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What’s All the Yik Yak About Social Media Harassment?

Oct 23, 2015

by Susan Dutca

With the help of the federal government, seventy-two women's and civil-rights groups are launching a campaign to pressure colleges into protecting students from anonymous, threatening social-media posts. Users are able to post anonymously on apps such as Yik Yak - dialogues that aren't necessarily classroom-appropriate. Discussions sometimes contain racist, sexist and other derogatory content which has led to college arrests due to campus threats. According to the groups' letter to the Office for Civil Rights, colleges fail to monitor the anonymous posts or pursue harassers due to colleges' "vague First Amendment concerns." Whose voice is more important in this situation?

Social-networking platforms that attract online harassment such as Yik Yak, 4chan, and BurnBook have safeguards that can be easily maneuvered by slightly changing works like "rape" to "grape." Community monitoring allows students to "down-vote" such comments for removal but does not prevent the initial posting. Some posts go beyond sexual harassment and threaten students with rape and murder, as seen at the University of Mary Washington. The Office of Civil Rights launched an investigation due to alleged Title IX violations. Colleges tend to avoid responsibility for online harassment on social media platforms mostly because students do not need university servers for access.

Yik Yak's popularity is evidenced by their $60 million in investments and is one of the most profitable social-media applications that allows anonymous discussions. While some organizations such as the Feminists United and the Feminist Majority Foundation are pushing for Yik Yak's ban, Dr. Junco at Harvard University studied the app and would "hate to see colleges prevent students' use of the application, because many of the statements made on it… are positive or affirming."

In your opinion, should Yik Yak and other similar apps be banned or not? Share your thoughtful opinions with us in the comment box below.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Harvard Transgender Swimmer Dives Into New Waters

Oct 20, 2015

by Susan Dutca

What happens when your high school 100-meter breast stroke time is almost as fast as the women's all-time best at Harvard, the school you've been eying for as long as you could remember - but you determine you can no longer repress the feeling that you are a man trapped inside a woman's body? Such was the case for swimmer Schuyler Bailer, who underwent partial surgery, now identifies as a man and will compete on the Harvard men's swim team. The NCAA allowed Bailer to choose what team to swim for and Harvard’s women's swim coach supports Bailer's decision even if it means losing a top recruit.

Bailer took a year off following high school graduation and made the decision to identify as a man after having repressed these feelings from a very young age. Bailer claimed, "I had worked my whole life to be on that team," and that the coming-out-of-the-closet experience was stressful enough. Bailer is realistic about future stresses, such as competing with a new gender, locker room etiquette and media scrutiny. However, transgender athletes have been around since 1977, when Renée Richard joined the women's tennis professional tour after the New York Supreme Court had intervened. Another recent, well-known case is that of Olympic decathlete Bruce Jenner, who transitioned to Caitlyn Jenner. Is the male to female transition the same as female to male transition, when it comes to athletics?

Various organizations at the junior, high school and collegiate level have begun implementing rules that allow transgender students to participate on the basis of their expressed gender identities. Even at the highest level of sport competition, the Olympics, athletes are able to participate only if they have had their gender-reassignment surgery and at least two years of hormone therapy. In the NCAA, men transitioning to women who have not undergone sex-reassignment surgery must take testosterone suppressants for one year before they can compete on the women's team. (This means Bailer would be allowed to continue on the women's team if he has not yet starting taking testosterone). Though Bailer's transition has been welcomed and supported by the NCAA and his team, he may still face discrimination and scrutiny.

In your opinion, should transgender individuals be allowed to compete with and against their biological gender group? Leave us your thoughts below in the comment box and be sure to check out our large list of sports scholarships.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Is College Football Stealing Your Education?

Oct 19, 2015

by Susan Dutca

To date, roughly 70 percent of college students graduate with approximately $30,000 in college debt. What accounts for the increase in college tuition and debt burden? A short by Brave New Films titled The Big Came: College Football Stealing Your Education claims that college athletics, particularly football, may just be the problem. Since 2000, state universities across the nation have increased their tuition by 30 percent. Schools with strong football programs have increased tuition by as much as 65 percent. Studies reveal a correlation between student fees that feed directly into athletic programs and force tuition hikes. Ohio University for example, has athletic fees that run $48 a credit hour. That is about $6,000 of financial aid and scholarships that goes into paying for schools' athletic programs.

