Freshman Friends: A Key To Coping in College

Quartz: “A 2008 poll conducted by the Associated Press and mtvU found that 40% of college students said they felt stress regularly—and almost one in five seriously considered dropping out of school. With those high stress levels in mind, the researchers, including Stanford economics professor Matthew Jackson and former Stanford doctoral candidate Desmond Ong, put nearly 200 Stanford freshmen—who had recently moved into first-year dorms—through a battery of personality tests and questionnaires.”

“Their goal was to determine which students occupied central roles in these different networks—notably groups based on trust, fun, and excitement. The researchers found that individuals were more particular about whom they included in their trust networks compared to groups related to fun and excitement. In those selective trust networks, freshmen were more likely to include highly empathic students. In contrast, when students wanted to feel positive and have fun, they were more likely to seek out dorm mates high in happiness.”

“Just as you need the right outfit for a particular occasion, college freshmen need certain friends for certain situations. When you need a dose of fun, engaging with a positive and happy friend can lift your mood. But that friend may not be the best person to go to when you need someone to confide in. An empathic friend, on the other hand, may be just the right person for helping you through difficult and challenging times.”

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Harvey Mudd: STEM ‘Boot Camp’

Business Insider: “Located in Claremont, California is an 829-person liberal arts college that might go unnoticed to the uninitiated. It’s not a member of the Ivy League, nor does it have the celebrity of Stanford University, its neighbor to the north. In fact, if you’re not familiar with the Claremont Consortium, you’ve probably never heard of the school. Harvey Mudd College is a STEM powerhouse. It routinely shows up on lists that rank the best value colleges and, based on median salary, its graduates out-earn those from Harvard and Stanford about 10 years into their careers.”

“Mudd embraces its academic rigor and describes its core curriculum as a ‘boot camp in the STEM disciplines — math, physics, chemistry, biology, computer science, and engineering — as well as classes in writing and critical inquiry’ that it says ‘gives students a broad scientific foundation and the skills to think and to solve problems across disciplines’.”

“Every entering student must take a computer science class, a rare requirement for a liberal arts college. But Mudders must also graduate with a strong liberal-arts background, taking just as many courses in the humanities as they must in core introductory courses in the sciences.”

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Cornell Tech: Campus of the Future?

The Wall Street Journal: “Conceived by the Bloomberg administration, Cornell Tech was envisioned as a $2 billion, 12-acre campus devoted to the marriage of academia and business in the hopes of engendering a new class of tech-savvy biz kids. Phase One was officially completed on Sept. 13, with the first three buildings (costing $700 million) up and running for some 300 students and (to date) three corporate giants—Citigroup, Two Sigma Investments and Ferrero, an Italian chocolate company.”

“The new campus buildings and their land-sculpted surrounds set a new bar for architecture. Priorities have been upended. While expensive new campus structures usually make bold visual statements, at Cornell Tech sustainability and landscape, not ambitious form making, lead the way.” For example: “At four stories and 160,000 square feet, the Bloomberg Center—designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis—is wrapped in an animating metal screen scalloped in soup-lid-size scales that turn a golden or lagoon-ish green hue depending on how they catch the light. It helps to cool and minimize waste at a building that aims to achieve the new holy grail of energy usage: net-zero.”

“Beneath the prow are a cluster of built-in outdoor seats and tables. A path sweeps past the other two buildings—a dorm and office-cum-incubator—into an open plaza and lawn with a seemingly endless array of seating arrangements and table options. The buzz potential is palpable … Beneath the lawn and plaza, there’s a rain-harvesting tank and 80 geothermal wells. Gardens perform bio-filtration services; pavers absorb overflow … When the campus is completed by 2043, there will be 2,000 students and 10 buildings. Cornell Tech puts the island at the heart of where ideas in business and architecture are headed.”

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College Lists: There are Apps For That

The Wall Street Journal: “Many websites and apps ask students a lot of questions to generate college lists, but only a few invite them to have a little fun with the process. The iOS app Admittedly quizzes users on their preferences for such factors as walkability or weather. An article on the app headed, ‘The mountains are calling and I must go,’ suggests 10 campuses in hilly terrain. (Admittedly recently launched on the web as myOptions.)”

“The College Fair, a mobile app launched in 2016 under the name Schoold, asks users for academic and personal data, then claims to use Netflix-like algorithms to fine-tune college lists. The app also posts whimsical rankings such as ‘Beyonce’s Short List’ of schools the pop star might like, and ‘Places Where the Professors Know Your Name’.”

“An extensive website called BigFuture, by the nonprofit college-planning concern The College Board, has helpful tools linking students’ interests with potential majors, careers and colleges … The Naviance program, owned by the Cincinnati-based education software company Hobsons, offers a wealth of college- and career-planning tools … It’s well-known for its ‘scatterplots—dot diagrams charting the grades and test scores of students from the same high school who applied to a particular college in the past and showing whether they were admitted. Seeing where your grades and test scores appear in relation to others’ helps students estimate their chances of admission.”

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Snooze Alarm: Should Teens Get More Sleep?

The New York Times: “Many high-school-age children across the United States now find themselves waking up much earlier than they’d prefer as they return to school. They set their alarms, and their parents force them out of bed in the morning, convinced that this is a necessary part of youth and good preparation for the rest of their lives. It’s not. It’s arbitrary, forced on them against their nature, and a poor economic decision as well. The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that teenagers get between nine and 10 hours of sleep. Most in the United States don’t.”

