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UPenn Students’ Robotic Arm Invention Can Make You Stronger

by Suada Kolovic

Have you ever encountered a situation where superhuman strength would have come in handy? Sure, who hasn’t? Well, thanks to four engineering students from the University of Pennsylvania, it seems as though comic book-like brawn may soon become a reality.

The Titan Arm was designed to help ordinary individuals undergoing physical rehabilitation or those who would benefit from a little extra muscle. The upper-body exoskeleton is essentially a battery-powered arm brace attached to a backpack that would provide the wearer with the ability to carry an additional 40 pounds. The students – Nick Parrotta, Elizabeth Beattie, Nick McGill and Niko Vladimirov – have already won at least $75,000 in prize money for their design. "There is certainly a market, but it's slowly emerging because the systems are not perfect as yet," said Paolo Bonato, director of the Motion Analysis Lab at Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital in Boston. With that in mind, the Titan Arm team hopes to refine their prototype, considering different control strategies, more innovative materials and manufacturing. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think the Titan Arm has the potential to change lives for the better? Let us know in the comments section.


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by Suada Kolovic

With college on the horizon for high school seniors, students with political aspirations should understand that it's never too early to start making the right connections. And what better place is there to start than by attending the college that boasts 47 elected officials currently on Capitol Hill? (Curious as to which school I’m referring? None other than Harvard University, of course.)

With twice as many members of Congress counted as alumni, Harvard just might be the college for those with governmental ambitions. Georgetown University scores a distant second with 20 current members of Congress, followed by Yale University with 18. Check out the list below to see what other colleges might better your chances at making your political dream a reality:

For the complete list, head over to FindTheBest.


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10 National Universities Where Most Students Live on Campus

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior, you’ll be faced with a major decision in the coming months: choosing the right school. And while there are myriad factors to consider when making your decision, campus housing can be a crucial piece of the puzzle. For the most part, students are required to live in campus housing during their freshman year while upperclassmen tend to live off-campus in apartments. The reason: Most larger universities just don’t offer enough on-campus housing to accommodate their entire undergraduate populations. Yet, that’s not always the case because some prominent institutions with large endowments offer housing for all undergraduates.

According to an analysis of student housing data provided by the U.S. News & World Report, students at many of the country’s top ranked schools opt to remain on campus until they graduate. Of the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of students living on campus, five are Ivy League institutions. Check out the complete list below (schools are ranked by the percentage of their undergraduate student body living on campus).

  1. Harvard University
  2. Princeton University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Columbia University
  5. Stanford University
  6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  7. St. Mary's University of Minnesota
  8. Yale University
  9. Dartmouth College
  10. Vanderbilt University

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Colleges that Produced the Most U.S. Presidents

by Suada Kolovic

With college on the horizon for high school seniors, those with lofty political aspirations should understand that it's never too early to start making the right connections. And what better place to start than by attending the right college that already boasts a total of six presidents and four vice presidents. Which university is that, you ask? None other than Harvard University. Considering their reputation as one of the most prestigious institutions in the country, producing the most commanders-in-chief may not be the shock of the century but you might be surprised by the fact that Allegheny College in Pennsylvania and Eureka College in Illinois produced as many presidents as Georgetown University and the United States Naval Academy. Curious as to what other colleges might better your chances at becoming the next POTUS, check out the list below:

For the complete list, head over to FindTheBest.


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by Suada Kolovic

Think you have what it takes to get into an Ivy League school? Let's be honest, few do but did you know that a some of your favorite celebrities studied at the most prestigious schools in the nation? It's true! Check out these 10 celebrities that attended an Ivy League institution below:

  1. John Krasinski – Brown University
  2. Conan O’Brien – Harvard University
  3. John Legend – University of Pennsylvania
  4. Rashida Jones – Harvard University
  5. Brooke Shields – Princeton University
  6. Rachel Dratch – Dartmouth College
  7. Julia Stiles – Columbia University
  8. Elizabeth Banks – University of Pennsylvania
  9. Emma Watson – Brown University
  10. Natalie Portman – Harvard University

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by Suada Kolovic

In an interesting turn of events, the New Jersey teenager who sued her parents for tuition and living expenses has reportedly returned home. I guess growing up and moving out while you're a teenager and still know everything doesn't always pan out!

Morris Catholic high school senior Rachel Canning claimed her parents “constructively abandoned” her, mostly because she would not break up with a boyfriend they didn't approve of. She moved out of their house on October 30th and had been living with a friend’s family since then. In her lawsuit, Rachel had been seeking a declaration of non-emancipation, or continued financial dependence on her family. (Basically, she wanted the court to order her parents to award her $654 weekly in child support and access to an existing college fund – an order the judge refused last week.) Though Rachel has returned home, the lawsuit has not yet been dropped but the family's lawyer has confirmed that the conflict has been resolved. (For more updates on this story, click here.)

While all the hoopla surrounding this story will surely die down in the coming weeks, do you think there could be long-term negative effects on Rachel Canning’s future?


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Knock, Knock. Who’s There? Your Admissions Essay.

More Colleges Posing Offbeat Essay Questions

February 26, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned your college application process, I’m sure you thought you were more than prepared. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, a stellar GPA and the fact that you were senior class president – and every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought out that who you were would just leap right off the page. You prepared your answer on why you belonged at your dream college and pinpointed what you had to offer...until you reviewed the actual application and found a serious curveball: I doubt you expected a joke could get you in!

