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Professor Shoots Himself in the Foot...Literally

September 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The ongoing debate to allow guns on college campuses took an awkward turn on Tuesday when a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot.

The incident comes just two months after a bill was signed by Governor Butch Otter (R) allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on state and college campuses. The bill – which made Idaho the seventh state to allow concealed guns on campuses – prohibits guns in dorms, arenas, stadiums or theaters. And while it is still unclear what cause the firearm to discharge, Lt. Paul Manning of the Pocatello Police Department told the Daily Beast the unnamed professor’s handgun was in the professor’s pants pocket and was not visible during class. The professor (who possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit) was treated for non-life threatening injuries and an investigation is currently underway to determine if he will be charged with a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm within city limits. “When they passed this law, it was bound to happen," ISU President Arthur Vailas told the Idaho State Journal; an opponent of the bill, he described the incident as "scary and embarrassing.” (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on having concealed weapons on campus? Do you agree with gun advocates and the stance that more firearms would increase campus safety or do you think it would do the exact opposite? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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Graduate School to Ask Applicants’ Sexual Identity

October 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Graduate School at Northwestern University will join Elmhurst College, the University of Iowa, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a handful of law schools as it begins asking applicants about their sexual orientation.

According to The Graduate School, this question has been added to its application to gain a clearer understanding of the school's community and to better serve all in the school. “It's important for us, but also for others to move in this direction, as well," said school dean Dwight McBride in a statement. "If we don't ask the question, we are not building a data archive and, therefore, have no way of knowing what the needs of our populations and subpopulations in our communities are – beyond guessing and anecdote." It's important to note that answering the question will be optional and will specifically ask whether applicants self-identify as a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer/questioning (LGBTQ) community. (Northwestern University does not pose the question on its undergraduate application.) For now, school spokeswoman Josie Whetstone said LGBTQ groups on campus have greeted the news without criticism, most likely because it’s an optional inquiry. (For more of this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on more universities asking students about their sexual identity? Do you think it's necessary or beneficial to the LGBTQ community? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

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New Bloomberg Effort to Help Low-Income Students Through College

November 4, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

In an effort to help talented low-income high school students get into and succeed in college, Bloomberg Philanthropies has announced a new initiative to do just that.

According to The New York Times, the effort will involve hiring 130 full-time college counselors and enlisting 4,000 college students as part-time advisers. Using video chat, email, telephone and text, they will mimic the support network — composed of guidance counselors, teachers, parents and friends — that more affluent high school students take for granted. "Many of America's brightest students don’t apply to college simply because they lack access to the right information and guidance, particularly students from low- and middle-income families who want to go to competitive colleges but don’t think they can afford it. That limits their opportunities and contradicts what we stand for as a society – and it holds us back as a nation because it prevents so many smart young people from contributing to the best of their abilities,” said Michael R. Bloomberg. This new initiative aims to directly help as many as 65,000 students a year! (For more on this story, click here.)

Share your thoughts on Bloomberg Philanthropies new initiative in the comments section. And don't forget to try and fund your college education with as much free money as possible; a great place to start is by creating a free profile on Scholarships.com, as our scholarship search allows you to search more than 2.7 million college scholarships and grants worth more than $1.9 billion!

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Dartmouth to Ban Hard Alcohol and Pledging Process on Campus

February 20, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Long gone are the days when pledging to a fraternity was about a bond and brotherhood that lasts a lifetime. More recently they have become synonymous with hard-partying, high-risk drinking and despicable hazing rituals. Well, Dartmouth's president is taking a stand: Last month, Philip J. Hanlon announced sweeping changes aimed at curbing dangerous behavior on campus, saying the school will ban hard liquor, forbid pledging at fraternities and sororities, and require all students to undergo a four-year sexual violence prevention program.

The major overhaul, called "Moving Dartmouth Forward," came from recommendations of a special committee of students, faculty, staff and alumni. The new alcohol restrictions, which will begin this spring semester, ban the possession or consumption of alcohol that is 30 proof or stronger and increase penalties for students caught with hard liquor. The changes will also tackle how fraternities induct new members: Moving forward, they will be prohibited from pledging. And in addition to the required assault-prevention training, the college will create an online "consent manual" that will include information designed to reduce ambiguity about what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to sexual behavior. "If in the next three to five years, the Greek system does not engage in meaningful, lasting reform, and we are unsuccessful in sharply curbing harmful behaviors, we will need to revisit its continuation on our campus," Hanlon said. (For more on this story, head over to the Chronicle.)

