42: Tuition-Free School in Silicon Valley

Business Insider: A radical French technology school funded by $100 million from billionaire entrepreneur Xavier Niel is coming to Silicon Valley, and has plans to grow to 10,000 students in the next five years. The tuition-free college alternative is primarily focused on teaching coding and entrepreneurial thinking, and is called “42,” a nod to the book “Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy,” where 42 is the answer to “life, the universe and everything.”

“42 doesn’t require a high-school diploma or give a traditional certificate at the end. The students, ages 18 to 30, get accepted into 42 through a logic-focused entrance exam (no coding experience is required) … There are no teachers. Students work in groups of two to five on computer programming challenges … There is no tuition. Niel has provided $100 million to launch the new nonprofit school in the US.”

“Since its launch in France, 42 has received more than 200,000 applications, and taught over 2,500 students. “

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Summertime Advice: Preparing To Leave The Nest

The Washington Post: “Here are a few tips on how to slow down the emotional merry-go-round” of the summer before your child leaves for college: “Try to schedule some fun activities that the whole family can enjoy … one-on-one time with your child doing something they love … Allow your children plenty of time to be with friends … They may not want to share their fears with you, but will probably be comfortable commiserating with their compatriots who are starting off on their own adventures.”

“Shop till you drop — together … one of the best bonding experiences of the summer will be shopping with your child for the dorm. Listen to your children and take in their preferences, without censure … Sit down with your children and plan the move-in day together so everyone knows what to expect. Cover every detail, including your exit time.”

“When that long awaited and dreaded day finally arrives on your calendar, you’ll want to be on your A-game — prepared, rested and ready to go with the flow. Stay organized, have snacks and bring tissues. Resolve to hold it together so you can be there for your kid. One more tip: Leave the dorm-room door open when unpacking so he can meet his neighbors.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Shady Grove: The Future of Higher Ed?

The Washington Post: The Universities at Shady Grove “is a program unlike any other, with nine state universities converging at the Rockville, Md., campus, part of an effort that began 16 years ago to reduce college costs, produce an educated workforce and encourage college completion among populations that traditionally struggle to get their ­degrees.”

Shady Grove offers a way for community college students to transfer into undergraduate programs at nine of the 12 schools in the University System of Maryland, including the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Bowie State, Towson and the state flagship in College Park … Each school has its own office on campus and individual banners raised high above the quad … All classes are held in Rockville and taught by professors from the partner schools, so a student seeking a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Maryland Baltimore County can earn the degree without ever setting foot in ­Catonsville.”

“Students pay the tuition their home school charges, but they spend less on fees tied to facilities, parking and athletics. By spending two years at Montgomery College before heading to Shady Grove, students can save an average of $8,000 on tuition and fees … Students must get accepted to one of the partner schools, but once they’re in, they have a better chance of graduating through Shady Grove than if they had transferred directly to the school. The program has a 75 percent graduation rate for transfer students, the highest in Maryland’s university system and higher than the 58 percent national average.”

“It’s a very innovative model,” said Barmak Nassirian, director of federal relations and policy analysis for the American Association of State Colleges and Universities. “You have a public institution responding to market conditions in a way that expands access.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Top 10 Tips for Your Time at College

Vox: Christopher Blattman, an associate professor at Columbia University, offers 10 “suggestions to help make the most of college.” Here are a few of his ideas:

“Don’t wait until you finish law or medical school to discover you hate working in your specialty. Try early and often. Test out different careers in the summer — researcher, journalist, medical assistant, nonprofit worker, congressional aide, and so on … For anyone interested in law, public policy, business, economics, medicine — or really any profession — I suggest at least two semesters of statistics, if not more. Data is a bigger and bigger part of the work in these fields, and statistics is the language you need to learn to understand it.”

“In my experience, you learn more from great teachers than from great syllabuses … pick eight or nine classes based on the syllabus, go to them all, and then keep the four or five classes with the most engaging professors … Languages are hugely important. And you should learn another (or many others) besides English. But I think they’re better learned in immersion, during your summers or before and after college … Take writing seriously. You will use it no matter your career.”

“Use a summer or a school year to live abroad, ideally a place completely different from home, where you’ll come to know local people (and not just the expatriate community) … An independent research project can be the perfect capstone to your college years. Sadly, I often see theses that weren’t worth the students’ investment of time and energy. Some people’s time would be better spent acquiring technical skills.”

“At the end of each year of college, you should look back at your thoughts and opinions 12 months before and find them quaint. If not, you probably didn’t read or explore or work hard enough.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

‘Money’ Is Frequent Topic of College Essays

The New York Times: “For more students than you might think, writing about money is how they seek to stand out. Of the 4,809 complete personal statements in the database at AdmitSee, a service that allows people to make money by renting access to their own essays and applications, 5 percent are about overcoming financial obstacles. A further 20 percent used words like ‘tuition,’ ‘loan’ and ‘income’ in essays about career aspirations, diversity and family background.”

Each year, Ron Lieber of The Times issues “an open call for college applicants to send in essays about money, work, social class and related issues that they’ve submitted to undergraduate admissions offices.” Of the 231 essays received, the newspaper published the four rated as the best. You can read them here.

