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Penn State Sorority in Hot Water Over Offensive Photo

by Suada Kolovic

Greek parties (and parties in general) have become synonymous with the presence of tasty treats, a few festive streamers, bonding, booze and ponchos. Wait, something about that last detail doesn’t seem right...too bad members of the Chi Omega sorority didn’t get the message: A Penn State sorority is facing an investigation after an offensive photo from a racially-themed costume party surfaced on Facebook.

The Mexican-themed party photo – which included girls wearing sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches and holding signs that said “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass, I smoke it” – was posted on Facebook, where the girls’ identities were discovered once they were tagged by other partygoers. The incident has led the Penn State Penhellenic Council to investigate the Nu Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega, according to The Daily Collegian. Jessica Ricardi, the sorority’s president, has issued an apology in the school’s newspaper, which in part read: “Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”

How do you think Penn State should handle the situation? Let us know the comments section.


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College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

by Suada Kolovic

College board members have released a statement – “It’s not me, it’s you.” Okay, those might not have been their exact words but that was the overall message: According to a survey on higher education, most board members believe that higher education costs too much...but a majority also say their own institutions’ prices aren’t the problem. Society responded with a cynical, “Riiiiiiiight.”

A report on the recent “College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap Between Higher Education and the Public?” survey revealed a whopping 55 percent of respondents said higher education in general is too expensive relative to its value but 62 percent said that their institution costs weren’t the problem and were, in fact, appropriate. Susan Whealler Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Association of Governing Boards, said the survey is important because it provides insight into how board members perceive public concerns about higher education and how they then act in the boardroom. "What we have noticed is there's a major gap between the two,” said Johnston. The survey drew 2,539 responses from among the nearly 14,000 board members from the public and private colleges invited to participate in the survey about perceptions of college prices, costs and outcomes, with a response rate of 18.3 percent.

For more on this survey, click here...then tell us what you think!


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Bloomberg’s Latest Donation to Johns Hopkins Tops $1 Billion Mark

by Suada Kolovic

Giving back to your alma mater is a tradition deeply rooted in the inner workings of any university. Once your status has shifted from “student” to “alumni,” you can bet there is an expectation for you to give back. And while some go out of their way to avoid the financial strains of contributing (we are technically still in a recession), Michael Bloomberg isn’t one of them: The New York City mayor’s latest $350 million pledge has pushed his lifetime donations to his alma mater past the $1 billion mark. Yup, that’s billions. With a b.

Johns Hopkins announced the donation late Saturday, saying it believed Bloomberg – who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP – is now the first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university. (This assertion, however, is hard to verify since many donors tend to give anonymously.) About $250 million of Bloomberg’s latest contribution will be part of a larger effort to raise $1 billion to foster cross-disciplinary work at Johns Hopkins; the remaining $100 million will be devoted to need-based financial aid for undergraduate students in the form of 2,600 Bloomberg scholarships in the next 10 years. "Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the statement issued by the university. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."

What do you think of Bloomberg’s generosity? Do you plan to donate to your college after you graduate?


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Study: Pell Grant Restrictions Affect Enrollment at Community Colleges in the South

by Scholarships.com Staff

Community colleges across the country have seen a steep decline in enrollments this year for a few reasons. A recovering economy steering students toward jobs and budget cuts that have led to fee increases have played key roles but changes to federal Pell grant eligibility are most notable. According to a new study, community colleges in the Deep South have been hit hardest by the changes that took effect last year.

The study, by Education Policy Center at the University of Alabama director Stephen Katsinas, argues that community college enrollments in Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi are highly sensitive to changes in the federal grant program. Enrollment in 47 of the 62 two-year colleges across the three states declined this past fall and more than 5,000 students lost Pell grants – a change that the report's authors say can be directly attributed to the changes in eligibility. Students are now limited to just six years of Pell grants, fewer students automatically qualify for the maximum grant because of a lower income cap for receiving an “automatic zero” expected family contribution and students without a high school diploma or GED are no longer eligible.

