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DePaul Joins the Test Optional Club

University Says Standardized Testing is Out, Essays are In

February 18, 2011

DePaul Joins the Test Optional Club

by Alexis Mattera

Standardized testing is as much – if not more – a part of the college process as dancing when the fat envelope arrives, Facebooking your new roommate and shopping for extra-long twin sheets. That will no longer be the case for DePaul University applicants for the freshman class entering in 2012 because the Chicago school has announced its plans to make the reporting SAT and ACT scores optional.

But don’t start shredding your test prep materials into confetti just yet: Students choosing not to submit ACT or SAT scores will be required to write short responses to essay questions designed to measure "noncognitive" traits, such as leadership, commitment to service, and ability to meet long-term goals. These essays were introduced a few years ago and subsequent research convinced the admissions committee that the nontraditional measures did more than the ACT or SAT to predict the success of low-income and minority students at the university. Jon Boeckenstedt, associate vice president for enrollment management, said he wants to encourage applicants with high grade-point averages but relatively low standardized test scores to apply and believes the new method will allow his colleagues to better select applicants who are most likely to succeed and graduate.

DePaul is now the largest private university to join the FairTest list, joining Wake Forest as one of the most selective institutions to adopt test-optional policies. Do you think giving students the choice to report their scores will produce the results DePaul expects? What do you think is a better barometer of qualified applicants: test scores or essays?

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Penn State’s Dance-A-Thon Raises $9.5 Million to Fight Cancer

February 21, 2011

Penn State’s Dance-A-Thon Raises $9.5 Million to Fight Cancer

by Suada Kolovic

The students of Penn State have done it again! In an effort to fight childhood cancer, students from the university hit the dance floor for the annual THON. The dance marathon kicked off Friday at the Bryce Jordan Center and with millions of dollars raised, it was another record-breaking year. The exact total was a staggering $9,563,016.09 raised for the Four Diamonds fund to help fight pediatric cancer.

THON fundraising totals have rarely fallen short in the 38-year history of the philanthropic effort and this year was no different, said Public Relations Captain Colleen Hanrahan said. Hanrahan said fundraising efforts have come a long way since THON reached its first $1 million total in 1992 and since 1977, THON has raised more than $70 million for cancer patients and cancer research at Penn State Milton S. Hershey Medical Center.

Penn State’s THON is the largest student-run philanthropic event in the world with more than 15,000 students taking part and with such remarkable outcomes, the students of Penn State will surely dance the night away for years to come.

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What are They Reading?

Bestselling Books on Campus

February 22, 2011

What are They Reading?

by Suada Kolovic

Curious as to what college students are reading this spring? Well, wonder no more! The Chronicle has compiled a list of the best-selling books from information supplied by stores serving the following campuses: American U., Beloit College, Case Western Reserve U., College of William & Mary, Drew U., Florida State U., George Washington U., Georgetown U., Georgia State U., Harvard U., James Madison U., Johns Hopkins U., Kent State U., Pennsylvania State U. at University Park, San Francisco State U., Stanford U., State U. of New York at Buffalo, Tulane U., U. of California at Berkeley, U. of Chicago, U. of Florida, U. of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, U. of Miami, U. of Nebraska at Lincoln, U. of New Hampshire, U. of North Dakota, U. of North Texas, U. of Northern Colorado, U. of Oklahoma at Norman, Vanderbilt U., Washington State U., Washington U. in St. Louis, Wayne State U., Williams College, Winthrop College, Xavier U. (Ohio). For more information on any of these schools, check out our college search.

  • The Girl Who Played With Fire

    by Stieg Larsson
  • The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

    by Stieg Larsson
  • Freakonomics: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything

    by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner
  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything across Italy, India and Indonesia

    by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Sh*t My Dad Says

    by Justin Halpern
  • Mockingjay

    by Suzanne Collins
  • Are You There, Vodka? It's Me, Chelsea

    by Chelsea Handler
  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace . . . One School at a Time

    by Greg Mortenson, David Oliver Relin
  • The Daily Show with Jon Stewart Presents Earth (the Book): A Visitor's Guide to the Human Race

    by Jon Stewart
  • A**holes Finish First

    by Tucker Max
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Wealthier Students More Likely to Gain Admissions

Universities Take Wealth into Consideration When Selecting Students

February 23, 2011

Wealthier Students More Likely to Gain Admissions

by Suada Kolovic

Is your dad a congressman or your mom a prominent surgeon? Do you have an uncle or aunt in the Senate? Well then, you’re in luck because the world is your oyster. According to a report in the Wall Street Journal, more colleges, including Middlebury, Wake Forest, Williams and Tufts, are either taking applicants’ financial statuses into account or have been offering admission to wealthier students who can afford to pay tuition in full, while some public state universities are admitting more out-of-state students who pay higher tuition rates.

