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Good Samaritan Pays Student’s Tuition

January 13, 2012

Good Samaritan Pays Student’s Tuition

by Alexis Mattera

It’s Friday the 13th and instead of posting some bad, unlucky or just plain weird news, we thought we’d share a story that’s downright feel-good.

Like many college students today, John Jay College criminology major Angy Rivera was having a difficult time making her tuition payments. While she was eligible for in-state tuition rates as an undocumented student, Rivera could not qualify for state and federal aid so she began selling what she called handmade education bracelets on Chipin.com to bridge the financial gap. When her tale was recently featured in the New York Daily News, retired MTA conductor Luis Hernandez took note – and action: He donated $2,500 to cover the remainder of Rivera’s tuition, even though she was a complete stranger. “I’m retired and I’ve got a little money to spend,” said Hernandez. “I like helping out kids...especially if it’s somebody trying to get an education.” Naturally, Rivera shed tears of joy and told Hernandez, “This just made my next six months – you don’t know how big this is!” She also said she will use the money generated from her bracelets sales to pay for books and fees.

Times may be tough but if you’re willing to work hard and aren’t too proud to ask for help, good things can happen.

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Want to Stand Out to Employers? Follow These Three Techy Tips

January 17, 2012

Want to Stand Out to Employers? Follow These Three Techy Tips

by Suada Kolovic

Despite our name, we’re more than just scholarships here at Scholarships.com: We strive to keep students in the know on pretty much anything and everything college related, from figuring where you’ll spend the next four years and how you’ll pay for it to picking the major that’s right for you and finding employment once you’ve finished. And when it comes to the latter, recent college graduates are faced with one of the toughest job markets in recent years. What can you do to place yourself in the best position for employment after you graduate? Consider taking courses that will help you stand out from the crowd like those that deal with coding, design and analytics. Here are three tips U.S. News and World Report compiled to help you entice employers:

  • Get your code on: Regardless of your background, understanding even basic coding is a huge differentiator for job seekers in nearly every field, says Keith Cline, founder of the recruiting firm Dissero. Before you graduate, squeeze in a basic computer science class or, if you just don’t have room in your schedule, join New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and pledge to learn computer code by the end of 2012 via Codeacademy, a free tutorial website.
  • Socialize, virtually: If you think knowing your way around Facebook will suffice, you’re in for a rude awakening. Instead, Cline suggests students build and maintain blogs focused on target fields and use Twitter to engage with industry influencers. "Out of 10 applicants … that one person who has a personal blog and a social media presence, that's the person they'll hire," Cline says.
  • Take stats...STAT: Companies need people who can break down data and interpret the information with a business mindset, says Vijay Subramanian, chief analytics officer for Rent the Runway, a website where customers rent high-end designer fashions. Taking statistical analysis is a great way to get an understanding of programming language and getting into the weeds of Google Analytics and the power of what it can tell you, advises Cline.
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Could This Be the Future of Higher Ed?

Tenured Prof Leaves Stanford to Offer Low-Cost Online Courses

January 24, 2012

Could This Be the Future of Higher Ed?

by Alexis Mattera

Schools like MIT, Berkeley, Tufts and Michigan have been in the news recently for their support of online certificate programs. These courses are often low-cost or free alternatives to traditional college courses and one professor is so confident in this method of education that he has left a prominent position at a prestigious university to provide just that to the masses.

As reported by Reuters, The Chronicle and other outlets, Sebastian Thrun has left his post as a tenured computer science professor at Stanford to found Udacity, a start-up offering low-cost online classes. Thrun is no stranger to this kind of education – he taught an artificial intelligence course to more than 160,000 students around the world that had students taking the in-person lecture at Stanford flocking to its online counterpart – and will now focus on crafting online courses that recreate the intimacy of one-on-one tutoring through Udacity. One of the start-up’s first offerings will be a course called “Building a Search Engine” that will teach students with no prior programming experience how to build a search engine like Google.

What do you think of Thrun’s new operation? Is this the direction higher education is headed in or will traditional classes still have a place in the future?

