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Data Spill at University of Hawaii

Former Student Sues Over Privacy Breaches

November 22, 2010

Data Spill at University of Hawaii

by Suada Kolovic

Every day, you’re prompted to enter personal information on the web. Whether you’re buying a Kindle from Amazon, filling out a college application or applying for a job, you’re asked for a credit card number, your social security number and, in some cases, even your mother’s maiden name. And sure, in the back of your mind you know there’s the slightest possibility that your personal information could be disclosed, but I doubt that fear was a serious concern on your university’s website. Former University of Hawaii-Manoa student Philippe Gross was no different but on Thursday, Gross filed a class-action suit against the university after the system allowed a series of privacy breaches. It was only last month that the system discovered that a retired professor had posted social security numbers and other personal information about more than 40,000 alumni on a public web server. That wasn’t the first incident either: Back in July, the system acknowledged that hackers gained access to records of 53,000 students and employees at its Manoa campus.

Mr. Gross’s lawyer, Thomas R. Grande, said the University of Hawaii had violated the constitutional right to privacy of the students and employees who were affected. “For those with access to private security information comes a heavy responsibility to protect that information,” Mr. Grande said. The University of Hawaii-Manoa has acknowledged that they are working on improving its data security and, as of right now, their approach was inadequate. Though I doubt the thousands affected by the breaches take comfort in knowing that only now, after two incidents, has the university taken action.

Do you think the University of Hawaii – or any institution for that matter – should be liable for data breaches?


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GPA, SAT, and a Great Sense of Humor Walk into a Bar

by Suada Kolovic

When you envisioned what your college application process would be like, I’m sure you anticipated stress and anxiety but I doubt you expected a joke could get you in. This was the moment you were told to draw on your strengths and articulate every achievement – countless community service hours, stellar GPA, and the fact that you were senior class president. Every sentence would be so perfectly and meticulously thought-out that who you were just leapt 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 opened the actual application and found a serious curveball.

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

California Institute of Technology

Caltech asks applicants to not overanalyze:

  • “What are three adjectives your friends would use to describe you?”
  • “Caltech students have long been known for their quirky sense of humor and creative pranks and for finding unusual ways to have fun. What is something that you find fun or humorous?”

University of Chicago

Each year the University of Chicago asks newly admitted and current students for essay topics:

  • “Dog and Cat. Coffee and Tea. Great Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye. Everyone knows there are two types of people in the world. What are they?”

Yale University

Yale asks applicants to write essays, plus answer the following questions in 25 words or less:

  • “If you could witness one moment in history, what would it be and why?”
  • “Recall a compliment you received that you especially value. What was it? From whom did it come?”

University of Dallas

Along with three conventional questions, including “What influenced you most to apply to the University of Dallas?” the school also asks:

  • “Tell us your favorite joke or humorous anecdote.”

Soon-to-be college applicants, what do you think of this technique? Are you a fan of the challenge or frustrated by the fact that not only are you expected to impress them with your achievements and extracurricular activities but now you’re expected to be witty, too?


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Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

Deadline Quickly Approaching

October 25, 2010

Coca-Cola’s $20,000 Scholarship

by Suada Kolovic

Are you in search of a scholarship with a huge dollar amount? Coca-Cola’s Scholars Scholarship may be just what you’re looking for. It's an achievement-based scholarship awarded to 250 high school seniors each year. Fifty of these are four-year, $20,000 scholarships ($5,000 per year for four years), while 200 are designated as four-year, $10,000 scholarships ($2,500 per year for four years). And with odds like that, it wouldn’t hurt for you to give it your best shot!

In order to be eligible for a Coca-Cola Scholarship, a student must be a current high school or home-school senior planning to pursue a degree at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution and have a minimum 3.00 GPA at the end of your junior year of high school. But you better work fast because high school seniors must apply online through October 31. Good luck!


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Community Colleges Seek New Revenue Streams

Schools Try to Keep Lines of Communication Open with Alumni

September 27, 2010

Community Colleges Seek New Revenue Streams

by Suada Kolovic

College is expensive - no one would argue that. That being the case, attending community college is an option students are turning to. But with the economy in a slump, community colleges across the country are faced with booming enrollment amid decreasing financial support from the state government.

