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Study Reveals College Graduates Are Ill-Prepared for the Workforce

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re like most college students, you might revel in the fact that you are now the authority when it comes to course selection. Students tend to take advantage of this new found freedom and pick classes they’ll enjoy like “Philosophy and Existential Themes” or “Psychology: Sensation vs. Perception” instead of something as uninspiring as “Introduction to Professional Writing” but employers warn that they may not adequately prepare them for the workforce.

According to a recent study conducted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, less than 10 percent of employers thought colleges did an “excellent” job preparing students for work. The group surveyed more than 1,000 employers in various industries and found that more than half said finding qualified applicants was difficult and agreed that students should receive specific workplace training rather than broad-based education.

Following the announcement of the study’s finding, Rep. Virginia Foxx, a North Carolina Republican and chairwoman of the U.S. House of Representatives higher education subcommittee, urged institutions to heed employers’ calls. "Colleges and universities are pandering to the students and giving them what they want, instead of what the employers want," she said. "I don't think you have to make a distinction between getting skills and getting an education. We need to do both."

Do you agree with the Rep. Virginia Foxx? Are colleges and universities pandering to students wants verses needs?


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White House Announces Summer Youth Employment Initiative

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school student, you’re probably still enjoying winter break. But with that two-week treat shortly coming to a close, I’m sure there are at least a few of you already looking forward to the warm, lazy months of summer. (I know I always did!) Then again, summer may not be the carefree paradise it once was. Whether you’d like to admit it or not, it’s the perfect opportunity to gain some work experience and this summer, you’re in luck: President Barack Obama is looking to boost summer job prospects for kids.

The White House recently announced that with help from the private sector, it has nearly 180,000 youth employment opportunities for the summer and aims to add tens of thousands more. With unemployment rates still relatively high for adults nationwide, young people are finding it almost impossible to find any employment opportunities. President Obama insisted that with the economy in a rut, the government needs to step in to make sure kids are provided with opportunities to learn skills and a work ethic. One downside of the plan for kids trying to save money for college, cars and other expenses is that many of the positions would be unpaid training opportunities.

Are you already thinking about where you’ll be working this summer? Are you more interested in a paying position or one that would be a killer reference on your resume?


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by Suada Kolovic

With the economy still in a slump, debt-ridden college students aren't alone in their financial struggles. Colleges and universities nationwide – who've had a fair share in creating insurmountable amounts of debt for the majority of students – have struggled to attract potential donors as concerns about unstable markets remain. Harvard University, however, may be the exception: An alumnus who started trading stock options from his dorm room almost 25 years ago recently donated $150 million to his alma mater for financial aid.

Hedge fund manager and Citadel Investment Group founder Kenneth Griffin’s donation (Harvard’s largest-ever gift specifically devoted to financial aid) is expected to help as many as 800 undergraduates annually. With tuition, room and board at Harvard University hovering at about $56,000, you'd assume that only students from affluent families could afford the outstanding price tag. The reality: Sixty percent of undergraduates receive financial aid from the school and pay on average just $12,000 a year. Families making up to $65,000 a year pay nothing, while those with incomes up to $150,000 pay between zero and 10 percent of their income. Griffin said he hopes to donate more to Harvard in the coming years and called for his peers to consider doing the same. "At Harvard, we've had not decades of commitment for our alumni, but centuries. It's time for my generation to step up," he said.

What do you think of Griffin's donation to Harvard – a school that already has an endowment of $32.3 billion – and not those in need directly? Is this a step in the right direction or not?


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Top Universities Experience Drop in Applications

by Suada Kolovic

If you’re a high school senior considering applying to some of the top schools in the country – MIT, Harvard, Howard, etc. – you may have a better chance of getting in than your peers did last year: According to Bloomberg reports, elite schools across the country are experiencing a slowdown or drop in applications for freshman admission after years of record increases.

Has attending the Ivies become passé? Not likely but there are a number of factors that probably played a role in the decrease, like the adoption of the Common Application, which made it easier for students to apply to multiple schools. Both Harvard and Princeton reinstated early admission policies and then there’s the stagnant economy. So while your chances of getting behind those ivy gates are slightly better, paying back huge tuition bills is a major aspect to consider. Take for instance Columbia’s $59,208 tuition; in this economic climate, students may feel that just too expensive and are opting for more reasonable choices. (For more on this story, click here.)