Now this isn’t the shock of the century by any means – how do you think George W. Bush ended up at Yale? – but the truth of the matter is that universities, like the economy, are struggling financially. And how do they combat the financial strain? By granting admission to applicants who don’t need financial aid. What does this mean to you, future high school graduates? The more likely you’re willing to pay for your education in full, the more likely you’ll get in. Colleges stress that they're not lowering their admissions criteria and instead begin their admissions process as “need blind” – admitting students regardless of their ability to pay and suggest they only consider an applicant’s financial status later in the admissions process.

Let us know what you think. Is it fair for students to practically buy their way into college? Should schools be permitted to resort to such tactics when considering a student’s admission? Would you forgo applying for financial aid in hopes of boosting your chances of getting in?

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University Study: Students Feel Guilty for Texting in Class

February 24, 2011

University Study: Students Feel Guilty for Texting in Class

by Suada Kolovic

Over the years, students have mastered the art of distraction during class, from daydreaming to doodling to note-passing to sleeping to the quintessential distraction these days: texting. And while texting has revolutionized the way in which we communicate, does it have a place in the classroom? A survey of students at the University of New Hampshire found high rates of texting during class and a great deal of guilt about that behavior to go along with it. The majority of students surveyed admitted they felt guilty for sending text messages in class when they were not supposed to but despite those sentiments, a whopping 80 percent said they normally send at least one text message in each of their classes.

According to the survey, which was conducted by student researchers at the UNH Whittemore School of Business and Economics, many students don’t believe that texting should be allowed in class, 49 percent felt guilty in class when it’s not allowed, 51 percent are distracted from class material when they text and 51 percent said they are prohibited from texting in up to half of their classes. The survey also showed that women were more likely to send text messages than men. "I wasn't surprised by the results, but I was surprised to see that some teachers didn't prohibit texting in their classes," said Gretchen Eastman, one of the lead student researchers on the study.

The survey looked at the texting behavior of students and researchers will present their findings at the university’s undergraduate research conference in late April. Let us know what you think. Do you feel bad about texting in class? Do u think txting in class can b distracting 4 u?

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Schools That Set the High Score for Gaming

March 2, 2011

Schools That Set the High Score for Gaming

by Alexis Mattera

Have you ever gotten yelled at by your parents for playing video games when you should have been doing your homework? Gotten your Xbox unplugged just before breaking your kill record in "Call of Duty" because dinner was on the table? Had your internet – and, in turn, "World of Warcraft" – privileges revoked for not keeping up with your chores? If so, take solace in the fact that those punishments will never occur if you attend college at one of the following schools. In fact, they would say the more gaming the better: According to the Princeton Review and GamePro Media, they are the top colleges for video game design!

  1. University of Southern California
  2. University of Utah
  3. DigiPen Institute of Technology
  4. The Art Institute of Vancouver
  5. Michigan State University
  6. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  7. Drexel University
  8. Champlain College
  9. Rochester Institute of Technology
  10. Becker College

The list was compiled from the survey results of administrators at 150 colleges and universities offering video game design courses and degrees. Though they did not make the top 10, Georgia Institute of Technology, North Carolina State, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institution, Savannah College of Art and Design and Shawnee State University were given honorable mentions. Everyone has to be Luigi sometimes...better luck next year!

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University Photo Class Teaches More Than Just Point and Shoot

New Course Takes Aim at Camera Phone Composition, Ethics

March 3, 2011

University Photo Class Teaches More Than Just Point and Shoot

by Alexis Mattera

Cameras are standard features on most cell phones nowadays and for every user that emulates Ansel Adams, there’s another that channels Peeping Tom. Though this outlook has caused more than a few scandals, many people still play fast and loose with the shutter button...and associated photo-sharing apps like Flickr and Facebook that make posting images all too simple. When will they learn? Sooner than later if Immaculata University has its way.

The suburban Philadelphia school is offering a new cell phone photography class focusing on both the quality of the images and the ethical responsibilities that come with taking and publishing them. Communications professor Sean Flannery and professional photographer Hunter Martin will split teaching duties; the latter will handle topics like composition, lighting and editing while the former will cover voyeurism, ethics, citizen journalism and the difference between public and private spaces in hopes that students will realize "the full gravity of what's at their fingertips and the power they can have."

The idea for such a college course isn’t novel – NYU has been offering a cell phone video class every fall since 2009 – but Immaculata officials believe their offering is different because of its ethical angle. "I think it's part of our responsibility ... to teach kids how to use this tool," Flannery said, adding that it's no different from teaching proper use of a video camera in a broadcast news class.

