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Standardized Test Myths Debunked

by Suada Kolovic

When it comes to preparing for standardized tests, everyone seems to have an opinion. Whether it’s the “when in doubt, choose C” mantra or that SAT/ACT prep courses are the only way to guarantee a high score, it’s important to note that while test tips are well-intentioned, they don’t necessarily translate into good or even practical advice. But don’t fret, the U.S. News & World Report has debunked seven popular standardized test myths to get you through the stressful process. Here are a few of our favorites:

Myth 1: Taking both tests will double your chances of doing well.

If you are remarkably better at one test, it should become evident pretty quickly after some practice. If it doesn't, then you are probably like most kids and will do equally well on either. Pick the test you feel more comfortable with and put your efforts into that test.

Myth 2: The ACT is an easier test than the SAT.

The ACT is a different test, not better or easier. In fact, most kids will get similar scores on both. Note though that most doesn't mean everyone—and might not mean you.

Myth 3: The SAT is more coachable than the ACT.

Familiarize yourself with both. Take a practice test of each. Then, compare not just your scores but also your relative strengths and weaknesses on each test. Which areas of weakness are likely to be the easiest for you to improve?

Myth 4: You should take the SAT or ACT as often as you can.

Unless you plan to start on the varsity SAT team, you are probably better served by taking the SAT and ACT only a couple of times.

For the entire list of debunked myths, click here.


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Student Punished for Creating Class Registration Website

by Suada Kolovic

Registering for college classes takes time, patience and, above all else, persistence. If you’re a college student, then you’re familiar with the frustrating process: It’s officially your last year and the only obstacle standing in your way from victoriously crossing that graduation stage is COM: 101 – a required course you’ve been putting off since your freshman year and as luck would have it, it’s full. Now what? An extra semester? Shouldn’t schools be obligated to offer an easier, better way to register for classes? Well, a student at the University of Central Florida came up with a solution...and now he’s on academic probation.

Tim Arnold, a senior at UCF, created U Could Finish, a website that notified students when a seat was available in a given class. While the site was helpful, officials argue that it violated portions of the tech policy that prohibited students from using university tools to make money (Arnold had been charging for use of his site, taking in a total of just $7.78, he revealed) and disrupted normal technology use. Arnold plans to appeal his sanctions, which also require him to write two papers and prevent him from holding student office. “I just feel that the actions they did were very extreme, considering my intent was to help students and not to intentionally subvert the rules,” he said.

What do you think of UCF’s handling of the situation? Was it fair to put a proactive student on academic probation for trying to solve a real-world problem?


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California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

by Suada Kolovic

In what seems to be a growing trend across the country, a California state legislator is the latest elected official to push for a bachelor’s degree that costs no more than $10,000 total (yes, total!). And while last year’s college graduates left school with an average of $25,000 in debt, the possibility of a $10,000 degree to incoming college freshman is encouraging.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) introduced the bill following similar initiatives in Florida and Texas: In the proposed California legislation, students would start to earn college credit in high school through Advanced Placement courses and would then enroll full-time at a community college. The state university would in turn accept up to 60 credits for transfer. The problem? There’s the possibility that the state itself could be responsible for much of the cost since the bill requires that schools and colleges be reimbursed for any mandated expenses. As of right now, the legislation has only one sponsor while the speaker of the California Assembly, a democrat, reportedly has alternative plans for higher education reform.

Given California’s current budget woes, do you think the proposed legislation is the right option for the state? Let us know what you think.


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Montreal Student Expelled After Finding Software Oversight

by Suada Kolovic

Being expelled from school after discovering a flaw in the computer system – one that compromised the personal information of more than 250,000 students – seems highly unlikely. In fact, one would assume that the student who sought to notify the school in order to amend the vulnerability in the college’s data security system would be commended and touted as the school genius...but that wasn’t the case for Ahmed Al-Khabaz.

