02138 Dissects Faust

The new magazine, which I've referenced before, is all about Harvard. It's pretty slick and, so far, pretty good. In this latest issue, Richard Bradley, no stranger to everything Harvard, takes an intimate look at Drew Faust, the university's new president. He interviewed me for the piece, and quotes me as such: Faust was a popular teacher. "There wasn't a dull moment in her lectures, and you'd marvel at her ability to hold her class's attention," says Mark Drozdowski, a former student who is now the director of a college foundation. But for all her expertise, Drozdowski says, Faust was still approachable. "She didn't seem to have a big ego," he recalls. "She didn't have the descending-from-Mount-Olympus kind of attitude." Fair enough. That last line contains what is probably the longest adjective I've ever uttered. Definitely worth a read.

(Source: 02138 Magazine)

Multimedia Learning in Online Classes

The effective use of technology is essential for students learning with the assistance of multimedia programs. I recently published an article on About.com about this topic. Here's a blurb:

"A growing number of online universities offer multimedia learning components such as chat rooms, collaborative projects, and web conferencing. These multimedia components can help online students effectively master the subject matter. But, multimedia learning also has a downside: inexperienced students can easily become distracted with the platform instead of the subject. It's easy to waste time chatting on course message boards or tuning out a podcast lecture."
To find out more about the effective use of multimedia learning check out: Multimedia Learning in Online Classes.

What Holds You Back from Learning Effectively?

A new Lifehack article discusses the seven "deadly mindsets" that keep people from learning effectively. Number four on the list is the fear that others are smarter than you. I can relate to this fear. My first couple months of graduate school were nerve-wracking as I sat across from peers I was sure were brighter, more knowledgeable, and more accomplished. Fortunately, as I got to know the other students, I realized that it wasn't a competition...we were all just trying to do our personal best. Worrying about how I compare was holding me back from exploring my talents and excelling in my own personal strengths. Here's what Lifehack has to say about fear number four:

"The truth is there is always somebody better than you are. And the only way you will have an edge is through endless and continuous learning. It is your battle, not a battle with others."
To read about how to defeat this and the other six ineffective viewpoints check out 7 Deadly Mindsets That Hold You Back From Learning Effectively.


Selective Colleges Even More Selective

Getting into the nation's best colleges has become even more difficult, if you can imagine that. Everyone is so brand conscious these days, and spots at the top educational brands are at a premium.

Want some numbers? Check out this New York Times article:

Harvard turned down 1,100 student applicants with perfect 800 scores on the SAT math exam. Yale rejected several applicants with perfect 2400 scores on the three-part SAT, and Princeton turned away thousands of high school applicants with 4.0 grade point averages. Needless to say, high school valedictorians were a dime a dozen.

It was the most selective spring in modern memory at America's elite schools, according to college admissions officers. More applications poured into top schools this admissions cycle than in any previous year on record. Schools have been sending decision letters to student applicants in recent days, and rejection letters have overwhelmingly outnumbered the acceptances.

Stanford received a record 23,956 undergraduate applications for the fall term, accepting 2,456 students, meaning the school took 10.3 percent of applicants.

Harvard College received applications from 22,955 students, another record, and accepted 2,058 of them, for an acceptance rate of 9 percent. The university called that "the lowest admit rate in Harvard's history."

Applications to Columbia numbered 18,081, and the college accepted 1,618 of them, for what was certainly one of the lowest acceptance rates this spring at an American university: 8.9 percent.

"There's a sense of collective shock among parents at seeing extraordinarily talented kids getting rejected," said Susan Gzesh, whose son Max Rothstein is a senior with an exemplary record at the Laboratory School, a private school associated with the University of Chicago. Max applied to 12 top schools and was accepted outright only by Wesleyan, New York University and the University of Michigan.

"Some of his classmates, with better test scores than his, were rejected at every Ivy League school," Ms. Gzesh said.

