Roundup XI

There is a new website and app that could help the student athlete in your family get attention from college coaches and perhaps a better chance at a scholarship. View MySport.com is a mix of Facebook and YouTube all with a sports focus. Student athletes build a profile with statistics, pictures and highlight videos. Students can send the profile directly to specific coaches.

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There is a great master list online of the top 50 education smart phone applications and online sites at ow.ly/cXGQC. It is worth checking out as there is something there for everyone and most are free or under $5.

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Two very different rankings of top colleges were released this month. My favorite is the one prepared by Forbesmagazine, as its metrics are new and very relevant (quality of teaching, employability and amount of student debt … rather than selectivity of the college). Check it out at forbes.com/top-colleges/list. Newsweek and The Daily Beasthave released their own rankings of specific categories (most rigorous, top party colleges, etc.) that is interesting if not too scientific at thedailybeast.com/newsweek/features/2012/college-rankings.html

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In the category of “it can’t hurt to try it,” London researchers believe that fish oil capsules can reduce the severity of ADHD-type behavior in some children and some children with reading difficulties (such as dyslexia) have shown major improvement in their reading after taking fish oil (rch.org.au/factssheets)

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The big trend in educational web sites and smart phone applications is to make learning more like a video game. A math app that is leading the way is “Math Evolve” for ages 6-14. The site/app combines math practice with classic video game elements with the goal of making math more fun and engaging for students. Designed by an elementary school teacher, Math Evolve combines math practice with arcade-style gameplay. Go to mathevolve.com.

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Based on current projections, the top five languages in the year 2050 are expected to be Chinese, Hindi-Urdu, English, Spanish and Arabic (in that order). There is a very interesting web site at http://visual/ly/speakinglanguages which notes that it takes English speakers 22 to 24 weeks of study to achieve general proficiency in Dutch, French, Italian, Norwegian and Spanish; It takes 44 weeks of study to learn Albanian, Greek, Hebrew and Russian; and it takes 88 weeks of study to learn Arabic, Chinese, Japanese and Korean. The website has a wealth of other information about foreign language study.

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I am a big fan of summer enrichment for high schoolers and there has to be something interesting for everyone on this list of free online courses: openculture.com/freeonlinecourses.

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If you and your children are traveling overseas this summer you might get a kick out of this new free language app called Word Lens that enables you to take a photo of a sign (in a foreign language) and to get an instant translation.

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The Social Express is an interactive software application designed for children with autism, Asperger’s and ADHD that teaches how to think about and manage social situations through video modeling. The goal is to help children build social-emotional skills and develop the meaningful relationships they need to navigate life. The price ranges from $2.99 for the app to $90 for the complete computer program. Pricey, unless it can help, then it might be a bargain.

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I hope to write about this more next fall, but there is a great belief right now that certificates, not degrees, may be the future of higher education. Certificates are fairly new and they are typically awarded by community colleges for training in a particular occupation, but four-year colleges are now starting to offer certificates. Most take a year, or less to complete. A recent study by Georgetown University found that the American job market increasingly rewards field of study rather than level of degree. In other words: It’s more important what you study than how long you study.

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For-profit colleges continue to garner very negative press coverage. Countless studies show that for-profit college students are most likely to end up in debt and with no diploma. A recent report by the non-profit group Education Sector found that about 10 percent of college students nationwide are enrolled at for-profit colleges, yet the sector is responsible for nearly half of student loan defaults. For-profit schools include online colleges, trade schools and some art schools.

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More than 1.6 million students took the ACT college entrance exam in 2012 and 734 (52 in California) earned a perfect score of 36. This is a huge state so it is amazing to me that 10 of those 52 attended one high school – Irvine University High School (near U.C. Irvine in Southern California) – and the scores have been confirmed as valid.

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I am a big fan of International Baccaleureate high school programs because of their rigor and global focus. Many IB schools will soon begin offering career-related certificate programs for high schoolers in engineering, culinary arts and automotive technology. (www.ibo.org)

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The top 50 STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) apps for smart phones and iPads can be found here: tinyurl.com/c5odezo. There are some truly great ones for all different ages to explore this summer.

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Carnegie Mellon University researchers have found that a fifth grader’s understanding of one narrow and particular set of math facts – knowledge of fractions and division – is a very accurate predictor of his or her future math achievement, even after statistically controlling for parents’ education and income and for the children’s own age, gender, IQ, etc. This finding can help teachers and parents focus attention on this key area within general math instruction.

