More Women Head to School for M.B.A.s

In just a few weeks, a record number of female students will set foot in the hallowed halls of Harvard Business School and the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School—two top M.B.A. programs that have recently touted a significant increase in the number of women applying. About 39 percent of Harvard's class of 2013 will be female, its highest percentage ever, Deirdre Leopold, managing director of M.B.A. admissions and financial aid, tells the Wall Street Journal. Meanwhile, women make up 45 percent of the incoming class at Wharton. "We had to do a double-take when we saw it," says Ankur Kumar, deputy director of admissions, in Fortune Magazine. "We couldn't believe our eyes. It was a fantastic moment for us."

The upward trajectory of women in b-school is occurring abroad as well. London Business School announced recently that it will target female enrollment figures of at least 30 percent in its M.B.A. program going forward from this month's intake. The school describes this as an inspirational target, which mirrors a broader campaign by the 30% Club, a lobby group which aims to see women make up 30 percent of British board rooms by 2015.

These numbers are certainly heartening, but what has led to the increase, and what does it mean for women during the M.B.A. program and afterward? In Wharton's case, the school has worked for the past few years to debunk the pervasive myths and stereotypes of women being unqualified and outnumbered, Kumar explains in Forbes. Like many schools, Wharton has ramped up it outreach to potential applicants through campus admissions events featuring female students and alumnae to urge women to consider the professional and personal advancement that comes with an M.B.A. degree.

[See U.S. News's rankings of the best business schools.]

My alma mater, Kellogg School of Management, hosts the Women's Leadership Workshop each year to attract high-potential women who are early in their career and may be in industries where an M.B.A. degree is not part of the traditional career path. Columbia Business School also holds an annual recruiting event for female M.B.A. applicants called Women Connect, which brings prospective students to campus to meet current female students, alumni, and faculty members. Duke University's Fuqua School of Business says it's dedicated to building a diverse learning community that affords each woman the opportunity to reach her highest potential. To do so, it hosts the Duke M.B.A. Weekend for Women, an event that provides a dialogue as to what it means to be a woman balancing her needs in the business world.

Professional organizations such as the Forté Foundation, established in 2001 to provide women with the tools and resources to achieve a successful career in business, have done much to change the landscape of b-school recruiting efforts. Sponsored by the Graduate Management Admission Council and all of the top business schools, events such as the upcoming Forté Forum help women learn how to finance an M.B.A., how to achieve work/life/balance, and how to successfully apply to an M.B.A. program.

[Admissions experts offer advice on how to get in to business school.]

Once admitted, women can and should take advantage of the various targeted clubs, conferences and organizations that are available. These resources provide exceptional leadership, networking and mentoring opportunities, as well as crucial personal and professional support. Women often struggle to balance social and professional relationships and reportedly view their b-school experience less positively than their male counterparts, so creating a learning environment that is supportive of all students will be the key to improving women's academic experience—an issue I touched upon in a previous post examining Harvard's academic gender gap.

All told, I would say that the increase in women interested in the M.B.A. is great for business and terrific for society as a whole. The subject does have some thorns, though, which I'll take a look at in next week's post.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

Technologies May Curb Online Cheating

Nearly three quarters of American public high schools assess students online, but teachers have long had to trust that students were doing their own work. New technology from researchers at Pace University may help solve that problem.

According to a 2008 study by the National Center for Education Statistics, 71 percent of high schools give at least some online assessments to students. As virtual education becomes more popular, entrepreneurs and researchers are trying to help teachers identify whether students are cheating on online tests.

[Learn which universities are offering online high school degrees.]

Each person using a computer has subtle typing differences, according to researcher Charles Tappert, head of the Pace project. By measuring how long a typist presses individual keys, a program is able to create a "digital fingerprint" that can identify who is typing.

This technology isn't particularly new; companies such as Digital Proctor already offer keystroke pattern recognition software, and Kryterion offers a toolkit that combines keystroke recognition with webcam technology to identify test takers. But neither system can prevent students from being fed answers by a parent, talking with classmates on an instant messaging program, or using Web searches to do research.

[Read about sites plagiarists use.]

"If I'm keying in answers but a friend is sitting next to me giving me answers, the [current] systems will verify it's me," Tappert says. "But I'm still cheating."

He hopes that by analyzing a student's stylometry (syntax and vocabulary) combined with keystroke recognition, he can create a more secure system that will scale back cheating. His system compares a student's writing style on an exam with a baseline sample, which makes it more difficult for students to cheat, he says.

Pace's research is still ongoing, and Tappert expects to expand the tests to more classrooms this fall.

But some academic integrity experts wonder if these technologies are worth the effort. Teddi Fishman, director of Clemson University's Center for Academic Integrity says "mechanical" solutions that police cheating aren't the answer.

