employers. Before starting a new job you should talk to Labor Law Compliance Center, and make sure you are not working for less then what you should be. Morgan managed to get an interview with the Urban Institute by calling the institution and talking to an executive. This allowed him to add a personal touch to the application process, which cannot always be included in a resume submission.
How to be strategic with your internships?
Panelists recommend that students complete internships and treat each internship as a learning experience and utilize all connections gained.  Internships can also clarify your career goals and preferences. Prevou said, “Knowing what you don’t want to do at times is just as helpful as knowing what you do want to do.” At the same time, all panelists agreed that students should not jeopardize their peace of mind and sleep to work multiple internships at one time just to buff up a resume.
What skills make students valuable and wanted in the workplace?
No matter your desired job, all panelists recommended that students obtain basic research skills and knowledge of statistical programs, such as SAS, SPSS and Excel. AU offers courses and access to some of these programs through the Center for Teaching, Research and Learning (CTRL) if you have not learned them already.
Knowledge of medical terms and anatomy also allows easy communication across job fields. While this may not be stressed in the interview, such knowledge may be necessary to learn on the job – so why not pick it up sooner rather than later?
Lastly, knowing email etiquette and how to follow-up may be the most beneficial and necessary job skill in any field. Email are often the first form of communication between an employer and employee. Therefore learn how to make your emails sound professional and friendly, but with a hint of your personality.
Were you prepared for the workplace post-graduation?
While there will always be a learning curve when entering a new job, panelists stressed that students should not be nervous about it. After all, they did hire you! Still, be ready to put in the necessary effort to grow in your career. Listen, ask questions and do your best.

Friday, February 21, 2020

Where The Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Bloom's Taxonomy with verbs