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SAT Cheating Scandal Prompts Security Review

October 26, 2011

SAT Cheating Scandal Prompts Security Review

by Suada Kolovic

Cheating is a serious allegation, no one would argue that. So, when seven students were suspected of cheating on the SATs – a deciding factor when it comes to college admissions – it comes to no surprise that the scandal prompted a review of security at test sites worldwide. And we’re not talking a run-of-the-mill review either: The College Board president has called in a security consulting firm founded by a former FBI director. (And you thought the test itself was serious.)

College Board President Gaston Caperton spoke at a hearing Tuesday morning held by New York State senators to discuss the cheating scandal in which several former high school students in Great Neck were arrested for allegedly hiring someone to pose as them and take the SAT for fees of up to $2,500 per person. Caperton said changes they’re considering include beefing up its checks of test takers’ ID and possibly photographing students when they arrive to take the SATs.

Though most were satisfied with this proposal, not everyone in attendance was pleased that it took a scandal like this to prompt a review. One critic of standardized testing, Bob Schaeffer of FairTest, contended that more can be done to improve test security. "As the Great Neck scandal demonstrates, the current level of security is inadequate," he said. "Savvy students can circumvent these minimal protections with relative ease, particularly by using modern technologies to forge identity cards, covertly copy exam materials, or secretly transmit correct answers."

If you’ve already gone through the SAT (or ACT) process, what did you think of the security measures taken at your test site? Is it really that easy to cheat? What steps do you think should be taken to prevent another scandal?

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Tackling Test Time

October 25, 2011

Tackling Test Time

by Angela Andaloro

If you’re like many college students out there, midterms are on your mind right about now. It feels like classes just started yesterday and you’re already being tested on what you know! While you may feel overwhelmed and unsure of where to begin studying, here are some tips that’ll help you breeze through those exams – whether it’s the first or final time you’ll be taking them.

Recall what your professors said. It’s easy to zone out during class, especially when you think the same points are being repeated over and over again. Those points, however, are the most important and likely to pop up on the exam. Make sure to pay extra attention to that information and indicate its importance in your notes.

Look back at your syllabus. They may seem like they’re full of the same old stuff for each class but if you're looking for an outline of what topics you’re tackling from week to week, your syllabus can serve as a great starting point for studying. Use those topics to build yourself a study guide and fill in specific details based on your class notes.

Ask questions. As much as we may think otherwise, professors are trying to help us learn...not hold us back. Drop in on their office hours and ask questions – you’d be surprised at just how much exam insight your professor is willing to give up! – and realize the more information you have, the less guessing you’ll have to do. Your studying will be that much more productive.

These tips may seem like common sense but you’d be surprised how quickly these skills can escape you when it comes time to study. Just focus, keep a level head and you’ll be sure to get through midterm time in one piece.

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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College Athletes Press NCAA for Share of Profits

October 25, 2011

College Athletes Press NCAA for Share of Profits

by Suada Kolovic

College athletes enjoy certain perks – the strong possibility of a free education (we’re talking full-ride scholarships!), on-the-house room and board, complimentary textbooks and top-notch tutors – but with that territory comes a serious commitment to grueling practices and high expectations to excel on the field, all the while juggling a full course load. Sure, college athletes are considered amateurs in their sports but the fact remains that these students participate in a multi-million dollar industry. Should they be compensated? More than 300 football and men’s basketball players seem to think so.

In a petition to the NCAA, student athletes are requesting that more of the money generated by their teams to go directly to the athletes, both while they are in school and after they graduate. The document, which the National College Players Association provided to the Associated Press, urges the NCAA and college presidents to set aside “an unspecified amount of money from what it estimates is $775 million in recently acquired TV revenues in an ‘educational lock box’...where players could tap those funds to help cover educational costs if they exhaust their athletic eligibility before they graduate.” And that’s not all: The petition also calls for players to receive what’s left of the money allocated to them after they graduate – a step that could be considered by some as professionalizing college sports. (For more on the story, click here.)

Do you think college athletes should get a piece of the multi-million dollar pie or is a free education (which will last a lifetime) compensation enough?

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How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

October 25, 2011

How to Save Even More Money on College Essentials

by Jessica Seals

Spending $500-plus on books every semester is enough to make any college student dread a new class schedule. After two semesters of spending that much on my books, I became determined to find a way to keep as much money in my bank account as possible. Of course, I made the decision to start buying my books from discount places online such as Amazon and eBay but I also wanted to see if there were other ways to keep from paying anything at all without having to rent books. I started reading blogs started by people who were once in my same position and found a bunch of helpful tips for earning extra money online.

