Higher Education Quick Takes

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Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Families are spending more on college, but parents are less concerned about that investment paying off, according to the results of a new survey from Sallie Mae, the student lender.

The study is based on phone interviews with 800 traditional-aged undergraduates and 800 parents of traditional-aged students. It is the eight installment of the survey. Results show that spending on college was up across the board this year, but that a 25 percent increase by high-income families was responsible for the bulk of the increase. Parents' out-of-pocket spending exceeded scholarships and grants for the first time since 2010.

However, fewer parents reported being "extremely worried" that their college-student children won't find a job after college -- 13 percent said this in 2015 compared to 27 percent the previous year. In addition, fewer parents were worried about student loan interest rates. Overall, six of 10 families did not borrow money to pay for college.

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 4:28am

A study based on Texas data finds that minority students -- and in particular Latino students -- show somewhat different patterns of selecting colleges to which to apply than do white students. The study, released today by the National Bureau of Economic Research, examined where Texas students went to college in 2008 and 2009. Minority students were more likely than white students, even when controlling for college readiness, high school quality and other factors, to apply to colleges that were closer to their homes, that enrolled large numbers of minority students and that students from their high school had attended and succeeded at in the past. These factors resulted in some students "under-matching" or applying to colleges that were not as strong academically as they might have been able to be admitted to. An abstract of the study is available here.

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The defunct Corinthian Colleges, a controversial for-profit chain, donated $27,600 in contributions over five years to various political operations related to U.S. Senator Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican and presidential hopeful, Bloomberg reported. The article said $15,000 of the donations went to Rubio's Reclaim America PAC. Corinthian also gave money to Rubio when he was running for the Senate.

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Oregon's governor, Kate Brown, a Democrat, on Friday signed a bill to create a free community college grant, several news outlets reported. Oregon follows Tennessee as the second state to fund a statewide free community college program. The legislation includes $10 million for qualifying students, who will each receive at least a $1,000 grant. The state also will spend $7 million on related student success and completion programs.

The news earned a celebratory tweet from President Obama:

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Clemson University's board on Friday issued its second statement this year on Benjamin Tillman (right), a racist 19th-century politician for whom a prominent campus building is named. Students and faculty members have been pushing for years to change the name of Tillman Hall. In February, the board rejected the idea, saying, "Every great institution is built by imperfect craftsmen. Stone by stone they add to the foundation so that over many, many generations, we get a variety of stones. And so it is with Clemson. Some of our historical stones are rough and even unpleasant to look at. But they are ours and denying them as part of our history does not make them any less so."

Friday's statement -- in the form of a board resolution -- did not make any promises about the building name. But it used much stronger language to describe Tillman. "Benjamin Tillman played a key role in the founding and early success of Clemson," the resolution said. "Benjamin Tillman was also known to be by his own admission an ardent racist and led a campaign of terror against African-Americans in South Carolina that included intimidation and violence of which he boasted about publicly; and for some members of our university family Benjamin Tillman’s legacy included not only contributions to Clemson University but also oppression, terror and hate."

The board also announced that it would create a task force "charged with creating a comprehensive plan to include, but not limited to, any recommendations regarding curating our historic buildings and memorials, developing better ways to acknowledge and teach the history of Clemson University, and exploring appropriate recognition of historical figures."

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The White House on Sunday announced the death of George Cooper, executive director of the White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities. In his career, Cooper was on the faculty of several historically black colleges, and was president of one, South Carolina State University. He was named to the post in 2013, amid concerns that the White House had moved too slowly to fill the position after John Silvanus Wilson Jr. departed to become president of Morehouse College. "George’s passing is a great loss for my administration, the HBCU and higher education communities, and for everyone that knew him," said the statement from President Obama.

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

Adam Leitman Bailey, founder of an eponymous law firm in New York, is stirring up controversy with a piece in The Huffington Post about why his firm will not hire new graduates of Ivy League law schools. "Our hires come from the top of the classes of the second-, third- or fourth-tier law schools. We find these men and women we take under our wing to be more ambitious and more hungry to excel in the legal profession," writes Bailey, a law graduate of Syracuse University. "They are hardworking and usually grew up with a middle- or lower-class upbringing. We do not hire our clients' sons and daughters unless they demonstrate the same merits as any stranger to our family. The candidates we recruit are those who have been battle tested in one manner or another. They have been forced to compete against their peers to rank at the top of their law school and college classes."

A response in the blog Above the Law called Bailey's essay "the stupidest thing I have read all week," explaining that "any hard and fast hiring rule is stupid. 'Oh, we only hire grads from Harvard' is equally as dumb as Bailey’s ban on all top-tier law grads."

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The University of Oslo on Friday announced that it has admitted Anders Behring Breivik, who in 2011 killed 77 people in a rampage inspired by his extreme-right political views. Breivik was rejected from the university two years ago when he didn't meet admissions requirements, but work he completed while in prison made him eligible for admission. He will not be able to leave his prison cell, though, and so will not be able to complete all requirements for the political science degree he seeks.

Rector Ole Petter Ottersen explained the decision in a blog post. "By sticking to our rules and not clamoring for new ones, we send a clear message to those whose misguided mission it is to undermine and change our democratic system. It is part of the universities’ mission to uphold democratic values, ideals and practices, also when these are challenged by heinous acts. We are on a slippery slope should we change the rules and adjust them to crimes committed," Ottersen wrote. He went on to note that "we have students who were at the scene where he committed his brutal murders. We have students who lost friends and family on July 22. We do acknowledge that there are moral dilemmas in this case, but the last thing we need is a 'lex Breivik.' We keep to our rules for our own sake, not for his."

A full account, in Norwegian only, is available in Aftenposten.

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

The Group of Eight, which represents Australia's most prestigious research universities, is condemning a new government report that found that those who hold a master's or doctoral degree from one of its members earn on average 15 percent less than graduates of another group of smaller universities, Times Higher Education reported. While non-Group of Eight members are cheering the results, the Group of Eight issued this statement: “We absolutely question the veracity of the methodology adopted. When results are so very different from everything that has gone before, even when using the same survey data, surely some explanation is required, especially in a sector that lives and dies by the rigor of its research.”

Monday, July 20, 2015 - 3:00am

In today's Academic Minute, Jean M. Twenge, a San Diego State psychologist, is delves into the religious practices of the age group she calls "Generation Me." Learn more about the Academic Minute here.


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