April 2, 2008
If you’re a suburbanite used to friends graduating left and right, you’re in the minority. A report released today by America’s Promise Alliance has shown that graduation rates for high school students residing in the suburbs are concerning—until one looks at those of urban students.
According to the findings, only 52 percent of students attending principal high schools in the 50 largest cities receive their diploma before leaving. At 70 percent, the nation’s overall graduation rate is much higher but still in need of improvement.
The largest discrepancy between urban and suburban districts was found in Baltimore, Maryland and Columbus, Ohio. Of the students residing in the suburbs of Baltimore, 81.5 percent were able to graduate. Only 34.6 percent of those living in urban districts of the city were able to do the same. The respective graduation percentages for students living in Columbus were 82.9 and 40.9. As one might expect, New York City was not far behind, ranking fourth on the list of cities with the largest gaps in urban and suburban graduation rates.
The results were based on school data retrieved from the 2003-2004 school year leading some to wonder whether the 2001 No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act was in part to blame. Many educators feel that the main goals of the NCLB Act---to minimize student achievement gaps and increase overall scholastic performance--- have not been fulfilled. Both the effectiveness and the steps taken to achieve NCLB aims have been subject to much criticism in past years.
During this year's Scholarships.com scholarship competition, high school seniors from around the country wrote to Scholarships.com to voice their opinions on the NCLB. In doing so, these students were given the opportunity to win $10,000 in scholarship money.
Check back in a few weeks to read the essays of this year's Resolve to Evolve Scholarship winners. If you missed the deadline, don't despair. You may still be eligible for next year's scholarships. For information about currently available awards, try conducting a free college scholarship search.
April 21, 2008
Each year, the Henkel Corporation awards college scholarships to individuals who are literally stuck at prom. This contest encourages student creativity and expression by rewarding individuals for creating the most tapeworthy prom attire---attire made completely out of duck tape. Submitted photographs from eligible couples will be posted online and voted on by site visitors. Criteria will include workmanship, originality, use of colors, accessories and the quantity of duct tape used.
1. One $3,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
2. One $2,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
3. One $1,000 scholarship for each individual in the couple
1. Applicant must be attending a high school prom in the spring of 2008.
2. Applicant must be 14 years of age or older at the time of entry.
3. Applicant must be a legal resident of the US or Canada (excluding the Province of Quebec and Puerto Rico).
4. Applicant may not be an employee of the sponsor or their family member, nor may they live in the same household as an employee.
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
1. Photograph of the couple wearing a prom outfit made completely out of duct tape
2. The individuals’ first names, addresses, telephone numbers, email addresses, ages, grade levels and the name of the closest major city to their home towns
3. A liability, publicity release and consent form signed by each individual; if the applicant is a minor, parental permission is required
4. The high school name, address and telephone number, as well as the date the prom was held.
Further details about the application process and about contacting the scholarship provider can be found by conducting a free college scholarship search. Once the search is completed, students eligible for the award will find it in their scholarship list.
April 23, 2008
In an anticipated statement outlining potential changes to the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), the Department of Education Secretary Margaret Spellings announced new plans to amend the act. Key improvements included the standardization of graduation rate calculations and the heightening of awareness about family tutoring and school transfer options.
Based on current regulations, states are permitted to define not only their benchmarks for academic success, but also the methods for determining their high school graduation rates. The problem with this approach became particularly evident after a study comparing graduation gaps between major cities and suburbs suggested that numerous states fared much worse than their graduation data suggested.
Under the secretary’s new plan, all high schools would have to determine graduation rates by dividing the total number of high school senior graduates by the number of freshman who began four years earlier, with adjustments made for transfer students. Students who took extra years to finish would not be considered to have successfully completed the program, indicated a Los Angeles Times article covering the story. The issue of assisting students attending “at risk” schools was also tackled, with the Secretary proposing an increase in efforts made to inform parents about alternative scholastic options for their children. Students who attend such schools have the option to switch to a more successful district school and additional tutoring opportunities should be made available to them. To address the problem of transportation costs to new schools, Margaret Spellings suggested that funding set aside for that purpose be increased.
