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Calgary Student Runs Campaign on “Puppy Room” Platform...and Wins!

by Suada Kolovic

Running for student office can be a challenge. With the majority of students uninterested in student politics and others voting based solely on the catchiness of a slogan ("He's not popular and he's not handsome, so he has time for student council" got my vote every time!), the odds really aren’t in anyone’s favor. Unless, of course, you run your campaign on providing cuddly-wuddly, wittle puppies for all students to enjoy. I vote yes!

University of Calgary student Ben Cannon recently won the role of vice president of student life after promising voters a puppy room. Other Canadian universities have already adopted the idea, aimed at relieving students’ stress by giving them easy access to canines on campus. Debbie Bruckner of the U of C Wellness Centre said the university is already working with Cannon on the logistics of a puppy room. “It sounds kind of like a silly idea at first but it’s proven scientifically, I mean, it raises your dopamine levels in your brain, lowers your blood pressure. There’s just something about it – there’s a reason why dogs are a man’s best friend,” said Cannon.

With all the pressure and anxiety that comes with attending college, providing students with puppies only seems fair, right? Let us know what you think.


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Report: 284,000 College Graduates Held Minimum-Wage Jobs in 2012

by Suada Kolovic

Looking for a competitive edge when applying for that minimum-wage barista position at your local coffee shop? Turns out your newly minted bachelor’s degree might just be the edge they’re looking for.

According to the U.S. Labor Department, there were about 284,000 college graduates working minimum-wage jobs in 2012, including 37,000 with advanced degrees. Surprisingly, that’s down from 2010’s peak of 327,000 but up 70 percent from a decade earlier. And with many college graduates saddled with crippling student loan debt, it’s no wonder they’re accepting positions that are low-paying and low-skilled.

Of the 41.7 million working 2010 college graduates, about 48 percent work jobs that require less than a bachelor’s degree and 38 percent of those polled didn’t even need a high school diploma. Why the surge of low-paying jobs? Three-fifths of the jobs lost during the recession that paid middle-income wages have been replaced with the low-wage variety, according to the National Employment Law Project. (For more on this report, click here.)

To our college student readers, does this report alter your perspective on getting a college education? Why or why not?


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Cooper Union to Charge Undergraduate Tuition in 2014

by Suada Kolovic

It’s official: After 18 months of intense analysis and serious opposition (we’re looking at you, students who barricaded themselves in the college last December), Cooper Union will begin charging undergraduate tuition for the first time.

Faced with a $12 million annual budget deficit, the Board of Trustees voted last week to reduce the full-tuition scholarship to 50-percent for all undergraduates admitted to the institution beginning with the class entering in the fall of 2014. “The time has come to set our institution on a path that will enable it to survive and thrive well into the future,” said board chairman Mark Epstein in an announcement to students and faculty members in the college’s Great Hall. “Under the new policy, the Cooper Union will continue to adhere to the vision of Peter Cooper, who founded the institution specifically to provide a quality education to those who might not otherwise be able to afford it.” None of the 900 current undergraduates would be affected but those considering enrolling in the fall of 2014 and beyond could pay $19,275 a semester.

After the speech, opponents of the decision gathered outside the Great Hall and staged what they called a walkout, arguing that any tuition would alter the essential character of the prestigious school. What do you think of the announcement and the corresponding criticism? Let us know in the comments section.


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Study: College Students Are Constantly Texting in Class

by Suada Kolovic

In what some would consider the most obvious study of all time, the University of Nebraska-Lincoln confirms that the majority of college students are seriously distracted in class and found that smartphones are to blame: According to the study, the average college student checks his or her phone a whopping 11 times a day in class while a mere 8 percent said they never use their phones during a lecture. Of those students using their phones during class, 86 percent said they were texting, 68 percent admitted to checking email and 66 percent were on social media networks such as Twitter and Facebook.

Despite these percentages, students generally downplayed their overall distraction. Fewer than 5 percent considered it a "big" or "very big" distraction when classmates used digital devices and fewer than 5 percent considered their own use to be a "big" or "very big" distraction. "I don't think students necessarily think it's problematic," said Bernard McCoy, associate professor of broadcasting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. "They think it's part of their lives."

Being plugged in at all times isn't a new phenomenon: Students have always faced distractions in the classroom but with smartphones and the constant stream of stimuli they provide, a new challenge on focusing and learning has emerged. Do you have a problem using your phone during class? If so, would you consider it to be a serious hindrance to your education?


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FAFSA to Recognize Same-Sex and Unmarried Parents by 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The Department of Education has recently announced that the FAFSA will soon undergo a few changes to accommodate students with same-sex or unmarried parents who cohabit in order to more accurately ascertain an applicant’s financial situation.

The forms, which will be introduced for the 2014-15 school year, will allow students to designate their parents as “Parent 1 (father/mother/stepparent)” and “Parent 2 (father/mother/stepparent)” rather than just mother and father. “All students should be able to apply for federal student aid within a system that incorporates their unique family dynamics," said U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. "These changes will allow us to more precisely calculate federal student aid eligibility based on what a student's whole family is able to contribute and ensure taxpayer dollars are better targeted toward those students who have the most need, as well as provide an inclusive form that reflects the diversity of American families."

The department has said that the changes will not impact a vast majority of applicants but it could potentially (read: very likely) translate into reduced aid for students with same-sex or unmarried parents. Why? Those parents who do not benefit from filing joint tax returns will likely disqualify their children from financial aid if it’s found that jointly they are above the income threshold. So while the changes are considered progressive, they’re just slightly off the mark when it comes to helping “unique family dynamics.”


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Top Universities Where Most Students Live on Campus

by Suada Kolovic

With summer break in full swing for most high school graduates, navigating the long, challenging road that is obtaining a college degree won’t begin until late August. And while your calendar is already chock-full with summer fun, consider this: The country is facing a shortage of on-campus student housing at public and private schools. So perhaps between attending that beach party, block party and annual beach block party, it’s essential that you figure out where you’re going to live this fall.

According to the National Multi Housing Council, areas with the highest campus housing shortages include Arizona, the District of Columbia, Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and West Virginia. But despite the shortage, some universities are still housing a majority of their students on campus. Check out the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of undergraduates living in campus housing (as of Fall 2011):


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