University of Delaware: Students Pitch Toy Ideas

University of Delaware: “Engineering students at the University of Delaware recently pitched their own inventions to representatives from a major toy company. A trio of professionals from Melissa and Doug, a toymaker with revenue of more than $350 million per year, visited UD to evaluate toy prototypes made by mechanical engineering students with help from early childhood education students. Companies like Melissa and Doug employ mechanical engineers because they have foundations in product design, mechanics, dynamics and other skills that are useful when making tiny consumer products.”

“The students made toys that were functional, fun and educational, like the Carpet Circuit, which was designed to teach the basics of circuitry … The team created a mat that can be laid on a classroom floor or hung from a chalkboard. The mat is covered with detachable pieces — held on with Velcro — that illustrate the basics of electronics. For example, you can connect a battery-shaped piece to a lightbulb-shaped piece using a rope that represents a wire.”

“Another toy, the Farmyard Friends Puzzle, a 12-piece 3D pig-shaped puzzle, was designed to increase literacy by helping children recognize letters while also developing fine motor skills. Each piece of the wooden puzzle features uppercase and lowercase letters. The team is also interested in making a prototype out of 3D printed polymer. The representatives from Melissa and Doug asked the Farmyard Friends Puzzle team a lot of questions — and asked for more information after the showcase.”

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College Tour Tips

US News: “The fall months – September through early December – can be extremely busy for high school juniors and seniors … In light of this scheduling load, it might make sense to zip through college tours. Madeline Dyke, a sophomore at Williams College, urges students to do the opposite.” She suggests “that this can include staying in a dorm overnight and sitting in on several classes … attending one or more class sessions, with permission, can inform your understanding of teaching styles at the college or university Similarly, an ‘overnight visit will give students a good idea of the campus culture and social life,’ she says.”

“Alexis Miller, a junior at Indiana University—Bloomington, toured four schools in the fall, including her current collegiate home. She says that it is critical for current high school students to assess colleges with an eye toward the long term … For example, it may be tempting to select the university that houses freshmen in new dorm rooms with semiprivate bathrooms. However, will this ultimately be more valuable than a strong program in your major of interest or access to robust internship offerings?”

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College Coupons: Some Schools Discount Tuition

The Wall Street Journal: “Escalating the heated battle for students, some private colleges are offering to match public in-state tuition … The discounts aren’t limited to private schools. Public universities in Michigan, South Dakota and Nebraska now let students from other states pay as if they were locals.”

“Some colleges, facing dwindling populations of local high school graduates, are motivated to attract students from across the country. Others are battling the perception they aren’t affordable or looking to boost their academic profiles.”

“The price-match guarantee, a sales tactic borrowed from retailers, illustrates how fiercely competitive higher education has become. It also adds to the confusion over how much college really costs, especially at private schools. Although the pricing campaigns suggest major savings, already generous financial-aid packages mean the net price for many students won’t change by much.”

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Professorial Relationships: Key to College Success

Frank Bruni: “Many students, nervous about a new environment, follow friends from high school or people whose demographic backgrounds match their own into homogeneous cocoons. That can indeed provide solace and support. But it’s also a wasted opportunity — educationally, morally, strategically. Diversity opens you to an array and wealth of ideas, and being comfortable with it is an asset in just about any workplace or career. You can decide to establish that comfort in college.”

“But perhaps the most important relationships to invest in are those with members of the school’s faculty. Most students don’t fully get that. They’re not very good at identifying the professors worth knowing — the ones who aren’t such academic rock stars that they’re inaccessible, the ones with a track record of serious mentoring — and then getting to know them well.”

“The Strada-Gallup Alumni Survey “questioned about 100,000 American college graduates of all ages about their college experiences, looking for connections between how they spent their time in college and how fulfilled they say they are now … The study has not found that attending a private college or a highly selective one foretells greater satisfaction. Instead, the game changers include establishing a deep connection with a mentor, taking on a sustained academic project and playing a significant part in a campus organization. What all of these reflect are engagement and commitment … They’re part of an assertive rather than a passive disposition, and they’re key to professional success.”

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Goucher Announces ‘Major’ Cutbacks

Baltimore Sun: “Math majors at Goucher College will soon be a thing of the past. Gone, too, will be physics majors, music majors and students in a range of subjects the school is eliminating from its offerings as part of a cost-cutting ‘academic revitalization’ … The liberal arts school in Towson joins a growing number of institutions removing majors such as math and physics to save money. Seven Texas universities began eliminating their physics programs in 2010. The University of the District of Columbia cut 17 degree programs, including physics, five years ago.”

“Liberal arts colleges, in particular, have faced closures and cutbacks … Still, the announcement drew outrage from alumni who majored in the subjects to be eliminated … Other majors to be cut include Russian studies, studio art, theater, religion, elementary education and special education. Minors to be phased out include book studies, German and Judaic studies.”

“At least one new major will be offered, in visual and material culture. Freshmen signed up for the 2018-19 academic year will still be able to enroll in the programs to be eliminated, and courses in math, physics and other subjects will still be offered.”

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An Alexa in Every Dorm Room?

C|NET: “A US college is bringing Amazon’s Alexa onto its campus and in force. Saint Louis University will put 2,300 Amazon Echo Dots in dorm rooms by the start of classes later this month, according to the Missouri university’s blog post. The Alexa-enabled devices will answer more than 100 questions regarding the university, such as ‘Where is the registrar’s office?’ and ‘What time does the library open today?'”