“A Brookings Institution policy brief investigated the trade-offs between costs and benefits of pushing back the start times of high school in 2011. It estimated that increased transportation costs would most likely be about $150 per student per year. But more sleep has been shown to lead to higher academic achievement. They found that the added academic benefit of later start times would be equivalent to about two additional months of schooling, which they calculated would add about $17,500 to a student’s earnings over the course of a lifetime. Thus, the benefits outweighed the costs.”

“Marco Hafner, Martin Stepanek and Wendy Troxel conducted analyses to determine the economic implication of a universal shift of middle and high school start times to 8:30 a.m. at the earliest. This study was stronger than the Brookings one in a number of ways … It examined downstream effects, like car accidents, which can affect lifetime productivity. And it considered multiplier effects, as changes to the lives of individual students might affect others over time. They found that delaying school start times to 8:30 or later would contribute $83 billion to the economy within a decade. The gains were seen through decreased car crash mortality and increased student lifetime earnings.”

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Empty Nesters: How Parents Cope

The Wall Street Journal: “When a child leaves for college, parents have the happiness of seeing their son or daughter mature and start off on an independent life. They also miss constant connection, fret about their child’s well-being, and worry about the way the relationship may change.Esther Boykin, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington, D.C., says that empty nesters may experience a type of grief—for the loss of the relationship as it was.”

She explains: “Parents experience an ambiguous loss, or a loss that doesn’t really look like loss. Their child is typically just a few hours or a short plane ride away, so they haven’t lost them. Yet the emotional experience of their absence can feel incredibly profound and permanent. This person whom you have centered your life around for 18 years is no longer around on a daily basis and is loosening the connection that had been all encompassing.”

“The greatest challenge for parents is that they know that the goal of good parenting is to a raise self-sufficient, independent adult, but the realization of that goal creates a deep sense of loss that can be confusing. It’s like realizing that you did an awesome job and the reward is that the person you love most is leaving you for good.”

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US News Announces 2018 Rankings

US News: “Princeton University is No. 1 for Best National Universities for the seventh year in a row. For the 15th consecutive year, Williams College takes the top spot for Best National Liberal Arts Colleges.”

“California schools and military academies perform strongly in this year’s top public universities rankings. For the first time, the University of California—Los Angeles moves up to No. 1 for Top Public Schools among National Universities, tying with the University of California—Berkeley. The United States Military Academy ranks No. 1 for Top Public Schools among National Liberal Arts Colleges.”

You can access the full report here.

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Toward a Car-Free Campus

The New York Times: “More universities are beginning to consider where transportation is headed as they wrestle with parking woes, often one of the thorniest issues on campus. Over the last 20 years, many campuses have shifted their emphasis to manage the demand, rather than build more garages, out of a desire to reduce their carbon footprint, put valuable land to higher uses and avoid construction costs that can run $20,000 to $30,000 a space … Increasingly, campuses are … charging more for the most convenient spaces, running shuttles, subsidizing public transit passes, and adding bike and car-sharing services.”

“Some universities are building mixed-use garages, which can be a more efficient use of land and help ensure maximal use of spaces. Northwestern University, in Evanston, Ill., has built two mixed-use garages in recent years, as part of a plan to move parking to the periphery of campus and free up more interior land for green space. A 1,125-space garage at the north end of campus houses an entrepreneurship incubator known as the Garage, as well as a speech and hearing clinic open to the community.”

Alan K. Cubbage, Northwestern’s vice president for university relations, comments: “We believe that it doesn’t really make sense to have space that is just for cars. You want to use the space in a thoughtful way.”

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Food For Thought: Campus Cuisine Updated

The Wall Street Journal: “College students across the U.S. are making some precise demands of school chefs and dining halls. For a generation animated by a desire to make a difference and raised to believe personal wellness is paramount, a meaningful academic experience begins with minding what you eat.”

“That’s inspired the University of Houston to spend $6,500 to build two hydroponic grow towers, vertical gardens that use nutrient-rich waters to cultivate cilantro and oregano indoors, without soil. The University of California, Los Angeles has installed aeroponic grow towers that grow plants with just mist. Thyme, butter lettuce and microgreens are flourishing in the breeze on the roof of UCLA’s Bruin Plate dining hall.”

“When Virginia Tech students demanded more free-trade coffee in 2008, dining-services head Ted Faulkner booked a trip to Nicaragua, where he helped pick beans at an organic, bird-friendly coffee estate that now supplies the school. A churrascaria, a gelateria and a sushi bar are among Virginia Tech’s other campus dining options.”

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UK Universities Top Global Rankings

The Wall Street Journal: “Oxford and Cambridge, the intellectual one-two punch of the U.K., took the first and second spots in the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings. Their showing marked the first year schools outside the U.S. seized the two top positions in the 14-year history of the list. The U.S., led by California Institute of Technology and Stanford University, took seven of the top 11 spots.”

“Peking University and Tsinghua University topped Chinese schools, ranking 27th and 30th, respectively. That placed them ahead of the Georgia Institute of Technology (No. 33), Brown University (No. 51) and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (No. 56) … The World University Ranking awards about a third of its score to the research generated by a university’s scholars, in part by culling 62 million citations and 12.4 million research publications. Research funding also plays a role.”

“The ascendance of Oxford and Cambridge comes after years of increases in research revenue—but much of that money, as well as the researchers who use it, come from the European Union. Britain’s decision to withdraw from the EU has thrown that revenue source into question … The rise of Chinese universities also comes as the Chinese Communist Party has invested heavily in research universities.”

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