It probably sounds crazy to say that I spend a great deal of time taking online surveys...but I do. After doing my research, I discovered sites such as Swagbucks, MyPoints, E-Poll surveys and Valued Opinions, which have users search the web and complete other activities in return for virtual currency and gift cards. I’ll admit I was skeptical until my first gift cards started arriving – and they actually worked when I went to redeem them! It took me a while but once I got the hang of it, I was able to redeem my points for Amazon cards that I use to pay for all of my books. I no longer dread the beginning of the semester because no money comes out of my pockets for school-related costs and beyond: I’ve also earned gift cards to restaurants and retail stores so I can eat and shop for free as well!

Interested? Give it a try...but understand that you’ll need to put forth some effort to reap the benefits. At times, I have spent all day on these sites (days when I don’t have class, of course!) and because of this extra effort, I’ve had more success. You may not have the same results but I still think it’s worth it to pass along this information and help other college students save money.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.

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Scholarship of the Week Alert: FIRE’s Freedom in Academia Essay Contest

October 24, 2011

Scholarship of the Week Alert: FIRE’s Freedom in Academia Essay Contest

by Alexis Mattera

There are lots of different ways to find money for college these days but none are as tried and true as the essay scholarship. Are you ready to write your way to $5,000, $2,500 or $1,000 for college? Well fire up that computer for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s Freedom in Academia Essay Contest.

The Freedom in Academia Essay Contest invites high school seniors to watch two videos on FIRE’s website and write an 800- to 1,000-word essay using examples from both videos. This year's prompt is "Why is free speech important at our nation's colleges and universities?" FIRE will award one first-place winner a $5,000 scholarship, one second-place winner a $2,500 scholarship, and five runners-up $1,000 scholarships.

The deadline is coming up fast – it’s November 5th – so visit FIRE’s website today for more information. To learn more about this award and others, conduct a free scholarship search on Scholarships.com.

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UC System Changes Admissions Requirements, Confuses Applicants

October 24, 2011

UC System Changes Admissions Requirements, Confuses Applicants

by Alexis Mattera

Thinking about applying to one of the University of California’s 10 campuses as a freshman for the 2012-2013 school year? If so, read the admissions requirements carefully, lest a change intended to ease your college-related stress levels send them sky high instead.

As standardized tests go, all UC campuses call for freshman applicants to submit scores from the SAT and ACT but have eliminated supplemental SAT subject exams from the list of admissions requirements. Though many students are breathing sighs of relief that they do not have to prepare for, take and afford another exam, others are still signing up for the subject tests in droves because they think it will boost their chances for admission. UC officials say students who do not take the tests will not be penalized but those who do and score well will be viewed in the same positive light as someone, say, with a leadership role in a school club would be. This explanation – plus the fact that specific programs like engineering and science do recommend subject tests – has left students and counselors understandably confused.

You can read more reactions from both sides here but as the November 30th application deadline draws closer, we have to wonder where our readers stand. If your dream school did not require you to take supplemental exams, would you follow the rules or still take the exams and hope doing so would give you a leg up on your competition and why?

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Intro to Paranormal Investigation

October 24, 2011

Intro to Paranormal Investigation

by Kayla Herrera

Here at Michigan Tech, ghost hunting and paranormal investigation have become hot trends. It may seem like a strange extracurricular activity at first but my school is located in the perfect place for it: Further north past the busiest towns on this side of the Upper Peninsula, old mining towns sit against the woods. What happened here so many years ago? Over the summer, my friend and I decided to find out. We did extensive research on the area and we finally obtained access into a building that was used as the old hospital. It was an experience neither of us will ever forget, partly because of our findings and partly because we went about our exploration in the right way.

There are rules when it comes to digging around a town’s history that must be followed. First, get permission. I know it may seem like a person would never let you tromp around in a historical location but trust me: It’s much more respectful to get permission rather than trespassing and going home in a cop car. If you have a legitimate reason for your exploration – like photography or paranormal investigation, the latter of which we cited as our objective – the chances of receiving permission are pretty good.

Next, be safe. Wear proper clothing like sneakers, long sleeves and pants – no heels or skirts, girls! Also, don’t conduct your investigation in a big group. It’s noisy and disrespectful to the property owners, surrounding neighbors and those who have passed on or were buried on the site.