If there are any Immaculata students reading that are enrolled in this class, we’d love to hear about your experiences thus far. Other students, would you take a class like this if your school offered it? Why or why not?

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The Great Homework Debate

Cornell Could Ban Surprise Assignments to Improve Mental Health

March 4, 2011

The Great Homework Debate

by Alexis Mattera

You have just one class left until a full week off from textbooks, Scantron sheets and yawn-loathing instructors. Then, it happens: Your professor goes off the syllabus and announces a new project – a lengthy research paper, to be precise – to be handed in during the first class after break. That thought bubble above your head filled with notions of sleeping until noon and emptying your DVR goes kerplewy and your waning stress level takes a leap into finals week territory. Ouch...but that scenario may no longer occur at Cornell because of a call for change from the faculty. Is it the right choice?

Cornell’s Faculty Senate is expected to vote this month on a resolution that would "strongly discourage" surprise assignments to improve the mental health of students. The resolution, said theatre professor and chair of the Faculty Senate's education-policies committee Bruce A. Levitt, would encourage faculty members to stick to their syllabi so students can better pace themselves. "The idea was not to forbid homework over break, but to make academic work over break the choice of the student," Levitt explained.

If my school had implemented this kind of resolution when I was an undergrad, I probably would have rejoiced but having been a member of a deadline-driven profession for almost six years now, it would have been a detriment. With the advent of cell phones and on-the-go e-mail access, many bosses expect their employees to remain in constant contact even when they are off the clock – something students may not realize until they begin their first job out of college. I’m not saying students shouldn’t be able to enjoy their nights, weekends and breaks but they should be aware that after college, the work needs to get done regardless of the hour.

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Arizona State Professor: ‘I’m a recovering cheater’

March 10, 2011

Arizona State Professor: ‘I’m a recovering cheater’

by Suada Kolovic

Academic dishonestly has become a rampant problem in schools across the country but the focus is usually on students, not their teachers. Are educators truly exempt from cheating? Audrey Amrein-Beardsley, an associated professor at Arizona State University, had a personal quest in finding out how common cheating is among teachers. Why? She admits she’s cheated as a teacher.

Amrein-Beardsley and Arizona State colleagues David Berliner and Sharon Rideau created an online survey – “Cheating in the First, Second and Third Degree” – to measure what types of cheating take place and to what degree cheating occurs among Arizona teachers. With responses from more than 3,000 educators, the data revealed that while cheating is common, much of it was either unintentional or what many teachers don’t consider cheating, such as leaving up wall displays of multiplications tables during tests. According the USA Today article, Amrein-Beardsley said that as a teacher, she routinely took questions from old tests and made study guides by changing numbers and details from existing outlines...which technically is cheating. "I had no clue it was wrong. I thought I was doing great," she said. Most states have regulations in place that affirms teachers are never allowed to see test questions and that only retired or practice questions are supposed to be used to prepare students.

Now, does this seem like an overly critical analysis of what cheating means? Do you think a teacher is being academically dishonest if they create a new math problem with a new answer but use the same technique to solve it as an older problem? How do you define cheating? Let us know what you think.

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USC Frat Lacks Class

Offensive Mass E-Mail Under Investigation

March 11, 2011

USC Frat Lacks Class

by Suada Kolovic

The University of Southern California recently received the largest donation in their school’s history – a staggering $200 million. Only days later, the spotlight is back on the university but this time the news isn’t good.

According to USC’s Daily Trojan, the Kappa Sigma Fraternity is facing an investigation after an offensive e-mail addressed to members was made public. The letter, designed to be the first in a weekly series called the Gullet Report, aimed to “strengthen brotherhood.” Throughout the rambling four-page e-mail the author expresses his opinions of women: “I will refer to females as ‘targets.’ They aren’t actual people like us men. Consequently, giving them a certain name or distinction is pointless.” He goes on to refer to unattractive women as “filth,” provided code names for women according to their nationality and warned his brothers to steer clear of “middle-eastern targets.”

Kappa Sigma Fraternity’s executive director Mitchell Wilson said in statement, “The content [of the e-mail] is contrary to everything [Kappa Sigma stands] for and we are not going to allow individuals to attempt to tarnish our name in any form or fashion.” Wilson added the fraternity was doing their best to identify the author to hold that person accountable (perhaps using research from this study). The author will likely face expulsion from the university.

While there are plenty of upstanding Greek organizations, the stereotypical fraternity lifestyle is one promoting excess in booze and babes under the guise of promoting brotherhood and academic excellence. What do you think of the latest scandal to rock a nationally-recognized fraternity?

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