Grammar: Clauses versus Phrases

Focus: Phrases and Clauses

What is a clause?

It is a complete sentence, meaning it has a subject and predicate.


What’s the formula for a clause?

Subject + Verb + Object


Can you give me an example of a clause?

Grammar Chimp smiles with his eyes. Grammar Chimp is my subject, smiles is my verb, and with his eyes is the object (the receiver of the message).


What is a phrase?

It is an incomplete sentence, meaning it has only a predicate.


Can you give me an example of a phrase?

Smiles with his eyes. Notice there is no subject, so it is an incomplete sentence.


Op-ed: The New FAFSA

I was perusing The Chronicle of Higher Education and found an article relaying the changes that are being implemented this year for FAFSA applications. In “A New Financial-Aid Timeline Could Reshape Admissions. Here’s How Colleges Are Preparing” by Beckie Supiano, she elucidates on the potential impacts the “early FAFSA” may bring from both an institutional perspective and student focus. She concisely states that the particular advantages would be the extra time students and parents have to weigh their financial aid packages and alludes to the disadvantages institutions face by possibly having to revise their policies and timelines for incoming students.There was no main question per say but rather a list of subsidiary questions revolving around the anxiety of instituting new federal policy. Uncertain of the potential ramifications, she asks how it will affect admissions deadlines, financial aid policies, and communications with families. Although limited, her conceptual framework would then be the socioeconomic implications of the new FAFSA.

However, excluded from her narrative is the direct mention of the change:  the new FAFSA will use financial aid information from the past two years and why this move was made. For instance, if there are major financial adjustment (for example, a divorce) then this would affect the estimated award; whereas, previously, the last year was only used. Supiano casually avoids the specific details and ramifications of the FAFSA changes. Instead, she is nebulous and refers to how different universities may or may not respond to the new FAFSA.

This article piqued my interest because of my background as a college advisor for high school students. If FAFSA truly wanted to save money (as the award has not increased relative to college costs, another fact Supiano avoids mentioning), then it should institute a GPA restriction as well as a residency requirement of at least two years. Working with different demographics, I have seen students barely passing high school, who came over from Cuba and who have lived only three months in the States, receive full awards; however, the lower middle-class student with perfect grades often times gets zilch. Another issue: some families circumvent the system by placing only one parent on the IRS tax form with that parent claiming the child(ren). This is a way some middle-class families (who are generally seen as too wealthy by the federal government) get some aid. Families may still try to “work” the system knowing the two-year rule, but nonetheless, this well-known loophole was one of the reasons that FAFSA wanted to redress and again another Supiano oversight.

This political undertone was entirely ignored in the Chronicle’s piece, yet it is essential to the background of FAFSA and its history. As a result, the article primarily falls on the change category, but it should fall under the conflict category as well. It does not, because the author was myopic in her assessment of the changes FAFSA brings and entirely ignored the debate ensconcing it.

The alterations to FAFSA affect higher education in that the advisors and recruiters who are the direct lines will have to alter their “pitches” to elucidate parents on the impact of financial aid. It affects the entire university who may have to reevaluate deadlines, offers of admissions, and revise how financial aid is doled out. It affects the families of these students who do not understand the “true” cost of college but see it as the automatic next step following high school. There will be much discussion about FAFSA included within the larger debate of the price of college, as many answers are unknown and will not be known till the new process is rolled out. Although, the article was balanced, it was too narrow and did not fully delineate the current issues with federal aid from either a student or institutional perspective.

op-ed: the early fafsa

“Failure is the tuition you pay for success.” – Walter Brunel

The early FAFSA has brought forth a litany of questions about how it will affect admissions deadlines, financial aid policies, and recruitment efforts.

The Change: The new FAFSA will use financial aid information from the past two years instead of only using the a family’s tax information from the preceding year.

New Submission Date:  Students can now submit the FAFSA earlier−on October 1st and continue to file until the next year.

Presently, the only qualification to obtain the grant is to be a citizen or an eligible non-citizen. In each case, a student must also have a high financial need, as determined by a family’s Expected Family Contribution (EFC).