While many states have started to see their economies improve, that’s not the case for the three states included in the study. In fact, not only have their economies not recovered but state-supported student aid programs are much smaller, so colleges have fewer resources for low-income students who no longer qualify for Pell grants. Both Pell grants and community colleges are "vital to enhancing college degree completion in the Deep South, for it is the community colleges where economically disadvantaged students begin higher education," the study noted. The enrollment numbers were based on surveys of community college officials. All of the two-year colleges in the three-state region responded. However, the national enrollment data for 2012 hasn't been compiled yet, said David Thomas, a spokesman for the U.S. Department of Education.


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Student Sues College After Being Expelled for Facebook Posts

by Suada Kolovic

Obsessively checking wall posts, commenting on old high school prom photos, liking statuses that have no likeable qualities and participating in a poke war (if that’s still a thing) are pretty common among Facebook users. But for those of you who think that Facebook is a free-for-all to express your unfiltered thoughts, you are sadly mistaken: A nursing student from Central Lakes College was expelled over his Facebook posts and now he’s suing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Craig Keefe was one semester away from becoming a registered nurse when officials at the two-year college deemed two of his private Facebook posts “disturbing.” Keefe claims administrators never showed him the offending posts, nor did they explain how he violated school policy. His lawyer, Jordan Kushner of Minneapolis, explains, “He really doesn't know... It's a public institution. You're entitled to due process before any type of significant action is taken against you. You deserve to know what the charges are and the chance to be heard." The suit accuses Central Lakes College of conspiring to violate Keefe’s constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and due process and seeks reinstatement in the program as well as damages. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think it’s fair that Keefe’s private posts were used against him? Should college officials take it upon themselves to supervise a student’s Facebook page? Let us know in the comments section.


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Top 10 Highest Paying Internships

by Suada Kolovic

For a college student, an internship is viewed as a rite of passage, a box that must be checked, a prerequisite for future ambitions. And while obtaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience and a reference is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them extremely well. Check out the top 10 companies that made the cut below (for the complete list, click here):


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Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

This Ivy League School Considers Adding a Nap Room for Students

February 26, 2013

Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

by Suada Kolovic

We’ve all been there: Going about our day as if we don’t have a care in the world when it dawns on us that (go figure) that term paper on the pros and cons of procrastination in the creative process is due tomorrow. Panicked, we consider emailing our professor an excuse about a death in the family but given we killed off Nana (who’s actually alive and well back home) last semester during finals week, we decide it’s best to pull an all-nighter. The next day, we’re irritable, unmotivated and just plain sluggish and while the simple solution is to overcome procrastination and not leave an assignment until the last minute, a Harvard student has suggested a different approach: a nap room on campus.

The Harvard administration is considering creating a designated nap room after sophomore Yugi Hou started an online petition. “Most students operate daily on a sleep deficit, to the detriment of their health and productivity,” said Hou. “For those getting insufficient sleep at night, naps can provide alertness and help students take a break from their hectic schedules.” Hou started the online petition through the Harvard Undergraduate Council’s “We the Crimson” initiative, which is meant to foster direct dialogue between students and school administrators. Each month, the three petitions with the most votes are sent to the Dean of Harvard College for review. Harvard administrators have yet to make a decision on the initiative but Hou has said that until a siesta center is set up on campus, she plans on creating a “nap map” to help plot the best spots for students to nod off on campus.

If you’re a fan of napping between classes, do you think it’s your university’s responsibility to provide nap rooms for students? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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Penn Admissions Officer Fired After Mocking Applicants on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for an edge in the college admissions process? Sure...who isn’t? If you’re considering applying to some of the most competitive colleges in the country, you’ll need to find some way to distinguish yourself from the thousands of other hopefuls vying for a spot. Adding details of perseverance and overcoming adversity to your essay is a great place to start but be wary about what personal anecdotes you decide to share because you never know where your private story will end up: An admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania was fired after she posted and openly ridiculed excerpts of students’ application essays on her Facebook page. Not cool.

