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Penn State Sorority in Hot Water Over Offensive Photo

December 5, 2012

Penn State Sorority in Hot Water Over Offensive Photo

by Suada Kolovic

Greek parties (and parties in general) have become synonymous with the presence of tasty treats, a few festive streamers, bonding, booze and ponchos. Wait, something about that last detail doesn’t seem right...too bad members of the Chi Omega sorority didn’t get the message: A Penn State sorority is facing an investigation after an offensive photo from a racially-themed costume party surfaced on Facebook.

The Mexican-themed party photo – which included girls wearing sombreros, ponchos and fake mustaches and holding signs that said “Will mow lawn for weed + beer” and “I don’t cut grass, I smoke it” – was posted on Facebook, where the girls’ identities were discovered once they were tagged by other partygoers. The incident has led the Penn State Penhellenic Council to investigate the Nu Gamma Chapter of Chi Omega, according to The Daily Collegian. Jessica Ricardi, the sorority’s president, has issued an apology in the school’s newspaper, which in part read: “Our chapter of Chi Omega sincerely apologizes for portraying inappropriate and untrue stereotypes. The picture in question does not support any of Chi Omega’s values or reflect what the organization aspires to be.”

How do you think Penn State should handle the situation? Let us know the comments section.

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Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

December 13, 2012

Florida Considers Reducing Tuition for Select Majors

by Suada Kolovic

With the economy in what seems like an endless slump, many have come to question the validity of a college education in disciplines that don’t guarantee definite career paths for students once they’ve graduated. Majors on the chopping block include those in the humanities and social sciences and universities across the country aren’t turning a deaf ear to the issue: Officials in Florida are considering reducing tuition in order to steer students towards majors that are in demand in the job market.

Governor Rick Scott and Republican lawmakers are urging Florida’s 12 state universities to nudge students toward job-friendly degrees and suggesting that universities freeze tuition rates for three years for majors in “strategic areas.” In theory, an undergraduate student would pay less for a degree in engineering or biotechnology – whose classes are among the most expensive – than for a degree in history or psychology. Financing from the state would be expected to make up for the tuition gap. Now while the initiative is popular among state officials, liberal arts devotees at the University of Florida have organized a protest petition which has gained signatures from across the state. They argue that the move would inevitably reduce the number of students who take humanities classes, further diminishing financing for those departments.

What do you think of Florida’s attempt to encourage students into certain majors with financial initiatives? Do you think steering students into fields that they have little interest or aptitude in just to save money could lead to discontent in their futures? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

December 20, 2012

College Board Members Agree: College Costs Too Much...Just Not at Their Institutions

by Suada Kolovic

College board members have released a statement – “It’s not me, it’s you.” Okay, those might not have been their exact words but that was the overall message: According to a survey on higher education, most board members believe that higher education costs too much...but a majority also say their own institutions’ prices aren’t the problem. Society responded with a cynical, “Riiiiiiiight.”

A report on the recent “College Prices, Costs, and Outcomes: Who’s Minding the Gap Between Higher Education and the Public?” survey revealed a whopping 55 percent of respondents said higher education in general is too expensive relative to its value but 62 percent said that their institution costs weren’t the problem and were, in fact, appropriate. Susan Whealler Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer of the Association of Governing Boards, said the survey is important because it provides insight into how board members perceive public concerns about higher education and how they then act in the boardroom. "What we have noticed is there's a major gap between the two,” said Johnston. The survey drew 2,539 responses from among the nearly 14,000 board members from the public and private colleges invited to participate in the survey about perceptions of college prices, costs and outcomes, with a response rate of 18.3 percent.

For more on this survey, click here...then tell us what you think!

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Standardized Test Myths Debunked

September 21, 2012

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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California Legislators Approve Student Social Media Privacy Bill

August 23, 2012

California Legislators Approve Student Social Media Privacy Bill

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a college student, chances are you have a healthy social media presence that includes a Facebook, Twitter and maybe even a blog…or two! And with real-world responsibilities (like getting a job) just around the corner, most students understand the importance of adjusting their privacy settings and keeping prospective employers prying eyes from their personal life. Despite this self-policing, reports have surfaced that employers have asked students to provide their social media names and passwords mid-interview...privacy shmivacy, right? California legislators, however, have put an end to that: The California State Senate on Tuesday approved a bill protecting the privacy of college students who use social media sites.

The author of the bill, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco), said he was alarmed by reports of employers and college officials asking for account information to monitor students’ online activity. Instances have included University of California coaches asking student athletes to "friend" them on Facebook to assess their online activity, said UC spokesman Steve Montiel but that would be prohibited under Yee's bill. The lawmaker said students often post personal information (think: religion and sexual orientation) on social networking sites and the information should not be required by employers, coaches or other college officials. "California is set to end this unacceptable invasion of personal privacy," said Yee. Similar legislation has also recently passed in other states.

Protecting a student’s privacy is all well and good but what about the rest of the social media population? Should the bill’s provisions be altered? Let us know what you think.