What are your thoughts on the changes Dartmouth is imposing on Greek Life? Do you think it will sway dangerous behavior? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you're interested in learning more about adjusting to campus life and the college lifestyle, check out our Resources section. While you're there, conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com for a complete list of scholarships that are personalized to you!

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UMass Amherst Bans Iranians from Certain Grad Programs

February 17, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

In an increasingly competitive job market, more and more students are considering graduate school as a means to achieving their goals. With that being said, the decision to go is not one to be taken lightly. These programs require a lot of time, work and effort to complete. So if you're still interested in pursuing a post-baccalaureate education after serious consideration, there are a few other obstacles to consider: cost and aid available, job placement and being barred from certain programs due to your nationality. Wait, what?

According to The Boston Globe, the University of Massachusetts Amherst will no longer accept Iranian students into its graduate programs in chemical, computer and mechanical engineering, along with the natural sciences. But why? The university cites as the basis for its decision U.S. sanctions on Iran, which make Iranian citizens ineligible for visas if they seek higher education in preparation for careers in Iran’s energy sector or any field related to nuclear power. After the policy received nationwide criticism, UMass Amherst removed all reference to its graduate program policy from its website. "We recognize that our adherence to federal law may create difficulties for our students from Iran and regard this as unfortunate," the university said in a statement to The Huffington Post. "Furthermore, the exclusion of a class of students from admission directly conflicts with our institutional values and principles. However, as with any college or university, we have no choice but to institute policies and procedure to ensure that we are in full compliance with all applicable laws." (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on UMass Amherst’s sanctions on Iranian students? Do you think it’s fair or irrational? Do you think other prestigious universities will follow suit? Or do you think UMass Amherst will reverse its stance in the coming weeks? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And if you’re seriously considering graduate school, head over to our After College section. While you’re there, don’t forget how expensive a graduate degree can be. Conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com, where you’ll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

*Update: As of February 18, 2015, the University of Massachusetts at Amherst has reversed its decision to bar Iranian students from some of its graduate programs.

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College Official Accused of Offering Scholarships for Sex

February 24, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Securing the funds needed to attend college can be challenging. Luckily for the majority of students, they can rely on financial aid experts for guidance. Regrettably, not all students are so fortunate: An Idaho community college administrator stands accused of offering scholarships to students in exchange for sex.

Idaho police arrested Joseph Bekken, 36, the head of financial aid for North Idaho College, on suspicion of procurement of prostitution and other charges in connection with ads he posted on Craigslist offering "grant money" in exchanges for sexual favors from students who attended the two-year college in Coeur d'Alene, according to authorities. Bekken told police no federal funds were involved in his propositions and that he had not been involved with any other students. In a statement Wednesday, NIC President Joe Dunlap said the college "has worked alongside law enforcement from the very beginning of the investigation. I am grateful for the knowledge and training of our staff, which resulted in a swift and decisive response to this incident." Bekken also faces charges of bribery and using a computer in a scheme to defraud. (For the full story, head over to Reuters.)

What do you think Bekken’s penalty should be for using his position to solicit students for sex? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don’t forget to conduct a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com, where you’ll be matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

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Surprise Gift from UNC’s Beloved Coach Dean Smith

March 27, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

In a touching posthumous act of gratitude, beloved University of North Carolina basketball coach Dean Smith's trust has mailed out $200 checks to each of the nearly 200 lettermen he coached with the message, "Enjoy dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith."

The letter sent read, in part: Each player was important and special to Coach Smith and when he prepared his estate plan, Coach wanted to reach out to each of his lettermen. Accordingly, Coach directed that following his passing each letterman be sent a two hundred dollar check with the message 'enjoy a dinner out compliments of Coach Dean Smith.'

According to Sports Illustrated, Smith mentored 184 players while at UNC from 1961 to 1997, most notably, Michael Jordan. Over his tenure as a coach, his team had a record of 879-254. He retired with more victories than any other coach in Division I men's basketball history, led the Tar Heels to two championships in 1982 and 1993, to 13 ACC Tournament titles, 11 Final Fours, an NIT championship and directed the United States Olympic Team to a gold medal at the 1976 Summer Games. (For more on this story, check out The Huffington Post.)

If playing college basketball is in your future, check out our Sports Scholarship section. For even more financial aid opportunities, conduct a free college scholarship search today!