The 20-year-old Dawson College student and his computer science colleague Ovidiu Mija discovered an oversight in the Omnivox software while working on a mobile app that would simplify student access to their college accounts. Al-Khabaz took the findings to the director of information services and technology Francois Paradis on October 24th, where Paradis congratulated him and Mija on their work and promised the he and Skytech (the maker of Omnivox) would fix the problem immediately. Two days later, Al-Khabaz decided to take it upon himself to confirm just that by running a software program designed to test for website vulnerabilities but within minutes, he received a phone call from Skytech president Edouard Taza, who declared his actions a cyberattack. He was then called before the computer science department, where 14 of the 15 professors present voted in favor of Al-Khabaz’s expulsion.

Following the decision to reject his appeal, Al-Khabaz said, “My academic career is completely ruined. In the wrong hands, this breach could have caused a disaster. Students could have been stalked, had their identities stolen, their lockers opened and who knows what else. I found a serious problem, and tried to help fix it. For that I was expelled.” How do you think Dawson College handled the situation? Let us know in the comments section.


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Four College Majors to Avoid

February 7, 2013

Four College Majors to Avoid

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 7.8 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish after graduation? And while there isn’t one direct route that translates into success, Georgetown University’s Center on Education has compiled a list of majors that college students should avoid:

  • Liberal Arts (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 9.2 percent): Studying a broad palette of subjects including everything from literature and philosophy to history and sociology sounds like a dream. Unfortunately, employers may not see a liberal arts degree in the same divine light as the ancient Greeks did.
  • Philosophy and Religious Studies (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 10.8 percent): With the demand for these two degrees particularly lackluster, it’s difficult to justify them as your desired majors. Susan Heathfield, a career expert and writer of About.com’s Guide to Human Resources, suggests considering a degree in communications instead.
  • Information Systems (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 11.7 percent): "I'm not exactly sure what someone would do with [an information systems] degree in the current world," Heathfield says. "In the early days, the roles of various programmers, software developers, and network administrators were more distinct, but not anymore. Now the degree to have is computer science or computer engineering."
  • Architecture (Unemployment Rate for Recent College Graduates 13.9 percent): Thanks to the massive hit the housing and commercial real estate industries took in the past decade, architecture has highest unemployment rate among the degrees examined. If you’re interested in the process of planning and designing, engineering might be a more lucrative option.

What are your thoughts on the majors that made the list? Do you agree that they should be avoided at all costs or should students be encouraged to pursue their passion regardless of potentially high employment rates? Let us know in the comments section.


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Top 10 Highest Paying Internships

by Suada Kolovic

For a college student, an internship is viewed as a rite of passage, a box that must be checked, a prerequisite for future ambitions. And while obtaining an internship is a success in its own right, finding one where you’ll be compensated in something other than experience and a reference is a challenge…but not necessarily impossible. A new report from Glassdoor lists the highest-rated companies that not only pay their interns but pay them extremely well. Check out the top 10 companies that made the cut below (for the complete list, click here):


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Student Sues College After Being Expelled for Facebook Posts

by Suada Kolovic

Obsessively checking wall posts, commenting on old high school prom photos, liking statuses that have no likeable qualities and participating in a poke war (if that’s still a thing) are pretty common among Facebook users. But for those of you who think that Facebook is a free-for-all to express your unfiltered thoughts, you are sadly mistaken: A nursing student from Central Lakes College was expelled over his Facebook posts and now he’s suing.

Thirty-seven-year-old Craig Keefe was one semester away from becoming a registered nurse when officials at the two-year college deemed two of his private Facebook posts “disturbing.” Keefe claims administrators never showed him the offending posts, nor did they explain how he violated school policy. His lawyer, Jordan Kushner of Minneapolis, explains, “He really doesn't know... It's a public institution. You're entitled to due process before any type of significant action is taken against you. You deserve to know what the charges are and the chance to be heard." The suit accuses Central Lakes College of conspiring to violate Keefe’s constitutional rights to privacy, free speech and due process and seeks reinstatement in the program as well as damages. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think it’s fair that Keefe’s private posts were used against him? Should college officials take it upon themselves to supervise a student’s Facebook page? Let us know in the comments section.


