‘Snackbot’ Delivers On-Campus Munchies

The Washington Post: Students at University of the Pacific in Stockton, Calif., can “order snacks and beverages for the first time from a bright-colored roving robot on wheels known as the Snackbot. Its stout body perched atop six small wheels, the electric Snackbot resembles some combination of an Igloo cooler and a Volkswagen Microbus … The electric vehicle includes a camera and headlights and can travel 20 miles on a single charge, even up hills and in the rain, according to PepsiCo, which partnered with robot-making startup Robby Technologies to launch the campus delivery program.”

“Scott Finlow — vice president for innovation and insights at PepsiCo Foodservice — said the autonomous delivery vehicle taps into two trends among college students: a growing desire for healthier food and a desire for ‘on-the-go sustenance,’ the result of students becoming less inclined to eat three fixed meals each day.”

“Instead of interrupting classes, the Snackbot will follow a less invasive delivery model, Finlow said, noting the ‘rolling vending machine’ doesn’t charge a delivery fee. After downloading the Snackbot app and placing an order, students can select from 50 designated delivery locations across the 175-acre campus … Finlow said the machine will sell the same items that are found inside PepsiCo’s Hello Goodness vending machines, including: Smartfood Delight, Baked Lay’s, SunChips, Pure Leaf Tea, Bubly, LIFEWTR and Starbucks Cold Brew.”

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In Tuition: College ‘Pre-Pay’ Gains Popularity

Times Union: “To broaden college access and affordability, lawmakers have in the past pushed for a ‘pre-paid’ plan that would let families lock in tuition for their kids by paying in advance … So far, 11 states have added pre-paid components to their 529 savings plans, according to the Rockefeller Institute study. Those include a plan in Massachusetts that lets savers lock in half of their future tuition: If tuition was, say, $10,000 today, a $5,000 Tuition Certificate would be guaranteed to cover 50 percent of tuition — no matter how much the tuition cost increases in the future.”

“Florida, which has the nation’s largest pre-paid, plan lets parents lock in tuition at a state school from a child’s birth. At the current rate, families that paid $186.28 per month from the child’s arrival would cover tuition and fees for 120 credits, enough to earn a bachelor’s degree.”

“A November report by the Brookings Institution found that parents accumulating six-figure loans for their children are making up a record share of borrowers for college loans … Not everyone is convinced that pre-paid programs are the answer. The New York Public Interest Research Group believes more financial aid is needed. It’s unclear what schools overall think of pre-payment plans … One potential challenge the schools might be contemplating: If costs go up faster than expected, schools might face a financial gap if a lot of families have locked in their tuition rates.”

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Major Dilemma: What to Study at College?

US News: “College majors can be conventional, such as business, or off the beaten path. California State University—Fresno, for example, offers majors in viticulture and enology through its agriculture program, where students learn about grape cultivation, wine production and the industry … The most popular college majors, based on National Center for Education Statistics data on degrees conferred in 2014-15, were ‘in the fields of business (364,000), health professions and related programs (216,000), social sciences and history (167,000), psychology (118,000), biological and biomedical sciences (110,000), engineering (98,000), visual and performing arts (96,000), and education (92,000)’.”

“Another field experts expect to grow is unmanned aerial systems, often referred to as drones … uses for drones include agriculture, real estate, medicine, security and more. Another in-demand major at the University of North Dakota is petroleum engineering, which fetches the highest median earnings among college majors, coming in at $136,000 annually, according to research from the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.”

“To help students narrow down their college major options, some schools offer online quizzes. Loyola University Chicago has a 35 question online quiz to help students learn more about potential majors … Marquette offers a similar quiz, but instead of suggesting individual majors, it groups students into categories such as communicator, entrepreneur, helper, problem-solver and thinker. When a student completes the college major quiz, suggested disciplines are matched to their results.”

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Admissions Tip: Making the Grade with GPA

Jeffrey J. Selingo: “A recent survey of college admissions officers found that nothing carries more weight in deciding which applicants to accept than high school grades. Why? Research shows that a student’s high school grade-point average is consistently a better predictor than test scores of a student’s likely performance in college. It’s not just about whether those students will get good grades in college.”

“Grades matter in college admissions because they are a signal of a student’s effort, grit and determination … But it’s not only applications with all A’s that rise to the top of a pile in an admissions office. Officers look for students who challenge themselves by taking courses outside academic areas where they are strongest. They want applicants who are interested in studying engineering to also have taken a full slate of English courses in high school, even if they struggled at times.”

