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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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Obama Grants NCLB Waivers to 10 States

February 10, 2012

Obama Grants NCLB Waivers to 10 States

by Alexis Mattera

When the No Child Left Behind Act went into effect 10 years ago, public schools across the country were tasked with developing assessments for students in certain grades in order to receive federal funding. A decade later, President Obama has waived these requirements for 10 states in exchange for new programs that will benefit both students and educators.

Though public schools in the states of Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, Oklahoma and Tennessee will no longer have to meet the NCLB achievement standards, they will now be required to adhere to three specific reform criteria: standardizing curricula for specific classes, holding individual schools accountable for improving student performance (particularly for minority and disabled students) and establishing a system to evaluate teachers. The plans will vary from state to state based on individual needs – New Jersey, for example, must improve high schools with low graduation rates or face state action while Oklahoma will be monitoring school culture and attendance rates – something both Obama and Secretary of Education Arne Duncan view as vital to future success; less than enthusiastic, however is Republican chairman of the House Committee on Education John Kline, who would have rather continued working within Congress until bipartisan support was achieved.

What do you think of the NCLB waivers? Was change necessary now or do you feel the administration could have taken more time to formulate a decision?

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SOPA, College and the Future of Online Content

February 13, 2012

SOPA, College and the Future of Online Content

by Kara Coleman

The Web was abuzz last month with talk of the Stop Online Piracy Act, or SOPA. Most people were probably aware that sites like Wikipedia and Reddit blacked out in protest on January 18th but what is SOPA and why should it matter to the average American? There’s nothing wrong with wanting to stop online piracy, right? It depends.

U.S. Representative Lamar Smith (R-TX) authored SOPA and introduced it to the House in October 2011. (The bill’s complete title is “To promote prosperity, creativity, entrepreneurship, and innovation by combating the theft of U.S. property, and for other purposes” -H.R. 3261.) While protecting ideas that belong to the States from plagiarism by people outside the U.S. jurisdiction certainly sounds like a noble cause, dealing with the Web is a tricky demographic: If SOPA comes into effect, the U.S. Department of Justice will be able to seek court orders against sites generated in foreign countries that they believe are violating copyright laws and American sites would no longer even be allowed to conduct business with or be linked to these sites.

The Motion Picture Association of America is a proponent of the bill, citing protection of creative ideas. Other supporters of SOPA say that it will help the pharmaceutical industry in America by preventing counterfeit drugs from being shipped in inexpensively from other countries. Opponents of the bill fear that their First Amendment rights are being encroached upon, as user-generated sites would likely feel the biggest sting. If a small minority of users violated copyright laws, would sites like YouTube or Flickr be shut down for everyone?

Two days after the online blackout/protest, Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-NV) announced that the decision to consider SOPA was being postponed due to the negative response from the sites who protested and the citizens who supported them for doing so. Is this the last we will hear of SOPA or is it set to be an ongoing battle? And finally, how would SOPA affect college students? While most professors don’t consider Wikipedia to be a valid source of information to cite on a research paper, it does give students a good overview of a topic and provide valuable links to scholarly websites that would be good resources. Social networking sites could be affected, too...need I say more? SOPA is not just talk that will stay on Capitol Hill – it could potentially change the way Americans use (or don’t use) the Internet forever.

This summer, Kara Coleman graduated from Gadsden State Community College with an Associate of Arts degree. She is currently studying communications with concentration in print journalism at Jacksonville State University Kara's writing has been featured in Teen Ink magazine and she is a children's author through Big Dif Books.

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Excelsior College Rolls Out $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree Program

February 15, 2012

Excelsior College Rolls Out $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree Program

by Suada Kolovic

With spring just around the corner, high school seniors across the country are anxiously awaiting word from colleges they’ve applied to. And while getting into your top choice school is all well and good, figuring out how you’re going to pay for it is pretty scary. If the cost of your college education is keeping you up at night, you might want to consider Excelsior College. Why? They just rolled out a program that guarantees a bachelor’s degree for $10,000!