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Student Punished for Creating Class Registration Website

August 6, 2012

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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Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

German University Sues Student for Graduating Too Fast

July 10, 2012

Graduate Early, Get Sued in Germany

by Suada Kolovic

For most students, graduating college in just four years is the ideal and not the norm. So when a student comes along and graduates with his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in only three semesters, one would assume a parade of some sort would be in order. The Essen, Germany-based School of Economics and Management went a different route: they sued the student who accomplished this feat.

Earning both a bachelor’s and master’s degree should take a typical student about 11 semesters and 60 exams to complete, yet Marcel Pohl did it in just 20 months. How’d he do it? With the help of two friends, Pohl divvied up lectures and swapped notes. Did we mention that in that time, he also completed an apprenticeship in a bank? Well, he managed to fit that in, too! Now, the school is crying foul and claiming “income loss” and suing for $3,772 – a fraction of the tuition and fees Pohl would have paid had he completed the degrees in the customary amount of time. "When I got the lawsuit, I thought it couldn't be true," Pohl recently told the German tabloid, Bild. "Performance is supposed to be worth something."

With a college education as expensive as it is, can you ever really graduate too early? Let us know what you think in the comments section.

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Five In-Demand Careers for College Grads

March 18, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With recent college graduates facing an unemployment rate of 6.7 percent and substantially lower starting salaries, we have to ask: What path should students take in order to flourish professionally after graduation? While there isn't one direct route that translates into success, the recent “Hot Careers for College Grads and Returning Students 2013” report by UC San Diego Extension revealed a list of in-demand careers based on job growth, salary and work environment:

  • Software Developers, Applications and Systems Software: According to the report, the integration of technology into our daily lives “has created an ongoing critical shortage of qualified software developers to design, develop, test, document and maintain the complex programs that run on these hardware platforms.”
  • Market Research Analyst: Market research analyst jobs have exploded in every sector of the economy. This has created a high demand for those who can access, analyze and extract meaningful, actionable and tactical implications from a sea of data.
  • Accountant and Auditor: Accountants and auditors earned their spot on the hot careers list because of the sheer demand for accounting jobs. In 2010, more than 1 million people were employed as accountants and auditors and that number is expected to grow at a healthy rate of 16 percent by 2020.
  • Elementary School Teacher: Elementary school teachers outnumber any other single occupation nationally and a teaching career tends to offer a form of stability that is relatively rare in other fields of pursuit.
  • Computer Systems Analyst: From growth to salary, computer systems analysts scored strongly in every category of hot careers evaluation. This career is projected to grow in demand by 22 percent by 2020 and with a mean annual salary of $83,800, it is one of the most lucrative jobs on the list.

Did a career you’re considering make the list? If not, would you considering switching majors based on the likelihood of gaining employment after graduation? Let us know in the comments section.

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Questions to Ask Your Student Loan Servicer

June 13, 2012

Questions to Ask Your Student Loan Servicer

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a recent high school graduate, chances are you’re looking forward to the surge of independence that comes with becoming a college freshman. And while anticipating all the excitement that comes with entering college – meeting new people, establishing a home away from home, sleeping in until noon, etc. – establishing how you’re going to pay for it is an entirely different story. Here at Scholarships.com, we encourage students to apply for scholarships early and often but taking out student loans might be inevitable. With that being said, knowing what questions you should ask your student loan servicer might ease the transition and U.S. News and World Report has done some of the legwork for you by compiling a list of helpful questions that financial aid officers, student loan counselors and former lenders recommend you ask:

  • When exactly will my payments begin?
  • Do you have my current contact information on file?
  • What is my interest rate?
  • Is my interest rate competitive?
  • Is there any way to get an interest rate reduction?
  • Is consolidating my loans a good option for me?
  • How do I qualify for Interest-Based Repayment or Income-Contingent Repayment?
  • Do I qualify for an economic hardship deferment?
  • What happens if I lose my job?
  • If I go back to graduate school, what are my loan options?

Can you think of any other questions you’d like answers to? If so, feel free to let us know in the comments section.

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Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

June 12, 2012

Employment Rates for Law School Graduates Lowest Since 1994

by Suada Kolovic

The notion that those who are well-educated are safeguarded from bleak employment rates doesn’t seem to hold true anymore: According to the National Association for Law Placement, recent law graduates face employment rates that have fallen to the lowest level since 1994.

Only 85.6 percent of 2011 law school graduates (whose employment status was known) had jobs nine months after leaving school – two percentage points lower than the employment levels of the 2010 graduates. Now that may not be reason to sound the alarm, but only 65.4 percent of 2011 graduates had jobs that required passing the bar exam. Ding! Ding!

"For members of the Class of 2011, caught as they were in the worst of the recession...the entry-level job market can only be described as brutal," the association's executive director James G. Leipold said in a written statement. "When this class took their LSATs and applied for law school, there were no signs that the legal economic boom was showing any signs of slowing and yet by the time they graduated, they faced what was arguably the worst entry-level legal-employment market in more than 30 years."

Future law students in the audience, what do you think of the news? With a law degree no longer translating into instant financial security, are you reconsidering your educational path?

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