October 14, 2008
I remember sitting around in an English class one day, waiting for the professor to arrive, when one of my classmates mentioned the GRE (graduate record examination) test that we’d all recently taken to apply to graduate programs. She had been worried she wouldn’t even be able to get into English grad programs because of her abysmal standardized math test performance. Everyone chimed in with their GRE scores and application process anecdotes and I spoke up with, “I was surprised that I actually scored higher on the math than the verbal!” It was akin to announcing that I tortured small animals. The air went out of the room and I think some girls actually edged away from me.
This social stigma about math certainly doesn’t start with graduate students in English departments. Most students who excel at math, especially girls, have certainly felt it at one point or another. So while some previous research has suggested that girls just aren’t as good as boys at math, a new study published Friday in Notices of the American Mathematical Society suggests something different. Combining two of the facts of life of high school—popularity is important to many girls and math just isn’t cool—the study proposes that girls don’t do as well at math in middle school and high school and don’t pursue math-heavy degrees as undergraduate students because of social pressure.
This conclusion comes from looking at the cultural backgrounds of some of the highest-performing college and high school students who participate in math competitions. Most of these students, especially the girls, came from cultures where math is prized as an important and useful skill and a source of prestige. These students or their parents tended to be from Asian or Eastern European countries, either sparing them from or giving them a social counterpoint to American beliefs about math. These countries produce a higher proportion of mathematically gifted women, as well as higher numbers of math superstars overall, suggesting that it’s not that girls aren’t good at math, but that girls in the U.S. are socialized to not make math a priority.
So, if you’re a high school math nerd, hang in there. At least one research team believes that you are good at math and you’re not a weirdo for being good at math. If you can stick with math into college, you’ll likely encounter a different attitude. And if the article in Friday’s New York Times is any indication, top colleges want mathematically-inclined students. They might even pony up some scholarship money to woo you.
October 13, 2008
Outstanding students attending college at a Datatel client college or university are eligible for this week's Scholarship of the Week. The Datatel Scholars Foundation offers three scholarship opportunities for undergraduate students and graduate students currently enrolled at least half-time at an institution serviced by Datatel (a list of eligible schools is available on the Datatel Scholars Foundation website). The foundation offers a general award worth up to $2,400, an award for veterans worth $1,700, and a $2,000 award for returning students who have not been enrolled in college for five years or more.
Applicants for all three awards need to submit an online application, an 800-1000 word scholarship essay, information about civic involvement, and two letters of recommendation. Students apply online, then have their applications reviewed by the Datatel scholarship committee at their institution. Schools nominate up to five students whose applications are then judged at the national level.
Datatel Scholars Foundation Scholarship: $1000-2400 depending on the cost of tuition at your institution.
Datatel Angelfire Scholarship: $1700
Datatel Russ Griffith Memorial Scholarship: $2000
Datatel Foundation Scholarship: any undergraduate or graduate student currently enrolled at least half-time at a Datatel client college.
Datatel Angelfire Scholarship: students attending a Datatel client college who have served in the military in a combat situation.
Datatel Russ Griffith Memorial Scholarship: students attending a Datatel client college who are returning to college after an absence of five years or more.
January 30, 2009
Completed scholarship application, available on the Datatel Scholars website, two letters of recommendation submitted online, an essay of 800-1000 words responding to the appropriate prompt for the scholarship for which you're applying, and information about your civic involvement.
Further details about the application process can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search on Scholarships.com. Once the search is completed, students eligible for this scholarship award will find it in their search results.
October 9, 2008
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September 30, 2008
The U.S. Department of Education released a series of new statistical reports last week showing a dramatic increase in participation in the federal direct lending student loan program. Motivated largely by the economic downturn and the credit crunch of the last year, 400 new colleges joined the federal direct lending program. Overall, student borrowing through the program has increased by 50 percent in the last year.
The federal direct lending program provides students at participating schools with Stafford Loans directly, instead of going through the intermediary of a bank, as is done in the Federal Family Education Loan Program (FFELP). In previous years, borrowing through FFELP could land students with lower interest rates, as well as significant repayment incentives, but that has changed significantly since 2007 as a result of subsidy cuts and economic difficulties faced by FFELP lenders. Since direct loans are serviced directly by the Education Department, they are largely exempt from the fallout of the credit crunch and are currently more appealing to many colleges.
There is good news for students at schools that continue to participate in FFELP, though. Lenders are participating in the loan buyback program enacted as part of the Ensuring Continued Access to Student Loans Act passed earlier this year. About 40 percent of the student loans in the bank system have been sold to the Education Department, with paperwork being completed on much of the remaining balance. This move appears to have worked to allow lenders to fund loans for students, as the Education Department also reports that not a single student has had to participate in the federal "lender of last resort" program.
In other financial aid news, Congress recently approved $2.5 billion in Pell Grant funding, to help tide the program over through March 2009, at which point most spring semester grant awards should have been disbursed. All of this news suggests that students are highly likely to be able to continue to find federal student financial aid for college, at least for the forseeable future. Of course, finding scholarships and avoiding student loans is still a smart plan, but this news suggests that despite growing fears about the economy, federal financial aid will still be available to students who need it.
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