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A new ad campaign by the Autism Speaks Foundation puts forth these three warning signs of autism: no smiles or joyful expressions by six months, no babbling by 12 months and no words by 16 months. Learn more atwww.autismspeaks.org/signs.

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The government has created a new website to try to help parents better understand the costs of various colleges and the aid available. The summer is a good time for parents with high school students to get a head start on thinking about this issue: www.collegecost.ed.gov/.

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Other organizations are following Khan Academy’s lead in offering free online video tutorials. One worth checking out is http://www.sophia.org. Sophia has been described as a combination of Facebook, Wikipedia and YouTube, focused solely on education. The site’s 25,000-plus, bite-sized tutorials are tagged to specific academic subjects or topics, including some subjects I don’t see available at Khan Academy. This summer, the site is giving away an iPad every week for students who try their free tutorials.

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I wrote recently about how sugar consumption can mar a student’s success on tests. Unreal Brands, the brainstorm of a 15-year-old, is a new line of candy launching next month at CVS and Target, with natural ingredients but mimicking children’s current favorite name brands. It might be worth checking out.

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US News & World Report recently listed what the richest people in America majored in in college. The 1 percenters’ majors, in order, were: 1. Economics. 2. Political science. 3. Art history (OK, this one took me by surprise). 4. Finance. 5. Religious studies (another shocker). 6. Pharmacy and 7. Accounting.

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Indian Americans have surpassed Latinos as the fastest-growing racial group, and they are the highest-income and best-educated people in the United States, according to the Pew Research Centre. Indian Americans have a median household annual income of $88,000, much higher than for all Asians ($66,000) and all U.S. households ($49,800).

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PBS-TV aired a report earlier this year on child abuse that pointed out that America leads the industrialized world in the number of children under 15 who die from physical abuse or neglect. This piece was titled, “America’s Death Shame,”and it continues to get a lot of press and lots of hits on YouTube. How is it that America has the worst child abuse record in the industrialized world?

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28 U.S. universities – out of a total of 326 participating campuses – have been rated a five-star school in an ongoing assessment of LGBT-friendliness (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) by the national nonprofit Campus Pride.

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Everyone assumes that getting a graduate degree will help you earn more money but I recently read an interesting piece about certain graduate degrees that don’t pay off in terms of boosting future earnings (www.bankrate.com).First on the list was an MFA (master’s in fine arts) as it was found to boost income for grads just 3 percent. Second was a computer engineering graduate degree. Students going into computer science just don’t need a grad degree. Next up was any graduate degree in advertising, marketing or public relations. Employers in these fields would prefer to see an MBA. Next up was a law degree from second-rate school. The quality of the law school is paramount is future hire-ability. Finally, degrees in meteorology or atmospheric science were found to add a tiny 1 percent to future earnings. With graduate degrees increasingly expensive and financial aid almost impossible to secure for graduate study, the impact of a higher degree on future earnings can’t be overlooked.

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Online college is not a good choice for your typical recent high school graduate. These programs work best for strongly motivated adults who have a clear career path or want training for specific jobs. They basically increase access by providing less college: less face time with caring teachers, less campus life with other students, less “atmosphere.” A good traditional campus with close faculty member contact is a better choice for most young people.

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Have you heard about Facebook investor Peter Thiel’s $100,000 fellowship grants that require the winning students to drop out of college? Many of these students (all under 20) have already completed a lot of college coursework on their own so it isn’t as controversial as some claim but the accomplishments and plans the fellowship winners have are amazing.

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IBM’s new free CityOne computer game is similar to Sim City but it challenges players to solve real-world business, environmental and logistical problems within retail, banking, water and energy industries as part of the game’s goal of revitalizing a metropolitan area. It is very popular among business school students around the country and worth checking out.

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Sons of fathers with high incomes tend to end up with higher than average incomes themselves. New research shows that it is more dad’s intelligence than his earnings that helps a son on his way. The Journal of Political Economy covered the study which found that human capital endowments passed from father to son – in the form of smarts, advice, work ethic – seems to contribute more to a son’s success than how much money his father makes/made. Why they didn’t also study daughters is beyond me.

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One response

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