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The Great Homework Debate

Cornell Could Ban Surprise Assignments to Improve Mental Health

March 4, 2011

The Great Homework Debate

by Alexis Mattera

You have just one class left until a full week off from textbooks, Scantron sheets and yawn-loathing instructors. Then, it happens: Your professor goes off the syllabus and announces a new project – a lengthy research paper, to be precise – to be handed in during the first class after break. That thought bubble above your head filled with notions of sleeping until noon and emptying your DVR goes kerplewy and your waning stress level takes a leap into finals week territory. Ouch...but that scenario may no longer occur at Cornell because of a call for change from the faculty. Is it the right choice?

Cornell’s Faculty Senate is expected to vote this month on a resolution that would "strongly discourage" surprise assignments to improve the mental health of students. The resolution, said theatre professor and chair of the Faculty Senate's education-policies committee Bruce A. Levitt, would encourage faculty members to stick to their syllabi so students can better pace themselves. "The idea was not to forbid homework over break, but to make academic work over break the choice of the student," Levitt explained.

If my school had implemented this kind of resolution when I was an undergrad, I probably would have rejoiced but having been a member of a deadline-driven profession for almost six years now, it would have been a detriment. With the advent of cell phones and on-the-go e-mail access, many bosses expect their employees to remain in constant contact even when they are off the clock – something students may not realize until they begin their first job out of college. I’m not saying students shouldn’t be able to enjoy their nights, weekends and breaks but they should be aware that after college, the work needs to get done regardless of the hour.


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Beware the Ides of March...and the New GRE Format

Changes Will Be Implemented August 1st

March 15, 2011

Beware the Ides of March...and the New GRE Format

by Alexis Mattera

Advice to heed today: Don’t leave your house if a soothsayer warns you not to, don’t run through the Tufts quad sans clothing and don’t study for the GRE using last year’s study guides.

Beginning on August 1st, graduate students to-be will make the acquaintance of the new Graduate Record Examination (aka the GRE). For those unfamiliar, the GRE is currently computer-adaptive and adjusts the difficulty of each successive problem based on the answer given to the previous question; the new version allows students to skip questions and return to them later (the computer just modifies the difficulty of the next part at the end instead), which prevents test-takers from losing time and could ultimately lead to a better overall score. As for the content, the writing section will include two pre-selected essay prompts that will require "more focused" responses, the math section will swap out a number of geometry problems for real-world data interpretation (bonus: an on-screen calculator will be accessible) and the verbal section will feature more reading comprehension but no more antonyms and analogies. GRE scoring will range from 130 to 170 rather than 200 to 800 per section but the cost of taking the test will hold steady at $160. There will also be changes to the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT), but those won’t take place until June 2012.

What do you think of the changes to the GRE? For those who have taken the current version, which format appeals more to you? For those who are preparing, do you think you'll fair better, worse or the same when these changes debut?


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Melissa Garrett

by Melissa Garrett

I am a creative writing major at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA. I was raised in Dallas but often visited family in Pennsylvania growing up; I was very drawn to the aesthetic of Pittsburgh, as well as the nice people. Although Chatham’s campus is in the middle of the city, its beautiful surroundings and foliage make it a wonderful environment in which to learn. In addition, all of the women of Chatham are extremely kind and supportive of each other. Not very many people experience single-sex education and I have really enjoyed my experience despite my doubts.

I was drawn to a creative writing major because I just love writing and being creative. I am always coming up with new ideas and putting them down on paper; this is also what made me want to be a virtual intern for Scholarhips.com because I love to write about significant events. I am in the process of self-publishing my books of various genres and have a Facebook page dedicated to my projects.

I have little spare time with all that I do around campus but I love to just spend time with friends and go into the city. I love to go out shopping for new items for my eccentric wardrobe and I also enjoy listening to metal music at local shows. Going out for a cup of tea is fun, too.


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Arne Duncan’s Ultimate Bracket Challenge

Sec. of Ed. Calls for Increased Graduation Rates for Post-Season Eligibility

March 17, 2011

Arne Duncan’s Ultimate Bracket Challenge

by Alexis Mattera

Selection Sunday has come and gone and your brackets should be ready to go. You’re probably feeling pretty confident about your choices and talking a bit of trash to other participants in your pool (I am...I went to UConn) but if Arne Duncan has his way, those brackets could look very different in the near future.