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

The Convergence of Public & Private Schools

Chronicle of Higher Education: “Taken together, privatizing public institutions and publicizing private institutions suggest nothing less than a convergence of these once very different institutions. This convergence has taken a number of forms. For instance, one of the traditional calling cards of a public university has been its affordability. But the decline in state funding has forced public universities to lean far more heavily on tuition revenue.”

“Another of the once-distinctive traits of public research universities is accessibility, or their capacity to open their doors to a broad and diverse group of students. Here, too, budget cuts have taken a serious toll … At the same time, private research universities have been in the vanguard of accessibility in a new domain — online mass education.”

“Finally, convergence has been apparent in the civic-mindedness of private universities. Public universities have long been regarded as anchored in their local or regional communities, while private universities have been seen as more standoffish. Yet, in recent years, there has been a sea change among private research universities in their connectedness to their surrounding communities … the leaders of a number of private universities are now harnessing their resources to invest in community development, job training, local schools, and other opportunities.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

‘Grit’ Can Compensate for Low SATs

The Wall Street Journal: “Most people would think of John Irving as a gifted wordsmith … But Mr. Irving has severe dyslexia, was a C-minus English student in high school and scored 475 out of 800 on the SAT verbal test. How, then, did he have such a remarkably successful career as a writer? Angela Duckworth (author of Grit) argues that the answer is ‘grit,’ which she defines as a combination of passion and perseverance in the pursuit of a long-term goal.”

“Though verbal fluency did not come easily to (John Irving) as a young man, what he lacked in aptitude he made up for in effort. In school, if his peers allotted one hour to an assignment, he devoted two or three. As a writer, he works very slowly, constantly revising drafts of his novels. ‘In doing something over and over again,’ he has said, ‘something that was never natural becomes almost second nature’.”

“It’s a similar story among the other groups that Ms. Duckworth writes about … including spelling-bee champions and sales associates: Grit predicts their success more robustly than innate ability. And there is no positive correlation between ability and grit. A study of Ivy League undergraduates even showed that the smarter the students were, as measured by SAT scores, the less gritty they were … To be gritty, an individual doesn’t need to have an obsessive infatuation with a goal. Rather, he needs to show ‘consistency over time. The grittiest people have developed long-term goals and are constantly working toward them. ‘Enthusiasm is common,’ she writes. ‘Endurance is rare’.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

More on Gap Years: Keys to Success

Slate: “A gap year can provide a respite from academic pressures, provide real-world perspective, and help students clarify their goals so that when they do arrive on campus, they’re more focused and better positioned for success. It also helps them enter college as slightly more mature adults—for example, students who take a gap year seem to drink less when they get to college.”

“While the surveys and observational studies suggest gap years make a student more prepared for college, it’s important to note that taking such a break is simply more common among students who in many ways are already positioned for success. Students who have all the qualifications that would predispose them to excel in college then self-select again, possibly giving themselves another leg up (even this self-selection might be another indication of higher maturity, and therefore increased likelihood of success).”

“If you do take one, experts agree that having a plan both for the time off and for enrolling in college when the gap year ends is key for success.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Gap Year: Should You Be Like Malia?

The Atlantic: “When the Obamas announced Sunday that their eldest daughter, Malia, will attend Harvard University, they also revealed that she will take part in what is becoming an increasingly popular tradition in the United States: the gap year … Harvard in particular encourages this practice, and as a result, between 80 and 110 of their students choose to do so each year.”

“In an article on the university’s website, William Fitzsimmons and Marlyn E. McGrath of Harvard’s admissions department, and Charles Ducey, a lecturer in psychology, assert that a gap year could be an answer to the burnout faced by ultra-ambitious students as they compete to gain entrance into the ‘right’ college followed by the ‘right’ graduate schools, and the ‘right’ sequence of jobs, in order to live in the ‘right’ kinds of communities.”

However: “Students who choose to delay are at considerable risk of not completing a postsecondary credential when compared with their peers who enroll immediately after high school graduation, says a National Center for Education Statistics study … But Joe O’Shea … author of Gap Year,” counters: “The greater the resilience, grit, and tenacity of a student, the more likely they are to complete a degree … taking the time to undertake the gap year that is structured and challenging can help reform a student’s identity and … make it more likely that they’re going to go to college and graduate.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail

Clichés To Avoid In Your College Essay

Quartz: “Of the thousands of gushing essays from eager students that wash across their desks each year, a great number are virtually the same. Per the Universities and College Admissions Service (UCAS) … far too many teenagers’ personal statements begin with ‘hackneyed phrases.’ UCAS looked at submissions from 700,000 students who applied to British schools in the past year and found several opening lines being used again and again, which suggests that the subject matter is often drearily similar, too.”

Among the most frequently repeated phrases:

“From a young age, I have been interested in/fascinated by…”
“I am applying for this course because…”
“Reflecting on my educational experiences…”
“Academically, I have always been…”

“Nelson Mandela can take credit for the eleventh most repeated opening line: ‘Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.’ The quote was used by 148 of the applicants in the study.”

Facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestlinkedinmail