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April 28, 2006

Housing makes seasonal transition to cooling system

Housing and Residential Life has advised students that it's transitioning from running its heating to running its cooling system.

Because of the systems' design, they cannot be run concurrently.

The process involveds filling cooling towers with water, and cannot be done until temperatures are consistently above freezing.

Halls may be cooler than usual at night and warmer than usual during the day during this transitional period. To minimize discomfort, Housing is asking students to keep their windows--including storm windows--closed at night.

Transfer students in good company

About 60% of the students graduating from college these days have attended more than one institution, according to the New York Times:

In large part, those numbers reflect the growing population of nontraditional-age students, adults who go to college later in life and often start at a two-year institution. But even traditional students like Ms. Madden — those who head to a four-year college right out of high school — are approaching the experience in a nontraditional way.

They transfer to get a more agreeable major or social life, or take classes at a college back home during the summer to get a leg up on the next year's credits. They take an online class, or earn credits during the year at a nearby community college where they find a required course cheaper, less demanding or at a more convenient hour. Or they do some of each.

College officials call it swirling, mix and match, cut and paste, grab and go. Whatever the term of art, it makes sense for the so-called millennial generation, students famously lacking in brand loyalty, used to having things their way, and can-do about changing anything they don't like. As with other commodities, students are looking for that magic combination of quality, affordability and convenience. They shun CD's to create their own iPod playlists; is it any surprise they shape their own course catalogs?

"Everybody can customize it the way they want it," says Ms. Madden, now 24 and working at a Cape Cod media company that runs radio stations and a Web site. "In the world we live in, with the Internet making things so accessible, we try to find what we like."

Among the challenges faced by transfer students--getting credit for coursework they've completed. Also from the Times:

Colleges traditionally cater to those who arrive as freshmen and leave as seniors. Transfer students challenge the system. But with nearly 60 percent of students switching campuses on their way to a bachelor's degree, institutions are responding to the new educational reality. Some are hammering out agreements to streamline transfer of course credits, a process that is far from perfect. Representative Howard P. McKeon, Republican of California and chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce, is sponsoring a bill requiring colleges to disclose their transfer policies. Meanwhile, colleges are putting more detailed course information online to help administrators evaluate what students are bringing to the table.

Not surprisingly, getting credit for past work is the chief concern among transfer students. "Students want to know: Is my credit going to transfer and how will it transfer to the degree program and how long will it take me to get the degree based on what I am bringing in?" says Marcelle Heerschap, associate dean for student academic affairs and advising at George Mason University in Virginia.

The answer to such questions is not straightforward. Colleges typically provide transfer students an initial evaluation, showing which courses have equivalents at the new college, which transfer only as electives, and which cannot be judged until courses are evaluated by the relevant academic department. Hint: Bring course syllabuses and important tests, papers or projects to help explain the depth and breadth of previous course work.

While a calculus-to-calculus credit exchange is clear, says Mary French, Boston College's associate director of undergraduate admissions, a designated faculty member may have to decide if, say, a feminist studies course elsewhere is equivalent to a women's issues class at Boston College. "The onus is on the student to have that face time with a faculty member," Ms. French says.

April 27, 2006

There's a "Spring Jam" theme to Gophers After Dark this week

The week's musical theme carries over into the weekend, with the recent film "The Producers" showing in Coffman (for free) both Friday and Saturday nights.

Spring Jam band events on both Friday and Saturday start earlier than Gophers After Dark events usually begin (the band competition begins at 5 pm on Friday, and the multi-band concert will kick off at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday with the winner of Friday night's competition).

Students can display their own musical talents on Friday night at a Karaoke event in Goldy's Gameroom.

Check out the full calendar of Spring Jam and Gophers After Dark, and encourage your student to join in the fun!

April 26, 2006

Facebook profiles live on as memorials for owners

Xiaomi Qu and Dave Chung had posted on each other's Facebook Web profiles for as long as they'd known each other.

The two University of Minnesota students' messages ranged from the silly ("remember when you went insane last night?") to the sillier ("i saw you today wheee.")

So when Chung, 21, drowned in a Bloomington lake April 14, it felt only natural that Qu would again visit her friend's Web page and post.

The tone, however, changed.

