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December 28, 2006

Special Basketball ticket pricing for parents

The Athletics Dept is offering University parents special pricing to selected Big 10 mens and womens basketball games this winter.

Click here to be directed to a site where you can buy tickets for a discounted price, using the promotional code "Parent".

The games are all scheduled for weekend afternoons--here's the schedule:

Women v Penn on Jan 21
Men v Penn on Jan 27
Women v Indiana on Feb 11
Men v Michigan on Feb 24

I've been to both mens and womens basketball games in the Barn (Williams Arena) with my family, and we always have a great time.

December 20, 2006

Winter break visits home can bring surprises to both parents and students

From yesterday's Washington Post:

If you're a parent, be forewarned: The homecomers may snack like locusts, sleep like vampires, treat property with the respect of marauding villagers -- yet exude such charm and sweetness that you pray they never leave.

If you're a student, you could be in for an awakening, too. You may wonder why your old room is suddenly a workout spa, why your parents consider a major in folklore impractical and why the very air at home seems to transform you into the child you were sure you'd left behind.

Ah, the joys and oys of the school-break family reunion.

Nearly 85 percent of freshmen at four-year colleges and universities ditched their familial digs in 2005, and 12.6 percent of 263,710 freshmen surveyed lived more than 500 miles from home, according to the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA. Considering that even more upperclassmen likely don't live with Mom and Dad, that means many happy -- or not-so-happy -- reunions across the country this winter break.

Parents eager to catch up may find that their child offers little family time or is reluctant to share her thoughts. When she does talk, parents may discover she's questioning their values or has chosen a lifestyle at odds with theirs. Bam: They've been fired from an 18-year job.

Read the whole thing.

Let us know in the comments section how things are going for your family over winter break.

December 18, 2006

Course offers students credit for career planning

A 1-credit course offered by the College of Food, Agricultural and Natural Resource Sciences helps students from any major prepare to search for a job or internship. Here's the description for CFAN 4201:

Want to get ahead of the competition when searching for jobs and internships? This 1 credit course is ideal for undergraduate and graduate students in any major seeking internships and/or full time work. It is recommended that you have 45+ credits before registering for this course. This course covers topics that will prepare you for your job/internship search including skills assessment, resume writing, interviewing, job searching and salary negotiation.

December 14, 2006

Career preparation high on students' list when determining the value of their college education

Story from the The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Students entering their first year of college consider career preparation the most crucial factor in determining the value of their postsecondary education, according to a new report from Eduventures, an education consulting firm.

Of 6,200 traditional-age college freshmen surveyed, 72 percent said "professional preparation" was very important to them, while 62 percent ranked the "strength of the academic program" in the same category. Almost half, or 47 percent, said affordability was very important, according to the report.

"Many enrollment managers assume that students will equate academic strength with career preparation in determining the return on investment for their education," said James Quinn, a senior enrollment-management analyst for Eduventures. "But as tuition rates rise and the amount of debt students take on increases, they're looking at a lot of other factors beyond that when choosing their college."

Students in the survey said they viewed programs and services that would assist them in career-development efforts as the most likely indicators of a college's commitment to professional preparation. The three most significant factors that convey that commitment to students are the opportunities a college provides for internships, the quality of its career office, and job-placement records of its graduates.

Although many admissions officials are aware of the importance students place on career preparation, Mr. Quinn said few institutions provide significant data on the success of their job-placement efforts. Most remain focused on marketing their institutional success in terms of the grades and test scores of the students they attract, he said.

"Enrollment managers have the opportunity to lead the industry by shifting their priorities in terms of what they measure," said Mr. Quinn. "The colleges and universities that provide that data will be ahead of the curve."

A major factor influencing the emphasis students assign to career placement is the rising cost of attending college. A college senior's average debt burden had more than doubled from 1993 to 2004, according to the Eduventures study.

Furthermore, the affordability of a college education has become an important factor for a growing spectrum of students. According to the study, more than half of students whose families have an income greater than $150,000 said the cost of attendance was "very important" or "important" to them.

The report, "Key Drivers of Educational Value: The Emergence of Educational ROI," is available only to members of Eduventures' Learning Collaborative Program in Enrollment Management. More information about Eduventures is available on the company's Web site.

No link because this is the entire story.

U to be named one of top wired US campuses

PC magazine, in its January edition (which will be available online tomorrow), will name the U one of the nation's top wired campuses.

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Gopher Basketball Promotion for Parents

This winter, the Gopher Athletics Department is going to be offering a special promotion for parents who want to attend Mens Basketball games in the Barn (aka Williams Arena).

Parents will be offered a special rate of $20 per ticket (for tickets that usually run $30) for 3 Saturday Big 10 games--a great value.

I'll post more information as soon as I have it, but just wanted to let you know that this is in the works.

