Veterans Fighting for College Credit

by Kelly Compell

Many veterans who are returning from serving in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan realize that they need a plan to earn enough money to support themselves. A large amount of them went into the military straight from high school, so they don’t have any college credits built up in order to earn a degree. Many colleges take this into effect and make up for it by providing the veterans with credits for the skills that they learned while serving for the country.

However, many of the veterans are reporting that the credits they are being given are inadequate for the amount of knowledge and skills learned while in the military. According to the article, Credit for Service,” written by Paul Frain, seven states in the Midwest are trying to resolve this current problem. Their resolution consists of grouping together to make sure that all of the veterans are given all of the credits that they deserve based on what they have learned through the military.

Colleges should make sure that veterans are receiving an adequate amount of credits for the knowledge and skills they have already learned. It would be a waste of money and time to force them into re-learning information that they already know.

Is a 4-Year College Right for You? The American Public Believes So!

by Taylor O’Connor

People have debated the importance of higher education vs. vocational education for years. Is it more important to have broad, well-rounded abilities and skills? Or is it more practical and beneficial to train specifically in your field to be as well versed in your area as possible? The answer the majority of Americans choose may surprise you.

According to an article written by Michael Stratford, new surveys show that a large portion of the American public and business leaders believe that the importance of education lies in being well-rounded and having a multitude of skills rather than having just industry specific skills. These surveys show that businesses value skills such as written communication and problem solving over skills specific to that vocation. More importantly, the survey found that only 62% of respondents value higher education. They also said that the current system is poorly preparing college students for post graduation work. Stratford’s article additionally reported that the 41% of the American public, down 8% from last year, believes that online education offers “similar quality” in comparison to conventional colleges.

Thinking of the complaints of price for higher education, one would not think that the majority of people would promote a traditional four year education over a cheaper two year vocational school if applicable. There are some jobs that understandably need four year degrees, like education or nursing. But if someone wants to work with electronics, why not go to a two year vocational school instead of a four year program, racking up much more debt? Yes, being a well-rounded individual is beneficial to society as a whole, but if one can do their job just as effectively without digging themselves into a hole, then that should be the route more people are taking.


Buyer Beware: Lower Tuition Doesn’t Mean Lower Prices

by Michael Pacitti

When you’re out shopping and you see something on sale for 40 % off, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Wow! What a great deal!” However, when you look closer you can find that the original sticker price was exorbitantly high and the discount actually made it an average priced item. This method of pricing is deceptive, tricking buyers into thinking they’re saving money when actually they’re paying full price. Unfortunately this scheme doesn’t end at your local strip mall.

Private colleges are now using the traditionally high sticker price of tuition to their advantage. With some schools cutting their tuition price as much as 43%, prospective students can get lured into thinking that means a 43% savings in out-of-pocket costs. For example, Converse College has cut their tuition from $29,000 to $16,500 (43% discount), but the average student paid just over $17,000 in 2012. Rather than saving money, students actually end up paying the same price as before (and in Converse’s case, paid more than the sticker price of tuition).

Our next logical question is, “how does that happen?” With a lower sticker price, schools do not have to give out as much financial aid because families can “afford” the lower price. Take Converse for example. Before cuts, tuition was $29,000 but that price was mitigated by financial aid to an actual out-of-pocket cost of around $17,000. However, with a new price of $16,500, Converse no longer has to offer financial aid because it’s considered a “true cost”.

This pricing method in theory sounds honest. It tells the student exactly what they will be paying for college rather than an inflated price. However, when the true cost doesn’t change even after a price cut of nearly 43%, what’s the point? It seems as though these schools are trying to lure students into attending simply because the sticker price is lower.

The next time you go shopping and see a great discount, make sure you check the price tag and see what you’re actually paying.


Is Our Academic Fate Already Decided? Examining Graduation Rates in College Institutions

by Brenden Overton

The graduation rate of US college students has been a popular topic for decades. “Inputs Trump Outputs” by Paul Fain examines several factors that have substantial effects on six-year graduation rates. Based on academic research, the author concludes that student attributes such as federal grant reception (especially the Pell Grant), average ACT scores, grade point average, race, wealth of the institution, and transfer credits, largely predict six years graduation rates.

Some of these results, especially those relating to the six-year graduation rate of Pell Grant recipients, are quite unnerving. If the federal government rewards the institutions with high graduation rates, these institutions will have an inherent incentive to optimize the rates. If these research studies prove accurate, then to accomplish this, the rate of acceptance of candidates that appear less desirable (e.g. low-income families, minorities, those with poor standardized test performances) will decrease. In a country where a four-year degree is more essential than ever to obtain a well-paying career, the future looks bleak for those students who do not match the conventional characteristics of a college student and the universities that cater to them. The critical question that then arises is: How can we reconstruct the educational system to allow those who are qualified but do not have the resources to obtain degrees?

New Data Challenges the Value of a College Degree

By Zachary Hill

New research has recently been issued that links college majors and the job market. The acronym “STEM” may be oversold, some short-term degrees receive higher salaries than bachelor’s degrees, and a flagship institution may not guarantee a higher salary. Eye-opening data has been released about the “S” in “STEM,” which stand for “Science.” Certain science majors, such as biology or chemistry, have starting salaries comparable to those of Sociology, Psychology, and English. On the other hand, engineering majors command tens of thousands more in average starting salaries. The fields of business and healthcare also command much higher starting salaries than those of biology and chemistry. Many people intend to major in chemistry or biology and continue on to be a doctor. However, if someone is stuck with a biology or chemistry degree, their average starting salary will take a severe hit.