Read the entire Star Tribune story, written by University of Minnesota student Jenna Ross

April 25, 2006

Mediterranean diet...discovered at the University of Minnesota?

It's of the pioneers in touting the health benefits of eating a diet heavier on fish, vegetables, and olive oil than on meat and potatoes was a University researcher. It just took the rest of the world about 40 years to catch on. Read about Ancel Keys here.

No mumps yet at the U...

...the Minnesota Daily reports today, but University officials expect the disease could show up:

Eight cases of mumps have been reported in Minnesota this year, according to a Minnesota health alert.

“We think it’s a possibility that mumps could show up (at the University),? Golden said.

Doug Schultz, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Health said that ever since the department started noticing what went on in Iowa, it was concerned the disease might spread to Minnesota given the amount of contact Minnesotans might have with Iowans.

No cases have been reported at the University, Golden said, but the Boynton staff is taking steps to prepare for cases by double-checking the immunizations of its employees.

“Then if we do get patients with suspected mumps, we use infection control, steps like masks for working with patients,? Golden said. “The next thing is, if we do have a patient with suspected mumps, they’re going to have to be at home and isolated as much as possible so they don’t spread it.?

Mumps can spread to people who have received the vaccine, Golden said.

“Even in a well-vaccinated population you can still have outbreaks like this,? he said. “The guess is that if we weren’t as well-vaccinated as we are, it would even be larger — as far as an outbreak.?

Mumps spreads through coughing, sneezing, saliva or objects that come into contact with an infected person, Schultz said.

Golden said students at the University can prevent mumps by getting the immunization, having good hygiene and “good old hand washing.?

April 21, 2006

Undergraduates to present research in poster session

Studies shows a strong correlation between undergraduates' involvement in research projects and their graduation rates. The University encourages students to include research in their programs, and next week will host a year-end symposium on undergraduate research to showcase their work.

On Wednesday, April 26, in Coffman Union's Great Hall, students will exhibit posters illustrating research projects from a wide range of disciplines, UMNews reports:

Nearly twenty years ago, Professor Frank Barnwell got a happy shock. When undergraduate students in a College of Biological Sciences seminar presented research to their peers, he was astonished by how good it was.

"I thought it just had to be shared with the rest of the faculty," Barnwell says. So he organized the first poster symposium. And it grew year by year, first expanding to life sciences students in agriculture and forestry, then to more fields. "That cross-disciplinary mix was terrific."

This year for the first time, the Undergraduate Symposium is open to students campuswide and is sponsored by eight colleges and several other offices. Next Wednesday, April 26, students will fill the Great Hall of Coffman Union with more than 80 posters about their research on topics such as phantom pain in amputees, humor's effect on stress, the role of syphilis in 16th century Italian art, and memory and problem-solving in the octopus.

"It lets the whole community, inside and outside the U, know what students are doing, and that research is not just for faculty and graduate students," says Peter Hudleston, associate dean in the Institute of Technology. "Research is one of the fundamental things we do here, and there's every reason why undergraduates should share in that enterprise."

Students thinking about doing their own research projects next year may want to attend the symposium to see what kinds of projects their peers have been working on.

April 20, 2006

End-of-the-semester tips for student success

The University's Office for Student Affairs has recently produced audio podcasts addressing some of the most common concerns students have as they face their final exams.

Among the topics are "Preparing for Final Exams," "Avoiding Procrastination," and "Finishing the Semester Strong." There's even one with suggestions on how to help students negotiate conflicts related to exams or grades.

Students do not need an iPod or mp3 player to listen to the recordings. The podcasts can also be listened to as audio files on the Web, which students would link to through a computer.

There is no charge to download the files, which are available here.

April 19, 2006

Helmets and headlights available

This beautiful warm weather is bringing out bike riders all around campus. Students who are using their bicycles to get around this spring can purchase a package of a bike helmet and a headlight for $20 in the pharmacy at Boynton Health Service.

The national "Helmets and Headlights" program is intended to increase the safety of bike riders on university campuses. According to recent statistics, 85 percent of all injuries from bicycle accidents could be reduced by simply wearing a helmet. Also, 10 percent of all bicycle ridership is at night, yet evening accidents comprise 50 percent of all bicycle accidents.