"I discourage people from trying to do this in a distance-set environment," she says. "Every time we figure out a mechanical means to prevent cheating, students find a way to get around it. They're often more motivated than we are."

She says that while these "adversarial" anti-cheating programs might prevent a student from cheating once, it doesn't teach students why cheating is wrong. "Our time would be better spent trying to help students develop their skills to make well-reasoned, ethical decisions," Fishman, a former police officer, says. "I know that I want my role in the university to be one [in which] I educate rather than police."

[Learn the importance of promoting academic integrity.]

Shaun Sims, president and founder of Digital Proctor, says his software is meant to be an aid to teachers' natural inclinations. "A lot of times, a teacher will see a student's assignment and say, 'I know this student; I know the personality of their writing. This isn't their work,'" he says.

By providing teachers with extra data such as keystroke patterns, the number of instances of pasting text, and a comparison of students' work versus their classmates, Sims says teachers can be sure. "We become hunch validators," he says.

See how your school stacks up in our rankings of Best High Schools. Have something of interest to share? Send your news to us at highschoolnotes@usnews.com.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

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Answering More Questions About U.S. News&39s Online Education Surveys

As noted previously in this blog, U.S. News is in the midst of collecting data for a revamped online education section. As promised in last week's entry, below are answers to more commonly asked questions about completing U.S. News's online degree surveys:

Q: My school is unable to provide statistical data for some of the survey questions. Should it still submit surveys?

A: Yes. We recognize that most schools will not complete every cell in every question, especially this first year. The methodology for calculating rankings will depend on the robustness of data collected, meaning that the questions that schools respond to most frequently are the ones most likely to be used as ranking variables. A school that does not provide enough data to be ranked at all will still have a profile of its online degree program included in U.S. News's free searchable directory.

Q: If my school's online bachelor's degree program enrolls mostly degree completion students, should it still complete the survey?

A: Yes. We know that the majority of online bachelor's degree programs are primarily providing continuing education.

Q: My school operates a "blended" program that integrates online and face-to-face students. Should I still complete the survey?

A: Yes. Prospective students are sometimes in the market for both blended and fully online programs and may want to review both types of programs together.

Q: My blended program does not distinguish online and face-to-face students on an individual student level. How can it report data just on online students?

A: Provide honest estimates. For example, in some cases a truly blended program may infer that some measures of central tendency (e.g. mean, median, mode) for its entire student body are applicable to its subset of online students. In contrast, responses to questions asking for counts—such as total online student enrollment or total admitted online applicants—must be estimated by some other approach, possibly by using course registration data to determine what percentage of students are taking courses online, then multiplying this percentage by total enrollment.

Q: What is online faculty?

A: This is all instructors who taught one online course in the program during the specified time. If a blended program does not distinguish faculty members as being online or face-to-face on an individual level, it should provide best estimates of its total online faculty counts. For example, this could be done by multiplying the total number of all program faculty by the percentage of credit-granting classes in the program that are online accessible.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

Experts Consider Impact of Changes to Federal Loans on Student Debt

With an increasing number of graduates unable to repay their educational loans and total educational debt expected to top $1 trillion this year, commentary is being proffered from all sides on how to address this growing national problem.

Some (such as this commentator) are calling for a reduction in the federal student loan program to decrease the nation's educational debt. The reasoning: with fewer low-interest loans available from the federal government, students would have to choose lower-cost alternatives and would be in a better position in the long term. And, they argue, this reduction in available federal loans may also cause colleges to reduce their costs of attendance.

[Take a look at your federal loan options.]

Professor Jonathan D. Glater, however, has taken a different approach. In an article published earlier this year in the New York University Law Journal of Legislation and Public Policy, Glater concludes that Congress should actually allow college students to borrow more in federal loans if it aims to promote access to higher education, protect students from unnecessary debt with harsher terms, and enhance the effectiveness of repayment assistance programs intended to enable pursuit of public interest careers. (He also notes that a 2001 study does not support the assertion that colleges raise prices in response to greater availability of funds.)

Currently, the maximum amounts undergraduate students are permitted to borrow in federal loans are not always enough to cover the costs of a college education. Dependent undergraduate students may borrow at most $31,000 over the course of four years, while the costs to attend some private colleges and universities exceed $50,000 per year. Graduate students have access to the Grad PLUS loan, which can often cover the difference and is eligible for federal relief and assistance programs, but there is no similar loan for undergraduate students.

[Get more tips about paying for college.]

According to Glater, the need to fill this gap between federal loan amounts and the total cost of education has led to the rapid growth of private lending. He believes students and families care less about the source of loans and more about the amount they can borrow and the terms of repayment, so if the federal government reduces available funds private lenders will continue to step in and fill the gap.