In addition to traditional essay prompts, more and more institutions are jumping on the unconventional question bandwagon and are interested knowing not only why students want to gain admission but just how creative they can be when challenged. Here are some far-from-average questions schools are asking this year:

University of Chicago

  • Tell us your favorite joke and try to explain the joke without ruining it.
  • How are apples and oranges supposed to be compared? Possible answers involve, but are not limited to, statistics, chemistry, physics, linguistics, and philosophy.

University of Virginia

  • What’s your favorite word and why?
  • “To tweet or not to tweet.”

Brandeis University

  • You are required to spend the next year of your life in either the past or the future. What year would you travel to and why?

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

  • What do you hope to find over the rainbow?
  • Why do you do what you do?

Wake Forest University

  • Give us your top ten list.

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this approach to the admissions essay? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that you are expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities and be witty, too?


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by Suada Kolovic

Being a celebrity certainly seems have its perks: countless adoring fans, a lavish lifestyle, hefty paychecks and, for some, the opportunity to support worthy causes. And while we've seen celebrities fight for starving children, encourage environmental causes and even join the UN, promoting education is a soft spot for quite a number of them as well. Check out the five celebrities below who have opened schools in recent years. (For the complete list, head over to The Huffington Post):

  • Shakira: Using funds from her nonprofit organization, she has opened eight schools in her native country of Colombia. She has also lobbied Latin American leaders to support early childhood education.
  • Oprah Winfrey: Oprah Winfrey opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls in South Africa in 2007. While the school has suffered from its share of controversy, it is still up and running. The media mogul has also donated heavily to American charter schools, giving $6 million in 2010.
  • Angelina Jolie: The actress and notorious humanitarian opened an all-girls school in Afghanistan in 2013. The school was funded by proceeds from Jolie's jewelry collection, Style of Jolie; she reportedly hopes to use further proceeds to build more schools in impoverished areas, according to Forbes.
  • Magic Johnson: Former NBA star and sports analyst Magic Johnson has opened several alternative high schools for students who have dropped out or are at risk of dropping out of school. Currently, there are four Magic Johnson Bridgescape Academies in Georgia, two in Illinois, one in New Jersey, one in North Carolina and eight in Ohio. According to the Bridgescape Academy website, the alternative schools' "student-focused program provides an opportunity to earn a high school diploma at a pace suitable to their schedule, lifestyle and learning needs."
  • Madonna: In 2013, Madonna opened several community schools in Malawi. According to the Associated Press, her work there provided classrooms for thousands of students who were previously learning outdoors.

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by Emily

Did you think your high school's administrators were strict?  Chances are they've got nothing on Suzanne Lukas, the superintendent of Bonny Eagle High School in Maine.  During the school's graduation ceremony, a student pointed to his friends and blew a kiss to his mom when his name was called.  Instead of shaking his hand and handing him his diploma, the superintendent told him to return to his seat empty handed.  He still hasn't received his diploma.

The story's getting national media coverage as the student's family demands an apology and a diploma from the school's superintendent.  While this story certainly appears to fall on the extreme end of things, it does serve as a good reminder to high school students to take school policy very seriously until you have that piece of paper in your hand and are literally out the door for the last time.

This has us curious, though.  For those of you who have already finished high school: did you run into any incidents at your high school graduation where students' diplomas were withheld?  What antics did you or your classmates get away with as high school seniors and as participants in your school's graduation ceremony?


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by Emily

It's nice to know that in the event of a disaster, your school will be prepared. Colleges and universities nationwide already have contingency plans for situations such as fires, floods, and other on-campus emergencies. In anticipation of on-campus outbreaks of the H1N1 swine flu virus, colleges are also reviewing and tweaking their plans for dealing smoothly with infectious diseases on campus. While undergoing this process, one official on the University of Florida campus decided to do one better and prepare his college for another type of outbreak-a zombie attack.

The zombie attack disaster preparedness plan was initially posted on the University of Florida's e-Learning website along with response plans for other, more likely, disaster scenarios. The plan's author, e-Learning Support Services Manager Doug Johnson, composed it as a joke one night during a bout of insomnia while his office was working on strategies for handling a campus closure, then posted it to provide a bit of levity for fellow e-Learning staff members.

Highlights of the plan include humorous definitions of "zombieism" and "zombie behavior spectrum disorder," as well as a form for university employees to complete if they need to deal with undead coworkers. While it was removed from the University of Florida website shortly after discovery and publication by local media, The Gainesville Sun still has a copy available online.

While the University of Florida zombie attack plan was humorous in nature, zombies have been used to model disease outbreaks in serious contexts. Earlier this year, a group of Canadian graduate students modeled a zombie attack as a classroom exercise that is now slated for publication in the upcoming book Infections Disease Modeling Research Progress. Their zombie attack model could have useful implications for modeling and understanding the spread of other infectious diseases, including swine flu.

One of the jokes in Johnson's paper was an allusion to the field of Zombie Studies (which, sadly, is not yet a viable college major), but given the recent uptick in interest in zombies on college campuses, can it be long before zombies find their way into more standardized parts of the college curriculum? Perhaps we will soon see more eye-catching titles for college classes dealing with the undead.


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