You might also want to encourage your student to review the University's campus bike rules on the Parking and Transportation Services website. To get your student started, here are Parking and Transportation's "Top Ten" biking rules:

Top Ten Campus Cycling Rules
1. Never ride on campus sidewalks (unless it is designated as a bike lane with pavement markings).
2. Always yield to pedestrians.
3. Ride on the right with traffic.
4. Obey all traffic signs and signals.
5. Rent a completely-enclosed bike locker to keep your bike safe from theft and guarantee your parking spot.
6. Lock your bike with a cable and lock as well as a U-lock to deter theft.
7. Never lock your bike to a handrail (unless you want it to be impounded).
8. Never attach your bike to trees, fences, bus shelters, or patio furniture.
9. Don't leave your bike unattended for an extended period of time. Bikes will be tagged and removed if they have been abandoned.
10. Take advantage of the designated bike paths and lanes whenever possible. Be sure to follow the directional arrows on the pavement.

Podcasts now available

You may have watched or heard about our workshops for parents, which have been available as streaming video and audio from the Parent Program website. Over the past year, we have recorded workshops addressing broad issues of concern to parents, such as off-campus housing, mental health, and learning abroad.

Now, for your convenience, these same workshops are available as podcasts which you can download to your computer, or place on your iPod or other portable music player, to listen to anytime. Visit the Parent Program website to learn more.

April 17, 2006

What are the best jobs in America?

Curious about salary and job prospects in the field of study your student has chosen?

Money Magazine and have come up with a list of what they consider to be the top 50 jobs in the US. Potential salary and job growth were included in their calculations, as were less tangible factors such as perceived stress levels, flexibility in hours and working environment, creativity, and ease of entry into the field.

April 13, 2006

University to establish guidelines for student use of Facebook

This summer, there'll be an addition to student (and possibly parent) orientation information. Student Affairs is working on guidelines for students who want to post their profile on Facebook or other networking sites, UMNews reports. As more and more students are learning, their Facebook profiles may be accessible to a larger audience than they had imagined, and posting unflattering pictures or information could come back to haunt them.

The information will also be made available to returning students, and we'll be posting something about it on the Parent website when it is available.

April 11, 2006

Legislature to vote on U funding bill

From the MN Daily:

The state House is set to grant the University close to three-fifths of the requested amount for capital improvements by taking on $121 million in debt for the University system.

The House Ways and Means Committee sent the omnibus capital investment bill to a floor vote Monday afternoon, but University officials said they hope the final figures will resemble more closely those of the Senate.

The House proposal would give the University about $32 million less than the Senate bill. University Chief Financial Officer Richard Pfutzenreuter called the Senate funding “much better.?

“We asked for what we need, and the ultimate numbers are probably a tad low compared to what I think we typically get,? Pfutzenreuter said.

Read the whole story.

April 10, 2006

Advice on the sophomore experience?

It's hard to believe that the Class of 2009 has nearly finished its first year of college.

That's quite an achievement--if you're the parent of a current freshman, you know that this year has brought many new experiences and lessons, not only for your student, but most likely for you as well.

While the upcoming sophomore year may not seem quite as momentous, it will also be full of new experiences.

Parents of students who are currently sophomores (or juniors or seniors), what advice do you have for parents of next year's sophomores at the U?

It's easy to post your comment. Just click on "comments" below.

April 7, 2006

Beautiful U Day just around the corner

Beautiful U Day will be held on April 20th. This yearly tradition brings together students, staff and faculty on each of our campuses to work together on campus beautifcation projects. Here are some highlights from this year's schedule:

Kickoff, 9 a.m. Join President Bruininks for a cup of coffee near the Bulls statues in St. Paul Mall! The President will speak on the University’s work in sustainability.

Curb Appeal Clean-up, 10 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Check in at East or West end of Washington Avenue Bridge. Volunteers will help clean up our campus by straightening up kiosks and sprucing up entryways. Let’s all pitch in to keep our campus beautiful. No experience necessary -- Beautiful U Day and Facilities Management will provide instructions and supplies.

Beautiful U Day Lunch, 11:30 a.m. - 1 p.m.
Come and enjoy a free lunch courtesy of Beautiful U Day! Lunch will be served at both the Northrop Plaza and St. Paul Student Center area and will include sandwiches, chips, and donated Coke™ products provided to University community.

Your student can see a complete list of activities and sign up to volunteer here.

