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9,400-Year-Old Dog Discovered by University of Maine Student

January 20, 2011

9,400-Year-Old Dog Discovered by University of Maine Student

by Suada Kolovic

Man’s best friend today isn’t much different from its ancestors. A bone fragment suggests that almost 10,000 years ago dogs likely provided their owners with companionship, protection and oh, at times, dinner. According to researchers, University of Maine graduate student Samuel Belknap III found a bone fragment from what they are calling the earliest confirmed domesticated dog in North America. Belknap came across the fragment while analyzing a dried-out sample of human excrement unearthed in southwest Texas in the 1970s.

The discovery was made as Belknap was conducting research on the dietary habits of ancient humans who lived in the Lower Pecos region of Texas between 1,000 and 10,000 years ago. “I didn’t start out looking for the oldest dog in the New World,” he said. “I started out trying to understand human diet in southwest Texas. It so happens that this person who lived 9,400 years ago was eating dog.”

DNA analysis by Belknap and a fellow researcher confirmed that the fragment came from a dog – not a wolf, coyote or fox and a carbon-dating test put the age of the bone at 9,400 years.

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Got Stress?

Annual Study Shows College Freshmen are Overwhelmed but Optimistic

January 27, 2011

Got Stress?

by Alexis Mattera

A student’s first year in college is one rife with new experiences and challenges. We have plenty of info on our site to help ease that transition – from dealing with common roommate problems to overcoming writer's block in college essays to beating the winter blues – but it looks like members of the class of 2014 are having more difficult times adjusting to the college lifestyle.

An annual study found 51.9 percent of first-year, full-time students reported their emotional health was above average. That may not seem so bad but lead author, UCLA's John Pryor, said this figure is a "fairly alarming" 3.4 percentage points lower than last year and the lowest since the inaugural study in 1985 when 63.6 percent reported feeling above average. Despite these record-low levels of emotional health, about 73 percent of students surveyed generally expressed positive attitudes toward higher education, even as they struggle to fund it because they believe it will help their future earning power.

But why the disparity between low emotional health and high expectations? It’s difficult to pinpoint one specific reason but Marcus Hotaling, chairman of mental health for the American College Health Association, has a theory: When the study began in 1985, he said, many students with mental health issues did not get into college but today, they are able to pursue post-secondary degrees because of improved medication, reduced stigmas and a greater willingness to share concerns with others. "Students are more attuned to who they are, what they're dealing with, and that there's help out there," said Hotaling.

First-time college students, do you share the sentiments of the students surveyed or is your freshman year shaping up to be one of the best years of your life thus far?

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Top 10 Universities for Campus Housing

January 31, 2011

Top 10 Universities for Campus Housing

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior, you’ll be faced with a major decision in the coming months: choosing the right college. And while there are myriad factors to consider when making your decision, campus housing can be a crucial piece of the puzzle. For the most part, students are required to live in campus housing during their freshman year while upperclassmen tend to live off-campus in apartments. The reason: Most larger universities just don’t offer enough on-campus housing to accommodate their entire undergraduate populations. Yet, that’s not always the case because some prominent institutions with large endowments offer housing for all undergraduates.

According to an analysis of student housing data provided by the U.S. News & World Report, students at many of the country’s top ranked schools opt to remain on campus until they graduate. Of the top 10 national universities with the highest percentage of students living on campus, five are Ivy League institutions. Check out the complete list below (schools are ranked by the percentage of their undergraduate student body living on campus).

  1. Princeton University
  2. Harvard University
  3. California Institute of Technology
  4. Columbia University
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  6. Stanford University
  7. Vanderbilt University
  8. Yale University
  9. Dartmouth College
  10. Stevens Institute of Technology
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Who Owns Student Inventions Created on School Property: School or Student?