Does this information have you reevaluating where you’ll apply? Let us know in the comments section.


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Excelsior College Rolls Out $10,000 Bachelor’s Degree Program

by Suada Kolovic

With spring just around the corner, high school seniors across the country are anxiously awaiting word from colleges they’ve applied to. And while getting into your top choice school is all well and good, figuring out how you’re going to pay for it is pretty scary. If the cost of your college education is keeping you up at night, you might want to consider Excelsior College. Why? They just rolled out a program that guarantees a bachelor’s degree for $10,000!

This may seem like the opportunity of a lifetime but there are limitations to the price-guaranteed program. Students only have the option to earn a bachelor’s degree in the following areas: BA in Liberal Studies with an area of focus in Psychology or Sociology; BS in Liberal Studies with areas of focus in Administrative/Management Studies or Health Professional; and BS in Liberal Studies in Psychology or Sociology. If you’re interest, here’s how it works: Excelsior specializes in credit-by-examination, meaning that students may earn credit through a single comprehensive exam. In the past, students would have had to pay $370 per credit, which put an Excelsior degree at about $20,000. Not anymore! The new program has the faculty matching each end-of-course exam to one or more free online courses. "Excelsior has been a pioneer in credit by examination for more than 40 years," said Dr. John Ebersole, Excelsior’s president. "What makes this program truly innovative is its use of open education resources as a key source of study material for students. Not only do these free resources help keep student expenses down, they engage students in learning subject matter from some of the world’s leading colleges and universities." (For more on the story, click here.)

Would you consider applying to Excelsior? Are you a tad apprehensive about the academic merits of a self-guided curriculum? Let us know what you think in the comments section.


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10 Most Expensive Public Schools for Out-of-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

For the budget-conscious high school senior, it seems like a no-brainer to apply to the local state school for the best shot at affordable tuition. But with the economy in a slump and funding cuts becoming the norm, public universities across the country are more interested in recruiting out-of-state students. Why? It’s pretty simple: On average, tuition and fees for students crossing state lines is more than double that of their in-state peers. So if you have your sights set on schools beyond your state’s boundaries, check out the 10 most expensive public schools for out-of-state students (figures do not including room and board, books and other miscellaneous costs):

  1. University of Michigan – Ann Arbor: $37, 265
  2. University of Virginia: $36,570
  3. University of California – Irvine: $35,780
  4. University of California – Davis: $35,672
  5. College of William and Mary (VA): $35, 409
  6. University of California – Santa Barbara: $35,386
  7. University of California – Santa Cruz: $35,211
  8. University of California – San Diego: $35,006
  9. University of California – Riverside: $34,729
  10. University of California – Berkeley: $34,645

Did your prospective college make the list and does this information alter your interest in the school? Is it fair for colleges facing financial woes to place the burden on the shoulders of incoming out-of-state students?


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UVA Students Go On Hunger Strike for Higher Wages

by Suada Kolovic

After a decade of dialogue with administration, marches, rallies and petitions, the Living Wage Campaign decided enough was enough: The student group that has pushed for higher pay for low-level employees at the University of Virginia (UVA) is entering the 11th day of a hunger strike with more than a dozen students continuing their protest.

Organizers are demanding UVA pay its employees at least $13 an hour with benefits and wages that are indexed to inflation. “Our university seeks to distinguish itself as a caring community and prides itself on traditions of honor and student self-governance. However, in our ‘caring community,’ hundreds of contract employees may make as little as $7.25 an hour while six out of the top ten highest paid state employees in Virginia hold administrative positions at the university,” wrote Joseph Williams, a hunger striker and football player at UVA, on Michael Moore’s website. On Monday, protestors met with UVA President Teresa Sullivan and other officials but declared it unsuccessful and said they would remain on a hunger strike until their demands were met. University officials insist they have no say over how much contractors pay their employees. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of the extreme strategies the protestors are taking? Do you support their efforts? Would you participate in a hunger strike for a cause you believed in?