The Secretary of Education proposed that NCAA teams failing to graduate at least 40 percent of their players are barred from post-season tournament play. The impact would be significant – based on the annual study conducted by The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport, men's teams from Arkansas Pine Bluff, Baylor, California, Clemson, Georgia Tech, Kentucky, Louisville, Maryland, Missouri, New Mexico State, Tennessee and Washington would all be ineligible this year (that’s nearly an entire region of participants wiped out) – but Duncan is confident teams will find this "low bar" relatively easy to clear and believes the rule would immediately improve academic results.

Of course, there is some pushback: An NCAA spokesman said the rule would unfairly penalize current players for graduation rates of students from previous years and the NCAA already imposes academic sanctions on schools that fail to maintain education standards under the Academic Progress Rate. Most schools offer extra assistance to student-athletesXavier’s Sister Rose Ann Fleming makes all players attend at least 10 hours of study hall every week and Maryland spends more than $1 million every year to support student-athletes' academics, a number that doesn’t reflect its 8-percent graduation rate reported by the UCF study – but it’s not enough for Duncan. "If you can't graduate two out of five of your players, I just think your priorities are out of whack," Duncan, a former Harvard basketball star, said. "What it tells me is there is a lack of institutional commitment."

In your opinion, is Duncan’s full-court press a good idea or is the current zone defense on academics working just fine? Would you invite him into your bracket pool?


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Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

Colleges with the Highest Return on Your Investment

April 8, 2011

Which Colleges Are Worth the Sticker Price?

by Suada Kolovic

With all this talk about possible Pell Grant cuts, acceptance rates plummeting and universities facing serious tuition hikes – Arizona universities could face hikes of up to 22% – which schools are worth the outrageous sticker price of about $200,000? According to PayScale.com’s annual survey of colleges with the highest return on investment rates, the California Institute of Technology tops the list with a 12.2% annual return. PayScale’s data is pulled from 1.4 million pay reports from persons who obtained bachelors degrees in the last 20 years, for more on their methodology click here. Check out who made the cut below:


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Harvard Hopeful Sings for Admission on YouTube

How Far Would YOU Go to Get Off the Waitlist?

April 15, 2011

Harvard Hopeful Sings for Admission on YouTube

by Alexis Mattera

By this time of year, most high school seniors know where they will and will not be heading for the Fall 2011 term but others are stuck in college admissions purgatory as one name on a very long waitlist. While some are doing what the term suggests and waiting for these schools to decide their fates, others – like Harvard hopeful Grace Oberhofer – are refusing to sit idly by: The Washington State resident took matters into her own hands, logged on to YouTube and pled for acceptance to the school...in song.

Though the Tacoma School of the Arts senior has already received acceptance letters from six schools (Duke, Brandeis, Oberlin, Tufts, Tulane and Sarah Lawrence), Oberhofer has her heart set on spending the next four years in Harvard’s hallowed halls. She elected to make her case for admission on YouTube, where she performed an original song expressing her love for the school. Oberhofer’s not relying on comic relief alone to earn her the fat envelope; she supplemented the video with a serious letter. Smart move.

The video, which has amassed more than 36,000 views, proves Oberhofer is capable of composing a catchy tune with some pretty amusing lyrics but the jury’s still out on whether the video will help or harm her chances of admission. Waitlists are especially formidable this year; would you take that extra step to stand out if it meant getting in?


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The Many Meanings of Graduation

by Darci Miller

Graduation.

Depending on where in your academic career you are, the word has varying connotations. To high schoolers, graduation is IT. The ultimate goal. The sum total of four awkward, drama-filled years. The day that begins a new, much more fun and independent chapter in your life.

In college, graduation is a much more complex idea. You might be excited to get out there and start your new job and your new life in a new city or state. On the other hand, what if there’s no job? What if the thought of leaving your beloved alma mater is akin to the thought of a root canal?

After high school, you may be parting ways with your closest friends, but you have the safety net of knowing that almost everyone comes home for the holidays. After college, this isn’t the case. If you attend school in Chicago and have a friend that’s from Texas that’s graduating and going to grad school in Seattle, will you ever see him again? Will he be back to visit?

Of course, this could be me being a little selfish and a lot sad that I’ll be losing so many friends and coworkers to the real world next year. But nonetheless, from graduates and non-graduates alike, the impending ceremony is receiving mixed reactions. Honestly though, I think this is part of the beauty of college. For the first time, you get to choose where you live, learn and make friends. Being sad to leave is a weird sort of pat on the back – “Good job! You made some awesome decisions!”

To all soon-to-be graduates, congratulations! Future college freshmen, you’ve got some great stuff headed your way, so get excited! Future college graduates, I wish you true sadness upon leaving college (hey, I said it was weird!) and all the success in the world in your future endeavors.