February 1, 2011

Who Owns Student Inventions Created on School Property: School or Student?

by Suada Kolovic

Imagine this: There’s a contest at your university to create the next big iPhone app, the next Angry Birds if you will. On a whim, you decide to enter and miraculously (or not so miraculously given your tech savvy) you win! You’re overcome with pride and joy and begin fantasizing about a life of excess. It’s only after you’ve mentally purchased everything under the sun that reality sets in and you realize you haven’t read the fine print: The university where you did the bulk of your designing may assert a partial or complete claim to the product you’ve created. If you think that’s less than awesome, then you’re right on par with a group of students at the University of Missouri at Columbia.

The team of said students designed an iPhone app for a contest hosted by the Reynolds Journalism Institute at the Missouri School of Journalism. To be fair, the university did inform students of the policy prior to entering the competition which led to some students dropping out, said Anthony Brown, then an undergraduate in the department of journalism. But despite their reservations, Mr. Brown and his team, fellow students Zhenhua Ma, Dan Wang and Peng Zhuang, decided they’d stay in. They won the competition with an app called NearBuy (which gives you the ability to search for condos and houses by location using the iPhone's built-in locate-me technologies) and contacted the university to assert their ownership and to ask the university to waive any intent to assert ownership, according to the Chronicle. They argued that student inventions, even if fostered to some degree by faculty mentors, stood apart from the work done by faculty members using university resources.

Faculty members of the journalism department signed letters supporting the students’ case. And ultimately administrators agreed with the students and allowed them to maintain full ownership of their app, which to date has been downloaded over a quarter of a million times.

To some extent because of the case, the University of Missouri decided to rewrite its intellectual-property policy to better address student inventions. According to Michael F. Nichols, vice president for research and economic development for the Missouri system, the rules now cover everything from work students do as part of a class, to student work created as part of a competition, to work students do in an extracurricular group that is sponsored by the university. Keep in mind Missouri’s regulations aren’t the norm at all universities. How would you feel knowing, or not knowing for that matter, that if you were to create something on campus your university would have the rights to it?

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Top Priority for Americans: Affordable College

February 4, 2011

Top Priority for Americans: Affordable College

by Suada Kolovic

A recent survey suggests more Americans believe that making higher education more affordable would be the most effective means of helping those who are struggling financially. The Public Agenda study, “Slip-Sliding Away: An Anxious Public Talks About Today’s Economy and the American Dream,” revealed reducing college costs was most important to the 1,004 Americans surveyed at 63 percent, beating out preserving social security (58 percent), cutting taxes (48 percent), reducing the deficit (40 percent), “providing financial help to people who owe more on their mortgage than their house is worth” (22 percent) and others as the best solution.

Why do Americans have so much faith in the higher education system? According to the study, “One reason for the faith in education may be the public’s perception of who’s struggling most in the current economy. Three-quarters of Americans say that people without college degrees are struggling a lot these days, compared to just half who say college graduates are struggling.” Of those respondents who identified themselves as “struggling a lot” financially, 77 percent said they were very worried about having trouble paying for their children’s college educations. In addition, nearly one-third of those who are employed (32 percent) said they were "very worried" about losing their job, while 45 percent said they were “very worried” about paying back debt.

With the economy slowly turning around, are you concerned about the cost of college? If you’re stressed about finding financial aid, you don’t have to be: Check out our free scholarship search and get matched with scholarships just for you today!

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Gotcha! Columbia University Publishes Fictitious Article, Dupes Everyone

February 8, 2011

Gotcha! Columbia University Publishes Fictitious Article, Dupes Everyone

by Suada Kolovic

Columbia University, one of the eight members of the Ivy League, knows how to have a good time. So much so that the university’s student paper – The Morningside Post – ran a satirical story about a student who was mugged by conscientious muggers.

Jane Watkins, a first year International Security Policy concentrator, was on her way to class when two men wearing ski masks and dressed entirely in black approached her. "They started to run away with my bag but I screamed and begged them to let me have my Statistics homework," Ms. Watkins reported. "I told them they could have my wallet, my iPhone, anything – just not the homework." According to Ms. Watkins’ report, it was then that one of the muggers reached into her purse and retrieved her homework assignment, laying it neatly on the sidewalk next to where the incident occurred.