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Toddler’s F-bomb on “Modern Family” Stirs Controversy with College Club

January 19, 2012

Toddler’s F-bomb on “Modern Family” Stirs Controversy with College Club

by Suada Kolovic

Bill Cosby was right: Kids really do say the darndest things. Sometimes, they’re awesomely hilarious but at other times, they’re horribly inappropriate and then there’s that awkward moment when a child first discovers profanity. (Oh, fudge.) Once this happens, fingers are generally pointed at a rowdy uncle, that unruly park down the street or the classic scapegoat…television. And while most adults accept that a child parroting naughty words is a part of the language learning process, others disagree, like the college anti-profanity crusader who asked ABC to pull this week’s “Modern Family” episode featuring a toddler using a bleeped curse word.

The child, played by Aubrey Anderson-Emmons, actually said the word “fudge” during taping but because her mouth was obscured by pixilation, viewers got the impression that her character used the actual F-word. This isn’t good enough for the founder of the No Cussing Club, though. "Our main goal is to stop this from happening," said McKay Hatch, an 18-year-old Brigham Young University student who founded the club in 2007. "If we don't, at least ABC knows that people all over the world don't want to have a two-year-old saying the `F-bomb' on TV." Hatch is insisting his 35,000 club members complain to ABC.

Meanwhile Steven Levitan, creator and executive producer of the sitcom with Christopher Lloyd, told the Television Critics Association last week that he’s “proud and excited” about the F-word plotline. "We thought it was a very natural story since, as parents, we've all been through this," Levitan said to EW.com, but added, "I'm sure we'll have some detractors."

Do you think having a two-year-old swear like a sailor is a bit much for network television or is the No Cussing Club overreacting to what’s really nothing more than the implication of a cuss word? Let us know where you stand in the comments section.

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Top Universities Experience Drop in Applications

January 20, 2012

Top Universities Experience Drop in Applications

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior considering applying to some of the top schools in the country – MIT, Harvard, Howard, etc. – you may have a better chance of getting in than your peers did last year: According to Bloomberg reports, elite schools across the country are experiencing a slowdown or drop in applications for freshman admission after years of record increases.

Has attending the Ivies become passé? Not likely but there are a number of factors that probably played a role in the decrease, like the adoption of the Common Application, which made it easier for students to apply to multiple schools. Both Harvard and Princeton reinstated early admission policies and then there’s the stagnant economy. So while your chances of getting behind those ivy gates are slightly better, paying back huge tuition bills is a major aspect to consider. Take for instance Columbia’s $59,208 tuition; in this economic climate, students may feel that just too expensive and are opting for more reasonable choices. (For more on this story, click here.)

Does this information have you reevaluating where you’ll apply? Let us know in the comments section.

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University of Maine Freezes Tuition at All Campuses

January 26, 2012

University of Maine Freezes Tuition at All Campuses

by Alexis Mattera

The weather in Maine is far from balmy this time of year but did the chilly temps inspire the University of Maine’s approach to college costs? Probably not but it’s kind of fun to think so.

For the first time in 25 years, undergraduate tuition has been frozen at all seven campuses: Augusta, Farmington, Fort Kent, Machias, Orono, Portland and Presque Isle. Vice Chancellor Rebecca Wyke said the decision was not an easy one for the University of Maine System Trustees and though the implementation will be equally difficult, the tuition freeze was necessary. "It's going to challenge the campuses because they're already facing a budget gap that they're going to have to close," Wyke said, but explained, "The board’s action is very consistent with where Maine family income is and it reflects their understanding of the difficult financial times that we're in."

UMaine students in the audience, what do you think of the news? Are you glad to be getting a tuition reprieve or do you think tuition increases – even slight ones – are necessary to maintain campus resources, course quality and the college experience overall?

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Study Reveals Fewer Students Attending First-Choice Schools

January 27, 2012

Study Reveals Fewer Students Attending First-Choice Schools

by Alexis Mattera

It’s finally decision day. You rush to your mailbox – either traditional or electronic – and find a fat envelope from your first-choice school waiting for you. They like you, they really like you...but will you reciprocate those feelings in the fall? According to a new survey, it’s becoming far less probable.