State appropriations for community colleges have taken a hit in recent years. In the past decade alone, state funding per full-time equivalent student fell to $3,150 from $4,350. Accordingly, the state’s community colleges turned away about 4,000 applicants this fall alone because of lack of capacity, turning away a similar number last fall.

The Foundation for Maine’s Community Colleges, a newly created development organization courting donations for the state’s seven two-year institutions, has begun a $10 million fund-raising campaign to help with the slumping state’s support. Foundation officials note that they expect the majority of the funds to come from state businesses that see community colleges as serving them, in contrast to the development work many four-year institutions do among alumni.

But as state budgets continue to dwindle, experts expect more community colleges to look to private donations in the future.

"Most donors to universities are alumni who have been carefully cultivated and served," said Linda Serra Hagedorn, professor and interim chair of Iowa State University’s Department of Educational Leadership & Policy Studies. Community colleges typically do not keep communications open with their alumni. Most do not keep any contact with their alumni. As a result, most CC graduates do not identify with the CC as an alma mater. I think we will see this changing with time."

Hagedorn acknowledges that donors can be very helpful to providing the funds necessary to serve their students and many community colleges have yet to explore the options of naming their buildings or providing endowed professorships.


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Politicians: Thou Shall Not Lie

Why Politicians Embellish Their Academic Credentials

September 29, 2010

Politicians: Thou Shall Not Lie

by Suada Kolovic

In the world of politics, having officials lie to the public is hardly new. Over the years, a parade of politicians from both parties – from Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton getting caught exaggerating the danger of her 1996 trip to Bosnia to Representative Mark Kirk apologizing for misleading statements he made about serving in the first Iraq war – have had to account for what opponents portrayed as exaggerations.

But lying about academic credentials is a new low, most recently exhibited by Christine O'Donnell. Last month, public relations consultant O'Donnell won Delaware's GOP Senate primary beating a favored longtime congressman. When she ran for the seat in 2006, she said she had a degree from Fairleigh Dickinson University but when it was revealed to be untrue, her campaign said Fairleigh Dickinson had withheld the degree because of outstanding student loans. The university gave her a degree on August 28, two weeks before the Delaware primary. Her campaign said she had completed a final course requirement this past summer.

So, why would politicians lie about something that can be easily checked? James A. Thurber, a professor of government at American University who studied ethic in politics, recently spoke to the Chronicle and explained, “People respect individuals and candidates who have certain credentials, and they're seen as almost necessary for office. It's fairly rare for someone to run for Senate who does not have an undergraduate degree, and most have law degrees or master's degrees. A candidate might be embarrassed about his or her academic background. They might think that no one will check it out.” He explains they get away with it once or twice and think they won't get caught; it’s when people eventually begin to believe their own lie when it really becomes a problem.

With the internet as accessible as it is, the truth is just a click away. So, whether you’re lying on a resume for a potential employer or a college application or scholarship is getting caught worth the risk?


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College Dropouts Cost Taxpayers Billions

by Suada Kolovic

Dropping out of college would surely ruffle a few feathers at home, but it seems mom and dad may not be the only ones affected. While dropping out after a year can translate into lost time and a mountain of debt for the student, now there’s an estimate of what it costs taxpayers: billions.

According to a report released Monday, states appropriated almost $6.2 billion for four-year colleges and universities between 2003 and 2008 to help pay for the education of students who did not return for year two. The report takes into account spending on average per-student state appropriations, state grants and federal grants – such as Pell grants for low-income students – then reaches its cost conclusions based on students retention rates. It’s worth mentioning though that the report’s conclusions are considered incomplete: Because it’s based on data from the U.S. Education Department, it does not take account of students who attend part time, who leave college in order to transfer to another institution, or who drop out but return later to receive their degrees.

And with figures in the billions, critics agree that too many students are attending four-year schools – and that pushing them to finish wastes even more taxpayer money. Robert Lerman, an American University economics professor, questions promoting college for all. He said the reports fleshes out the reality of high dropout rates. But it could just as easily be used to argue that less-prepared, less-motivated students are better off not going to college."Getting them to go a second year might waste even more money," Lerman said. "Who knows?"


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Want to Get into an Ivy League?