The story fooled readers and media outlets, most notably Gawker. They linked to the story despite calling it a “credulity-straining report.” The site has since affirmed that the Post article is a satire. Since the backlash, an editorial note was added to the article: “Due to questions from concerned readers, we would like to point out that this is a fictitious story. We thought we’d have a little bit of fun with this one. Imagine if The New York Times had a SIPA beat...”

What do you think of Columbia’s attempt at satire? Do you find it funny? Let us know what you think.

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Community College Students Struggle to Get Into Required Classes

February 10, 2011

Community College Students Struggle to Get Into Required Classes

by Suada Kolovic

Have you ever tried to sign up for a class that was full? Maybe it was a class that sparked your interest or one you heard was life altering. What about a class that you needed to graduate, one that you’ve attempted to register for, for the third time no less, and are consistently met with: class is full! Well, you’re not alone. And community colleges are dealing with overcrowding more often than universities. According to a national survey released Wednesday, one in five community college students had a difficult time getting into at least one course that they needed and almost a third, especially Hispanic students, could not get into a class that they wanted.

The national “Community College Student Survey,” which the Pearson Foundation calls the first-ever of its kind, asked 1,434 community college students about what they identified as factors that impede success, as well as the supports needed to help foster success. The respondents noted that problems with the professor or the course topped the list of reasons for dropping a class (61 percent). About 5 percent of students had dropped out during the first few weeks of the semester and 10 percent had seriously considered doing so. The students who considered dropping out – a whopping 20 percent – said they could not get the help they needed, while 66 percent of students surveyed said it is "extremely or very important to have access to academic advisors and to establish relationships with professors" in order to succeed in college. Do you agree with the survey’s findings?

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Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

February 11, 2011

Colleges With the Highest Graduation Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Acceptance letters should be rolling in for the majority of high school seniors and the pressure of deciding where to go is definitely on. A lot goes into deciding what school is the right fit for you, but if you’re interested in what schools have the highest graduation rates...then boy do we have the list for you. And sure, these institutions do have quite impressive graduations rates but keep in mind that high graduation rates don’t necessarily translate into a surefire path to success. It’s also important to note that the majority of schools that made the cut are prestigious and students accepted to the likes of Harvard aren’t likely to dropout.

The study, conducted by College Results Online, a website which uses data from the National Center for Education Statistics and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, ranked U.S. colleges in terms of 6-year graduation rates. Check out the top colleges and universities with the highest national graduation rates below and click here for the full list as well as profiles of each school.

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Why Students Drop Out of College

New MSU Study Cites Key Risk Factors

February 17, 2011

Why Students Drop Out of College

by Alexis Mattera

It may seem counterintuitive to work hard throughout high school, score well on your standardized tests, get accepted to your first-choice college and wrangle enough financial aid to pay for your education only to drop out before graduation but it does happen. What causes this academic 180? That’s what researchers at Michigan State University revealed in a new study.

The team, led by MSU assistant professor of psychology Tim Pleskac, used a mathematical model to analyze surveys from 1,158 freshmen at 10 U.S. colleges and universities. The surveys listed 21 "critical events" and students were asked whether any of the events happened to them in the previous semester; later, the students surveyed were asked whether or not they planned to drop out. Among the top risk factors reported were depression, loss of financial aid, tuition increases, unexpected poor marks and roommate issues. Other "critical events" like family deaths, failure to get into a specific program of study, significant bodily injury and addiction, however, were less likely to impact a student’s decision to leave school. "Prior to this work, little was known about what factors in a student’s everyday life prompt them to think about withdrawing from college," Pleskac said. "We are now better suited to think about what students we should target in terms of counseling or other assistance to help them work through these issues."

Would any of the factors listed above effect your choice to drop out of college? If they did, do you think you would eventually return to obtain your degree?

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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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