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Quantity vs. Quality: How to Make your Extracurricular Activities Meaningful

The Huffington Post – Pooja Yesantharao and Ishan Puri

“Admission to your dream college is not only contingent on academic success, but also your extracurricular work. College admission officers want to know you as more than just a number- they want to know what makes you tick – what are you passionate about, what drives you? Many students are convinced that they need to build up a huge resume, with pages and pages of activities that they are involved in. However, admissions officers do not want to see a resume with hundreds of activities, each of which you only spent a small amount of time on. They know that as a student, you only have a limited amount of time beyond your academic obligations, and they want to see that you use that time to truly pursue your interests and passions. Now, this doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t pursue diverse activities or interests, but whatever you do choose to pursue, you should make meaningful.”(more)

Proposed Changes to Higher Education Act Clear House

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A number of bipartisan higher education bills have been passed by the House of Representatives in an effort to provide solutions to elements of the Higher Education Act currently in need of an update. In all, five bills were passed by the House which address some of the issues within the Higher Education Act, including a simplification for the application for federal student aid, making information about colleges and universities readily accessible, and offering benefits for historically black colleges those who serve Hispanic students…One of the bills, sponsored by US Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan, seeks to help students and their families obtain the necessary information they need to choose a college. The bill will create a US Department of Education tool called the College Dashboard, which will be available online and will include key data pertaining to financial and economic statistics on universities across the country.”(more)

Why High School Students Need More Than College Prep

NPR – Claudio Sanchez

“Yes, this is a class, and these students are earning credit. But I can almost hear parents and students, for whom college is the only option, saying: Credit towards what? Isn’t this just training for the dead-end, low-wage jobs of the future?’ Gilbert, who helps manage the cafe and train other students, doesn’t think so. “Just the overall experience with the cash register and all the different kinds of food preparation and working with money and all that stuff, it prepares you for all kinds of things.” Training as a barista may not seem like a big deal, but Gilbert — and educators here and around the country — say she’s learning those all-important “soft skills” that employers expect. Roughly seven out of 10 high school grads are headed to college every year — but that leaves hundreds of thousands who aren’t. And survey after survey shows that employers are demanding — even of college-bound students — some level of job skills and professionalism: punctuality, customer service, managing people and teamwork.”(more)

Forbes Ranks America’s Top Colleges by Value

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“Forbes has released their ninth annual ranking of the best colleges and universities in the country in an effort to answer the question of whether higher education is worth the cost. Caroline Howard writes for Forbes that at least for the 660 universities included on the list, higher education is worth the cost. The list is organized based on what students get out of their college experience rather than what helps to get students into college, such as high school class rank and SAT scores. With college being one of the most significant financial decisions of a person’s life, the magazine said as much information as possible should be offered on the topic. This includes things like the satisfaction level of undergraduates, how likely it is to graduate within four years, and job prospects.”(more)

College Graduates Now Make Up Greatest Share of Workforce

Education News – Kristin Decarr

“A recent report from the Georgetown University Center on Education has found that, for the first time, four-year college graduates are making up the majority of the new workforce over those who earn high school diplomas but do not go on to higher education. Researchers found that of the 11.6 million jobs that were created after the recession, 11.5 million were given to people with varying levels of college education. Of that group, 8.5 million jobs went to workers who held a bachelor’s degree or higher. Meanwhile, people with high school diplomas comprised 80,000 jobs during the recovery.”(more)

College readiness versus college completion: Variations by race

Thomas B. Fordham Institute – Michael J. Petrilli

“Helping lots more young Americans get “to and through” four-year college degrees is a major goal of public policy and philanthropy. In 2009, President Obama set the target of leading the world in college completion by 2020. The Lumina Foundation aspires to increase the proportion of Americans with high-quality degrees, certificates, and other credentials to 60 percent by 2025. And the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation has spent over seven years and half a billion dollars on strategies aimed at increasing college completion…That’s all well and good. But as I’ve argued before, even these heroic efforts are unlikely to add up to much until we dramatically boost the number of young Americans who are ready for college in the first place.”(more)