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Tell The Truth: They Know When You are Lying

The New York Times: “The Common Application asks students to certify that they are telling the truth, but does not try to independently confirm that they are. It is up to colleges to take that extra step … Some universities require students to sign a sworn statement that they are telling the truth, under pain of prosecution. But officials admit they are not seeking to be law enforcement. Mainly, officials and counselors said, they look for inconsistencies. Do standardized test scores and grades match? Do certain words and phrases in an essay jump out as being in the vocabulary of an adult rather than a teenager? Are a student’s extracurricular activities too good to be true?”

“And they depend on high school counselors to give them honest appraisals of students who are applying. ‘If each component is not all pulling in the same direction, it becomes a kind of red flag,’ said Katharine Harrington, vice president of admissions and planning at the University of Southern California.”

“Scott Burke, the undergraduate admissions director at Georgia State University, knew something was amiss when the birth date on an application was far too old to belong to the high school student who supposedly filled it out. With a little sleuthing, his office discovered that it was a parent’s birth date … ‘All of us sitting here looking at those applications came to that thinking that the parent likely filled out the whole application,’ Mr. Burke said. But they could not say for sure whether that was the case, and after contacting the student, they gave the family the benefit of the doubt.”

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Stress Test: How Brain Chemistry Affects Scores

The Washington Post: “Many a student has looked on in dismay as some ‘slacker’ who seems to barely engage in school rocks the SAT, leaving more-studious and high-achieving classmates slack-jawed or teary … As it turns out, some people underperform with more pressure, while others overperform. Depending on how the brains of different students process stress and brain chemicals such as dopamine, it is indeed like taking different tests.”

“… One of the best solutions for worriers is as simple as more practice, with some stress … Moreover, both the SAT and ACT allow kids to know and control their scores. The College Board allows score choice, which nearly all colleges follow, permitting kids to submit just what they want. And many colleges ‘super-score,’ giving kids the benefit of their best score and sweeping aside scores from an off day. Similarly, the ACT even allows students to delete scores permanently from their record, giving students ultimate control of their scores.”

“Another way to decrease a sense of threat is to visit FairTest, the website of the nonprofit National Center for Fair and Open Testing, to see the more than 1,000 colleges that are test-optional.”

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Cannabis Class: UConn Goes to Pot

NBC: “The University of Connecticut is in spring 2019 going to offer a new course on marijuana and what it takes to work in the industry. It is already causing a buzz. ‘We ran out of seats before half of the university could register for the course,’ Professor Gerard Berkowitz, who will be teaching the class, told the Hartford Courant. ‘There’s going to be more students taught in this one class than in my department, all the professors, all the classes they teach, both semesters’.”

“Connecticut is one of 33 states that have legalized medical marijuana. It has also decriminalized marijuana possession to some degree, but the cultivation and distribution of pot are still felonies, according to NORML, an advocacy group for legalization.”

“In Colorado, the University of Denver offered a pilot course in 2017 on the business of marijuana. University of California, Davis, announced in January 2017 that undergraduates could learn how cannabis affects the body in a physiology of cannabis course. The University of Washington offers medicinal cannabis and chronic pain, described as a course for health professionals on the use of medical marijuana to treat pain.”

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Life @ BU: Finals Week at Mugar Library

Boston University: “It’s that time again. Twice a year Mugar Memorial Library is transformed into BU’s ground zero … The Mugar staff, which includes some 200 student-employees, puts out candy and Post-its with words of encouragement. And during the end-of-semester frenzy, the library provides van service from midnight to 6 a.m. for any student living on campus who needs a ride home. There are other stress-busters, too: visits from Rhett the Terrier and from real (What! Rhett isn’t real?) four-legged creatures, among them Ana, a two-year old Great Pyrenees therapy dog, the undisputed star attraction.”

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What to Do When You Are Deferred?

Yale: “Students who apply early will receive one of three decisions in mid-December: Accept, Defer, or Deny … Here’s the deal. A deferral means one thing and one thing only: We need more time to consider your application. It’s important to understand this. You were not deferred because there is something wrong with your application. In fact, it’s quite the opposite: if you were deferred it means your application is strong enough to continue to be seriously considered by the admissions committee.”

“You should not inundate your admissions officer with weekly emails and cards. More often than not it is the required pieces of the applications, like the essays and teacher recommendations that we already have, that make a student stand out for us. For the most part, we have what we need. We’ll get your mid-year grades from your school counselor to see how you’re doing in your senior year classes, and if you want you can send us one letter of update to let us know what you’ve been up to since November 1st.”

“The bottom line is that ‘deferral’ does not mean ‘we need more information’ or ‘something wasn’t good enough.’ It means we see a lot of great potential in you and we just need a little more time to sit in that committee room and mull things over … We appreciate your patience, and you’ll be hearing from us again soon.”

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