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College Tour Face-off in Minnesota

This last weekend, the students of USD 259 were blessed with a four day weekend, but to me and my best friend it didn’t seem like much of a weekend!

Saturday after her auditions for district band/orchestra, we loaded up with her mom and grandma and headed to Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota. After a nine hour drive (that felt more like a 20 hour drive!) we arrived at our hotel and called it an early night; and found it amazing how tired you can be after a day of merely driving. That next morning we woke up a little later and had brunch, then headed to the Mall of America! I had been once a few years ago, but the last of my group had never been so the three of them were extremely excited to see and shop. After shopping from opening to close, we grabbed dinner at one of my favorite restaurants, The Cheesecake Factory, and then headed back to the hotel because we had a very important day coming up!

Monday we made our way to the small, quaint town of Northfield, Minn. to visit Carleton and St. Olaf. Despite the chilly weather, we had a blast at Carleton and really enjoyed everything it seemed to offer. After a tour and interview, we met up with a friend who is currently attending Carleton for lunch and a quick tour of Northfield. After a few free hours, we mad our way to St. Olaf. Unfortunately after a tour and interview with St. Olaf, my friend and myself decided that St. Olaf wasn’t a school we were still interested in. This wasn’t because St. Olaf is a bad school, we just decided that it didn’t have what we wanted.

After a tiring day of two college visits, we woke up early Monday and headed to Macalester, which is located in St. Paul. After a visit and interview (like the other schools), I decided I wanted to apply to this school. I had looked at it online before, but I couldn’t remember why they weren’t on my list in the first place! This goes to show just how important campus visits are!

Campus visits can show you how a school really is and whether it’s for you. So if you are on the edge and have the chance to visit the school, I strongly suggest it because it’s better to visit and know than not visit and always wonder what that school could have been like!

Tuition Free Colleges: Higher Education’s Best Kept Secret?

Want to go to college for free?

According to BusinessWeek, a small handful of colleges in the United States offer special situations that allow students to attend school sans tuition.  Some of these schools specialize in a particular topic, while others offer a work-study program, in which students participate instead of paying tuition.  These schools are known as tuition free colleges, or full scholarship colleges.

Here are some of America’s tuition free colleges:

1) The Cooper Union of the Advancement of Science and Art

Located in the West Village of New York City, this unique institution was founded on the principle that education should be free and accessible to all.  The school offers degrees in fine arts, engineering, and architecture (which it’s probably known for best), and as you can imagine, it’s a very selective institution.

2. College of the Ozarks

Located in a remote area in Missouri near Branson, this Christian liberal arts college offers a work-study program that pays for tuition.  Students work at jobs that help maintain the campus for 15 hours a week — occasionally more — and that covers their tuition.  The school proudly bears the nickname “Work Hard U.”

3. Deep Springs College

Deep Springs is an all-male two year college located in the remote Owens Valley of California, about 45 minutes from the nearest town of Bishop.  Deep Springs is a truly unique place that only admits about 10 to 20 students per year, and students pay for their tuition through work-study, which is related to the cattle and alfalfa farm where the school resides. Students are not allowed to interact with the outside world during the semester.  Sound bizarre?  Maybe, but virtually all students go on to four year schools, and a huge percentage earn master’s or doctorate degrees — many at prestigious institutions.

4) The Curtis Institute of Music

The Curtis Institute of Music is a conservatory in Philadelphia, and U.S. News and World Report ranks it to be the single most selective school in the United States.  The school only admits enough students to fill an orchestra — plus some additional vocal musicians — so there’s only about 150 students.  All students who are able to get in are on full scholarship.

Barack Obama’s Top Contenders for Secretary of Education

President-Elect Obama has been busy putting together a new cabinet, and one of the most important choices is going to be his new Secretary of Education.  This new position is going to be extremely important since, thanks to the financial crisis and the uncertainty of the availability of student loans, college affordability has become an even more pressing issue than before.  In addition, the new Secretary of Education is going to have an important hand in cleaning up the No Child Left Behind Act, which both Republicans and Democrats agree needs some serious work.

All of this means that this could be an exciting and innovative new time for education in the United States!

So who should Obama pick?  According to U.S. News and World Reports, these are some of the possibilities.

1) Joel Klein

One of the front runners is rumored to be Joel Klein, chancellor of the New York City Department of Education, which is the largest school system in the United States.  As chancellor, Klein has fought to increase teacher accountability and for the creation of charter schools. (more…)

Boston College Outraged Over Deal With Victoria’s Secret

Looking for a lovely pair of underwear for showing off your Boston College spirit?  No problem — just cover your behind with a pair of Boston College undies from Victoria’s Secret’s Collegiate Pink line.