The Cooperative Institutional Research Program at the University of California Los Angeles study revealed that of the 204,000 college freshmen surveyed at 207 schools, just 58 percent enrolled at their first-choice college. This is the fifth year the percentage has dropped and program director John H. Pryor said financial aid (or lack of it) is a huge factor in students’ decisions. “These students who were accepted and are not attending are much more likely to say they are not going because they did not get the financial aid they wanted.” (Read the survey in its entirety here.)

How many of you were accepted to your first-choice school only to have to give up your spot because of one of the factors cited in the survey?

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Do Students Care About College Rankings?

February 6, 2012

Do Students Care About College Rankings?

by Alexis Mattera

In the wake of the recent scandal at Claremont McKenna College, one has to wonder if college rankings are all they’re cracked up to be. Colleges seem to think so – some administrators are willing to fudge standardized testing data in order to move up even one slot and bonuses have been offered to the presidents of schools that increase their positions – but what about the students? Do they care about the number associated with their school of choice? Meh.

The trend, discussed in a new Associated Press article, is that students typically use the rankings as a source of data and pay little attention to a school's number. The latest version of the national survey of college freshmen conducted annually by UCLA's Higher Education Research Institute revealed that rankings in national magazines were number 11 on the list of factors affecting college choices behind factors such as cost, size and location; the number one factor, however, was academic reputation, which is a bit confusing as reputation is taken into consideration when determining rankings. "As someone who is asked every year to comment on the rankings, it seems to me that who cares most is the media," John Pryor, who directs the UCLA survey, wrote in a blog post last year. "Second would be college presidents and development officers. Way down the list seem to be those who are actually trying to decide where to go to college."

Are college rankings a bigger deal to students or colleges? Did you or do you plan to use college rankings in making your college choices or do you think other factors are more important to consider?

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Oops! Dozens of Vassar College Applicants Given Fake Acceptance Letters

February 1, 2012

Oops! Dozens of Vassar College Applicants Given Fake Acceptance Letters

by Suada Kolovic

Applying to some of the top schools in the country is unquestionably unnerving but after months of stress, sleepiness nights and stomach pains, it all seems worth it when you read those magical words, “Congratulations! You’ve been accepted.” Most would celebrate such an occasion with screams of triumph, followed by an immediate Facebook update or witty tweet sharing their enthusiasm...until that same school you were sure you’d call your alma mater informs you that there’s been a terrible mistake and that you have, in fact, been rejected. Is this a nightmare? Nope – it was an unfortunate reality for dozens of Vassar applicants.

Roughly two hours after 76 Vassar College early admission applicants learned they had been accepted to the prestigious liberal arts school, they received emails stating that they were actually rejected. The school president, Catharine Hill, said in a statement, "We understand how very upsetting this is for those students who viewed the inaccurate decisions that we posted online, and we are very sorry to have added to the overall stress of the college admissions process for these students and their families." The school says that though it will refund application fees and is reaching out to each individual family impacted by the error, the admissions decisions are final. Ouch.

Do you think Vassar should grant admission to those affected by the technological gaffe or would it be unfair to the rest of the student population? Let us know what you think.

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Campus Vote Project to Help Students Overcome Voting Barriers

February 9, 2012

Campus Vote Project to Help Students Overcome Voting Barriers

by Alexis Mattera

For many college students, this is the first year that they’ll be able to vote in a presidential election...but do they know exactly how, where, when, why and for whom to cast their votes? One advocacy organization hopes to eliminate all doubt and increase student voter turnout in November.

The Fair Elections Legal Network kicked off the Campus Vote Project yesterday at George Washington University's Law School with the hope of creating campus-wide policies and programs that would make voting more accessible for students. College students are often unaware of voter registration rules, polling locations and, for students attending college away from home, how to meet proof-of-residency requirements and obtain the proper identification but the Project’s advisory board is already discussing the creation of election-awareness campaigns, college-centric voting websites, on-campus polling stations and even rewards programs to entice more students to register and cast their votes. "We have to re-energize schools and get them to be creative," said Robert Newsome, director of outreach and state relations at the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities and a member of the advisory board. Newsome’s fellow advisory board member and president of the United States Student Association Victor Sánchez agreed, stating, "With help and guidance, there should be better ways to help go about increasing access to voter registration and increasing voters on campus."

Do you think the goals set forth by the Campus Vote Project will get more students to the polls?

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