Part of the Bay Area News Group

Archive for the 'College Apps & Angst' Category

PACKING for the Dorms

Target lamp Fellow blogger Ann Tatko did a round-up on the latest trends in dorm decor recently for the Times and Trib’s home section with helpful tips on what to bring, where to get it and how to jazz up that dreary little cell. We particularly loved Ann’s 6-step plan to find more storage within limited quarters – more on that in a moment!

But first, some caveats: If you’re moving your little darling into the dorms this fall, bear in mind that everything touted in fancy dorm catalogs and web sites is based on national averages that may not reflect the reality of your kid’s college. The average dorm room may be 12×19, but the five dorm rooms we’ve moved kids – ours and their friends – into were closer to 10×10. Also, it’s a rare college that lets you move furniture out of a dorm room – they don’t have anywhere to put it – or hammer or screw anything into the walls. Check with your specific residence hall before investing hundreds of dollars in futons, easy chairs, heavy hanging units or elaborate free-standing loft beds!

And now to Ann’s handy list of storage-finders!
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 22nd, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

FORBES Flunks College Ratings Game

Muhlenberg College Tour (Photo by Max Orenstein, MCT Direct) We’ve always had issues with the US News and World Report’s college rankings. We don’t agree with its criteria and we blame its use of easily manipulated “exclusivity” ratios for fueling today’s insanely competitive admissions climate. Now, we’ve got a new focus for our college rankings wrath: Forbes Magazine.

Seems Forbes wanted a piece of that US New and World Report sizzle, so they’ve issued a list of their own, “based on the quality of the education (colleges) provide, and how much their students achieve.” Yeah, right. Guess what they used for their uber-scientific methodology? Some 25 percent of the score was based on RateMyProfessors.com commentary. Now, we’re as big a fan of RateMyProf as anybody. We find the student critiques as helpful as TripAdvisor’s hotel reviews – it’s always useful to get input from people who’ve actually experienced something, whether it’s a swanky suite or a tedious lecture. But you take TripAdvisor’s reviews with a grain of salt, right? They’re subjective – one person’s “5″ rating is another’s “3,” you can “vote” over and over and over, there are no controls over who is posting, and they skew toward extremes. Plus, RateMyProfessors lets you rate an instructor’s hotness too.

Another 25 percent of the Forbes score hails from another odd statistic:
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 15th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | 2 Comments »

THOREAU Writes Home from the Dorm

Famous novelists’ letters home from college? CollegeHumor.com imagines them all, the missive from Henry David Thoreau, who keeps to his room lest a “frisbee to the cranium … shatter his intense connection to the earth and the sky”, the whimsical note from Lewis Carroll (“School is simply a frilling jolly time!”) and the briefest of memos from Ernest Hemingway. Oh yeah. Enjoy.

Posted on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

COLLEGE BOARD Launching 8th Grade Exam

sat The College Board, the multi-gazillionaires who already rake in the big bucks on the SAT, PSAT and assorted other high stakes exams, is set to launch an eighth grade college assessment exam in 2010. The reasoning, says Wayne Camara, a College Board exec, is that college-bound kids need to take rigorous high school courses from the get-go, and how else will they know? “By the time they’re taking the PSAT,” he told the LA Times, “it’s much too late to determine whether they should be taking algebra in the eighth grade, biology, and other important gatekeeper classes needed for college.”

Yeah, right, say critics. The College Board is pushing “admissions frenzy” into junior high because their rivals launched an 8th grade exam first. Nearly a million middle schoolers took ACT’s Explore exam in 2005-06. And now the SAT makers are “locked in a death match” with ACT, says Paul Kanarek, who heads up SoCal’s Princeton Review test prep service.

We’d like to weigh in with a couple of other thoughts. First, there are already plenty of crazed families who try to get a leg up on the competition by subjecting their children to the PSAT in middle school. This is merely a re-branding, a golden opportunity to guilt parents into paying not just for the PSAT and SAT — and the specialized prep courses that accompany each — but a whole new set of pre-PSATs and test prep services. And you know what comes next, right? The PPPPPPPPSAT, the essential college assessment exam for kindergartners.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Friday, August 8th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst, Kids & Tweens | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: College Apps, Dates & Bullies

Graduation (Photo by Sara Haj-Hassan, Stock.Xchng) “Top 10 Secrets of the College Admissions Process”
June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Andover College Prep office, 5050 El Camino Real, Los Altos
Speaker: Nathan Allen, former college admissions consultant and executive director of the Princeton Review. (Free, but space is limited. Call 650-938-7737 for reservations.)

“College Applicants’ Biggest Mistakes”
June 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Andover College Prep office, 5050 El Camino Real, Los Altos
Speaker: Nathan Allen, former college admissions consultant and executive director of the Princeton Review. (Free, but space is limited. Call 650-938-7737 for reservations.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 16th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst, Parenting Issues | No Comments »

PARENT TALKS: New Dads, Anxious Grads & More

Muhlenberg College Tour (Photo by Max Orenstein, MCT Direct) “Childhood Matters”
June 15 at 9 a.m. on 98.1 KISS-FM and 105.1 KOCN-FM
Childhood Matters’ Rona Renner and panelists talk about the emotional needs of new fathers .