“When students come back to school, Alexa can also give information about athletic events, concerts, student events and organizations, service opportunities and more … SLU experimented with Amazon’s Alexa-enabled devices in dorms last spring, and students responded to the concept positively, according to the blog post.”

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‘Sleep Hygiene’ Improves Academic Performance

The New York Times: “College students who fail to adopt more wholesome sleep habits are more likely to find themselves unable to handle their chosen course load and less likely to reach their academic potential, according to a national study of more than 55,000 college students. The study, by Monica E. Hartmann and Dr. J. Roxanne Prichard of the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn., found that for each additional day of sleep disturbance a college student experienced each week, the likelihood of dropping a course rose by 10 percent and grade point average fell by 0.02, even when most other factors known to influence academic success were taken into account.”

Dr. Prichard recommends “practicing good ‘sleep hygiene’ — the behavioral measures that can help to assure a full and restful night’s sleep. She and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine offer these suggestions: Go to bed and get up every day at approximately the same time, weekends included. Create a relaxing bedroom setting and follow a consistent bedtime routine. Avoid foods and drinks that contain caffeine and any medication with stimulant effects at least three hours before bedtime. Don’t stay up late to cram for an exam or finish homework. If your outside activities are too time-consuming, try to cut back on those that are expendable.”

Also: “If possible, keep all electronics — computer, TV, cellphone, etc. — outside the bedroom, and avoid using them just before bedtime. Don’t go to bed hungry, but avoid eating a big meal before bed. Avoid vigorous exercise close to bedtime. Instead, do a calming activity like light reading or meditation.Keep the bedroom quiet, dark and cool for sleeping. If outside light or noise is disturbing, consider using light-blocking shades or a white noise machine.”

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How to Manage Time on ACT Math

US News: “Students taking the ACT have just 60 minutes to complete 60 questions on the math section. It is therefore understandable that test-takers may fail to answer all the questions in the allotted time frame, or that they might feel compelled to unwisely rush through them. For this reason, it is key for students to understand how to successfully manage their time on the ACT’s math section. Here are tips on how you can make the most of your 60 minutes.”

“Identify weak areas via practice tests and determine how much time to allot to each concept. Your most problematic concepts should be identified as you use ACT practice tests. Some online practice tests even categorize questions by concept, so it should be simple to maintain a list of which areas you struggle with most … Predetermine which functions to complete by hand vs. on a calculator. When used wisely, a calculator can save you valuable time on ACT math problems and serve as a quick way to verify your answers. When overused, however, dependence on a calculator can waste time and cause careless mistakes.”

“Develop a system for marking questions. Students should immediately fill in the corresponding answer bubble when they feel confident about their solutions. While some students may wait until the end of a section to fill in their answer sheets, this method can result in more mistakes. However, when students are unsure about a question and would like to return to it later, they should mark that question with a symbol.”

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Finding ‘Fit’ Can Be a Stretch

The New York Times: “Last fall, when John DiGravio arrived as a freshman at Williams College — a private, liberal arts institution in the Berkshires — the conservative from Central Texas expected to be in the political minority. He did not expect to be ridiculed … At first Mr. DiGravio was taken aback. Then he took his outsider status as a calling. A few months earlier he had started a small, conservative club. He decided to make it bigger. He invited a speaker to give an evening talk on ‘What It Means to Be a Conservative.’ Dozens of students showed up.”

“These days, elite students like Mr. DiGravio, who can financially and/or academically choose from an array of colleges, are often obsessed with ‘finding the right fit.’ Surveys like ones conducted by EAB, an education consulting firm in Washington, routinely indicate that for this group, ‘fitting in’ is one of the top factors when deciding where to go to school. But some students, like Mr. DiGravio, 19, are discovering the pros and cons of being an outsider.”

“’If you have support, that shock can be translated into an advantage,’ he said. That was the case for Jonah Shainberg, a fencer from Rye, N.Y., who is Jewish. When he was accepted to Notre Dame, a football-heavy Catholic university in Indiana, his mother balked at the idea … But once he was there, Mr. Shainberg, who graduated this year with a bachelor’s degree in business administration, discovered something about himself he had not totally understood before: His faith was central to his identity. ‘I think Notre Dame made me more Jewish,’ he said.”

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Colleges Boost Transfer Acceptances

The New York Times: “Transfer students — whose challenges have often been ignored in higher education — are feeling a surge in popularity as colleges and universities are increasingly wooing them … last month, the University of California system announced that it has accepted more transfer students than ever before. And in a move that is perhaps more symbolic than substantive, Princeton University has, for its 2018 class, accepted 13 transfer students, the first such students it has enrolled since 1990.”

“Behind the new interest in courting them lies one stark reality: Undergraduate enrollment is declining and has been for six years … That is because of a demographic shift as the number of high school graduates is projected to decline over the next decade, particularly in the Midwest and Northeast. In addition, when the economy improves, the job market becomes more attractive to some high school graduates than college. As if that weren’t enough, fewer international students are enrolling in American colleges, after years of intensive growth, partly because of the nation’s more restrictive views on immigration and partly because English-speaking countries such as Canada and Australia are luring away such students.”

“Transfer students can offer the racial, ethnic and socioeconomic diversity schools are seeking … Transfers also help a college’s overall yield (or how many students who are accepted actually enroll), something that is crucial to administrators. According to a 2017 survey of its members by the National Association for College Admission Counseling, almost two-thirds of transfer applicants who were admitted to a university enrolled, compared with 28 percent of freshmen … Another reason for welcoming transfer students is that many colleges realize that a high portion of the students they turn away are just as good as the ones they accept.”

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