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July 31, 2006

Parental involvement: finding a balance

Yesterday's New York Times Education section contained a number of interesting articles about higher education. Of special relevance for parents of college students, especially first year students, is an article offering advice from student affairs professionals (including from the U of M) on how parents can support their students, even from a distance.

For parents who'd like to learn more, a sidebar offers recommended reading, including Marj's book, You’re On Your Own (But I’m Here if You Need Me): Mentoring Your Child During the College Years

July 17, 2006

Pre-law school event

Thursday, July 20th, at the University of St Thomas School of Law, Kaplan Test Prep will hold a free event about law school admissions trends, test-taking strategies, and careers in law. Law school admissions officers from the University of Minnesota, the University of St. Thomas, and William Mitchell College of Law will also be on hand to offer advice for potential law school applicants.

This event is free--For more information or to register, please call 1-800-KAP-TEST.

July 11, 2006

Ride-sharing from Madison next week?

A parent writes:

My daughter is enrolled in the CBS Nature of Life session July 19-22 and will be driving from Madison to attend. We’re looking for others who may be attending from Madison at the same time (it’s the honor’s section) – or maybe attending something else and would like to ride together.

Add a comment or contact pblog@umn.edu to be put in touch with the poster.

Student tours and tour guides make impression

As a drum major in his high school marching band, Matt Thomas mastered the art of walking backward. And that has turned out to be an essential skill for his job as a tour guide at Tufts University.

Mr. Thomas, who will be a sophomore at Tufts in the fall, is one of a corps of students entrusted with being the university's public face for potential applicants. For despite all the money that colleges and universities spend on brochures, Web sites and other marketing efforts, high school students and their parents often base their impressions of an institution on the young man or woman who has led them around campus for 45 minutes.

"We know that the campus tour has the biggest impact on whether a student decides to apply to Tufts or not," said Kerrin Damon, its assistant director of admissions.

Ms. Damon said the university had done surveys, querying those who enroll and those who do not, as well as students who visited Tufts and decided not to apply. Historically, the campus tour, which is given all year but draws heavily throughout the summer, is cited as the biggest influence on students' decisions, she said.

The New York Times reports that the campus tour is one of, if not the, biggest factor in whether students apply to a university.

Is that true for your student and your family? What was your impression during your campus tour?

July 7, 2006

Department of Education endorses tracking college student records

From The Washington Post:

The controversial concept of a national student "unit" tracking system has been floating around for about two years. It was given a boost last month when Education Secretary Margaret Spellings's Commission on the Future of Higher Education released a draft report endorsing such a plan.

The idea, proponents say, is not to invade the privacy of students, but to force colleges to be more accountable to the public by revealing such information as accurate enrollment figures and financial aid percentages, as well as graduation, transfer and dropout rates. The data would come from individual students, but their identities would be protected, supporters say.

Right now, the plan has no legs. The House included in its higher education bill a prohibition on such a plan; the Senate bill ignored it; and some powerful legislators oppose it. Nonetheless, private institutions are fretting that the Department of Education will find a way around Congress to implement it.

The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities yesterday released a survey reporting that 62 percent of the respondents oppose a federal data-collection effort, with 45 percent strongly against it.

Read the rest of the article.

Pre-law advising available during the summer

The College of Liberal Arts' Career and Community Learning Center is the pre-law advising office for all students at the U of M, Twin Cities. If your student is thinking about law school, he or she can make an appointment with CCLC during the summer by calling 612-624-7577 or stopping in the office in 135 Johnston Hall.

CCLC also has lots of pre-law info at www.cclc.umn.edu/prelaw

July 1, 2006

Build the proposed University Avenue LRT line

...the Star Tribune urges:

Minnesota's 30-year feud over transportation isn't entirely over. Metro and outstate interests still fight over money, and transit still feels a stepchild to roads. But the great "bus or light rail" dispute that left the Twin Cities decades behind on transit development appears to be over. The right answer, of course, is that this region needs both buses and trains, a point that the Metropolitan Council should emphasize today as it officially selects light rail as the best transit option for connecting downtown Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Construction could begin by 2010 and trains could be gliding along University Avenue by 2013. That's a full 140 years after both cities first planned (in 1873) to remake the street into a grand, tree-lined boulevard with fountains, statues and a street railway running down the center. Better late than never.

When the new University line joins up with Hiawatha, the region will have the beginnings of an actual light-rail system connecting key destinations -- the downtowns, the University of Minnesota, the Mall of America, the airport and at least two new sports stadiums. The North Star commuter rail line and a number of bus-rapid-transit (BRT) lines will serve as branches. "We will never be New York where a lot of people can get along without cars, but we can make it feasible for families with three or four cars to get down to one or two, and that's a legitimate policy goal," said Met Council Chairman Peter Bell.

The council's decision to support rail over bus turns out to be not so hard after all. BRT would have reached capacity in 2020, not a good value for $241 million. Light rail costs three times more to build, but it is cheaper to operate, delivers more riders over a much longer span of time and attracts far more development.