August 10, 2010
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, released by The Education Trust and based on several years of database comparisons from College Results Online, looked at both private colleges and public universities. Many of those schools that boast small gaps (or a lack of a gap at all) have programming in place that promotes academic achievement across all student groups, according to an article in The Chronicle of Higher Education. At the University of California at Riverside, where 63 percent of Hispanic students, 67 percent of black students, and 62 percent of white students graduate, administrators have focused on retention and boosting students’ leadership skills to keep them coming back. At the University of North Carolina-Greensboro, where 56 percent of black students and 51 percent of white students graduate within six years, administrators have focused on student success as part of their mission, and believe that it is more cost-effective for the school to have students graduate rather than to recruit new students, according to the reports.
According to an article from Inside Higher Ed, even those poor performers—Wayne State University, where there is a 34 percent gap between graduation rates for white and black students, and California State University at Chico, which graduates about 31 percent of black students, 41.5 percent of Hispanic students, and 57.5 percent of white students—are taking steps to improve their graduation rates. At Chico, for example, those numbers actually represent an improvement after the campus opened a minority student success center. At Wayne State, access to need-based financial aid has been expanded to address a big reason why many at-risk students drop out of college.
Overall, about 60 percent of the country’s white students, 49 percent of Hispanic students, and 40 percent of black students graduate with six years, according to The Education Trust. These new reports, however, show that there are steps colleges can take to improve upon those numbers and to improve retention across student groups.
August 18, 2010
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 has that class in question, when the next major test/quiz will be held, and whether that class has an attendance policy, among other criteria. Once they hit submit, users are told whether they’d be safe or sorry if they stayed in bed and skipped class. For example, I was told it was OK to skip class but that I wasn’t completely safe when I gave the calculator a whirl. I used a hypothetical class that met twice a week, included regular handouts in class, and had an attendance policy where my instructor did not take attendance, but where participation mattered in my final grade. The results also told me that I had already skipped 7 percent of my classes this semester (I had informed the web tool that this would be my third absence), and when my next test or quiz was (I offered that information up as well).
The calculator is the brainchild of Jim Filbert, who thought of the idea “one cold morning” in February of this year. Filbert, a telecommunications management student at the time, didn’t want to go to class that day, and found himself wondering what the risks were to stay in his warm bed. Following a quick search online, he was unable to find a similar tool, so he took it upon himself to create an online risk calculator himself. He did end up skipping class that day, according to his bio on the site, but he spent his free time working on the calculator, instead.
While you should probably go to class as often as you can, barring an unfortunate illness, flat tire, or other incident that would stop you from doing so, it’d be interesting to see how “accurate” this calculator is in a real situation. How you’d measure its accuracy, though, I’m not exactly sure. Have you tried out this new online tool? How do you go about determining how risky it is to skip class? What’s an appropriate excuse? If you’re feeling swamped, check out our College Classes and Study Smart sections before deciding whether you’re really too overwhelmed to go to class; we have tips on everything from preparing for exams to choosing which courses you should sign up for.
August 19, 2010
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 freshmen (in somewhat of a tongue-in-cheek manner), as a way to remind professors and instructors that there are vast cultural differences between them and the new students. The list is put together each August by a Beloit College professor and a former official at the school, and represents the at times amusing world view of new freshmen, in this case the Class of 2014. The officials putting together the list began to do so in 1998, when they realized how outdated the references many instructors used in their classrooms were.
Included on the list:
The originators of the list feel knowing these tidbits will help professors create more meaningful discussion in the classroom. It may also help instructors avoid blank stares when they use a cultural reference beyond the experiences of those new students. The 46th item on the list, for example, “Nirvana is on the classic oldies station,” may make some instructors feel old, but may also be a wake-up call for others when they’re looking to relate to students.
An article in USA Today this week quotes students that both disagree and agree with the list. While some say they do indeed still know how to write in cursive, one described the only time she’s ever used a telephone with a cord as such: “Yes, I’ve used them but only at my grandparents’ house.” Take a look at the list. Do you have anything to add? Is there something on the list you’d remove? We’d love to hear your ideas!
June 5, 2008
June 6, 2008
June 18, 2008
It’s no secret that the lives of an increasing number of college and high school students are filled with errands, homework assignments, social appointments and work. Managing the stress of infinite responsibilities can be difficult, but it's necessary to keep one's health and stress in check. If you, like so many others, are struggling with your schedule, take a step back. Read the following pointers on how to keep things together, and give your mind and body the healthy break they deserve.
Keep a planner. When your errands get out of control, it’s best to eliminate the head clutter—you need your brain cells for other things. Write down everything, birthdays, projects, groceries etc. Then cross things off one at a time; it will feel great. Having things on paper will free your memory and allow you to see what you’ve already accomplished--not just what’s left to accomplish.
See a Friend. Hmmm…Taking time off may seem counterproductive, but it’s a must. Getting lost in a world of errands is overwhelming, depressing, and stressful. Seeing a friend—even for a short lunch—can give you perspective, a reminder that life outside of work exists. More often than not, your friends are going, or have gone through, similar ordeals. Swap silly stories about your weird instructor, vent and rejuvenate your mind.
Multitask. Some say that working on two projects at once lengthens the time it takes to complete them, but that depends on the projects. If you have some clothes in the wash, get some homework done between loads. Waiting to meet that friend I told you about? Begin your reading assignment.
Stay Near the Nest. Travel adds up, and, unfortunately, it is often accepted as the unavoidable black hole of time. Well, don’t accept it. Keeping things close to home can greatly increase the time you have to get things done. When possible, commute to school. Take your dance and guitar lessons at a nearby studio. Shop and eat at stores and restaurants at arms length. Clock in for longer hours but fewer days. You get the picture.