December 13, 2006

Governor and Legislature pledge to limit tuition increases

From today's Minnesota Daily:

Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty and legislative leaders from both parties pledged Tuesday to limit University tuition increases when the Legislature reconvenes next month.

At a wide-ranging news conference beneath the Capitol rotunda, DFL and Republican leaders offered a preview of the upcoming session, in which lawmakers will approve University funding for the 2008-2009 biennium.

Although taxes, health care and transportation issues often dominated the discussion - and prompted most of the infrequent disagreement - lawmakers found common ground in their support for more affordable college.

"We know the economics of this tuition equation," said House Speaker-elect Margaret Anderson Kelliher, DFL-Minneapolis. "When Minnesotans have access to education, they make more money for their families."

December 12, 2006

Students should protect themselves from identity theft

Today's Minnesota Daily looks at the threat of online identity theft.

A survey conducted by The Minnesota Daily found that 80 percent of students are concerned someone could steal their identity using information found on the Internet.

Identity theft often occurs among University students, said Carol Jacobsen, a paralegal with Student Legal Services who specializes in the crime.

The most common way of stealing information is backpack and purse stealing, she said. Contacting people via e-mail - phishing - is the next most common.

Phishing "is a good way to gain information," Jacobsen said. "The thieves work in the privacy of their own dwelling; they don't have to leave home to do that kind of identity theft. That's the scariest thing about it."

Information can also be stolen through poorly managed personal documents, Jacobsen said.

Last May, I wrote and posted the following information about identity theft; you may want to review it and share it with your student.

People aged 18 to 29 are the group most commonly victimized by identity theft. That was the surprising finding of a recent survey conducted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

Thirty-one percent of the victims of identity theft fall into that age group.

Although college students may think they are unlikely victims—usually working part-time and owning few assets—they are actually attractive targets. Students are uniquely vulnerable to identity theft because of the public availability of their personal information, their easy access to credit--many receiving daily or weekly credit card solicitations in the mail--and their lack of attention to credit issues. The FTC survey found that almost ninety percent of the identity theft cases at universities occur without the victim realizing it for several months.

Identity thieves use the personal and financial information they gather about their unsuspecting victims to assume their identities and acquire credit in their name. Victims can eventually clear their names and credit histories, but it can be a lengthy and time-consuming process.

In some cases, thieves gain access to victims’ checking routing numbers from the bottom of their checks and withdraw money directly from their accounts.

So how can you help your student protect his or her reputation, credit history, and bank account? Here are a few suggestions you can discuss with your student:

• Make sure the door to your room or apartment is always locked.
• Do not give your credit or debit card numbers, your personal identification numbers (PINs), or passwords to anyone, even your roommates or close friends.
• When choosing a PIN, don’t use obvious numbers such as your birth date, last four digits of your social security number, address, or any consecutive numbers.
• Remove unnecessary personal information from your checks, such as middle name, phone number, social security number or driver’s license number.
• Do not give out personal or financial information over the phone or the internet unless you know with whom you’re doing business.
• Beware of “phishing,? e-mails that look like they come from your bank or other business institution and ask recipients to “verify? or disclose their banking information.
• Shred or tear into small pieces pre-approved credit offers that arrive in the mail before throwing them in the garbage or recycling bin.
• Monitor your banking, credit card and phone statements and report any unauthorized activity.
• Monitor your credit report. Consumers can receive a free copy of their report yearly from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

Additionally, don’t let your student get in the habit of giving others access to his or her passwords and PINS. If you need access to your student’s University student records for financial or other reasons, ask the student to grant you guest access by logging in to One Stop and clicking on Parent/Guest Access rather than asking for the account’s password.

December 11, 2006

Tax breaks on higher ed expenses extended

In the wee hours of Saturday morning, the U.S. Senate joined the House of Representatives in passing legislation that will extend a slew of popular tax breaks, including two with coveted by colleges. The measure, passed by a 79 to 9 margin in the Senate, is on its way to President Bush, who is expected to sign it.

One provision would extend through 2007 a tax deduction for “qualified higher education expenses,? which is available even to taxpayers who do not itemize deductions on their federal returns. The provision, which expired at the end of 2005, applies retroactively to the current 2006 calendar year.

Under the provision, individuals who earn less than $65,000, and couples who earn less than $130,000, can deduct up to $4,000 in tuition and some other college costs for themselves or their children. Individual taxpayers who earn between $65,000 and $80,000, and couples who earn between $130,000 and $160,000, can deduct up to $2,000 in such expenses.

“America is in a race with the rest of the world to grow the strongest, most educated workforce available to attract and keep good-paying jobs here at home,? said Sen. Max Baucus, the Montana Democrat who will head the Senate Finance Committee, which makes tax policy, in the next Congress. “So the tuition deduction is about more than taxes. It’s really about making higher education, whether college or vocational school, affordable and accessible for more of our citizens.?