How does this affect school budgets? Many universities have taken to cutting faculty and degree programs, such as the University of Akron, which cut 215 jobs and $40 million dollars from their budget and yet, tuition did not go down. Head Football Coach Terry Bowden was signed to a $2 million contract, which comes out to $400,000 a year. When compared to the average adjunct professor salary of $25,000, it is important to consider the allocation of money within higher education. According to the Huff Post, most state coaches are the highest paid public employees.

Supporters of collegiate athletic programs argue that there's immense profit, but this is debatable as it's been found that Division I athletic programs lose $11 million a year on an operating basis and much more when capital and indirect costs are included. Athletic programs may not be as self-supporting if "the vast majority require a subsidy from the institution" to survive. Students will pay separate fees and higher tuition to cushion the deficit - these fees will not help fix classrooms or hire faculty. Alumni who donate to schools are typically donors to athletic programs rather than student or academic scholarships. It may make sense that the revenue generated from winning teams would feed directly into the athletic program and yet, those same programs remain in deficit.

In your opinion, do you think collegiate athletic programs are distorting expenditures and neglecting other important areas in higher education? Leave us your opinion in the comment section below. If you are an dedicated, passionate and talented athlete, check out some of our sports scholarships.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Average College Students Spend $1,225 on Textbooks

Oct 15, 2015

by Susan Dutca

Research indicates that the average college student spent $1,225 on books in the 2014-2015 academic year. In lieu of the one of the most overlooked costs of going to college and barriers to attending college, U.S. Senators Dick Durbin, Al Franken and Angus King introduced legislation to help make college textbooks more affordable. The College Textbook Affordability Act would take high quality textbooks and make them easily accessible and free to students, professors and the public. Buying books for college is inevitable - but is there a way to make it less pocket-draining?

Textbook costs have skyrocketed since 1977 by a daunting 1,041 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. What most people don't know is that publishing companies have enormous textbook charges for the smallest changes in content and unwanted bundled material. Add those insignificant changes plus high prices and you have students investing in materials that are seldom touched. Do students really have a way around these expensive materials? Perhaps you have tried to scan "on reserve" textbooks in your library or share with your classmates. Some versions of the textbook may be located online for free, but will typically only offer a preview. At the end of the day, it is almost impossible to pass courses without purchasing the materials. Durbin is seeking to also provide open education resources (OERs) to grant students better accessibility to materials, whether it be online or downloading to a digital device.

The upsides to this change are obvious: cheaper textbooks, greater accessibility and more college affordability. But can this lead to the death of textbooks? What happens to traditional pedagogy and educational practice? With the new wave of educational technology, the ways in which students acquire information, how students are tested and how teachers fit into the picture may be affected. Artificial intelligence now has students entranced in screens, which is believed to cause detrimental physical and cognitive development. Lowering the cost of textbooks is one thing - switching platform is another thing. Nancie Atwell best summarizes this point: "Technology is a means; it's not an end. And it's become an end within this country."

Do you support the transition to eBooks, open textbooks and the like, or do you support traditional textbooks? What do you think is the best method in resolving the issue of overpriced textbooks? There are schools that will pay full tuition and fees, if you qualify for the scholarship.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Cracking the New SAT