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Private College Group Lists Steps Toward Enhancing Affordability

by Suada Kolovic

With a growing number of students questioning whether the cost of a college education has grown too high to be justified, the reality of students selecting non-traditional paths has finally garnered a response from colleges: According to a list published by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, private nonprofit colleges and universities are unveiling lots of affordability measures in the coming academic year including tuition cuts, freezes and guarantees, three-year degree programs, four-year graduation pledges, curricular changes to help students graduate on time, partnerships with community colleges, lower tuition increases and scholarship assistance. Check out some of the highlights below (and to see the full list, click here):

Baylor University - Waco, TX: In the upcoming academic year, Baylor will begin the pilot phase of the new Baylor at MCC Co-Enrollment Program with McLennan Community College. Students in the program will attend the first year or two at MCC then move on to graduate from Baylor.

Roosevelt University - Chicago, IL: Beginning this fall, Roosevelt and nearby community colleges will offer students the opportunity to complete associate degrees and matriculate to Roosevelt at a frozen tuition price point across four years.

Simmons College - Boston, MA: Simmons will start offering 3+1 programs this fall that will allow students to receive both bachelor's and master's degrees in just four years.

University of Pennsylvania - Philadelphia, PA: UPenn is increasing total undergraduate charges by 3.9 percent for 2012-13, the second lowest increase in 44 years. The school is also increasing its financial aid budget by 7.7 percent over 2011-12.

Wentworth Institute of Technology - Boston, MA: Wentworth will debut its first three-year baccalaureate degree program this fall.

The list will be updated regularly as more 2012-13 campus measures are announced, NAICU said. Does this information have you reevaluating your college and financial choices?


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Congress Plans to Double Stafford Loan Interest Rates

by Suada Kolovic

Recent reports suggest that student loan debt has surpassed credit card debt for the first time and will reach $1 trillion this year. The average college student leaves owing $25,000 in loans, putting them at risk of having to significantly delay moving on to different life stages such as buying a house, getting married and even having children. Curious as to how the government has responded in aiding and relieving students of insurmountable debt? By possibly doubling the interest rate of the most popular federally subsidized loans, of course.

On Tuesday, college students delivered more than 130,000 letters to congressional leaders at the Capitol to protest the increase. Unless Congress takes action, the interest rate on subsidized Stafford loans is set to double from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, increasing the average debt by $2,800 for more than 7 million students receiving the loans, according to a spokesman for the Democratic members of the House Committee on Education & the Workforce. Why is Congress considering the increase when so many students are already in debt? In 2007, Congress voted to cut the Stafford interest rate, which in turn cost an estimated $7.2 billion from 2007 to 2012 and, according to the Congressional Budget Office, that burden was shouldered almost entirely by lenders and loan-guarantee agencies. "We all want to promote efforts that will reduce college costs, but the era of empty promises has to end," said John P. Kline Jr., a Republican from Minnesota who is the committee's chairman. "The interest rate hike students face is the result of a ticking time bomb set by Democrats five years ago," Mr. Kline said. "Simply calling for more of the same is a disservice to students and taxpayers." (For more on this story, click here.)

Soon-to-be college graduates, do you fear crippling student loan debt? What steps are you taking to prevent becoming a statistic?


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Multiple Law Schools Could Face Litigation Over Job Placement Rates

by Suada Kolovic

With the cost of a college education rising relentlessly and our economy still downturned, students are faced with a tragic catch-22: either become saddled with overwhelming debt or forgo a college education and limit your career possibilities. But are those the only options? What if students could prosecute their alma maters because they were misled by high job placement rates? Well if you pursued law school, chances are your college will soon be in the midst of a similar situation.

According to reports, 20 more law schools have found themselves under fire regarding allegedly deceptive job placement rates. The eight firms held a news conference announcing that they were seeking to file class action lawsuits and predicted that “nearly every law school in the country” would soon face litigation. With the team promising to sue 20 to 25 schools every few months, several law schools have already started revising their employment data – data that reflects much lower percentages of students securing full-time positions and reveal that salary statistics were based on a small percentage of students who voluntarily reported their incomes. David Anziska, one of the lead lawyers, said the team hopes that the law schools would eventually enter into a “global settlement” under pressure from the courts, regulators and legislators.

What do you think of the lawsuit? Is it fair to target law schools during these trying economic times when almost all college graduates, regardless of their majors, are struggling to find employment? Let us know in the comments section.


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