Lastly, enjoy the experience! The findings from our investigation were staggering: I was touched twice by a “spirit” – it felt like cold spider webs the first time and like someone covered in spider webs brushed past me in a hurry the second time – and we recorded a few EVPs (disembodied voices). All the eresearch and planning paid off and it will change the way I view the paranormal forever. If you’re interested in giving it a try, see if your school has a paranormal club. Who knows, you might even get course credit for participating!

In addition to being a Scholarships.com virtual intern, Michigan Tech student Kayla Herrera is a media coordinator for the Michigan Tech Youth Programs, a writer for The Daily News in Iron Mountain, Mich., Examiner.com and WHOA Magazine. She love a tantalizing, action-packed video game and can't get enough of horror movies (Stephen King's books always have her in their grip, though she prefers the old over the new). Writing is what she has always done, and that is what she is here to do.

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Banishing Bullying

October 21, 2011

Banishing Bullying

by Radha Jhatakia

From high schools to colleges to workplaces, bullying is a serious issue with serious consequences. There have been so many cases where students are bullied by their peers and the torment is so much that they commit suicide. When you bully someone, you not only hurt them but their family and friends as well.

I’m so glad that there is a rising awareness about bullying and laws are being passed to prevent it in school and online, an act also known as cyber-bullying. When I was in middle school, I was bullied quite often – many times based on my race – and I would come home crying but have no one to speak to about it. As bullying has become a more prominent issue, celebrities and politicians are speaking about it and counseling programs are being implemented in schools everywhere so students can have a place to hash out personal issues and raise awareness.

Remember, what may seem like a harmless joke, wall post or text message can potentially cause the people you’re bullying so much pain that they choose to end their lives rather than endure any more abuse. Also, if you are aware of bullying but do nothing to stop it, you are just as responsible as the bully if anything happens to person enduring the torment. It may seem difficult for someone to stop the bullying cycle but it’s far from impossible. All it takes is one person to stand up against bullying and lead others to do the same. Be that person and make a difference.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major at San Jose State University. She's a transfer student who had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.

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The Fight Against Federal Student Aid Fraud

October 21, 2011

The Fight Against Federal Student Aid Fraud

by Alexis Mattera

Firefighters. Police. Ghostbusters. Your mom. There are certain people you instinctively contact when you need assistance and the same holds true for the federal government. When the Department of Education noticed there was something strange in the neighborhood regarding federal student aid, they knew just who to call.

Less than a month after releasing a report detailing how organized fraud rings were exploiting distance education programs, the ED contacted colleges across the country urging them to develop additional ways of identifying threats to federal funding. Schools were encouraged to combat potential fraud rings by monitoring groups of students using the same IP or email addresses to apply and participate in online programs, paying closer attention to students living outside the schools' normal coverage areas and delaying the disbursement of federal funds or releasing said funds in multiple disbursements. In addition to the steps colleges are taking internally, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said the department will be working with Congress and schools "to ensure we have all the tools we need to prevent criminal elements from defrauding federal student aid dollars."

Do you think colleges are doing enough to prevent federal student aid fraud?

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Fairness in College Admissions

October 20, 2011

Fairness in College Admissions

by Alexis Mattera

Accepted, rejected, deferred and waitlisted are all responses students can receive when tearing open a decision envelope or clicking on an admissions-related email. Some are obviously more favorable than others but are the practices that lead to these decisions as fair as they can be?

In its latest State of College Admission report, the National Association for College Admission Counseling (NACAC) highlights the impact of wait lists in the college admissions process. Data reveal 48 percent of institutions surveyed used wait lists in fall 2010 – up from 39 percent the previous year – but of the students who elected to remain on the lists, colleges admitted just 28 percent of wait-listed students, a figure six percentage points lower than 2009. “Colleges are leaning more heavily, and perhaps more ‘craftily,’ on the wait lists, which may be tipping the balance in ways that students and counselors are finding objectionable,” said NACAC’s public policy and research director David A. Hawkins.

There are multiple culprits contributing to admissions committees’ rationales – application inflation and yield predictability complications are both cited – but in terms of fairness, not all schools are leaving would-be students in admissions limbo as, on average, four-year institutions accept 65.5 percent of all applicants. It’s the report’s predictions that are most concerning: Prolonged economic decline and uncertainty could make it more difficult for all parties “to adhere to fair practices” in the admissions process.

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