Oct 12, 2015

by Christina Zhou

If you've been studying for the old SAT, you only have a short amount of time left to take it. This standardized test is undergoing a redesigning process, a fact that leaves many high school students even more stressed about the test than before, especially juniors and seniors girding themselves for college applications. All the prep books from past years are obsolete! However, given what we currently know about the future format of the SAT, there are several ways to get ahead of the game and do well despite the unfamiliar format.
  • If you don't know, guess. Although the old SAT format penalized guessing by a deduction of a quarter of a point per wrong answer, the new SAT has no such penalty. Therefore, it is in your best interest to provide an answer for each question, especially if you're running out of time. Leaving questions blank is now the worst decision. Additionally, the number of possible choices per question is being reduced. So now if you guess wildly, you will have a greater chance of being right than before.
  • Forget vocab lists. No longer will you have to frantically memorize huge lists of practically obsolete vocabulary words in order to do well on the reading section of the SAT. The new SAT will have terminology more likely to be seen in the real world.
  • Other subjects matter. The new SAT will include either an excerpt from one of America's founding documents or issues discussing freedom, injustice and the like. Therefore, it would be in your best interest to become familiarized with some of the more well-known documents to save time during the test. Additionally, skills like graph reading and analysis, usually seen more in science subjects, will be featured in the new format.
  • Don't stress it. An increasingly high number of colleges are eschewing standardized tests as part of the admission process, turning it into a voluntary option. If you don’t do well the first time, study hard and try again, but don’t be discouraged.
  • And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Video Gaming: The Up-And-Coming Collegiate Sport

Oct 8, 2015

by Susan Dutca

This past Saturday at 9 a.m., players arrived at the University of Cincinnati's basketball arena for a two-day tournament hosted by the UC's League of...Legends? Yes: The university now considers League of Legends an official club sport, just like soccer or rugby. With 14,000 people watching the tournament online, the event became one of the largest collegiate e-sports events with participants competing for a $2,000 cash prize. But is it a game or is it a sport?

Though skeptical at first, UC's administration finally caved and are now seeing the benefits of the League. There has been increased visibility for video gamers across campuses, especially now that it's organized and holds educational value. Gaming competitions are legitimized through rules and regulations, though not yet under the rule of the NCAA. Furthermore, the U.S. government allows professional video gamers to use "athlete visas" to travel internationally to compete. With this trend, one may argue that video games aren't necessarily becoming more popular but rather it's a "formalization and institutionalization of what's always been present."

Robert Morris University in Chicago became the first U.S. college to make competitive gaming a varsity sport and offer video game scholarships up to half of tuition and housing, roughly $19,000. Video game sponsors helped RMU create the ideal gaming room with high-tech monitors, headsets and chairs so that students resemble fighter pilots. Though they fell short to the University of British Columbia in the 2015 North American Collegiate Championship, RMU competitors still received $15,000 in scholarships while UBC took home the $30,000 championship trophy.

What do you think about getting paid to game? If you are an avid gamer and want to be rewarded for your talent and passion, check out some video game and design scholarships to celebrate International Games Day on November 21st.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Should Political Correctness Trump Personal Opinion?

Oct 6, 2015

by Susan Dutca

Last week, a Mount Holyoke College professor allegedly went around his class trying to guess what racial slurs minority students might have been called in their lifetime. Students claimed the exercise was a form of racial discrimination. In this day and age, we are more politically correct than ever before. College students now think twice before raising their hands to offer an opinion on sensitive or controversial topics. Similarly, professors have become more reluctant to analyze and dissect material that may trigger negative emotional responses. We fear that what we may say will offend someone else, even if we had not intended to do so. There has been a large "institutionalization of microagression" - small actions or word choices that are not intended to be malicious but are considered violent nonetheless. Where there once was the freedom of academic speech and healthy debating of opposing ideas, there is now a constant defense of students' emotions. This coddling, which infantilizes and diminishes intellectual discussion now exists to prevent countless lawsuits and could be considered an overprotection of "adult" students' psyches. For students looking to take on adulthood in college, should that require thicker skin and learning to listen to, and accept other people's opinions?

Best discussed in The Atlantic, there has been a drastic climate change in America's higher education where we have elevated the "goals of protecting students from psychological harm." This new "vindictive protectiveness" is believed to have emerged during the 1980s, in order to protect women and minority individuals from offensive speech. There is now a strong censorship of speech and of intellectual thinking for students and professors. Cautious to not offend anyone or for fear that students may cry victim at the slightest opposition to their opinion, institutions have implemented trigger warnings - alerts that professors issue if they sense strong emotional discomfort from students. Professor Hill, English professor at Mount Holyoke had asked his students to give examples of modern day racial slurs – within the context of analyzing Robinson Crusoe and the book's use of the term "papist". Going around the classroom, Professor Hill had pointed out specific minorities and guessed what racial slurs may have been used to describe. Students took offense to this exercise and later detailed the insensible and discriminatory nature of the lesson.