This may seem like the opportunity of a lifetime but there are limitations to the price-guaranteed program. Students only have the option to earn a bachelor’s degree in the following areas: BA in Liberal Studies with an area of focus in Psychology or Sociology; BS in Liberal Studies with areas of focus in Administrative/Management Studies or Health Professional; and BS in Liberal Studies in Psychology or Sociology. If you’re interest, here’s how it works: Excelsior specializes in credit-by-examination, meaning that students may earn credit through a single comprehensive exam. In the past, students would have had to pay $370 per credit, which put an Excelsior degree at about $20,000. Not anymore! The new program has the faculty matching each end-of-course exam to one or more free online courses. "Excelsior has been a pioneer in credit by examination for more than 40 years," said Dr. John Ebersole, Excelsior’s president. "What makes this program truly innovative is its use of open education resources as a key source of study material for students. Not only do these free resources help keep student expenses down, they engage students in learning subject matter from some of the world’s leading colleges and universities." (For more on the story, click here.)

Would you consider applying to Excelsior? Are you a tad apprehensive about the academic merits of a self-guided curriculum? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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Hearst Lawsuit Holds Unpaid Internships in the Balance

February 15, 2012

Hearst Lawsuit Holds Unpaid Internships in the Balance

by Angela Andaloro

College students are always being reminded of the importance of internships. Anyone who has taken a serious look into what’s out there knows that many of the internships offered are unpaid and though students may receive college credit or a stipend, it’s rare that they are actually paid hourly wages. While many students accept these conditions for the opportunity to break into their chosen industry, one former intern is taking a stand.

From August to December 2011, Xuedan "Diana" Wang was an intern at Harper’s Bazaar and is now suing the magazine’s publisher, Hearst Corporation, for improper compensation for her internship in which she was working anywhere from 40 to 55 hours a week. Her lawyers believe that Wang is among many interns who are working for an opportunity and being taken advantage of because if these interns were not doing the work they do, companies would be forced to hire someone to do the work. They reason that interns are not only losing out on money by working under these practices but benefits including Social Security contributions, the ability to collect unemployment and workers' compensation as well. Wang’s claims are grabbing the attention of many as her lawyers are looking to turn her case into a class action lawsuit. According to the New York Times, the lawsuit states that “Employers’ failure to compensate interns for their work, and the prevalence of the practice nationwide, curtails opportunities for employment, fosters class divisions between those who can afford to work for no wage and those who cannot, and indirectly contributes to rising unemployment.”

So what does this mean for unpaid internships nationwide? Will employers cave under pressure and start paying interns for their work? It’s hard to say at this stage but the fact is that many employers hire interns to provide a learning experience for students and because they cannot afford to hire entry-level employees to do that work. This could lead to a decrease in the number of internship opportunities available to students, making them more coveted and prestigious positions when attained. The qualifications to be hired for an internship would be higher than ever. Whether this would be a good thing for students or a bad thing depends on a number of factors. We’ll have to stay tuned to find out.

Angela Andaloro is a junior at Pace University’s New York City campus, where she is double majoring in communication studies and English. Like most things in New York City, her life and college experience is far from typical – she commutes to school from her home in Flushing and took nearly a semester’s worth of classes online – but she still likes to hang out with friends, go to parties and feed her social networking addiction like your “average” college student.

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10 Most Expensive Public Schools for Out-of-State Students

February 16, 2012

10 Most Expensive Public Schools for Out-of-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

For the budget-conscious high school senior, it seems like a no-brainer to apply to the local state school for the best shot at affordable tuition. But with the economy in a slump and funding cuts becoming the norm, public universities across the country are more interested in recruiting out-of-state students. Why? It’s pretty simple: On average, tuition and fees for students crossing state lines is more than double that of their in-state peers. So if you have your sights set on schools beyond your state’s boundaries, check out the 10 most expensive public schools for out-of-state students (figures do not including room and board, books and other miscellaneous costs):

  1. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor: $37, 265
  2. University of Virginia: $36,570
  3. University of California – Irvine: $35,780
  4. University of California – Davis: $35,672
  5. College of William and Mary (VA): $35, 409
  6. University of California – Santa Barbara: $35,386
  7. University of California – Santa Cruz: $35,211
  8. University of California – San Diego: $35,006
  9. University of California – Riverside: $34,729
  10. University of California – Berkeley: $34,645

Did your prospective college make the list and does this information alter your interest in the school? Is it fair for colleges facing financial woes to place the burden on the shoulders of incoming out-of-state students?