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Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

This Ivy League School Considers Adding a Nap Room for Students

February 26, 2013

Shh...Harvard’s Elite Are Sleeping

by Suada Kolovic

We’ve all been there: Going about our day as if we don’t have a care in the world when it dawns on us that (go figure) that term paper on the pros and cons of procrastination in the creative process is due tomorrow. Panicked, we consider emailing our professor an excuse about a death in the family but given we killed off Nana (who’s actually alive and well back home) last semester during finals week, we decide it’s best to pull an all-nighter. The next day, we’re irritable, unmotivated and just plain sluggish and while the simple solution is to overcome procrastination and not leave an assignment until the last minute, a Harvard student has suggested a different approach: a nap room on campus.

The Harvard administration is considering creating a designated nap room after sophomore Yugi Hou started an online petition. “Most students operate daily on a sleep deficit, to the detriment of their health and productivity,” said Hou. “For those getting insufficient sleep at night, naps can provide alertness and help students take a break from their hectic schedules.” Hou started the online petition through the Harvard Undergraduate Council’s “We the Crimson” initiative, which is meant to foster direct dialogue between students and school administrators. Each month, the three petitions with the most votes are sent to the Dean of Harvard College for review. Harvard administrators have yet to make a decision on the initiative but Hou has said that until a siesta center is set up on campus, she plans on creating a “nap map” to help plot the best spots for students to nod off on campus.

If you’re a fan of napping between classes, do you think it’s your university’s responsibility to provide nap rooms for students? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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by Suada Kolovic

Today's high school students have to face some serious obstacles when applying to college. With ballooning numbers of applications and fierce competition, educators and college counselors have long sung the praises of AP courses to stand out but for those students looking for an even bigger leg up on the competition, some high schools are allowing students to skip lunch in order to take additional classes.

According to several news reports, there are currently a handful of districts across the country are allowing students (with parental consent, of course) to forgo lunch to take another class. Translation: Participating students would typically have nine 42-minute periods without a break. Students in favor of skipping lunch say that the extra time allows them to pursue subjects they are passionate about – think: art or music – that they may not otherwise be able to fit in their schedules. But not everyone agrees with the option: School Nutrition Association spokeswoman Diane Pratt-Heavner insisted that students who don’t sit down to eat a healthy midday meal will not have the attention span and level of detail they need to succeed in school. "Wolfing down a meal between classes is not promoting a healthy lifestyle," she added. (For more on this story, click here.)

If this was an option at your school, would you opt out of lunch to fit in an extra class? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.


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Penn Admissions Officer Fired After Mocking Applicants on Facebook

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for an edge in the college admissions process? Sure...who isn’t? If you’re considering applying to some of the most competitive colleges in the country, you’ll need to find some way to distinguish yourself from the thousands of other hopefuls vying for a spot. Adding details of perseverance and overcoming adversity to your essay is a great place to start but be wary about what personal anecdotes you decide to share because you never know where your private story will end up: An admissions officer at the University of Pennsylvania was fired after she posted and openly ridiculed excerpts of students’ application essays on her Facebook page. Not cool.

Penn officials were made aware of the series of online posts written by Nadirah Farah Foley through a collection of Facebook screenshots anonymously sent to the dean of admissions. According to The Daily Pennsylvania, Foley included quotations from essays as well as disdainful remarks. In one excerpt, she quoted an essay in which an applicant had described the experience of overcoming his fear of using the bathroom outdoors while camping in the wilderness. “Another gem,” Foley wrote on the student’s topic choice. And although she is no longer working for the university, neither she nor her supervisors have officially confirmed that the postings were the reason for her departure. (For more on this story, click here.)

Do you think Foley breached Penn’s privacy policy even though she didn’t mention any students by name? What would you do if your essay was one of those Foley mocked? Let us know in the comments section.


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