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BestSchoolsUSA.com presents here some of the information that has come to our attention regarding High School and Freshmen College Students which may be of use to you when applying to colleges.  

We hope that you find the information presented here has been beneficial to you in your pursuit of admission to one of the Colleges in USA.  Thank you for visiting our web site and for your interest, and we wish you the best. 

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BestSchoolsUSA.com                June 1, 1999.    


What's  New?  


New SAT Scores Create Many Skeptics         April 24, 2005     

In March of 2005, around 300,000 students across the country for the first time took the new SAT, which is 45 minutes longer than the previous three-hour version and includes an essay and a math section covering some concepts in Algebra II. 

The results came out last week, showing that 107 of these students scored a perfect 2,400, including the highest score possible on the newly created writing test. i.e., Those 107 students scored a maximum of 800 in each category of reading, math, and writing, with the score on the essay translating into 25 percent of the overall writing score. The new writing component of the SAT had 49 multiple choice questions on grammar and usage, besides the essay. Since 107 students scored a perfect 2400 on the SAT, may be a thousand or more students scored a perfect 800 on the writing portion!  

Some colleges have stated publically that they will ignore the new writing score on the SAT while many other colleges don't know what to make of them. So are many students and their parents and many high school guidance counselors. Many colleges are skeptical about the test and will not consider it a major factor in their college admission decisions.  

Many students and their parents and teachers across the country are wondering how can the grading of these essays not be subjective, since they were not graded by a computer but by two readers? Many students looked for formulas for success, questioning whether longer essays or the use of literary references guaranteed a higher score.  

Despite what some people feared, there were no essays that couldn't be read because of bad handwriting, according to the College Board which administers the SAT. One problem that occurred during the evaluation was that the computers could not scan those essays which were written by pen, and therefore, they were directly viewed and scored from paper. However, College Board officials emphasized that they read and scored all 300,000 essays in the ten days immediately after the test just as they had planned. 

Board officials further admitted that it will take at least a year before they will have a large enough sample to provide comparison data, including average scores and percentile information, to the public. They won't reveal how they scored the essay nor the criteria used for evaluation. 

These officials also added that the length of the essay does not guarantee success and that big words used incorrectly would pull the scores down. 


Millions of Students Miss Out on Financial Aid !!        October 2004    

American Council on Education reported in a Study released on October 11, 2004, that in the 1999-2000 Academic Year, almost 4 million of the eight million students enrolled in undergraduate colleges FAILED to complete the FREE Financial Aid Form - FAFSA - (Free Application For Student Aid).  

The study also found that 1.7 Million low and moderate income students did not complete the FAFSA form and half of those students would have obtained the aid had they applied since they were eligible for the Pell Grant. 

Two-thirds of the Community College students did not apply for aid, while 42% of students at 4-year colleges and 13% at private institutions didn't apply.  

Get details on applying for financial aid at Financial Aid & Scholarships. 


Congressional Bill to Compel Colleges to Report Preferences for Alumni Relatives and Early Admissions        October 2003    

A Bill currently pending in the US Congress would compel Colleges to report preferences given to the relatives of College Alumni and also students admitted under Early Admissions.  The Bill would require Colleges to report the number, economic status, and race of students admitted under each of the above two groups.

There have been wide spread allegations over the past several years that the preferences given to the relatives of College Alumni are discriminatory. Many students admitted under this preference would never have been admitted had they applied under general admission because their qualifications were alleged to have been below those who got in under general admission. At some top colleges such Alumni preferences account for 20% or more of the total number of students admitted each year!  

Further, this Bill would also compel Colleges to report the number of students admitted under Early Admissions - Early Action, Early Decision, and Early Decision II.  

The Economic Status of the students admitted under these two groups will be measured by a student's eligibility for financial aid such as the Government Pell Grants.   Those colleges which refuse to report these statistics will lose eligibility for federal government financial aid.  


COLLEGES FROWNING ON SAT & ACT!        March 2001    

Many Colleges around the country have raised serious concerns about the effectiveness and usefulness of these Standardized tests - SAT & ACT - in College admission and selection. Currently almost 25% of the 4-year colleges are making these tests optional. 

The President of the University of California (System & its State Board of Regents), Dr. Richard C. Atkinson, urged getting rid of SAT as a requirement for College Admission in a speech he delivered at the 2001 Robert H. Atwell Distinguished Lecture, at the 83rd Annual Meeting of the American Council on Education, Washington, D.C., on February 18, 2001.   Excerpts from his speech are given below: 

"America's overemphasis on the SAT is compromising our educational system. My concern is with the appropriateness of the SAT in college admissions. ... The problem is tests that do not have a demonstrable relationship to the student's program of study - a problem that is amplified when the tests are assumed to measure innate ability.  

Many students spend a great deal of time preparing for the SAT. But students are not the only ones affected. Nobody is spared - not teachers, not parents, not admissions officers, not university presidents.  

College admissions officers are under pressure to increase the SAT scores of each entering class. The stakes are so high that nobody is surprised when the Wall Street Journal reports that some universities manipulate - and indeed falsify - SAT scores in an effort to attain a higher ranking. Knowing how important the SAT is in the admissions game, some parents go to great lengths to help their children get high scores. The Los Angeles Times reported that a growing number of affluent parents shop around for a psychologist willing to certify that their child is learning disabled so he or she can qualify for extra time on the SAT.  

Most troubling of all, SAT scores can have a profound effect on how students regard themselves. All of us have known students who excelled in high school, students who did everything expected of them and more, suddenly doubt their accomplishments, their abilities, and their basic worth because they scored poorly on the SAT.  