President Obama has taken to the issue of coddled college students, microaggression, and culture of victimhood and stated, "I don't agree you have to be coddled and protected from different points of view. Anybody who comes to speak to you and you disagree with, you should have an argument with them, but you shouldn't silence them by saying you can't come because I'm too sensitive to hear what you have to say." How, if at all, can we find a balance between free academic speech and protecting students' emotions?

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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80 Prestige Schools Team up to Redesign Common Application

Sep 29, 2015

by Susan Dutca

In less than a month the world of higher education has moved forward with changes to the traditional approaches in the college application and admission process - first, with the simplified and updated FAFSA to appear in October 2016 and now, with 80 colleges and universities building a platform to streamline the application process that they hope to debut in summer of 2016. The goal is to get rid of the old "formulaic approach" and to strengthen the communication system between students and colleges, especially for those who lack adequate and sufficient college-going resources.

October and November are notorious for being high-stress months for high school seniors race as they race to meet early application deadlines. Students and families from more affluent backgrounds often have better-equipped and resourceful educators in contrast to their disadvantaged, low-income counterparts. To remove any barriers that would prevent students from applying to college, the "coalition" group, called the Coalition for Access, Affordability and Success, first announced its plan for a more retro application last fall, which would house smaller membership and different requirements. Among the 83 colleges and universities that have started creating the joint application portal, 52 are private schools and 31 are public schools; several Ivy League schools as well as other elite and highly selective liberal arts institutions are represented. In order to participate, colleges must demonstrate at least 70% of students graduate within six years and private colleges must vow to meet the financial need of all U.S. students. Similarly, public institutions must have affordable in-state tuition and strong financial aid.

The new application would serve as an alternative to the Common Application, and schools may choose to keep the former version, according to the Los Angeles Times. The new application would allow students to create a portfolio by storing their schoolwork while also receiving advice and information on colleges and financial aid. With this new format, the coalition hopes to "motivate a strong college-going mindset among students of all backgrounds, especially those from low-income families or underrepresented groups who have historically had less access to leading colleges and universities."

Do you think this initiative would appeal to more and students and simplify the application process? College and financial aid applications can be tedious, as well as applying for financial aid which is why we are here to assist you as you apply for college.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Fixing FAFSA: Acquiring Financial Aid to be Easier, Quicker

Sep 25, 2015

by Susan Dutca

If you've ever had to fill out a FAFSA for college, you may have felt as though you need an accounting degree to understand it, much less complete it. With over 130 questions and averaging 30 minutes to complete, the complexity and tedium of filing for financial aid has been a barrier for students in attending college or receiving the financial aid for which they qualify. The Department of Education announced an initiative Monday to simplify the process and beginning in October 2016, students and their families will be able to complete a simpler FAFSA application.

Currently, students must wait until after most college application deadlines to apply for federal aid - the new FAFSA amendments will enable application as early as October 1 and better align students with college deadlines. The current January 1 application opens after many college application periods have closed and students may not know their entire financial aid package before committing to a college. With the new amendments, students will have a better understanding of the actual cost of their college education. Federal Student Aid awards $150 billion in grants, loans and other types of financial assistance annually. Sadly, about 2 million students enrolled in college who would qualify for a Federal Pell Grant never applied for aid. With the new initiative, the plan to improve the process of applying for federal aid will include:

