Each year, top universities award honorary degrees to people with impressive achievements in their fields — including a handful of A-list Hollywood stars and politicians. Today, Hillary Clinton received an honorary doctor of laws from University of St. Andrews in Scotland, following in the footsteps of admired actors and actresses like Ben Affleck, Meryl Streep, and Alec Baldwin. In the spirit of back-to-school season, take a look at the esteemed figures with honorary degrees!
Students are returning to the BO-filled halls of school this time of year, and it's getting us nostalgic about our own high school days. Those four years were either your most awkward or the best time of your life (maybe a little of both). Either way, there was plenty to love about those days. Graduation season has us reminiscing about our favorite high school memories, like passing notes, pep rallies, all-nighters, and prom. For us, high school fell in the late '90s and early '00s: we listened to Discmans on the bus, recorded Dawson's Creek on VHS tapes, and covered our walls with posters of *NSYNC. Check out the 100 things we loved most about our teen years, then share what you loved most about high school in the comments!
— Additional reporting by Tara Block
Education and intellectual growth shouldn't stop when the final bell rings and you walk across the stage to accept your diploma. Continuing brain development, mastering your chosen field, and sharpening your reading comprehension should be lifelong projects. Not only will it keep your brain active and sharp, but you'll have a leg up on the competition. You should learn something new every day, after all. Here are some ways to sneak smart activities into your tight schedule.
Once you've thrown your graduation cap in the air, it's time to face the real world. Although you're not in school anymore, you could still probably stand to keep your living costs as low as a student's because — let's face it — that entry-level salary probably won't stretch very far. Here are some ways you can live a frugal student's lifestyle:
Use student discounts: You still have some time before the date on your student ID is expired, so make use of student discounts (here's a list!) while you can. Use student clothing discounts from J.Crew or Ann Taylor to get yourself a work outfit.
Find roommates: Room with other people to keep living costs down, just like you did in college. But pick carefully — you don't want to end up with a nightmare rooming situation. Do background checks if it's a stranger from Craigslist, or try to stick to people you know. Make sure you ask your potential roommate these five questions before moving in with them.
Make use of the library: It's time to transition from the school library to a local public library! Keep on getting your books for free by patronizing your local library.
Arianna Huffington: Sleep Your Way to the Top
"A much simpler way is to sleep your way to the top . . . But no, I'm talking about sleep in the literal sense . . . And even as it's affecting our health, sleep deprivation will also profoundly affect your creativity, your productivity, and your decision-making."
In a nutshell: Sleep will help you work better, leading you to success.
If a grade school teacher ever asked you to write a note to yourself and then actually mailed it to you several years later, you know how special opening that letter can be. It's as if all your memories from that time come rushing before you and you realize how much you've changed (or stayed the same). Why not gift that feeling to someone else? For the new grad in your life, a time capsule that captures her life as it is right now will be memorable for years to come.
While you could always buy one online, there's something special (and not to mention cost-saving) about putting together a time capsule kit yourself for the lady of the hour.
Here's what you'll need to gather:
- Pictures of her with her closest family and friends
- A cute pad for her to fill out what she studied and why, and other notes like her plans for the future (if you want her to see what's inside the capsule ahead of time)
- Letters from her family and friends that list their favorite memories with her from that year
- A copy of her favorite movie and song of the moment
- Her school paper (especially if she wrote any articles in it)
- A stub from her graduation ticket
- Her favorite hard candy
Put it all together in a box and voilà! Just like that, you've got yourself a meaningful gift that'll stand the test of time.
When you're trying to get your bearings as a new graduate, it's hard to know how to manage your personal finances. Here are some quick tips to get newly minted graduates started on a journey to better finances:
- Read a book. Get your feet wet in the world of personal finance by picking up a book. Ramit Sethi's I Will Teach You to Be Rich is the perfect book for those in their early 20s. You'll be surprised at how entertaining (yet useful!) a personal finance book can be.
- Make sure your health is covered. Health is wealth, and good insurance will protect you from unexpected medical charges. Under the Affordable Care Act, you get to stay on your parents' plan until you turn 26. However, if that's not an option and you don't have a job yet, then look at your school's insurance plan to see when it ends. Sometimes you can extend your student coverage. Here are other ways to shop for your own insurance.
- Tackle your debt. Many new grads struggle through the question of whether to tackle their debt or save. It really depends on each situation and what you feel comfortable with, as well as what makes sense for you. However, prioritizing debt now can save you a lot of interest down the road. There are many different strategies to paying down debt — you can tackle debts with the highest interest rates first (avalanche method) or the ones that are easily paid off (snowball method) — so pick one that works best for you.
- Track your money. Start managing and tracking your spending in the method you prefer. You can use sites like Mint, start recording expenses in an Excel sheet, or download the free app iXpense Lite. You'll become more aware of how much you're spending, which will help make you more mindful when you're spending money.
- Live within your means. Living within your means doesn't have to mean eating beans and rice and staying in on the weekends. There are plenty of ways you can live frugally and still enjoy life. Save in some areas so you can indulge in others, but be smart about what you're spending your money on.
- Save for the future. Think ahead, and start saving for retirement. The younger you start, the more compounding interest — the interest that accrues on both your initial deposit and the accumulated interest — will work to your advantage. Max out your 401k (or, at the very least, match what your company is willing to contribute), set up an IRA, and start setting aside money for emergencies.
Media mogul and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey is a giver, but today it was her turn to receive when she accepted an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Harvard University. She also delivered the commencement speech to 2013 graduates, and as she offered insights into her career, she mentioned her original inspiration, Barbara Walters. Talking about her early years on TV, Oprah said, "When I first started, I had Barbara in my head. I would try to sit like Barbara, talk like Barbara, move like Barbara." Then she said it struck her: "I could be a much better Oprah than a pretend Barbara."
This isn't her first time being recognized by a top university, either — she's one of several celebrities with multiple honorary degrees. Her work on TV and with charities makes her someone to look up to, and Harvard President Drew Faust called her one of America's greatest success stories, saying, "She has used her extraordinary influence and reach as a force for good in the world, with constant focus on the importance of education opportunity and the virtues of serving others." From her walk through Harvard Yard to her time at the podium, take a look at Oprah's special Ivy League day!
If you've ever seen your favorite celeb in a cap and gown, they may not actually be graduating from school (although that is the case with some stars, like Eva Longoria). But often, universities award Hollywood A-listers and other prominent figures with what's called an honorary degree.
Honorary degrees are typically doctorates, though master's degrees fall in that category, too. The award often goes to someone who hasn't earned it through schooling but because he or she has made a lasting impression on society or a specific field through their achievements. (Take Maya Angelou and Ben Affleck, for instance.) Some universities are stricter than others in their criteria, and the recipients get picked through a nomination process by faculty. Other schools, like Cornell University, refuse to give out the degrees at all.
While the whole process is credited for benefiting and drawing attention to the school, some criticize it for cheapening the degree and being too controversial. We want to know: do you think the idea is practical or pointless?
While this year's graduation may not be taking your little one much further than a new school down the block (thank goodness!), her achievements still deserve a celebration. Whether you're having a bash for the whole class, a graduation day playdate for a few friends, or just want to make family dinner extra special, here are nine fun ideas to celebrate your little grad. Oh, the places she'll go (one day)!