The brutally low acceptance rates this year were a result of an avalanche of applications to top schools, which college admissions officials attributed to three factors. First, a demographic bulge is working through the nation's population - the children of the baby boomers are graduating from high school in record numbers. The federal Department of Education projects that 3.2 million students will graduate from high school this spring, compared with 3.1 million last year and 2.4 million in 1993. (The statistics project that the number of high school graduates will peak in 2008.) Another factor is that more high school students are enrolling in college immediately after high school. In the 1970s, less than half of all high school graduates went directly to college, compared with more than 60 percent today, said David Hawkins, a director at the National Association of College Admission Counseling.

The third trend driving the frantic competition is that the average college applicant applies to many more colleges than in past decades. In the 1960s, fewer than 2 percent of college freshmen had applied to six or more colleges, whereas in 2006 more than 2 percent reported having applied to 11 or more, according to The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 2006, an annual report on a continuing long-term study published by the University of California, Los Angeles.

Read the full here.

Unique Study Tips for Web-Savvy Distance Learners

Are you still studying with a notebook and a stack of flashcards? If so, it may be time to update your approach. An About.com article explains:

"A history student writes Wikipedia articles about the culture of Argentina the night before a big exam. A law school student creates a podcast that regularly reviews what he learns in his first-year courses. If you're still studying with hand written notes and 3x5 cards, you're missing out."Suggested study techniques include: writing Wikipedia entries, using a note sharing website, and distributing a podcast.For more study technique ideas, see: 5 Internet Savvy Study Tips for Online Learners.


Convince Your Employer to Pay for Your Education

Earning an online degree can be expensive. Many graduates leave school with a hefty student loan that will take years to pay back. But, you may be able to graduate debt-free if you can convince your employer to pay for your schooling. An eLearners.com article explains:

"By far, the best option is to get someone else to pay for your education. Tuition assistance, or tuition reimbursement, programs vary widely. Generally, the larger the company, the better the plan."
So, which companies have the best tuition assistance programs? According to eLearners, you can expect the most generosity from: General Electric, Hewlett Packard, Dell, Citigroup, and Motorola.


Admissions Blogs Aim to Ease Anxiety

High school students will sniff out any opportunity to uncover admissions-related tidbits on their target colleges. So when an admissions officer sets up shop in a conversational blog, they understandably flock.

That's what has happened with Johns Hopkins University, among others. Have these blogs helped applicants overcome their anxiety? Do students gain any insider tips? Do they make the process somehow more transparent?

Read this from the Washington Post:

Daniel Creasy and the other Johns Hopkins University admissions office staff have to read 200 files a week to get through the 14,840 applications piled on chairs and crates in the hallways. That's 65 percent more applicants than they had just five years ago -- so many, Creasy joked, that he has to get his dog to help read them.

He even posted a photo of his dog, paws planted next to a stack of files, on the Hopkins admissions Web site.

Creasy is trying to lighten things a little and ease some of the anxiety of the application process as the admissions frenzy whips up. With more applicants than ever competing to get into the top schools, students' stress is obvious. It chokes online message boards about college admissions. (One site -- where overachievers crunch numbers, analyze their chances and obsess over scores -- had 17,048 posts about Hopkins alone.)

Now, some schools have staff members like Creasy who not only read files but monitor message boards, field questions on their own Web sites and try to humanize the process.

In charge of Hopkins Insider, "a behind-the-scenes look at the Johns Hopkins Admissions Office," Creasy hopes to take away some of the mystery, correct misinformation here and there, crack some jokes and, occasionally, talk students off the ledge.

"When I got into the field, I was told this is a very secretive field. Not a lot of people know what we do," Creasy said. "I agreed with that." Many in admissions still do. Creasy used to think of himself as an admissions officer, working for the institution to create the strongest possible 1,200-student incoming class. Now, he has far more contact with applicants -- at least electronically -- and knows just how much they're sweating the admissions process.

Read the full article here. And look here to find that Hopkins blog.