Student debt's influence on career options

In a report entitled Paying Back, Not Giving Back, the State PIRGs (Public Interest Research Groups), a group of non-profit, public interest advocacy groups, examine the negative impact that a student's debt load can have on that student's career options. Read the report here.

April 4, 2006

Financial planning advice for students

I can't count how many times I've heard it said that the basic concepts of personal finance should be required learning for all college students.

A free 2-part financial planning workshop offered by a private financial advising firm in conjunction with the Career and Community Learning Center, while not mandatory, will offer students an introduction to managing their money.

Part I, scheduled for the noon hour on April 11, will cover savings, debt management, and insurance, and Part II, to be held on April 19, also at noon, will address mutal funds, buying a home, Roth IRAs and 401K/403B retirement savings plans. Free pizza will be served at both seminars.

Students will have an opportunity to ask questions and to request a free one-on-one consultation.

Students can register for the seminar(s) here.

Increasing numbers of college students seek counseling

according to a recent national survey of directors of university counseling offices:

The number of college students seeking help for severe mental-health problems on campus is increasing, according to a University of Pittsburgh survey.

The 2005 National Survey of Counseling Directors also found that 95 percent of directors said more students arrive on campus already taking psychiatric medication.

"It seems that more people are being medicated for more reasons and earlier," said Jaquie Resnick, director of counseling at the University of Florida in Gainesville.

James Cox, director of the counseling center at the University of Pittsburgh, called it a national trend, but said, "I am not seeing a lot of people who are coming to us already on medication but didn't need to be on it."

Read the entire Associated Press story.

University of Minnesota students are offered counseling through both University Counseling and Consulting Services and Boynton Health Service.

April 3, 2006

Safety in the neighborhoods--tips and upcoming events

Whether your student is currently living in one of the neighborhoods adjacent to campus, or living at home or in a residence hall and thinking about moving into the neighborhoods next fall, now is a good time to talk to him or her about safety.

By this time of the school year, students living off campus may have been lulled into a false sense of security because of their familiarity with their surroundings. Those who moved into apartments or off-campus houses last fall they may have initially, while getting used to their new environment, followed recommended safety practices like avoiding using headphones when walking so they can be aware of the people around them and walking with friends or using escorts when they need to go out in the evening. But as students grow comfortable in their neighborhoods, sometimes they don't think these precautions are necessary anymore.

You may want to remind your student living off campus to continue to follow common-sense safety practices. As anyone who has lived for some time in an urban environment can tell you, as the weather gets warmer, crime goes up. The University Police Department offers good safety tips on its website, including these for people on foot around campus:

AVOID walking through vacant lots, alleys or other deserted areas. Choose busy streets.

ALWAYS walk in well-lighted areas when walking at night.

ALWAYS walk in the middle of the sidewalk and facing on-coming traffic.

DO NOT walk or jog alone.

AVOID wearing headphones when jogging or walking in public.

AVOID reading when standing or walking on a sidewalk.

DO NOT overload yourself with packages. Keep your hands as free as possible.

KNOW the neighborhoods and neighbors where you live and work.

KNOW what stores and restaurants are open late.

KNOW where the police and fire stations are located.

ALWAYS carry your purse close to your body and keep a firm grip on it.

AVOID pickpockets by carrying your wallet in an inside coat pocket or front-trouser pocket.

If your student lives in or is considering renting in the Marcy-Holmes neighborhood, the neighborhood association will be hosting a meeting this Saturday, April 8th, 9:30 a.m.-12 noon at the First Congregational Church at 500 8th Ave SE to kick off its summer campaign for neighborhood safety. Students are welcome to attend this meeting, at which neighborhood crime trends and crime prevention will be discussed.

Students looking for a place to live next year might want to check neighborhood crime statistics on the Minneapolis Police Department's website. There, anyone can pull up city-wide crime statistics for the entire city, broken down by neighborhood, or access precinct-wide maps showing crimes that have been reported during the past week. The University's east bank is in the 2nd precinct, and the west bank is in the 1st.

The Minneapolis Police Department will also be holding a personal safety workshop at Northeast Middle School, 2955 Hayes St NE, on Wednesday, April 26, from 6 - 8:30 p.m. The workshop is free. If your student would like to register, he or she can call (612) 668-1515.