Since these private loans are extremely difficult to discharge in bankruptcy and are not eligible for federal forgiveness or repayment programs, reliance on private debt means that more borrowers must make high monthly loan payments for longer periods of time, are more likely to have to default on their loans and are unable to pursue career ambitions that may offer lower income. A few borrowers, as the Huffington Post recently reported, make drastic life choices in order to make their loan payments.

On the other hand, if federal loans could cover the full cost of college, then income-based and public service repayment assistance and forgiveness programs would be more likely to have the intended effect of reducing the influence that high educational debt has on career and life choices.

[When choosing a school, consider student loan debt.]

Glater isn't the only one making these arguments. The American Bar Association recently passed a resolution calling for the availability of assistance and relief programs for all types of debt. And in a recent post, we urged readers to consider the benefits of federal student loans, pointing out that federal loans include a choice of affordable repayment plans such as Income-Based Repayment and are eligible for a wide variety of federal assistance and forgiveness programs, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness.

What do you think? If you knew all your loans were eligible for Income-Based Repayment and various forgiveness programs, would you make different career and life choices?

To learn how repayment assistance and forgiveness programs work, register for our free Wednesday, August 24, webinar: Plan Before You Borrow: What You Should Know About Educational Loans BEFORE You Go to Graduate School. You can also E-mail questions to debtrelief@equaljusticeworks.org and keep up to date by subscribing to our Twitter feed and following us on Facebook.

Radhika Singh Miller is a program manager at Equal Justice Works focusing on educational debt relief initiatives. An expert on educational debt relief, Miller served on the Student Loans Team in the Negotiated Rulemaking for the College Cost Reduction and Access Act (CCRAA) in 2008 and has extensive knowledge of this landmark legislation. She conducts educational webinars and presentations; advises schools and organizations; and advocates for legislation and policy. Prior to joining Equal Justice Works, Miller was a staff attorney at the Partnership for Civil Justice in Washington. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School Los Angeles.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

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How Can Parents Help With College Searches and Applications

More often than not, students aren't the only ones experiencing the college admissions process. Their parents are reminding them of important dates, researching schools, and in some cases, recounting their experiences when they were in the same position. This week, we received a question from Vanessa K. in Boise, Idaho, whose daughter is right in the middle of her applications:

Q: How can parents help their students with the college search and application process?

A: Be a well-informed guide.
James Montoya, vice president of higher education, The College Board

Parents who understand that they are not the ones applying for college admission are in the best position to guide their daughters and sons through a complex process. Open and honest conversations about college possibilities, especially any financial limitations or geographic restrictions, are best had early in the process. Parents shouldn't hesitate to go to the College Board Web site—www.collegeboard.org—for extremely helpful (and free) information on the college planning process and financing a college education. Such information will be helpful to those important "college" conversations around the dinner table.

[See U.S. News's Applying to College guide.]

A: Parents should be the biggest cheerleaders, but from the sidelines.
Katherine Cohen, founder and CEO, IvyWise and ApplyWise.com

Parents naturally want to be involved in the college admissions process, especially if making a financial commitment. However, parents, "we" are not applying to college. Listen to your child. This is the most important thing: listening to what he/she wants from a college experience, instead of projecting your own aspirations.

DO: get to know the guidance counselor; help create a college checklist with deadlines; accompany your child on college visits, while taking a back seat and allowing him/her to ask questions; proofread applications; and encourage your child to do his/her personal best throughout.

DON'T: write the essays and over-edit applications. Your child's voice must shine through. Also, don't focus on one school or get defeated when your child does not get in, as it adds unnecessary stress. If your child creates a balanced college list, he/she will get into a "good fit" college where she/he will be successful and happy.

[See which questions to ask while on a college visit.]

A: Offer more support, less influence…
Michele Hernandez, president and founder, HernandezCollegeConsulting.com and ApplicationBootCamp.com

Parents can lend a hand with bookkeeping/admin tasks to free up some of their student's time but should never attempt to write or add parental editing to their essays. The essays must sound authentic and be written in the voice of the student. That being said, parents can certainly lend a hand by organizing a college visit schedule, making a spreadsheet with interviews, tour and info sessions, making hard copy and electronic folders with essays for every college on the student's list so nothing falls through the cracks. Using a program like Excel is helpful since you can easily add deadlines, different policies, special info, and supplemental essay questions. Finally, parents can try to keep the stress level down by being realistic about college choices and not transferring their own expectations onto their children. The most important thing is to support your child's question for a school that is a good fit.

[Use the U.S. News College Compass to find a school that's a good fit.]

