Weekend reads: Einstein's advice about learning, major in becoming internet famous, 529 crowdfunding

Kristin Tyndall's reads

Albert Einstein believed having fun was the best way to learn, according to a note he wrote in 1915 to his 11-year-old son, Hans. He encourages Hans to "play the things on the piano which please you, even if the teacher does not assign those," because, he argues, you will learn more if you lose yourself in the enjoyment of the skill you're practicing. The letter not only contains excellent advice, but also provides an endearing glimpse of a side of Einstein we don't always see.

A college in China is offering a degree in social media stardom. The three-year associate degree in "Modelling and Etiquette" features classes in fashion, marketing, photography, and public relations. The stakes are high: Individuals who successfully achieve social media fame can earn as much as $46 million per year.

Seren Snow's reads

A small school in Oklahoma called Positive Tomorrows provides an education for about 123 homeless children in pre-K through 5th grade. Around 1.3 million students experienced homelessness in the United States during the 2014-2015 school year, according to The National Center for Homeless Education, and there had been a 3.5% increase in each of the three preceding years. Yet federal funding for the issue has been lackluster. In addition to classroom instruction, students at Positive Tomorrows are also taught social skills and given mental health support. But they're just like other kids, says Shelly Fryer, a teacher there. "They aren't sad or constantly in trouble," she says. Instead, "they come to school and they are ready to learn and excited about learning."

Many 529 college savings plans are now being equipped with a feature that allows for crowdfunding. So now, parents can ask for contributions to their child's 529 instead of gifts for their birthday or Christmas. Giving pages can be set up on Facebook, Twitter, and other sites, and a fee is not charged to anyone giving to a 529 account. Mary Morris,  CEO of Virginia529, says their online giving tool has become a hit. She says the average contribution is $900, many of which have been high school graduation gifts. Right now, only half of the states that have 529 plans offer this tool, but more are expected to follow.


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