In regards to the frequent requests for flexibility in measuring the progress of students with disabilities and those with limited English skills, the Secretary of Education stated, “the Department promulgated regulations to permit States to include in their AYP [Annual Yearly Progress] determinations the proficient and advanced scores of students with disabilities assessed based on alternate and modified academic achievement standards, as well as regulations that provide flexibility in the assessment of, and accountability for, recently arrived and former LEP [Limited English Proficiency]students.”
The official version of this statement will be made available today in the Federal Register, and the public will have 60 days to respond before proceedings move forward.
As the NCLB primarily affects students, Scholarships.com has created an opportunity for them to voice their opinions about its effectiveness. In the 2008 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve Essay Scholarship, high school seniors were asked to determine and elaborate on why the NCLB has or has not been successful in reaching its goals. The number and quality of responses were nothing short of impressive. Winners of the annual Resolve to Evolve competition will be announced on June 30, and their essays will be made available to the public. Top responses will also be forwarded to the proper officials in the hope that we too can be a part of the solution.
January 3, 2008
Legislators are often willing to rearrange the budget in favor of students, but the No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB) may be an exception. President Bush’s plan for improving school standards through regular standardized testing has not received positive feedback from a large portion of teachers across the country. The bill signed into law in 2002 is expiring and will need to be reenacted, or done away with, in the near future.
As far as Minnesota legislators are concerned, the second option is better than the first. Both Republicans and Democrats in the state have been loudly voicing their concerns about the effectiveness of the bill, so much so that they are considering pulling out altogether.
The NCLB mandates that students partake in standardized testing to demonstrate their ability to meet established academic standards, ones that differ from state to state. Teachers whose students don’t meet the grade are held accountable, and schools with poor results may be forced to reassign students to other schools. This is a problem for many educators who feel they can only do so much to whip their students into shape, especially teachers who work in low-income urban areas. The problem has become so great that some schools have been accused of fishing for reasons to expel students whose scores contribute to lowered averages, and in doing so, completely leave students behind.
If it chooses to pull out of the program, Minnesota would be forced to give up some of its funds. According to estimates, Minnesota schools could lose as much as $250 million per year if they choose not to participate. However, legislators claim the state can make up for much of the losses with the money it saves on test preparation. The choice is not an easy one, and more research is needed to clarify the possible repercussions of leaving the program.
Like legislators, Scholarships.com recognizes the influx of passionate responses, both positive and negative, to the No Child Left Behind Act. In an effort to raise awareness and assist students in their search for college scholarships and grants, we have set up the 2008 Scholarships.com Resolve to Evolve $10,000 scholarship. By responding to the question, “Has the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 been successful in fulfilling its purpose,” seven high school seniors will have the chance to win money for college. Another option is to write about the affect rising costs of a postsecondary education have had on students and families and to propose possible solutions for offsetting adverse results. For additional information about this and other scholarships, students can conduct a free college scholarship search.
January 24, 2008
Close your eyes and imagine it. You’re sitting in math class, struggling to keep your eyes open, calculating how many minutes are left in the day. Then you do some mental math to figure out what percentage of the day has already passed, the only math you plan to do that day.
That is until you're snapped out of you boredom-induced coma by a teacher who tells you that effort pays off, literally. Well it’s not a dream. Some students have been getting paid for good test scores, and the trend is slowly spreading. In a number of Texas schools, students have been receiving money for good scores on A.P. exams, and students in Baltimore will soon be expecting the same rewards.
Through the Advancement Placement Incentive Program (APIP), students can earn a few hundred dollars for scoring well on A.P. exams, between $100 and $500 for scores above a 3. One student earned $700 for the tests he took during his junior and senior years of high school.
According to a study put together by Cornell University’s C. Kirabo Jackson, 41 schools have taken part in the APIP program so far, and 61 schools plan to adopt it by 2008. The report shows that financial incentives have been an effective tool in getting students to work harder in their A.P. classes. Improvements of about 30% on ACT and SAT scores have also been attributed to APIP.
According to The Baltimore Sun, some Baltimore schools will soon take a similar approach to raising test scores. The Baltimore program will concentrate on improving graduate exams rather than A.P. tests, but the idea is the same; if you do well, you can earn money, up to $110. Like the APIP, the program will focus on assisting and rewarding students who attend low-income, inner-city schools.
