Higher Education Quick Takes

Quick Takes

March 31, 2014

The University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown called off all indoor social events over the weekend and closed cafeteria service because of an apparent outbreak of a norovirus, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported. Prepackaged meals are being provided to students. Student symptoms include fever, chills, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea.

March 31, 2014

A new study by College Board researchers and published in Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis finds that Maine saw an increase in college-going rates after requiring all high school students to take the SAT.  Statewide, the requirement was linked in the study to a 2-3 percentage point increase in the college-going rate of those graduating from Maine high schools. Of those who based on various patters otherwise were found unlikely to have taken the SAT, about 10 percent who would not have gone to four-year institutions did so.

ACT has reported similar findings in Colorado and Illinois, following statewide use of the ACT.

Robert Schaeffer, public education director of the National Center for Fair & Open Testing, a critic of the College Board, said via email that even if the results of the Maine experiment are positive, that doesn't mean that the test is a good thing. "An unanswered question is how much of the apparent increase in college going (a good thing) is attributable to taking the test and how much results from the process of thinking about higher education, signing up for the exam (especially filling out the Student Descriptive Questionnaire which provides tons of academic and demographics data admissions offices use for recruitment), getting mail from schools, etc.," he said.

 

March 31, 2014

Police at Columbus State University, in Georgia, shot and killed a man they said was loading a gun near student apartments. The man did not have any connection to the university.

March 31, 2014

Bay Path College, a private women's college in Longmeadow, Mass., last week drew criticism for a mailer that advertised a new online degree program for adult learners with the headline "If you can shop online, you can learn online." The advertisement also showed a magazine-like spread of items such as a cap and gown, a diploma and a pair of high heels featuring legends such as "Take a step up. Or two." (heels); "College degrees. Tailored around you." (gown); and "Hold your head up. High." (gown). The news was first reported by Jezebel.

March 31, 2014

This is the time of year that colleges and universities release their acceptance rates, and those of Ivy League universities get lower each year, prompting much discussion and angst. Wonkblog at The Washington Post, however, argues that there are long odds for lots of things that people want, and that elite college admissions aren't quite so unique in American society. For example, while only 8.9 percent of all applicants were admitted to Ivy League institutions, only 2.6 percent of those who applied to work at Walmart's new Washington store were hired. And Google hires one half of one percent of its applicants.

The blog's analysis: "Parents and students - particularly those from a certain socio-economic background -- tend to obsess a lot over the college admissions process. The danger, of course, is that this single-minded focus on preparing kids for college -- the extra-curriculars, test prep, admissions coaching, and the like -- is coming at the expense of prepping them for the job market hurdles that come after."

 

March 28, 2014

In today’s Academic Minute, Neil Johnson, professor of physics at the University of Miami, discusses the patterns of children's cries and how he used that information to make some interesting conclusions. Learn more about the Academic Minute here.

March 28, 2014

The president of Al-Quds University, an Arab university in the West Bank, announced his retirement on Wednesday, three days after hundreds of Hamas supporters held a protest on campus, Haaretz reported. In a statement, Sari Nusseibeh, Al-Quds’ president for 20 years and a leading Palestinian political moderate, cited his age and long tenure in office as his reasons for retiring and said he would stay on as a philosophy professor. 

An earlier Islamist rally on the Al-Quds campus cost the university its partnerships with Brandeis and Syracuse Universities. Brandeis suspended its partnership following a November demonstration in which protestors reportedly used the traditional Nazi salute and honored “martyred” suicide bombers. A report authored by faculty affiliated with Brandeis's International Center for Ethics, Justice and Public Life has called for the resumption of the partnership

March 28, 2014

The University of Iowa has turned down a request from HBO to film "Girls" on campus, The Iowa City Press-Citizen reported. Hannah Horvath, the lead fictional character in the show, has recently been accepted to Iowa's very real Writers Workshop. But details of the plot lines that would be pursued at Iowa were not available, and university officials declined to elaborate on why they turned down the request.

 

March 28, 2014

A faculty member at Lone Star College taught the wrong chemistry course for a semester, KHOU News reported. The television station told the story of an A student surprised to find she was failing introductory chemistry. But the professor eventually said that she had been teaching a more advanced course. The student said that the professor made up for the situation by raising everyone's grade. The college and professor aren't commenting, but KHOU confirmed the story with another student in the class and through an email in which a department chair said that teaching the more advanced course was not intentional.

 

March 28, 2014

The University of Konstanz, in Germany, has halted negotiations with Elsevier over a new deal on journals, Science Insider reported. Officials said that the prices being offered were simply too high to justify continued negotiations. Elsevier declined to comment.

 

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