Anyone involved in education should be concerned about how overemphasis on the SAT is distorting educational priorities and practices, how the test is perceived by many as unfair, and how it can have a devastating impact on the self-esteem and aspirations of young students. There is widespread agreement that overemphasis on the SAT harms American education.  

The initial tests [starting in 1901] of the College Board were clearly achievement tests with no implication that they measured "innate intelligence." They were intended to serve an egalitarian purpose. They were designed to identify students from a wide range of backgrounds who had demonstrated mastery of academic subjects needed to succeed in college.  

But this changed in the 1930s. The then-president of Harvard University, James Conant, wanted to make the SAT a test, not of achievement, but of basic aptitude. His motivations were good. He wanted to reduce the advantage that wealthy students enjoyed by virtue of having attended schools with a rich curriculum and excellent teachers. However well intentioned, this change brought with it a sense that the SAT was akin to an IQ test - a measure of innate intelligence.  

The College Board has since made attempts to change this perception. In 1990, it changed the name of the SAT from "Scholastic Aptitude Test" to "Scholastic Assessment Test." And in 1996, it dropped the name altogether and said that the "SAT" was the "SAT" and that the initials no longer stood for anything. Rather than resolving the problem, this rhetorical sleight-of-hand served to underscore the mystery of what the SAT is supposed to measure.   ..... [People] have no way of knowing what the SAT measures."  


MORE COLLEGES OFFERING ONLINE COURSES (DISTANCE LEARNING)         March 2001    

More and more Colleges, Universities, and High Schools are offering Online Courses/Distance Learning opportunities for their students. Some Colleges have started offering complete degree programs online.  

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business even offers an MBA program mostly Online!  

However, there are many skeptics in the colleges which don't offer any online courses.  


FREE ONLINE UNIVERSITY?        March 2000    

A computer software billionaire says he plans to start a free online university which will offer free college education for students anywhere in the world.  He said he was donating 100 million US Dollars to launch this online university.  He has not selected a name for his university, he has no staff, and has no estimate of the costs for this venture, nor a curriculum. He hopes to "create a universal knowledge database on video - a cyber library" available to any one.  He says the university will offer courses by leading experts in the world.   He hopes to have courses offered by the world's great geniuses and leaders such as Warren Buffet on Investing, Scott Turow on Writing, Steven Spielberg on Directing, John Williams on Composing, Isaac Stern on Playing the Violin, Michael Jordan on Playing Basketball, and courses by others such as Bill Gates, etc.   He would videotape them in a studio to be set up in the Washington, D.C. and make them available free at the online university.   He expects these experts and geniuses to offer these courses at his online university without receiving any compensation.  

He is Michael J. Saylor, the founder and CEO of the software company, MicroStrategy, of Vienna, Virginia, USA .  He is setting up this venture through a nonprofit organization.  He thinks courses by such world renowned experts will stimulate interest in education for many youngsters.  For some it might replace a traditional university. For others it might supplement their traditional education.  He stated that he was undertaking this endeavor to help those who can't afford an education because of financial hardships.  

News of this free online university immediately caused great concerns at traditional universities.  Many Administrators and Educators at traditional universities and institutions expressed their apprehension that such online education would be quite inadequate for an overall education.  


STANDARDIZED TESTS - SAT & ACT        May 1999    

The governmental agency - Office of Civil rights of the U. S. Department of Education - recently put forth a guide entitled, "Non discrimination in High-Stakes Testing: A Resource Guide".  This is to continue to allow the Colleges to use the Standardized Tests such as SAT, ACT, etc. as part of their Freshmen Admission Criteria and help the Colleges against any potential lawsuits that allege discrimination in the Standardized Tests. 

It is well known that women and minority students score lower than white students and male students.  There are allegations that since many Colleges consider these tests for freshmen college admissions, they, therefore discriminate against minority as well as women students.  According to the said Office of Civil Rights the said guide adheres to the language of the U. S. Laws - especially the Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972. 

However, the Colleges and the Testing Organizations which had access to the Department of Education's said guide were very unhappy with the guide. Those Colleges and the Testing Services are afraid that this guide could lead to many lawsuits alleging discrimination by students and their parents against the Colleges that deny the students admissions.  Further, they are also concerned that it could eventually lead to the elimination of such Standardized Tests for use in the future for College Admissions.  


NEW MULITIPLIER FOR SAT         August 1999    

The Educational Testing Service (ETS), which administers the SAT and AP Tests, recently came up with a formula which it believes will identify students who outperform others on SAT in their group.  Each different group is classified and weighted based upon race, ethnicity, family incomes, family backgrounds, neighborhoods, school locations, etc.  Using this formula supposedly identifies those students who are "disadvantaged" but perform better than the 'expected average'. Such students who score 200 SAT points above the 'expected average' among their group on SAT will be termed "Strivers".   The 'expected average' for minorities based on such weighting would be lower according to ETS and thus would help some of them to be classified as 'strivers'.   Colleges are urged by the ETS to use their newly devised formula in identifying "strivers" during admissions.   

However, this idea is already generating controversy. 


ARE COLLEGES UNDERREPORTING CAMPUS CRIME STATISTICS?         September 1999    

The Associated Press reported that there are allegations that the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida had been underreporting various alleged crimes on campus, dating as far back as may be 1992.  The Associated Press also reports that starting September 1, 1999 in a new campus guide, the University of Florida started reporting the correct crime statistics in compliance with U.S. Federal Regulations under the 'Campus Security Act of 1992'; even though such compliance had been required ever since 1992.  Under the law - Campus Security Act - Universities are required to distribute such campus guides to students on campus every year.  

Is University of Florida alone among the Colleges doing this, or are there many many other colleges doing the same thing - underreporting campus crime statistics?   



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BestSchoolsUSA.com                   June 1, 1999;               Revised April 24, 2005   

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