A: Applying to college: use a balanced approach to parental involvement.
Steve Loflin, founder and CEO, National Society of Collegiate Scholars

The college search and application process is an exciting and life-shaping experience that can sometimes be challenging for both students and parents. Students will likely need to submit financial documents when applying to college, for scholarships or financial aid, and parents can help make this a seamless process by having this information organized and prepared when the student is ready to submit his or her application. Additionally, parents can stay involved by occasionally asking for updates and checking in on application deadlines without excessive nagging. It's important to have a balance that allows the parent to stay involved while also maintaining enough distance to allow the student to choose the college that's right for him or her.

[Learn more about paying for college.]

Visit the Unigo Expert Network for 30 more experts discussing the best ways for parents to work with their students, and to have your own questions answered.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

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Get a Jump Start on Money for College

While most scholarship deadlines are still several months away, there are a few with deadlines just around the corner that you definitely don't want to miss out on.

Plus, by starting your scholarship search early, you may be able to breathe a sigh of relief if you win scholarship awards now—before your friends have even started the search process.

From a scholarship that only requires you to take a quiz on sprinkler safety, to an essay contest centered on an Ayn Rand book, you're sure to find a worthwhile scholarship or two in the list below. A handful of these scholarships have lengthy application processes along with their early deadlines, so if you're thinking of applying, get started right away!

[Learn more about college scholarships.]

These scholarship applications are due in August:

American Fire Sprinkler Association Second Chance Scholarship Contest: The application process for this scholarship couldn't be easier. All you have to do is read an essay on fire sprinkler safety, fill out the registration form, and then take a short quiz on what you've read. You can even print out the essay and use it as a reference for the quiz. After successfully completing the quiz, you'll be eligible to win one of five $5,000 scholarships. Deadline: Aug. 24, 2011.

Coca-Cola All-State Community College Academic Team Program: Not all scholarships are reserved for those who are following the traditional four-year college track of earning a degree. If you're currently enrolled in a community college, you have 48 college credits under your belt, and you've achieved a GPA of at least 3.5, this scholarship is right up your alley. Awards range from $1,000 to $2,000 and there are 350 winners chosen every year. Deadline: Aug. 31, 2011.

I Don't Want to Pay for College Scholarship: Cappex.com, a free scholarship search engine open to high school, college, and graduate students, offers several scholarships that couldn't be easier to apply for—including the "I Don't Want to Pay for College Scholarship." Fill out a profile on the site, and you'll have access to all sorts of scholarship information. This $1,000 scholarship is open to anyone with a high school diploma and is awarded multiple times per year, so if you miss this deadline, you can always apply the next time around.

[Read about 5 reasons why scholarships are essential.]

These scholarship applications are due in September:

Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest: Here's your chance to win a whopping $10,000 toward your college education, and there's no application involved! All you have to do is read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, then choose one of three essay questions to answer for a chance to win some cash. Applicants are judged on both style and content; the contest is open to high school seniors, undergraduate students and grad students, and 83 people will receive awards ranging from $50 to $10,000. Deadline: Sept. 17, 2011.

A GPA Isn't Everything Scholarship: Here's another awesome scholarship from Cappex.com. This scholarship is awarded to students not for getting straight As, but for having a well-rounded student profile—think volunteer work and extracurricular activities. This $1,000 scholarship is awarded to one student every few months, so if you don't win this time, you can always try again next time. Deadline: Sept. 30, 2011.

QuestBridge National College Match Program: Every year, QuestBridge helps exceptional low-income high school seniors gain full-ride admission to some of the nation's most selective colleges. Most finalists have come from households earning less than $60,000 a year, and more than 75 percent are in the top 5 percent of their high school class. If you match this description, we highly recommend you apply. Last year, QuestBridge's partner colleges offered admission to 1,000 outstanding low-income students. Deadline: Sept. 30, 2011.

Xerox Technical Minority Scholarship: Xerox's Technical Minority Scholarships of $1,000 to $10,000 are awarded to undergraduate or graduate students of African American, Asian, Pacific Island, Native American, Native Alaskan, or Hispanic descent who are studying chemistry, information management, computing and software systems, material science, printing management science, laser optics, physics, or any of the engineering fields (chemical, computer, electrical, imaging, manufacturing, mechanical, optical, or software). Apply and you could be one of the hundreds of students who receive scholarships from Xerox every year. Deadline: Sept. 30, 2011.

[See 8 tips for building your own scholarship.]

Get started now if you want to take advantage of these scholarships with August and September deadlines. And if it's too tight of a turnaround for you, there's always October: Scholarship applications due in October include the Siemens Foundation Competition, the Joe Foss Institute Veterans Day Contest, the Future Engineers Scholarship Program, the Gates Cambridge Scholarships, and the Education Matters Scholarship.

Michelle Showalter joined Scholarship America in 2007 and is an alumna of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.


Originally Published On: www.usnews.com - Original Article Here

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