Despite positive results and hopes for continued improvements, both programs have been criticized for their approach. Many feel that bribing students into doing well will take away from the purpose of learning and only teach them to expect payoffs for future efforts. More than the Texas program, the Baltimore version has also been criticized for using public funding to pay students. Unlike the Baltimore version, Texas will mostly use money collected from private donations.
January 25, 2008
Your shot at winning the lottery is not particularly high, but playing is so easy that it’s simply irresistible. Though students should not hinge their entire financial futures on luck alone, lottery scholarships are a fun and easy way to supplement one's scholarship search. Plus, someone has to win. Maybe it'll be you. But before you go lottery crazy, familiarize yourself with the options, and get the facts on lottery scholarships and lottery-funded scholarships (there is a difference).
Lottery Scholarships: There are two kinds of lottery scholarships, ones that are state-sponsored and ones that are sponsored by outside providers, usually businesses. Company-funded lottery scholarships, also known as sweepstakes, pretty much embody what comes to mind when one hears the word “lottery”. Most people are eligible, and the application process is pretty easy; sometimes contact information is the only requirement. Unlike regular lotteries, you don’t have to pay to play. If paying is a requirement, don’t apply; more than enough charge-free awards are available.
Once the entries are in and the lottery deadline passes, the sponsoring company will choose an applicant at random—think computer generations rather than spinning spheres with name ballots. If you’re wearing your lucky socks on selection day, you just might win.
Lottery-Funded Scholarships: Another type of lottery scholarship is the state-sponsored, lottery-funded one. These scholarship prizes are paid for by the big, jackpot of $50 million, kinds of lotteries. A number of states have adopted programs wherein a portion of the revenues received from lottery tickets are used for education programs (both scholarships and school contributions). Not all states participate yet, but it’s quite possible that more will jump on the bandwagon. Tennessee, New Mexico, Maryland, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, New York, South Carolina, Missouri and West Virginia are among those sponsoring lottery-funded scholarship programs.
State eligibility requirements for lottery-funded scholarships vary greatly from state to state, with some states having stricter regulations than others. Usually, students who apply for lottery-funded state scholarships must at the very least attend a high school and college within the state of the program.
Students who apply for certain lottery-funded scholarships must also meet or exceed a particular GPA or standardized test score before applying. For example, only students with a GPA of at least 2.75 may apply for the merit-based Florida Bright Futures Scholarship.
Other states make financial need a requirement. This may partially ease the minds of people who have voiced concerns about lottery-funded scholarships taking from the poor and giving to the middle classes. According to professor of economics Mary O. Borg, a disproportionately large portion of lottery tickets are purchased by low-income customers. These winning are then redistributed largely to middle class students at the expense of the poor.
To find lottery and sweepstake scholarships you may be eligible to receive, conduct a free college scholarship search at Scholarships.com. You can also check out our Scholarships.com "Tell A Friend" $1,000 Sweepstakes contest for a chance to win $1,000 towards your college education!
December 13, 2007
Hey high school seniors (and superstar juniors), how would you like to have your school pay for your AP exams? I’m assuming there are no jeers in the crowd, at least not from students who know that College Board, the administrator of AP tests, charges students $84 for each exam.
Students lucky enough to belong to the numerous high schools in major North Virginia districts no longer have to worry about these rates. Since 1998, numerous counties in the state have been adopting the idea of helping students get an inexpensive head start on a college education. By paying for the students’ tests, these schools have been able to save students hundreds.
Those who take an AP class don’t always stop with one. Many students are taking on increasingly large loads, enrolling in two, three, four, even five college-level classes per year. There are students who begin earlier than that, building up their resume during their junior year. The money they dish out for these tests adds up. Some students take advantage of the discount prices offered to low-income students, but most can't count on them.
Many North Virginia schools take care of this problem by entirely covering the cost of the exam. The testing fee policies do vary by school, and not all students can expect the same assistance. In return for the coverage, some schools require that all students take the exams. Others do not. Some cover the whole cost, and others only pay a portion of the fee. Regardless, these schools deserve props for helping students meet their financial needs. It would be nice if the word spread to other states.