June 20, 2008
It’s one of the first pieces of advice future college students receive—don’t live with your friends. I beg to differ. Whoever began this vicious rumor—I hate to be the bearer of bad news—was probably a poor roommate to begin with. Yes, living with a friend may lead to sporadic tensions, but so will living with anyone. And the pros of sharing a space with someone you already know generally outweigh the cons. Here are few reasons why living with a friend may actually be a good thing.
You Can Practice Your Social Skills. College is a great time to practice your communal living habits. Unless you plan to spend the rest of your days on a parents’ couch, you will move out someday—probably with someone you care about. Living with a friend will teach you how to compromise and to respect the space of someone you would like to maintain a relationship with. If you know that you can easily ditch your roommate the following year, putting forth a serious effort may be more difficult.
You Know What You’re Getting Into. Going on a year-long blind date may seem exciting---at first. Sure, things often work, but when they don't, roommate problems can get ugly. Even if you're not completely familiar with your friend’s nonexistent sanitary habits—though you've probably been tipped off at some point—to some extent, you'll know what to expect. Things could be much worse. I've seen a roommate who stayed inside a one-bedroom dorm 24-7 playing videogames, one who left trash bags in their roommate’s bedroom after a party (not to mention the dirty plates that lined the hallway) and a few who decided that their significant others would make the perfect third party.
You Can Create a Stronger Bond. Yes, you bond with high school friends, but it’s just not the same as living with them. Even when things get awkward, when you’re mad but don’t want to talk about it, living with each other will bring you closer. You may not realize it until you've moved out, but once things are all said and done, you’ll be able to reminisce about what you went through and hold debates about who was most obnoxious.
July 9, 2008
Dorms are filled to the brim with students your age, and therein lies their charm. But after finding a group of people you enjoy spending time with, their appeal slowly fades. Dorms are cramped, noisy, and, eventually, old news. But before you can hug your RA goodbye, you need to find an apartment, and that takes some planning. The following tips can help you find the best-suited home at a reasonable price.
Determine Boundaries. Before the apartment hop begins, establish a general search boundary. Off-campus apartments may be cheaper, but, depending on location, the class hike may be substantial. Decide which is the bigger priority, finance or location, and be realistic about how far you are willing to walk—in boots on a rainy, snowy day—to your perfect residence.
Get a Head Start. If you attend a large state school, chances are, you have options. But you can only be as picky as the time allows. Begin your apartment search early, around December or January. If you wait until the summer months to find an apartment for the upcoming year, you may find your options slim. Stake your claim before someone else can.
Look at Reviews. What you don’t see when you visit an apartment—the unreachable repairman, the stinky, bug-ridden basement—may come back to haunt you. One of the best ways to gauge a potential home is by seeking out feedback from previous tenants. Reviews of landlords and apartments can frequently be found in campus newspapers, both on and offline. You may also want to ask around. Satisfied and disgruntled students alike are often willing to let you know what they think.
Budget. When budgeting, you have to consider paying for school, for residence, for food, for leisure, for holiday gifts, for transportation, for emergencies and so on. If you're an apartment penny pincher, it's best to limit surprises. Ask landlords about any city or tenant fees that may be tacked on to the lease, and find out if if gas, water, parking or an internet/cable package are included. If you don’t plan to stay on campus during the summer months, also ask about a 10-month lease option. The need for apartments drops during the summertime, and many students have a hard time finding individuals willing to sublet at full price. By asking the right questions and budgeting accordingly, you can avoid many such problems down the road.
July 17, 2008
According to West Virginia’s The State Journal, a recent poll indicates that Americans are prioritizing the affordability of a college education over other factors. Though criteria such as scholastic quality, distance and diversity were also critical, the cost of a school topped the list as most important.
With college costs continuing to outpace inflation and graduates finishing school with growing debt, families are beginning to realize that attending schools within their means may be more important than attending ones of greater prestige. A recent report from the National Center for Education Studies (NCES) stated that during the 2005-2006 school year, 46 percent of first-time, full-time students who sought a degree took out student loans, a few graduating more than $100,000 in debt.
The Chronicle of Higher Education Gallop Poll indicated that, though there were conflicting views over whether the government or the public should be responsible for much of the cost, most agreed that colleges should contribute to the solution by spending a larger percentage of their endowment funds.
As the media focuses on problems of national debt, controversy has grown over the use of annually increasing endowment funds acquired through donations to colleges. Though endowment contributors frequently create stipulations about who may or may not receive their scholarship money, the public has pointed to the questionable nature of storing funds and increasing tuition, especially during a time when debt has become a growing problem for students.
July 18, 2008
During a conference held by the Department of Education this week, department commissioners, educators and business leaders alike expressed their disappointment with Education Secretary Margaret Spelling’s inability to improve the current state of postsecondary education. According to The Chronicle of Higher Education, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education created by the secretary herself complained that, after three years of work, students were still unsure about which colleges best fit their needs, and employers were still dissatisfied with graduates’ lack of preparation for the workforce.
Furthermore, while steps to alleviate the burden of school expenses have been taken—most prominent of which was perhaps the increase in Pell Grant caps—the rising costs of a college education have made paying for school a struggle. During the 2005-2006 school year, more than 40 percent of first-time college students were forced to take out student loans. These factors, combined with the declining value of a college degree, have made securing a sufficiently lucrative job difficult for those with debt, especially when searching for positions within the nonprofit sector.
With only six months left in office, the secretary has little time to apply the suggestions of her peers. Complaining that colleges are not doing enough to prepare students for the business world, previous advertising executive Richard Holland stated, “We just talk about this all the time, and we don’t do anything about it.” Added Education Department’s senior adviser Vickie Schray, “There’s still a lot that needs to be done.”
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