  • Earlier application - Information for the FAFSA will be readily available around the same time high school students are searching for, and applying to college, meaning less pressure and stress. The current FAFSA application opens January 1 and cannot be completed until after April 15, when tax forms are due.
  • Simpler application - A new data retrieval tool will allow applicants to electronically access tax information directly from the IRS, after filing their 2015 tax returns. This means less income estimates and errors and more accuracy.
  • More students assisted - It is estimated that hundreds of thousands of students, especially first-generation and minority students, will apply for and enroll in college as a result of a simpler FAFSA. In 2013, roughly $45 million was left on the table in Pell Grants due to the complexity of the application.
  • More colleges assisted - As many as 3 million hours are spent annually by colleges and universities verifying FAFSA Information. With the new data retrieval tool from the IRS, colleges and universities will have less trouble verifying tax return information.
  • Do you think the new amendments to the current FAFSA will benefit students as they apply for financial aid earlier and with a simpler application? If you are interested in learning more about FAFSA, federal aid, grants and scholarships, read some of our tips on funding your college education.

    Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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    Christian Extremists Protest at University, Claim Students are Bound for Hell

    Sep 24, 2015

    by Susan Dutca

    All was quiet on DePauw University's campus in Greencastle, Indiana on Wednesday until a group of Bible-carrying protesters arrived, shouting that students who engaged in "unholy behaviors," including homosexuality, excessive sexuality, drug and alcohol use, and masturbating, were going to hell. The group of confrontational evangelists, also known as "Bro. Jed's School of Evangelism" Campus Ministry USA, are allegedly known for organizing campus protests and are not affiliated with a particular church. Students ignored the protest at first but soon hundreds of students gathered, bringing gay pride flags and chanting "we have nothing to lose but our chains."

    Protestors spewed slurs to students and passersby, calling men "evil" and women promiscuous as well as asking students how many STDs they had. DePauw University's president and student government representatives appeared as well to support students. President Brian Casey organized a campus gathering in Ubben Quad that same day to have students "show solidarity and support for one another." In his mass email, he acknowledged the First Amendment which "guarantees the right to free speech on public grounds - even for messages filled with hate and animosity." Initially, students had tried ignoring the protestors by not giving them a reaction; the demonstration intensified with speakers, music and a growing crowd. Only two students were detained, including one who threw coffee at the protestors and no one was arrested. Protestors were escorted off campus around 1:50 pm and the crowd slowly trickled away. The protests are suspected to have been held in opposition to Bi Visibility Day, observed September 23rd.

    Do you think the First Amendment protects the group's demonstration? Was the protest handled appropriately? Leave us your thoughts in the comment section. And if you're passionate about protecting people's rights, check out some of our law scholarships.

    And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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    Professor's Homicide Temporarily Shuts Down University in Mississippi

    Sep 15, 2015

    by Susan Dutca

    Found on Delta State University's school website is a picture of fellow professors Ethan Schmidt and Shannon side by side, smiling at a 2013 holiday party. That same year, Schmidt mentioned Lamb in the acknowledgements of his book "Native Americans in the American Revolution." Now, both professors are dead after Dr. Schmidt was shot in his office at Delta State Monday morning and suspect Lamb died from a self-inflicted wound while evading police, stating he's "not going to jail." Lamb was also a suspect in the earlier homicide of his domestic partner Amy Prentiss, at their home roughly 300 miles south of Delta State. Cleveland Police Chief Charles Bingham claims there is no known motive at the time being - Lamb allegedly believed Prentiss was romantically involved with Schmidt but there is no current evidence of a love triangle.

    The manhunt for Lamb continued throughout the day Monday and ended when police had spotted Lamb exiting his vehicle and fleeing into the woods. After hearing a single gunshot ring, police found Lamb's body with a gunshot wound to the head. Up until this time, Delta University and all local schools were sent into lockdown, urging students and faculty members to remain indoors and away from windows.

    Lamb received his doctorate in education from Delta State University in 2015 and had worked at the university since 2009, teaching geography and education courses. Schmidt received his doctorate from the University of Kansas in Colonial America and Indigenous people and specialized in American history. According to the university's president, Schmidt was a "star" of the faculty. Schmidt is lauded for being one of the "brightest students" at his alma mater, Emporia State, and was "on the road to being one of the great scholars of American history."

    The campus lockdown was lifted late Monday, and Tuesday classes were cancelled in order to hold a vigil in honor of the staff member's death.

    Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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