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Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

Football Coach and Chancellor Depart Amidst Scandal

December 4, 2013

Former UNC Professor to Plead Not Guilty to Academic Felony Fraud

by Suada Kolovic

The life of the average college student is riddled with deadlines and due dates so when the pressure is on come midterms and finals, there are no sweeter words for those short on time than “class is canceled.” But what if I told you that on the rarest of occasions, you could sign up for a lecture course where attendance wasn't required? Well, that was the reality for a group of student athletes at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; we should mention, however, that the professor of said course has been indicted for doing just that and could face 10 months in prison for his actions if convicted.

Julius Nyang’oro, a former chairman of UNC’s Department of African and Afro-American Studies, is accused of receiving $12,000 for a lecture course while holding no classes. Orange County District Attorney James Woodall said Nyang’oro’s 2011 summer course was supposed to have regular lectures but required students to write papers in lieu of coming to class. A defense attorney says the former professor will plead not guilty to the felony fraud charge and that the university recouped the $12,000 but the scandal has contributed to the departure of football coach Butch Davis (who had 19 of his players enrolled in the class) and the resignation of chancellor Holden Thorp. (For more on this story, click here.)

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High School in Oregon May Make College Acceptance Graduation Requirement

October 15, 2013

High School in Oregon May Make College Acceptance Graduation Requirement

by Suada Kolovic

For most high school students, senior year is chock-full with college to-dos. From finalizing where you'll go and what you'll study to applying for scholarships and getting your financial aid in order, the list is quite long but what about those students who don't have their sights set on college after graduation? If you're a student at a high school in Oregon, gaining acceptance into a post-secondary institution will soon be a prerequisite for graduating regardless of your stance on obtaining a college education.

Corbett School District Superintendent Randy Trani's proposal would require each student to be admitted into an institution of higher education but they would not be obligated to attend. He went on to explain that the requirement would not stop a student from graduating since all Oregon high school graduates are eligible for spots at local community colleges as long as they apply. The district school board will vote on the proposal in December with many expecting it to pass. Interestingly enough, some are suggesting an ulterior motive for the modification: According to an editorial piece in The Oregonian, there is speculation that the proposal would help the prestigious high school maintain its current standing – fifth best high school in the nation – on Newsweek’s Best High Schools list. (Having a 100-percent college acceptance rate would undoubtedly increase their ranking, even if every student was “accepted” into non-selective community colleges.) Trani is quick to discredit that claim and told the editorial board that the plan was “just one step among many we’ve been taking for 10 years. We want to make this change so kids have more choice.” (For more on this story, click here.)

If the high school is requiring a student to be admitted into a college but not attend, what purpose do you think it might serve the student? Let us know in the comments section.

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LGBT Students Can Face Serious Roadblocks to Financial Aid

October 31, 2013

LGBT Students Can Face Serious Roadblocks to Financial Aid

by Suada Kolovic

Unless you plan on paying for your college education out-of-pocket, completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (more commonly known as the FAFSA) is essential in your quest for financial aid. For the uninitiated, the FAFSA is used by the Department of Education to determine your eligibility for federal student financial aid for college, including the Pell Grant, federal work-student programs and federal student loans. And while most students struggle with the complicated application process, LGBT students potentially face more serious roadblocks: According to U.S. News & World Report, name changes, gender identification and strained family relationships can present unique FAFSA challenges.

In 2012, sexual orientation and gender identity were the number one reason for youth homelessness in the U.S., notes Thomas Krever, chief executive officer of the Hetrick-Martin Institute. Almost 40 percent of homeless youth identified as LGBT and of those teens, 46 percent ran away because their family rejected their sexual orientation or gender identity. What does this have to do with the FAFSA? Students under the age of 24 need tax returns and bank statements from their parents in order to file for financial aid and those without family support are left in limbo. Other LGBT students struggle with the fact that the FAFSA doesn’t necessarily reflect their identity. Questions about name and gender can be enough to keep transgender teens from even applying, says Eli Erlick, founder of Trans Student Equality Resources. "One thing about funding, specifically FAFSA, is that transgender students may not be able to change their name due to parents not being supportive or not having the money to do so," says Erlick. "This can lead to transgender students being nervous to apply, or not even applying at all, because they're scared for their own safety, because using these forms with their legal names may out them." (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think about the challenges LGBT students face when seeking financial aid? Can you think of something the government can do to ease this pressure?

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