However, you might want to keep your undies under wraps (which is usually a good idea anyways).  According to the Boston Herald, not everyone at the Catholic college is thrilled that Victoria’s Secret has included Boston College in the list of schools for their new college-themed collection.  These new products feature the names of schools emblazoned on sweatpants, T-shirts, shorts, and yes, underwear.  Products with the names of about 30 schools — including Boston College — are available. In exchange for this partnership,  the schools receive an undisclosed amount.

What’s the fuss?  Well, since Boston College is a Catholic and fairly conservative school, some feel that it’s thoroughly inappropriate for the school to partner with Victoria’s Secret.  Although the college products themselves are not racy, the company is well known for marketing racy lingerie and other sexy products.  As critics have pointed out, the college products have been displayed in the store in full view of not-so-Catholic attire. (more…)

7 Nice Things to Do for Your Parents this Thanksgiving Break

Going home for Thanksgiving?  Whether you miss your parents and can’t wait to get home, or you’re dreading this visit, try to see your time home from your parents’ perspective.  They may be eager to see the child they badly miss, or they may be concerned about tensions that may result in a child coming home from college who is used to unlimited freedoms — or both.

At any rate, here are seven nice things you can do for your parents when you come home for Thanksgiving.

  1. Thank your parents. It’s Thanksgiving, after all, so let your parents know how grateful you are to have them in your life.  Tell them how grateful you are to have a home to return to for the holidays.  If they are helping you pay for your college education, by all means, thank them repeatedly for this wonderful gift that many parents cannot provide.
  2. Spend time with your parents. Are you going to sleep until noon and then head out the door immediately to hang out with your high school friends — and only visit with your parents during the mandated turkey time?  Guess what?  Your parents miss you, and hope that you see their home as more than just a hotel.  Schedule some actual activities with the folks — and yes, you should take the initiative to ask.

Facebook Profiles Hindering College Application Acceptance

It’s been a few years since Facebook opened its doors to high school students, moving away from just college students. And as Facebook has become more popular over the years (99 percent of college freshman have a profile), it has also become a place where some colleges turn to learn more about their applicants.

Recently, our college advisers have mentioned that some colleges have supposedly been getting onto applicants’ Facebooks and looking through their information, such as friends pictures, and your general information. Upon some of my friends hearing this, they become a little apprehensive of what was on their Facebook pages and began to “clean up” their profiles. (more…)

Best High School Football Teams in the Country

As the football season draws to an end for many and other teams head off to post-season games in hope of claiming their state title, it’s interesting to look at rankings and how much they have potentially changed over the season.

At the beginning of the football season, I mentioned rivalsHIGH, a website that ranks high school football teams from around the nation. I just recently looked at the rankings again and noticed they have changed some.

Here are the top five schools for high school football teams, according to rivalsHIGH:

1. Trinity in Euless, TX

2. St. Thomas Aquinas in Ft. Lauderdale, FL (more…)

Understanding the 529 College Savings Plan

I am the proud mother of an adorable and brilliant future college student named Gwendolyn.  She’s three years old and she’s already starting to sound out words, so of course we’re hoping that college is in her future!  Of course, as we look with alarm at what college costs now, we’re pretty nervous about what it will cost in 2023.  So we’re figuring once we’re done with daycare costs, it’s going to be time to start saving up for college — quite possibly with a 529 college savings plan.

So what is a 529 college savings plan?  Simply speaking, these are plans that help parents invest and set aside money for college.  Although investments in these plans are not tax free (that is, the income people place into these plans is still subject to income tax), many states offer tax deduction for money invested into these plans.  The money in these plans can be used for tuition, room, board, books, fees, and supplies for accredited U.S. colleges and universities, and at many international institutions as well. (more…)

A Senior’s Farewell to High School Football

This past week has been the craziest week for marching band.

Monday we had Band-o-rama (which is when all the bands in USD 259 get together to perform their half time shows), Wednesday we had a marching competition in Andover, KS and on Halloween, of all days, we had our final football game. Unless we win and go on to regionals.

But the thought that this is not only my last football game, but my final performance with marching band is a sad thought for me. For three out of the four years of my high school experience, band has been a big part of a lot of what I’ve experienced. Although I’m not too worried about how well I play my clarinet, but rather I have enjoyed band mostly because of the friends I have made through it and the experiences I have had while in band. (more…)

73-Year-Old Student Joins Roane State Basketball Team

I’ve always thought that older non-traditional students, who go back to college after retirement, are pretty amazing.  Well, here’s a 73-year-old man named Ken Mink who’s even more amazing. Not only did he return to complete his sophomore year at Roane State Community College in Harriman, Tennessee — but he also decided to play for the basketball team.


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