The University of California is rare among colleges in that it has a team that checks out some of the claims that applicants make, The San Jose Mercury News reported. The verification process is random -- about 1 percent of applicants -- but officials believe that the possibility of being scrutinized is enough to keep fictional claims to a minimum. The article noted that while most colleges don't verify claims on personal statements or lists of accomplishments, they do verify test scores and grades by relying on information provided by testing services and high schools, instead of letting applicants self-report.
Higher Education Quick Takes
A federal judge has ruled that a blind student at the University of California at Los Angeles can use a computer-assisted reading device for the state bar exam, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. The student used the device -- which magnifies words and broadcasts them for her -- in law school, but had to sue for the right to use the device on the bar exam.
The Obama Administration has assured Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Utah Republican, that it is exploring options to deal with concerns raised by Hatch and others about the Bowl Championship Series. Hatch has asked for an antitrust investigation by the Justice Department, and the administration said it is reviewing that request. A letter to Hatch said that the administration also is "exploring other options that might be available to address concerns with the college football post-season." One option identified would be to encourage the National Collegiate Athletic Association to “take control of the college football post-season." Other options listed include asking a governmental or non-governmental entity to "study the benefits, costs, and feasibility of a playoff system," and asking the Federal Trade Commission to "examine the legality of the current system under consumer protection laws." Senator Hatch, based in part on his view that the current bowl system has been unfair to the University of Utah, has been a leading critic of the way the football champion is determined.
Stereotypes and lack of information are holding back high school boys from going to college, according to new research published by Judith Kleinfeld in the journal Gender Issues. Kleinfeld interviewed high school seniors in Alaska -- which has a very large gender gap. She found that some high school boys were unaware of the likely need for a college degree and that many believed that boys are just lazy or prone to peer pressure. In her article, Kleinfeld suggests that stereotypes may be limiting boys' ambition. Kleinfeld, a psychologist at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks, has in the past clashed with women's groups by questioning research showing discrimination against female students and faculty members.
Williams College announced Sunday that it is moving away from its policy, announced amid similar moves by many elite private colleges, of eliminating loans from students' aid packages. A memo from Bill Wagner, the interim president, said that the college was continuing to add more money to financial aid, and to meet students' full need. "Our loan expectations were already among the lowest in the country (and zero for the lowest-income students) when we eliminated them for all aided students beginning in 2008-9. It now seems prudent to reintroduce modest loans for some aided students, beginning with the class that enters in the fall of 2011," said Wagner. "No current students will be affected; neither will those who enter this fall. As before, families below a certain income, and with typical assets, will not be expected to borrow at all. Others will be offered loans on a sliding scale up to a maximum size that will again be among the lowest in the country..... [W]e are convinced that Williams will remain financially attractive to aided students at all levels of income."
The University of Central Missouri has lost a major donor -- a Dutch executive -- over his concerns about comments by a radio host that the donor found anti-Semitic, The Kansas City Star reported. The donor is a Holocaust survivor who has given to the university since befriending a former president of the university. The radio show host's comments -- on a station that broadcasts the university's athletic events -- were critical of the current president of the university, who is Jewish and who is leaving office this year, for not having a Christmas tree on the lawn of the president's residence.
California Western School of Law and the University of California at San Diego have started talks about the private, independent law school joining the university, The San Diego Business Journal reported. The news comes as Massachusetts officials consider an increasingly controversial plan for the Southern New England College of Law, also a private free-standing institution, to become part of the University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth.
The Institute for International Education has created an emergency grants fund to help students from Haiti on campuses in the United States. Colleges may nominate up to five students for awards of up to $2,000 to those who are facing financial hardships because of the devastation caused by the earthquake. Details and nomination forms may be found here.
Negotiators involved in this week's final round of negotiated rule making on revisions to the U.S. Department of Education's regulations on the disbursal of federal financial aid funds said late Thursday they wouldn't be putting much more effort in trying to reach agreement on the most contentious proposal being debated. In draft form, the rule requires that debt repayments be no more than 8 percent of the annual salaries of recent graduates of programs that prepare students for "gainful employment." The panel attempted to make progress on the issue Thursday morning, but differences seemed too large to bridge. Terry W. Hartle, senior vice president for government and public affairs at the American Council on Education, said federal and non-federal negotiators agreed they "probably won't get finished" with working out all the concerns over the proposed rule. The group, he added, would instead focus on trying to reach agreement on revisions to all the other rules under consideration and then return to discussion of the debt-to-income ratio Friday if time permits.
Agreement on much-debated rules on incentive compensation for recruiters seemed "close enough," Hartle said, that negotiators agreed to continue discussion Friday. Negotiators would have to reach consensus on the full package of 14 rules for them to be adopted without further revision by the department. Without an agreement on the debt-to-income ratio, or any other issue, the department would be free to make further changes to any and all rules, though it's likely officials wouldn't substantively edit any rules on which the panel reached agreement.
Rutgers University police have arrested six members of Sigma Gamma Rho sorority, charging them with beating at least three pledges for seven consecutive nights, The Star-Ledger reported. The university and the sorority's national organization immediately suspended the Rutgers chapter.