September 12, 2007
The terms "weighted" and "unweighted" get thrown around a lot when students reach their senior year of high school. Scholarship providers, grant providers, employees and colleges are frequently unified in their interest in a student’s Grade Point Average (GPA). They are not as unified in the GPA format they would like to see.
This is what is they mean when they ask for your weighted or unweighted GPA.
Many schools offer accelerated and Advanced Placement (AP) classes to students who show academic merit. To distinguish an “A” in the advanced geometry class from that in the regular one, schools often assign a different point system to harder classes. They may, for example, bump up a student’s grade by .5 points if the class they took was accelerated. Therefore, a student with three “Bs” in a regular class may have a 3.0 GPA while one with three “Bs” in advanced classes may have a 3.5 GPA. If a student takes only accelerated classes and their school bumps up each accelerated grade by one point, they may potentially earn a 5.0 GPA. The weight a school assigns to each class varies, and straight “A” students can graduate with different weighted GPAs depending on the school they attended.
The unweighted GPA is the average of all class grades based on a 4.0 scale. If the student earned an “A” in an advanced English class, the unweighted grade would still be a 4.0-- the corresponding number on standard grade conversion charts--instead of, for example, a 4.5. Regardless of class level, each class is graded on the same point system. Things can get a bit confusing when schools have an unweighted scale but still offer and “A+” that is worth 4.3 points. While still unweighted, this GPA is higher than a 4.0.
Generally, however, an unweighted GPA peaks at 4.0. Students who have taken accelerated classes may have lower GPAs on this scale, but those who have a regular schedule may fare better in class rank once everyone is on the same playing field. Because the weight a school attaches to each accelerated class varies, an unweighted GPA allows schools and award providers to see a student’s performance on the same scale, regardless of the school they attended. Unfortunately, additional efforts exerted in advanced classes may not be as visible.
At Scholarships.com, students are asked to state their GPAs on a 4.0 scale. Students who received anything above a 4.0 should record their GPA as 4.0. If a scholarship provider asks the student for GPA information, they may then offer in-depth information.
September 13, 2007
In a press release published yesterday, CollegeBoard, a not-for-profit organization administering the AP and SAT tests, announced the results of their 2007 Education Pays study. According to the study, college graduates not only earn more, but also contribute more to society.It was found that 43% of individuals ages 25 and older who received their bachelor’s degree volunteered this year, compared with only 19% of those who had a high school diploma. Of those who volunteered, those with a bachelor’s degree reported having volunteered an average of 55 hours wile those with a high school degree reported volunteering an average of 53 hours in the past year.
In addition to volunteer work, college graduates were more likely to donate blood and to vote. They also placed more importance on efforts to understand the opinions of others. The reported significance of mutual understanding increased gradually and in line with the level of education. Of inviduals polled, 59% of those without a high school education said that trying to understand the opinions of others was important compared with 67% of those with an associates degree and 79% of those with a master’s degree.
That college grads earned more came as no surprise. Based on reports of the mean earning of full-time year-round workers ages 25 and older, those with a high school degree earned $24,900 after taxes, those with an associate’s degree earned $31,500, those with a bachelor’s degree earned $39,000, and those with a master’s earned $46,000 after taxes.
The report also indicated that although progress had been made in increasing higher education opportunities, the education levels of those coming from high-income families were still much greater than those of low income families.
Students don’t have to let money be a deterrent in receiving a college education. By visiting Scholarships.com, students can find myriad scholarship and grant opportunities. Students who visit the site can also plan ahead by comparing colleges and by researching information about various sources of financial aid. All of this comes at the low cost of zero dollars. No shipping and no handling charges apply.
September 25, 2007
The debate on whether ACT and SAT scores are an accurate tool for assessing student abilities has been going on for years. Even though recent studies found SAT scores to be less effective in predicting long-term college success than was previously thought, dealing with these tests is still pretty much unavoidable. Until standardized tests are out of sight and out of mind, students should do their best to get acquainted with them. Below is a sampling of average college SAT and ACT scores as reported by the Department of Education. To find more college ACT and SAT scores, information about estimated costs of attendance, and the number of applicants at schools across the U.S., check out our college search.
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