Penn officials were made aware of the series of online posts written by Nadirah Farah Foley through a collection of Facebook screenshots anonymously sent to the dean of admissions. According to The Daily Pennsylvania, Foley included quotations from essays as well as disdainful remarks. In one excerpt, she quoted an essay in which an applicant had described the experience of overcoming his fear of using the bathroom outdoors while camping in the wilderness. “Another gem,” Foley wrote on the student’s topic choice. And although she is no longer working for the university, neither she nor her supervisors have officially confirmed that the postings were the reason for her departure. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think Foley breached Penn’s privacy policy even though she didn’t mention any students by name? What would you do if your essay was one of those Foley mocked? Let us know in the comments section.


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Balancing School, Work and Your Personal Interests

by Mike Sheffey

So I went to a punk and pop punk music show this past Friday in Greensboro, NC and that got me thinking: College is a challenge but you’ve got to make time for the things you truly value. (For me, that’s music.) It’s takes some effort to keep doing the things you love when you have three tests to study for, an essay to write, a job to keep up with and extracurricular activities, but I think that keeping up with your passions is a great way to stay grounded in this hectic yet exciting time in your life.

Don’t get me wrong – immerse yourself in the culture of your campus, get involved on and off campus, and look into all that your college town has to offer (trust me, I’ve been searching for a music scene here) but don’t lose sight of those things that make you different from others. I can count the amount of punk music lovers at Wofford on one hand but I don’t let that stop me from practicing guitar, going to shows here and in my hometown and keeping up with the news of the scene.

Don’t be afraid to stand out, stay true to what you love and embrace the fact that you add a certain level of diversity and variety to your campus. Everyone has a hobby, a love or something that makes them different. Realize that it’s something that could benefit your campus as a whole: Get involved with clubs of similar interests and better your campus by pushing for what you care about and bring attention to it. Sometimes people won’t know they like something nor have similar interests until it’s laid out in front of them. Even if that something is far from your major, is just a hobby or is just a fun fact about yourself, share it with your campus. You’re part of the community and people want to hear it!

Mike Sheffey is a junior at Wofford College double majoring in computer science and Spanish. He loves all things music and has recently taken up photography. Mike works for an on-campus sports broadcasting company as well as the music news blog PropertyOfZack.com. He hopes to use this blogging position to inform and assist others who are seeking the right college or those currently enrolled in college by providing advice on college life, both in general and specific to Wofford.


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Cornell Student Organization Gives Financial Solace to Undocumented Students

by Carly Gerber

Undocumented students are ineligible for federal aid or loans and as a result, many of these students have a difficult time paying their way through college. Accruing enough funds to turn a collegiate dream into reality isn’t easy but one appropriately-named student group at Cornell University is certainly doing its part to ease the financial burden.

The DREAM Team is attempting to make the American Dream a reality for Cornell’s undocumented students, thanks to a $5,000 reward from the Perkins Prize. Though the initial plan was to give out $2,500 in scholarships and put the remaining $2,500 to DREAM Team events and trips, the group decided it was more important to allot the entire amount to undocumented students in need. The scholarships will be on the smaller side – the DREAM Team receives a minimum of 10 applicants, meaning that awards will be $500 each – but the funds could help awardees purchase the basic necessities to succeed in college. Every little bit helps!

Cornell President David Skorton is proud of his students for being proactive and has said, “Many of us have lost sight of the important contributions immigrants have made – and are making – to our culture and our economy. Their continued contributions are critical to our country’s success.” Yet, along with encouragement comes negative feedback. Conservatives routinely discourage reform that will give undocumented residents a pathway to citizenship, arguing that allowing illegal immigrants to stay in America will burden taxpayers and increase illegal immigration.

Ultimately, the DREAM Team wants Cornell to expand the financial aid it can offer undocumented students and realize the American Dream for deserving students. Other private organizations are offering similar programs and interested students can find these awards via Scholarships.com. What do you think of the work these groups are doing?

Carly Gerber is majoring in journalism at Columbia College Chicago. She loves fashion and hopes to cover the topic for a Chicago-area magazine. In her free time, she focuses on her blog, loves making jewelry and spending time on Pinterest and Pose. She hopes to use this blog to guide and relate to its followers: college students like herself!


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