“Top 10 Secrets of the College Admissions Process”
June 18 at 7:30 p.m. at the Andover College Prep office, 5050 El Camino Real, Los Altos
Speaker: Nathan Allen, former college admissions consultant and executive director of the Princeton Review. (Free, but space is limited. Call 650-938-7737 for reservations.)

“College Applicants’ Biggest Mistakes”
June 19 at 7:30 p.m. at the Andover College Prep office, 5050 El Camino Real, Los Altos
Speaker: Nathan Allen, former college admissions consultant and executive director of the Princeton Review. (Free, but space is limited. Call 650-938-7737 for reservations.)
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 9th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst, Parenting Issues | No Comments »

P.S. My Roommate’s a Guy

College campusIt wasn’t that long ago that house mothers vetted male visitors in the “beau room” of sororities and all-female residence halls. Then came coed dorms, coed floors and even coed restrooms, where horrified parents who stopped to powder their noses on dormitory move-in day discovered urinals next to the tampon dispensers. How much further, they wondered, could this go? Welcome to the 21st century, where the newest trend in college living is coed dorms — not by floor, by room.

We delve into this new college housing trend – and a trend it is, with six Ivy League colleges, two UCs, and Stanford all signing on to the housing option — in this morning’s Times. On the one hand, it seems like the natural outgrowth of a culture where male and female roommates in off-campus housing don’t even merit a raised eyebrow. On the other? Hmmm. Click “comments” and share your thoughts.

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

GAP YEAR: Taking a Break Before College

Gap Year (illus. by Chuck Todd, Contra Costa Times)
Not everyone goes off to the Big U after high school graduation. Some work, others join the military and an increasing number — more than a quarter-million, worldwide — are emulating the Brits by taking a “gap year” to travel or do community service, here or abroad. They’re studying sharks off the Australian coast, building schools in Mexico and learning Punjabi or Italian. They’re “choosing to take a breather,” says Campolindo High college counselor Gwenly Carrel, “instead of just stepping onto the treadmill. They’re getting an experience they can take to the school they ultimately go to.”

In a recent Times story, we explored both the topic and colleges’ reactions to it — now we’ve got a student perspective from young filmmaker Emma Thatcher, who graduated from Concord’s Carondelet High last week. If Emma’s name sounds familiar, it should. Her documentary about Rubik’s Cube mania was showcased at South by Southwest and the Tribeca Film Festival last year — not in the student category, but among the pros. And Emma longs to take a gap year before she heads off to NYU. Read on for Emma’s take, then weigh in with your thoughts. Would you send your child off on a gap year? Did you take one? Or do you fantasize about taking a midlife gap year? Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Monday, June 2nd, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »

FRATERNITY DRUG BUST at San Diego State

SDSU Drug Bust (Photo by Associated Press, pub. Contra Costa Times)
LATEST NEWS: It was San Diego State’s administration and campus police who called in the DEA for an investigation that quickly focused on Fraternity Row and Theta Chi, in particular, where six members were running a slick drug business that included recruiting younger members as “apprentices” to learn the operation. Lovely. Suppose they learned that in business class? Meanwhile, parents and students protested yesterday on campus that the university should be focusing its efforts on drug abuse treatment instead of tough enforcement. Ahem. Because drug dealers are just misunderstood?
Theta Chi, SDSU

Posted Wednesday: It has not been a good week for college kids – or the grown-ups who love them. First came horrifying news of an alcohol-fueled brawl in a UC Berkeley sorority parking lot and the stabbing death of a promising student, who would have graduated with honors later this month.

Then, came news of a massive drug bust at San Diego State, where more than 100 people – including 75 students – were arrested yesterday. SDSU’s Theta Chi (that’s their emblem to your left) and five other fraternities have been suspended, pending investigation of claims that members were openly dealing drugs in their frat houses and on campus. The arrested students were suspended, banned from final exams, and evicted from campus housing. Among them: one potential felon-to-be who would have graduated this month with a degree in criminal justice, and another who would have received his master’s degree in … wait for it … homeland security.
Read the rest of this entry »

Posted on Thursday, May 8th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | 2 Comments »

COED Dorm Rooms?

Back when our moms were in college, dorms were single sex and gentleman callers had to wait in the “beau room,” under a house mother’s watchful eye, till their dates were ready. Now, an increasing number of colleges – Penn State, Wesleyan, Brown, UC Riverside and Oberlin – are offering not just coed floors but coed rooms. It’s not about hanky panky, students say, although when that happens, it’s called “roomcest.” Idea is, the coed option allows best friends to room together even if they’re different sexes.

OK, your thoughts? Punch a button or click “comments” and weigh in.

Posted on Monday, May 5th, 2008
Under: College Apps & Angst | No Comments »