The rest of the story, from Inside Higher Ed.

Student Bowl trip announced

Also, the Goal Line Club (the Minnesota Football Booster Club) is donating 100 free tickets for students to attend the game--first come, first served. Students, go here to request your ticket.

Schoolrider is offering several different options for students to travel to Tempe via bus --packages start at $379 for triple or quad occupancy.

December 7, 2006

Employers, law enforcement may be checking out students' social networking sites

We've addressed this before in this forum, but it probably bears repeating, especially for those students who are now in the job hunting phase of their college career:

Do not put information about yourself on the internet that could damage your career prospects.

Today's Minnesota Daily has a story illustrating that employers do indeed use the internet and Google to find information about prospective and current employees, even though many students believe this violates their privacy:

A survey conducted by The Minnesota Daily revealed that 31 percent of University students who responded still believe their Internet activities are anonymous.

The survey also asked students whether it is an infringement of privacy for employers, University officials and police to monitor social networking sites. Members of these sites were more likely than non-members to consider these activities violations.

Eighty-five percent of students reported having visited a social networking site and 73 percent of respondents said they are members.

Seventy-two percent of University students consider it a violation for an employer to use social networking sites - like Facebook or MySpace - to check out potential employees. Of those, 20 percent considered it a major violation of privacy, according to the survey.

Although the University does not have a policy of viewing social networking sites for information on students, the University Police sometimes use the sites for identification purposes. In related news, the proposed new student conduct code will go before the regents for a vote tomorrow. There's a story in the MN Daily about it, but it isn't up on their web site for some reason.

December 6, 2006

Graduates increasingly mired in debt

An editorial from the Christian Science Monitor, by way of The Mankato Free Press:

Adults often complain about mixed signals they get from teens, but what about the messages teens get? Here's one with major life implications: Go to college, but graduate with a load of debt. Oh yeah, like that makes getting a degree look real attractive.

The economic health of America's information-driven society depends on how well it educates its young people. So it can't afford to shrug off the mounting student-debt problem with a mere "whatever."

The financial situation facing college graduates today is not what it was in their parents' time. Now, about two-thirds of college students are borrowing; three decades ago, just a third were. And in recent years, the amount of student borrowing has soared. Graduating seniors faced an average of $9,250 in loans a decade ago. Now it's more than twice that, $19,200 (a 58 percent increase after inflation).

The majority of graduates are still able to repay their loans. And it's true that higher earning power for someone with a four-year degree makes this possible. But the trends point toward a worsening situation that needs attention.

Here's the rest of the article.

University asks supporters to contact Gov. Pawlenty

The U has put together a 2009-2009 biennial budget request for $123.4 million in new state funding over the two years; the request will be submitted to the legislature in early 2007.

The governor is also putting together his own biennial budget recommendations for the U to submit to the legislature, and the University is asking its supporters to contact Governor Pawlenty to encourage him to support full funding of the U's request.

Click here if you would like to read more about the request and for a link to send the governor an e-mail.

December 5, 2006

Paratransit service provides transportation for people with mobility issues

I was aware of this service before--curb to curb transportation service for students, staff or visitors to campus with permanent or temporary disabilities provided by Parking and Transportation Services--but have recently had a chance to become more familiar with how this wonderful service works.

After a little "slip and fall" last Friday put me temporarily in a knee brace and on crutches, I was wondering how I would get from my parking spot in the East River Road Garage to my office in Appleby this week. What usually seems like a short hop and a skip to me suddenly loomed as an insurmountable distance.

I called Parking and Transportation to see if I could get a temporary handicapped parking tag so I could park at the meters in front of my building. Unfortunately, no--I would have to get paperwork from my doctor for that, take it to a state office, etc. Even if I had a long-term injury or disability and it was worth it for me to go that route, I learned that I would only be able to park 3 hours at a regular meter with a handicapped plate or hang tag. (The University does have some contract parking spots available for people with disabilities.)

Parking and Transportation suggested I call the Paratransit service which could arrange to pick me up at my parking garage and bring me right to my building each day this week.

The Paratransit number (612-282-6619) takes you right to the driver, who was very helpful and set up times to pick me up today, tomorrow and Thursday morning at the parking garage, and at my office building at the end of each day. So far (i.e. this morning) it's worked exactly as promised.

A couple of things to be aware of--the service operates only on weekdays and only until 5 p.m., and the last pick-up time is 4:45. Also, there's only one van so you won't necessarily get your preferred pick-up time (tomorrow I'll have to come in early at 7:30 in order to use the service since the later times were already booked).

Parents have told me on a couple of occasions that the Paratransit service was very helpful to their students with permanent or temporary disabilities--now I can vouch myself for what a lifesaver this service is!