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Students Plan "Gap Years" for More Than Break from College


Aug 25, 2010
While you’re unpacking a semester’s worth of your belongings in your shared dorm room, there are other recent high school graduates packing up for different adventures—volunteer experiences abroad, internships across the country, or backpacking trips through Europe. These students are taking a “gap year,” or time off from the traditional college experience. The gap year is a popular option in Europe, where students opt out of university-level coursework in favor of experiences they feel will make them wiser and more independent. But the idea has also grown in popularity in the United States. USA Today announced a new blog this week from Mira Fishman, who will be leaving her home in Ann Arbor in three weeks not to go to college, but to volunteer abroad. She’ll spend six months in Buenos [...]
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There hasn’t been much to laugh about at many schools across the country, what with budget cuts and creative cost-saving measures affecting course offerings and faculty positions. At one North Carolina community college, however, a new course is teaching students how to chuckle, giggle and guffaw, no matter how they feel about the state of affairs outside of the classroom. While the class is [...]

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With most fall semesters just beginning or yet to begin, now may be the perfect time to spend some time applying for scholarships that may require a bit more effort on your part. If you’re a stellar writer, spending some of your extra time on an essay scholarship may lead to a decent prize to help cover some of those college costs. This week’s Scholarship of the Week asks applicants to reflect on [...]

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Although average ACT scores were lower this year than the previous year, it wasn’t all bad news on this year’s ACT score report. High school graduates who took the test this year are slightly more prepared for college than their peers in years prior, despite the average lower scores. According to the report, The Condition of College and Career Readiness 2010, about 71 percent of test-takers met [...]

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If you’re entering college this fall, Beloit College has you pegged as a group that doesn’t know how to write in cursive, believe email is too slow, and can’t relate to those who don’t know what it’s like to have hundreds of cable channels on their televisions. The school’s annual Beloit College Mindset List includes 75 items that go beyond the technology gap to describe the incoming class of [...]

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You’ve already read about the website that allows college students to wager on their grades. A new online tool allows students to calculate not whether they should risk some cash on their academic performance, but whether sleeping in and skipping class is worth their while. The “Should I Skip Class Today?” calculator asks users 10 questions that glean information about how many times that user [...]

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Community colleges have gotten quite a bit of attention lately as legislators and even President Obama himself have billed the schools as an important bridge in improving higher education across the country. The traditionally two-year schools have also seen an influx of students as both a result of those efforts and the economy, with more adult students returning to college to pick up new skills [...]

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What better way to kick off the school year than an additional $10,000 to help cover your college costs? This week’s Scholarship of the Week will do just that, and all you need to do is enter a drawing. The ScholarshipPoints.com $10,000 Scholarship offers registered users the opportunity to collect points by completing simple activities on the site; each point a registered user receives equals [...]

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It’s always scholarship season around here, and as a scholarship provider ourselves, we thought the weeks before high school and college students return to their respective schools and campuses would be an appropriate time to go over what to do—and not to do—when submitting a recommendation letter in support of your application for an award. While it probably won’t be expressly stated in any [...]

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What motivates you to study for your exams? Is it the potential for a good grade or high GPA? Is it the guilt of paying thousands of dollars for that college education? What if you could score some cash—and not in the form of scholarships and grants, as we hope you’re doing already—for doing well in your courses? A site that has been making the rounds in the media lately offers just that. [...]

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You’ve read all about how colleges have been coping with budget cuts over the last year or so. Wait lists. Hiring freezes and holds on infrastructure improvements. Short weeks. Yesterday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill they hope will allow administrators at those institutions of higher education to breathe a little easier. The $26 billion they approved will go toward those same [...]

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It’s a well-known fact that disparities exist when you look at the college graduation rates of black and Hispanic students versus white and Asian students. Two reports released yesterday, however, included data on colleges where those disparities aren’t as wide, suggesting that there are schools that are doing much better than others when it comes to graduating minority students. The reports, [...]