Darci Miller is a New Yorker studying journalism and sport administration at the University of Miami. When she’s not writing for the school newspaper, you can find her at the gym, either working or working out. She loves all ‘80s pop culture (the cheesier the better!), and glues herself to her TV when the Olympics are on. She dreams big, and believes the sky’s the limit!


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Meet Scholarships.com’s Virtual Interns: Allison Rowe

by Allison Rowe

As a rising senior at Washington State University, I have a lot on my plate – balancing two majors, maintaining honor roll grades and working to realize some serious career aspirations – but I wasn’t always this way. If I can ever convince you of one thing, it is the infinitely transformative power of the college experience.

Lazy. Pessimistic. Socially awkward. These words describe my high school self. Not only did I take the second chance granted to everyone at my WSU freshman orientation, but also realized everyone is free to reinvent themselves as many times as they wish during these four years, so long as they are brave enough to embrace opportunity when it arises.

If you aren’t in a club and don’t have a job, if you haven’t applied for scholarships or attended your professors’ office hours, if you skip class and don’t give back to your community, if you haven’t made a new friend all semester, listen up: You are missing crucial opportunities and wasting money! Though hipsters would like to convince you otherwise, participation in college IS cool and its payouts are unlimited. You can boost your resume, pay off debt and eat free food with friends all at once by taking full advantage of services and activities your fees pay for. This is especially true now with widespread tuition increases (WSU’s has jumped more than 30 percent since I enrolled) and using your time in college efficiently should become a top priority.

Now I do not mean to suggest you must do all those things simultaneously, but the general consensus among seniors is that a busier life is a happier life! During my time as a Scholarship.com virtual intern, I hope to help you all get involved early and build a strong, diverse skill sets to maximize the true potential of your college experiences.


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Social Media and the Job Market

Online Identity Matters to Potential Employers

May 9, 2011

Social Media and the Job Market

by Alexis Mattera

It’s that time of year again when the inboxes of hiring managers are overflowing with applications from recent college graduates looking to score that coveted first job. But today, in addition to reviewing resumes, cover letters and references, employers are taking candidates’ online identities into account when deciding who will receive an offer letter.

The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ most recent report on job studies, of the 46 percent of companies surveyed by CareerBuilder that are looking to hire recently graduated workers, 16 percent of them are seeking candidates who are adept at using social media. But there's a catch: While a candidate that's active on Facebook and Twitter is good, the one with proficiency in Google Analytics and knowledge about new industry developments is more likely to get an interview.

To make the best virtual impression, less is more says Steve Schwartz, executive vice president of consumer services at risk management company Intersections – not only will untagging unsavory photos and eliminating excessive personal information help boost your online image but it could also prevent identity theft – and Monica Wilson, acting co-director of career services at Dartmouth College suggests being more cognizant of what you post and when you post it. (This advice also translates to students applying to college.)

Recent or soon-to-be college grads, does your online presence require a little spring cleaning before you enter the job market?


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How to Make the Grade and Keep Your Sanity During Finals

by Anna Meskishvili

Preparing for finals is all about organization. Not sure how to best manage your time before each exam? Check out my tried-and-true tips below.

Before attacking each subject, lay out exactly what days you will study for which class. To-do lists are essential for this time of year – it’s very easy to miss a chapter or a concept if you’re zipping through the PowerPoint slides! What I like to do after I finish a chapter is think of possible tough questions, write them down and see if I could answer them without looking back. I also have to say the number one best-kept secret of all studying is SelfControl, an app for Macs that “blacklists” certain websites and makes it impossible for you to access them during a designated time you choose. My best work has been done during my SelfControl hours (it’s on right now!).

As fabulous as to-do lists and website-blocking apps are, though, they also cause anxiety so make sure you take breaks. This is so important mentally and physically. If it’s nice out, ask that gent sitting across from you at the library to watch your laptop for 20 minutes while you take a stroll and shake out your legs. If it’s rainy, go get a hot chocolate from the student union as a treat for the work you’ve done so far.

Just remember, finals may seem like the end of the world, but keep in mind they are just tests. This isn’t your last or first test, so try to walk into that room calm and confident and in control. Also, remember this helpful tip about scheduling: Make sure to schedule easier classes for the spring semester, classes that are likely not to require a sit-down exam. Just trust me, when its 77 degrees outsides and all your friends are texting you: “Come over here bittie and lay on my porch — making lemonade!” it’s a tough game for Econ’s Opportunity Cost. But as the studious student you are, you will chose to study. Of course.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Relations at the College of Communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She hopes to someday work in Healthcare Administration Communication. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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