Higher Education Quick Takes
"Undergrads," a new online video project by James Franco, is not going over well at the University of Southern California, where it is set, The Los Angeles Times reported. Shots of hard drinking, hook-up culture and plenty of apparently trouble-free wealthy students are stereotypical, many students and university officials say. The university has been pushing hard to be a more serious academic institution, and "Undergrads" is seen by many as outdated at best. Many of the comments students have been posting at The Daily Trojan, the student newspaper, are also critical, but some students are writing that the video is an accurate portrayal of Greek culture at the university.
Sophia Stockton, a junior at Mid-America Nazarene University, in Kansas, got a surprise when her textbook Understanding Terrorism: Challenges, Perspectives and Issues arrived from the supplier she located through Amazon.com for a spring course on terrorism. As WPTV reported, when she opened the used textbook, a bag of white powder fell out. She thought it might be anthrax, and so took it to the police. The substance turned out to be cocaine.
For people from disadvantaged backgrounds, going to college decreases the odds that they will get married, according to a study being published in February's issue of The Journal of Family and Marriage. College attendance decreases the odds of marriage by 38 percent for men and 22 percent for women among those who are the least advantaged, the study found. For those in the highest category of advantage, going to colleges increases men's marriage odds by 31 percent and women's odds by 8 percent. Kelly Musick, a sociologist at Cornell University who did the research, along with scholars at the University of California at Los Angeles, said that the study raises questions about the idea that "college is the great equalizer." What holds true for the labor market, she said, may not hold true for the marriage market.
Vassar College is apologizing for an incorrect notification of some early decision applicants that they had been admitted when in fact they were not, The New York Times reported. A test letter indicating acceptance was viewed Friday by 122 applicants -- only 46 of whom had in fact been admitted. The letter was supposed to have been replaced by another for the 76 who were not admitted.
WASHINGTON -- A panel of online higher education leaders on Friday described complex and expensive safeguards they are using to prevent financial aid fraud. "We're engaged in warfare" to combat increasingly sophisticated fraud rings, said James Berg, a vice president and chief ethics and compliance officer for the Apollo Group, Inc. The scale of fraud attempts can be daunting: Wallace Boston, president of the American Public University System, said his university last August received 68,000 phone calls from two ZIP codes in Mississippi, the vast majority of which were likely fraud-related.
Excelsior College and the United States Distance Learning Association hosted the daylong meeting. Panelists, who were drawn from a sector-crossing range of institutions, stressed the need to be proactive about curbing fraud. Otherwise, potentially onerous federal regulations could be enacted, and online higher education's credibility could suffer. "This provides fuel for those who are critical of online education," said John Ebersole, Excelsior's president.
Many followed the story of Patrick J. Witt, the star quarterback at Yale University, who in November said he was withdrawing his Rhodes Scholarship application, preferring to play the football game against Harvard University than skip the contest for a Rhodes interview. But The New York Times reported that, at the time Witt made that announcement, he already knew that he was no longer in contention for a Rhodes. The Rhodes committee had found out that Witt had been accused by a fellow student of sexual assault. The committee said it would only keep Witt's candidacy alive if Yale would again endorse him. The Times also reported that Witt is no longer enrolled at Yale, and that he did not graduate. Yale officials declined to discuss the case, citing confidentiality. Witt did not respond to requests for comment.
The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board has voted to require public colleges to tell all undocumented students receiving in-state tuition that they are required to seek legal status to reside in the United States, the Associated Press reported. The requirement does not change the fundamental willingness of Texas to provide these students with in-state tuition rates. But the new regulation follows the unsuccessful campaign by Governor Rick Perry for the Republican presidential nomination -- a campaign in which he was attacked by many conservatives for the Texas tuition policy for these students.
Regular-season attendance for football this academic year fell in 8 of the 11 major-college conferences, USA Today reported. Further, bowl games hit a 33-year low.
The University of Western Ontario is changing its name and rebranding itself as Western University, The Globe and Mail reported. The university will remain in Ontario, but officials believe that they will be better able to build an international reputation without the province in the name. Some alumni are poking fun at the change.