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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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Newberry College to Offer Social Media Major

December 14, 2012

Newberry College to Offer Social Media Major

by Suada Kolovic

For some students, opting for what one might consider a safe major like business or accounting just doesn’t have the allure as something as unique as puppetry, packaging (which boasts a 90-percent job placement rate, by the way) or tweeting. No need to adjust your screen folks, you read that right: Newberry College now offers both a major and minor in social media. Social media gurus rejoice!

Designed by Tania Sosiak, an associate professor of graphic design and social media at Newberry, the program blends existing classes from other disciplines such as graphic design, communications, business administration, psychology and statistics. Newberry President Dr. Maurice Scherrens said in a statement that they decided to start the new program due to a “long-term demand for college graduates in a rapidly expanding field.” Through these courses, students will explore the techniques of social media in addition to the development and direction of social media as a creative industry. Students will work to develop marketing and branding strategies for projects including corporate, non-profit, entertainment, sports, news and politics. Not everyone is a fan, though: Skeptics like Amora McDaniel at the Upstart Business Journal wrote, “This could be just another ploy to entice students to enroll in your schools without giving back anything of substance in return for their tuition money.”

What side of the fence are you on? Do you think that offering a social media major is progressive or do you think that schools are catering to students’ wants verses needs?

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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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California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

January 4, 2013

California Legislation Proposes a $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree

by Suada Kolovic

In what seems to be a growing trend across the country, a California state legislator is the latest elected official to push for a bachelor’s degree that costs no more than $10,000 total (yes, total!). And while last year’s college graduates left school with an average of $25,000 in debt, the possibility of a $10,000 degree to incoming college freshman is encouraging.

Assemblyman Dan Logue (R) introduced the bill following similar initiatives in Florida and Texas: In the proposed California legislation, students would start to earn college credit in high school through Advanced Placement courses and would then enroll full-time at a community college. The state university would in turn accept up to 60 credits for transfer. The problem? There’s the possibility that the state itself could be responsible for much of the cost since the bill requires that schools and colleges be reimbursed for any mandated expenses. As of right now, the legislation has only one sponsor while the speaker of the California Assembly, a democrat, reportedly has alternative plans for higher education reform.

Given California’s current budget woes, do you think the proposed legislation is the right option for the state? Let us know what you think.

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College Student Tweets Oil Tycoon for Tuition Assistance…and Gets a Response!

January 9, 2013

College Student Tweets Oil Tycoon for Tuition Assistance…and Gets a Response!

by Suada Kolovic

Chances are if you’re a college student, you have a Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and/or Reddit account and with all that social media at your fingertips, you have a few options: 1. Repost a someecard that your friends have seen no less than 20 times (it’s still hilarious to you!) 2. Spend some time analyzing Taylor Swift’s latest breakup 3. Catch up on Grumpy Cat memes or 4. Tweet billionaire oil tycoons for some financial assistance. Well, you wouldn’t be the first to partake in the latter pastime.

Seth Samuelson, a current freshman at Oklahoma State University, had been hounding billionaire T. Boone Pickens on Twitter since September asking for help in paying for his college education. Last week, he finally got a response...though not one that he was hoping for. The social media-savvy billionaire tweeted back, “Give me 10 good reasons why I should do it,” following up a day later with, “Admire your guts but unless your [grade point average] is 3.0 or better, don’t worry about the 10 reasons.” Although getting a response at all was quite a shock, we should mention that Samuelson had tweeted Pickens a total of 68 times. “He’s a generous man, so why not ask?” Samuelson, an 18-year-old sports media major, told FORBES on Monday. Alas, Samuelson did not reply because he does not meet the GPA requirements. Jay Rosser, a spokesman for Pickens, wrote in an email that the billionaire “appreciated Samuelson’s persistence and wished him the best.”

Do you agree with Samuelson’s attempt to coax a billionaire into paying for his college education? Let us know in the comments section. In the meantime, if you’re looking for a different route in financing your college degree, Scholarships.com is a great place to start!

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University Will Require All Students to Purchase iPad Minis

January 18, 2013

University Will Require All Students to Purchase iPad Minis

by Suada Kolovic

With college just around the corner for high school seniors, preparing for your first year can be daunting. And while you’re going through your mental checklist of what you’ll need, don’t forget to add an iPad mini if you’re headed to Lynn University: Beginning this fall, all incoming students will be required to purchase one.