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With an increase in programs to keep students in school and a renewed focus on improving college preparedness and high school graduation rates, it’s no surprise that there are scholarships out there that want to help students achieve those goals. This week’s Scholarship of the Week is one such award, and targets college-bound high school students in Oregon who “beat the odds” to get to where they [...]

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A report released yesterday shows that college students today study about 10 hours less on average than college students in the 1960s. The report explains further that technology isn’t the cause of less time hitting the books or the library, as has been traditionally believed. The researchers say it’s up to the colleges to give students more work and to enforce academic standards and requirements [...]

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Few programs are as competitive as medical school programs. You need stellar grades, a host of science-based courses on your undergraduate transcript, and impressive scores on the MCAT to be a contender. Or do you? One New York school is taking a different approach, in part to graduate more sensitive and people-friendly doctors. The Humanities and Medicine Program at the Mount Sinai School of [...]

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A financial aid officer at a for-profit college that closed this week has been charged with felony theft of more than $7,600 in students’ tuition payments. The school, Ascension College in Louisiana, closed quite suddenly to the surprise of the students there, and has been under investigation for what officials say is a misuse of federal aid. According to an article in The Chronicle of Higher [...]

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Each year the Princeton Review releases its comprehensive list of colleges ranked by the extracurricular and social offerings on their campuses, how happy their students are, and which schools are the most religious or LGBT-friendly, among a number of other categories. The distinction that gets the most attention year after year, however, is the school the review dubs as the top “party school,” [...]

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The field of culinary arts isn’t easy to break into. Those students who do excel in the kitchen or are interested in paying their dues to work in the food service industry are then eligible for a number of scholarship opportunities to reward them for their talents and hard work. This week’s Scholarship of the Week opportunity comes from the National Restaurant Association Educational Foundation. [...]

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California has had it particularly bad during the economic crisis. The public school system there has tried to address millions of dollars in cuts using wait lists and more selective admissions processes in the state’s community colleges to avoid adding to the budget shortfalls. One California community college district, however, is taking a different approach. Several two-year schools in San [...]

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A student who was penalized for swearing at a community college in Mississippi last March will have the punishment reversed following intervention from the civil rights organization Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and attorneys working on behalf of the student. Hinds Community College initially issued 12 demerits against student Isaac Rosenbloom for using an expletive to [...]

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You already know all about the technology gap, and probably have little faith in your instructors’ web know-how when compared to your own. A recent study, however, shows that you young people may not be as savvy as you think when it comes to online research. Researchers from Northwestern University looked at 102 University of Illinois at Chicago students to determine how they went about their [...]

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If you’re an incoming freshman new to the idea of communal living, there’s something you should know. You may not be instant best friends with your new roommate. Random pairings are just that: random. And a recent article in The New York Times describes just how bad new undergraduates have gotten at managing even the minutest problems.  According to the article, students are getting more [...]

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Law school is by no means inexpensive. If you’ve taken the leap to ace that LSAT and get yourself into a law school program, you should know there are scholarships out there for you future lawyers. If you plan on using that law degree to better your community or for humanitarian purposes, there may be even more funding available. This week’s Scholarship of the Week from the Mexican American Legal [...]

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In response to recent criticisms of for-profit colleges, the U.S. Department of Education announced a rule today that will cut off federal aid to those schools that leave students with loan debts they are unable to handle once they receive their degrees and certificates. The new “gainful employment” rule would also penalize those programs with the lowest loan-repayment rates, meaning for-profit [...]

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As more high schools across the country begin offering students alternatives to Advanced Placement like dual enrollment partnerships with local community colleges, the College Board, which offers the exams, has been forced to take a look at the AP program in order to make it more relevant to the college-bound. One of the things the AP provider hopes to do is make sure the high school courses do [...]

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A big selling point of attending a community college is the money you’ll save when compared to the tuition and fees at a public or private four-year college or university. If you’re one of the many students out there with plans to transfer to a four-year institution once your two years are up at the local community college, there are a few things you should know when you’re looking to transfer. [...]

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