However, excluded from this narrative, is how a student could barely pass high school and receive a full Pell grant. For the 2016–17 award year (July 1, 2016, to June 30, 2017), the maximum award is $5,815, which is to divided between fall and spring semesters.

Working with different demographics, I have seen students who barely pass high school or who have recently emigrated to the United States, as an eligible non-citizen, receive full awards. In contrast, the lower middle-class student, with perfect grades, often times gets zilch.

FAFSA states that it has implemented the change to put “less pressure” on families who “won’t need to estimate” tax information. However, working in college admissions, the real reason may be to redress loopholes in the system.

For example, some families may list only one parent on the IRS tax form, with that specific parent claiming all the dependents in the family. In this manner, those who are generally seen as “too wealthy” by the federal government, which is determined by the family’s needs analysis, will get some aid.

Nonetheless, the implementation of the two-year rule may not fully curtail abuses. Families may still try to work the system, because the federal government has yet to solve the rising cost of education and the crippling student debt crisis.

Ultimately, the socioeconomic implications of the new FAFSA have yet to be foreseen. From an institutional perspective, universities may have to reevaluate deadlines, offers of admissions, and recruitment practices. From a student perspective, families are still not being informed about the true cost of college nor is the middle-class receiving the full scope of financial aid that they should be entitled to have.

If FAFSA truly wanted to rectify its policies and procedures, as the award has not increased relative to college costs, then it should institute a GPA restriction as well as a residency requirement of at least two years.

There will be much discussion about FAFSA, included within the larger debate about the high cost of college, as many answers are still unknown and will not be known till the early FAFSA has been fully instituted.


pedagogy: does working threaten college students’ academic success?

“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin

There has been limited research on the experiences of traditional-aged students at urban, commuter schools. This particular population is more likely to have higher financial aid needs, and as a result, work more and participate in on-campus activities less.

Often times these students come from economically challenged families, are minorities, first-generation American, or are considered non-traditional students. In turn, they are less likely to know how or apply for financial aid, thus missing out on state and federal opportunities to fund their education.

Instead, turning to working more hours, these students’ grades are impacted. In a study published by the Journal of College Student Retention, a negative correlation between hours worked and students success was found. Since there is a statistically significant relationship between GPA and persistence, students are advised to ideally work no more than than 10-15 hours per week.

By examining the relationship between work and student success, further study is needed on socioeconomic equity and access to higher education. Colleges and universities need to better allocate their resources to serve students who are struggling with finances. And students need to be informed how  their choices affect their ability to successfully complete college.


lifestyle: fit, young, and fresh

“Your body is a temple, but only if you treat it as one.”  –Astrid Alauda

The best tip that I ever received about weight loss and maintenance is know thy self. Some of us love breakfast, others desert, which is why diet plans fail. Do not tailor your size to a generic fit. My biggest food struggle has always been the munchies. Mindless eating watching GoT or a sappy rom-com on lonely nights does not help the waistline when you’re trying to find Mr. Right.

Here are 4 tips to beat those nom-nom-oops-gone moments:

  1. Something crunchy? Avoid those chips, even the ‘baked‘ ones. Empty calories, unnecessary oils, and gross breath. Solution- cut up radishes, celery, and carrots! Place these wholesome, snappy bites in a plastic container with a small amount of water on the bottom, so they don’t lose their freshness.
  2. Chocolate? True, it is your best friend; let’s not deny ourselves this indulgent fact. However, too much, not so cute. First step is to admit you are a woman; second step is to admit you need more magnesium in your system. Find it in nuts, seeds, and leafy greens. Bonus, this mineral serves to relax the body and combat stress! Best way to get your daily dose is by eating spinach, which has no taste. Blend it into a smoothie, and you have a delish superfood in the palm of your hands.
  3. Something sweet? Drink water. Craving sweets indicates a lack of chromium in the body, and the most readily available source to find it is your local tap, the faucet, not the corner bar.
  4. Something fatty? Guac, me. You’re low on essential fatty acids and oils. Think omega-3 and the lux hair commercials. Best bet is to hold off on the snacks and enjoy a healthy meal with fish, like salmon, as your core consumable. Other options include buying supplements, but they have yet to come up with a chewy or Flintstones-esque version of these fatty oils. Gotta swallow that pill whole, much like life.