Lynn’s devices will come loaded with students’ summer reading and core curriculum texts and will cost about half as much as their print counterparts at $475. Why the shift? After meeting with Apple representatives and learning more about iTunes U and the iPad, Lynn officials experimented with the technology and were pleased with the initial outcome. During the January term, one section of the course was taught on iPads and utilized “challenge-based learning” – a method developed by Apple that focuses on using technology to apply course content to real-world problems – while the other section covered the same content through traditional methods. At the end of the term, students from both sections were surveyed about their experiences and those using challenge-based learning and the iPads were not only happier with the class but learned more! (For more on Lynn University’s switch to an Apple centered curriculum, click here.)

Do you agree with Lynn University’s decision to require an iPad mini based on one course evaluation? Let us know in the comments section.

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Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

January 29, 2013

Report: Millions of Graduates Hold Jobs that Don’t Require College Degrees

by Suada Kolovic

It wasn’t too long ago that the majority of American’s agreed that one had to earn a college degree in order to succeed in the workforce. Unfortunately for millennials, the rate of success after obtaining said degree is no longer so intrinsically tied: According to a report, millions of college graduates suffer a mismatch between education and employment and hold jobs that don’t require costly degrees.

The study from the Center for College Affordability and Productivity says that nearly half of all American college graduates in 2010 – nearly three years after the recession began – were underemployed, holding relatively low-paying and low-skilled jobs. 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. Authors Richard Vedder, Jonathan Robe and Christopher Denhart agreed that the country could be overeducating its citizens and questioned if too many public dollars were being spent on producing graduates that the nation’s economy doesn’t need. "Maybe we should incentivize colleges to more accurately counsel students," Vedder told the Chronicle of Higher Education. "If you get a degree in business administration, you may not necessarily walk into a middle-class life. There's a good chance you may end up being a bartender." (For more on this study, click here.)

Do you think that a college degree is necessary for gainful employment and upward mobility? Let us know what you think.

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Bloomberg’s Latest Donation to Johns Hopkins Tops $1 Billion Mark

January 31, 2013

Bloomberg’s Latest Donation to Johns Hopkins Tops $1 Billion Mark

by Suada Kolovic

Giving back to your alma mater is a tradition deeply rooted in the inner workings of any university. Once your status has shifted from “student” to “alumni,” you can bet there is an expectation for you to give back. And while some go out of their way to avoid the financial strains of contributing (we are technically still in a recession), Michael Bloomberg isn’t one of them: The New York City mayor’s latest $350 million pledge has pushed his lifetime donations to his alma mater past the $1 billion mark. Yup, that’s billions. With a b.

Johns Hopkins announced the donation late Saturday, saying it believed Bloomberg – who amassed his fortune creating the global financial services firm Bloomberg LP – is now the first person to give more than $1 billion to a single American university. (This assertion, however, is hard to verify since many donors tend to give anonymously.) About $250 million of Bloomberg’s latest contribution will be part of a larger effort to raise $1 billion to foster cross-disciplinary work at Johns Hopkins; the remaining $100 million will be devoted to need-based financial aid for undergraduate students in the form of 2,600 Bloomberg scholarships in the next 10 years. "Johns Hopkins University has been an important part of my life since I first set foot on campus more than five decades ago," Bloomberg said in the statement issued by the university. "Each dollar I have given has been well-spent improving the institution and, just as importantly, making its education available to students who might otherwise not be able to afford it."

What do you think of Bloomberg’s generosity? Do you plan to donate to your college after you graduate?

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Changes to 529 Savings Plans

February 5, 2013

Changes to 529 Savings Plans

by Suada Kolovic

Figuring out how you’re going to pay for your college education can be intimidating. No one wants to pay off student loans for the rest of their lives, full-tuition scholarships are rare and federal student aid seldom covers all college costs but if you’re lucky enough to have a parent or relative willing to help curb the financial strains, it’s important to note that college savings plans are becoming increasingly flexible and affordable. Here are some of the changes to the 529 savings plans for 2013:

  • Increase gift tax exemptions: Grandparents can gift $14,000 annually before they’re charged a gift tax. Since five years of the exempted amount can be gifted at one time, that’s a five-year donation of $70,000 per grandchild while a married couple could potentially gift $140,000, provided they don’t give additional funds to the same grandchild in the five-year span.
  • Expanded qualified expenses: Last year, families couldn’t use 529 plan funds for laptops, iPads, internet service and software but the IRS is going high tech and realizes these are necessary items for higher education. Parents of a student who receives a full or partial scholarship can now use the funds to enhance their child’s educational experience.
  • Declining plan prices: Competitive bidding among plan management companies to run 529 plans on behalf of states is contributing to the trend of downward pricing. (For more information about 529 plans, click here.)
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