All You Need is $19.99!

October 15, 2010

Want to Get into an Ivy League?

by Suada Kolovic

And I’d have to agree – $19.99 is a steal. Aren’t we all just a tad curious as to what those select few wrote to be granted access behind those coveted gates? I know I am and Howard Yaruss figured you, future college applicants, would be too. So he founded the Application Project Inc. WeGotIn.net, which sells copies of successful applications to Ivy League colleges. For $19.99, you can browse applications submitted by 21 members of Brown University’s 2009-10 freshman class and for the same price, you can access applications submitted by 14 members of the 2009-10 freshman class at Columbia University. (Or buy both for $34.99 and save five bucks!)

For the price of large pizza, you’ll get copies of the applications with entire responses to each question, including essay and short-answer prompts. But are they legit? According to Yaruss, the company obtains the copies directly from students, who are asked to submit their application via their college e-mail as proof of enrollment. Wondering what other Ivy League institutions are in the database? As of right now, just the two mentioned above – Brown and Columbia – but Yaruss plans to expand to all Ivy League institutions, Stanford University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2011.

The catch, since there always seems to be one, is that an accepted application may not necessarily reveal why a student was selected. The truth of the matter is that multiple factors go into a student’s admittance into a university and to provide students with such a tiny piece of such a complicated puzzle is frankly misleading. That’s why a few admissions counselors who have perused through WeGotIn.net could only scoff. “An application out of context has no value, and it’s disingenuous at best to imply that it does,” said Willard M. Dix, an independent counselor in Chicago who works with low-income students. “But there’s a sucker born every minute. Sites like this clearly know that.”

Yaruss admits he has already encountered some “hostility” in the admissions realm and suspects more criticism will come. But he’s been pleased by the response from the people whose help he needs most—college students. He has solicited their applications by contacting them through, of course, Facebook. His pitch: sharing them would help other students who aspire to attend elite colleges.

Why would such elite students offer their personal responses that they surely put their blood, sweat and tears into to a stranger? Did I mention each student who shared his or her application was paid (two received $100, and the others less)? And in the world of a college student, that ain’t too shabby.


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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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GWU Admits Considering Financial Need in Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

With so much riding on whether or not you get in, applying for college can cause even the most confident students some serious anxiety. And with so many factors to consider like high school rankings, SAT/ACT scores, GPAs and community service hours, it’s important to understand that more often than not, colleges are also factoring in a student’s ability to pay...even when they say they’re not. Insert outrage here.

Just last Friday, George Washington University’s website claimed to evaluate applicants without considering their financial need (also known as a need-blind admissions approach) but now they’re clarifying that policy: It now reads that while applications are first reviewed without consideration of need, “at the point of finalizing admissions decisions, we must balance a student’s financial resources with the university’s aid budget. This practice of being need-aware allows us to meet as much need of as many students as possible.” Why the sudden transparency, GWU? Turns out that the school’s new senior associate provost for enrollment management’s recent interview with The GW Hatchet revealed that she characterized the university’s policy as need-aware as opposed to need-blind. The problem? By being need-aware for years and suggesting otherwise, the university appears to not only have violated the Statement of Principles of Good Practice of the National Association for College Admission Counseling but encouraged low-income students to apply (and pay a hefty application fee!) on the false pretense that the university was need-blind. (For more on this story, click here.)

The ability to pay for college has long been a major factor when it comes to gaining admission but to blatantly advertise otherwise is undeniably uncool. What do you think of GWU’s current predicament? Should the university face serious repercussions? Let us know in the comments section.


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How Much Is The Application Fee?!

Top 25 Highest Application Fees

January 3, 2014

How Much Is The Application Fee?!

by Suada Kolovic

Sure, we’ve discussed the skyrocketing cost of college tuition on a daily basis and considering every other add-on you’ll have to endure when it comes to paying for college – room and board, books and supplies – having to pay an outrageous application fee is downright cruel.

According to the U.S. News & World Report, the average application fee to apply to colleges is $38.39, which is a steal compared to the fees charged by the institutions listed below. At the top 28 schools with the highest application costs, the average application fee is $77! Check out the list below and share your thoughts. Let us know if these hefty fees will ultimately decide where you’ll apply.


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