Some short-term degrees command higher salaries than bachelor’s degrees. In Texas, Colorado, and Virginia, people who obtain certain two-year associate’s degrees such as technical associate’s and applied sciences actually earn more than those with a bachelor’s degree in those degree programs. In conclusion, some students who pay more tuition and fees to earn a bachelor’s degree end up having a lower starting salary than students who enrolled in a two-year program.

Enrolling in a university with higher tuition does not necessarily ensure a higher starting salary. Colorado State University’s flagship campus’s tuition is $7,494, while CSU’s Pueblo campus has a tuition rate of $4,894. However, the average starting salary of Pueblo students is slightly higher than that of CSU flagship campus’s students. In all states, engineering degrees command the highest starting salaries of any major. Students should carefully consider their choice of major instead of choosing a school based on reputation or sticker price.

The article can be found here:

Study Finds Adjuncts Are Better Instructors Than Tenured Faculty

by Marie Herb

On September 9, an article was published that described a study performed at Northwestern University from 2001 to 2008. In the study, over 15,000 students were analyzed for performance during classes. They found that when students took an introductory course they were likelier to perform better when an adjunct – a part-time teacher – was teaching the class over a tenured professor. In addition, the students were also more likely to take the follow-up course the next semester and perform better when taught by an adjunct. However, this study has some restraining factors. These factors include that Northwestern University is a very prestigious school, Northwestern was the only school used in the experiment, most of the adjuncts at the school have some connection with the university, and most of the adjuncts have been teaching at the school for an extended amount of time.

While this study is very limited in some respects, it is at least an interesting thought that is not commonly presented. Usually, a student would want a renowned professor teaching his class rather than someone else. Colleges and universities should look at the way their tenure system works and think about how it can be better improved. The topic of teacher-effectiveness is one that should be pursued, especially within the upcoming years as the view of higher education is changing.

Increased Demand for College WiFi – But at What Cost?

by Vadim Belogorodsky

As an Electrical Engineering major, Carl Straumshein’s “Device Explosion” caught my eye.  Straumshein details the challenges many university Chief Information Officers (CIO) face when analyzing their wifi systems. Many deal with the same problem: Disappointment voiced by students over the quality of the wifi systems on campus. The article states that many students are spoiled at home with near-perfect wifi systems and expect the same when they move to college. Though the concept of increasing coverage may seem simple, the topic becomes a hot button when budgets and resources become involved.

In the past decade with the invention of smart phones, more affordable laptops, and internet based gaming systems the article mentions on average each student brings 2.5 wifi capable devices. Each professor brings about 2 devices on average. So looking at this data, one might suggest, “Hey just add more routers” and the problem with slow unreliable coverage will disappear. The problem really is the fact that people don’t realize there is a constant amount of bandwidth available for all the devices on campus and as more devices use a portion up, the quality of the system decreases.

Less money is being allocated for technical services such as wifi as universities tighten budgets. So the problem becomes a balance of how much to spend on a system most certainly everyone uses or whether to allocate the money to another project and deal with poor wifi reception.Colleges these days cannot afford to replace full systems and simply spend their budgets on repairing aged equipment. One college spent their budget on replacing old systems which allows for better quality of wifi by modernizing the equipment and severely lowering maintenance costs hoping that this will pay off in the long run. At a time when people are wondering whether college is too expensive or even worth it, little things such as wifi systems make the differences

With the advance of affordable tablets, experts expect the number of wifi devices to jump on campus causing future debate on what path to take with current systems at various universities. Even around Widener’s campus, complaints about the wifi are heard daily. Who knows what will happen in the future.

The Higher the Price Tag, The Higher the Debt

by Nathan Nodolski

People think that colleges with higher price tags result in more debt after graduation. Consequently many high prestige schools miss out on many applications from students because they believe it will not be worth it. According to a US News and World Report college survey, the high priced prestigious schools with large endowments often graduate students with LESS college debt than less prestigious, lower price tag schools.

Students graduating from Harvard and Yale on average owed about a quarter of the sticker price. So if tuition alone would be $200,000 after 4 years, the average student who graduated from there only owed about $50,000; which is less than the less prestigious schools. With the ivy league name on your resume as well, it may not be that difficult to pay that back.

According the survey a Princeton graduate’s average debt after 4 years is $5,096, while a student from the less prestigious Massachusetts Wheelock College has around $50,000 debt after graduation. All Ivy League schools however have endowments of over $1 billion. The more money – the more prestige. 59% of Harvard’s annual endowment payments goes to student financial aid.

So if you are smart enough to get into those high prestige colleges, go for it. Their billion dollar endowment will help you end up in less debt and with more success after college.


It’s Not About Where You Go, It’s About What You Study

By Lauren Robson

“What do you want to be when you grow up?” It’s the question every indecisive person, much like myself, dreaded being asked through elementary school, middle school, and high school. Senior year, come graduation, the questions tend to drift. It’s no longer about what you’re studying and more of where you’re going to study. If it’s not an Ivy League, no one seems to care or even believe that you will be successful. The truth is that people look down on small, under the radar schools. What if the truth was that they should stop worrying about where they were going and go back to worrying about the why?

According to Jon Marcus’s article, “Elite degrees don’t necessarily earn more, study finds,” students don’t need to attend elite colleges to be successful. On average, the students who attended less-prestigious schools earned about the same as their Ivy-League counterparts. There are also graduates out there with associate’s degrees that are actually earning more money (up to $11,000 more) than some graduates with bachelor’s degrees. The future paychecks of students with certain majors look more fortunate than others’ as well, no matter what school they attend. Majors such as engineering, business, and nursing are ranking in the most well-paid majors while those in liberal arts, such as philosophy and music, are on the lower side of the spectrum.

It’s about time people stop judging futures by the college one attends. The college does not determine the success of the individual, rather it is what they take from the college that will give them the edge.