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California Regulators Shut Down Medical Institute

School Falsely Claimed That it Was Accredited

February 17, 2012

California Regulators Shut Down Medical Institute

by Suada Kolovic

For some students, heading off to college for the next two, four or even six years isn’t the right option. And while college isn’t for everyone, an education should be. In order to stay competitive in the workforce, it’s important to realize that there are opportunities in the form of both trade and vocational schools for students who don’t see themselves on college campuses. But before you sign up for a program that offers training as a dental hygienist or ultrasound technician, verify that the institution is accredited or run the risk of obtaining a very expensive yet useless certificate or licensure. Think this doesn’t happen? Unfortunately, it does: The California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has ordered the Institute of Medical Education to close its two campuses in San Jose and Oakland for falsely claiming accreditation.

According to the college’s website, the Institute of Medical Education is accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Schools of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. The reality, said commission has not been a federally recognized accreditor since 2010. “Those things put students at enormous risk,” said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the California Department of Consumer Affairs, which oversees the bureau responsible for shuttering the schools. “These students have spent a lot of money and a lot of time for programs that may not allow them to sit for licensure examinations.” The institute had offered certificate programs in vocational nursing, medical assisting and other health-related fields for fees of up to $40,000 and state officials have urged students to apply to the state’s Student Tuition Recovery Fund, which reimburses students at schools that close.

Have you considered the possibility of going to a vocational school instead of a traditional four-year college?

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Sixty-Two Schools Meet Students’ Full Financial Need

February 22, 2012

Sixty-Two Schools Meet Students’ Full Financial Need

by Alexis Mattera

Wouldn't it be amazing if that super expensive college you were just accepted into said, "Hey there, new friend – thanks for all your hard work saving, scrimping and scholarship searching but we’ll take it from here, financially"? It can happen...kind of.

When a student fills out the FAFSA, a figure known as the expected family contribution (EFC) – the amount a student or family can reasonably spend on one year of college – is calculated using family income, number of children, amount of assets and other factors. There is sometimes a gap between the EFC and the final cost of college but 62 schools have reported to U.S. News that, on average, 100 percent of their admitted full-time undergraduate students' financial need was met for fall 2010 by some combination of aid (work-study, merit scholarships, grants, subsidized loans, etc.).

Now, we're not going to list every single college and university that reported these claims (you can check out U.S. News' site for that) but we will say that some well-known schools like Yale, Vanderbilt and Grinnell – the latter of which has never failed to meet full need for a student in 20 years, according to financial aid director Arnold Woods – have made the cut. Way to go and keep up the good work!

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DePaul Takes the Guesswork Out of Transferring

February 21, 2012

DePaul Takes the Guesswork Out of Transferring

by Alexis Mattera

For any student thinking about transferring, there’s always the worry that the credits they’ve worked so hard to achieve will be worth nothing at their new school...any student except those transferring to DePaul University, that is.

According to Lois Bishop, DePaul’s director of community college partnerships, transfer students at DePaul have great grades and high graduation rates but many have failed to take prerequisite courses or accumulated credits at their previous institutions that won’t count toward their bachelor’s degrees. In order to make transferring as educationally- and cost-effective as it can be, the school created the DePaul Admissions Partnership Program to help transfer students earn their two-year credentials and bachelor’s degrees on time. Students in the program are guaranteed a spot at DePaul if they finish community college with a 2.0 GPA and receive $2,000 a year after transferring if they achieve a 3.0. They also lock in bachelor’s degree requirements if they enroll within three years of starting the program, have access to DePaul advisers while at the community college to ensure they take the right classes for their eventual majors and can earn reverse credits toward associate degrees. (Check out additional details from Inside Higher Ed here.)

Since the program’s launch last year, DePaul has partnered with Richard J. Daley College, Kennedy-King College, Malcolm X College, Olive-Harvey College, Harold Washington College, Truman College, Wright College, College of DuPage, Harper College, Moraine Valley Community College and Oakton Community College but hopes to expand the opportunity to more schools and students. What do you think of the DePaul Admissions Partnership Program? Would a program like this appeal to you if you were thinking about transferring?

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