Given how important money is to all but the most fiscally privileged of high school and college kids, nobody should be shocked to find out that financial rewards stand as some of the most common incentives when it comes to encouraging heightened graduation rates. Depending on the institution and level, this could mean anything from loan forgiveness to tuition discounts. Tests run by MDRC concluded that the most effective strategies for encouraging students to graduate early or on time all involve addressing their economic concerns. Most of these programs require recipients to maintain a minimum GPA, of course, and grades seem to increase alongside degree completion when money enters the mix. For low-income enrollees especially, these incentives prove particularly viable.
As with all things involving expenditures, providing monetary rewards and incentives, critiques both valid and invalid exist dissecting both overarching efficacy and best practices. One of the most curious, however, peers into issues of development. High school students qualified to graduate early raise questions about whether their emotional maturity complements their academic aptitude. As much as test scores might reflect a heightened chance at collegiate (or even post-collegiate) success, some (but by no means all) students simply aren’t cut out for enrolling until they grow up a little. No definitive test exists for whether they can handle the unique demands colleges require, however, and some express concerns that incentives might end up wasted in some of these instances. Other issues regarding rewards revolve around some packaged with built-in penalties. Students at California State University actively protest the system’s proposals involving paying the school if certain graduation goals go unmet. Ostensibly, levying fines like $91 for every class repeated and $182 for enrolling in more than 18 hours lowers the rate of dropped and overloaded classes. But for the ones paying up, these hefty fees mean additional expenditures in an already crowded budget. Many feel as if such penalties actively hinder the path toward graduating on time and/or with the desired GPA rather than accomplishing their projected goals.
Meanwhile, in the marketplace, employers enjoying comparatively more resources offer up tuition reimbursements in their benefits packages, though usually stipulating relevance to the position, completion, and/or some minimum degree of sticking around following graduation. As of 2008, at least 50% of American companies provide educational perks, though only 15% apply that toward any course workers wish to take. Most people tend to associate this generous benefit with MBAs, but some employers have started adding bachelor’s degrees as well. Employees in San Francisco, Oakland, and Sacramento whose companies offer up tuition waivers can snag online diplomas for free thanks to UniversityNow’s College Works initiative (it only offers a business major so far). Even individuals serving the city of Oakland qualify in a move that certainly pleases local government officials desiring a more educated workforce. Participants cite the online format as ideal when it comes to balancing their lives and their jobs, which so often compromise graduation in more traditional settings.
But it isn’t just college graduates and lucky employees receiving perks for making it through school. Programs such as YesPhilly, based out of the eponymous Pennsylvania city, use art and awards to encourage GED completion. It also incorporates life skill and art training alongside rewards like free laptops in order to prepare participants for higher education. Within the span of 18 months, 30 students finished their high school equivalency exams and 18 went straight on into college. Such preparation directly feeds into the national First in the World initiative that wants an additional 8 million Americans to complete a college degree by 2020 and offers individual states $20 million and $50 million grants if they establish successful strategies meant to bolster the graduation rate. The Department of Education suggests tuition freezes or stabilization and a more streamlined credit transfer system to make college accessible to a wider demographic.
It must be invigorating for speakers to address college students. Looking out on those fresh young faces, full of optimism and not yet grayed by the cares and hypocrisies of the world, would be enough to stir anyone to deliver words of importance, words about ideas and movements that are going to change the world. After all, the ones who are going to carry out those changes (or fight to ensure the opposite happens, as the case may be) are right there listening. From presidents to paupers, these 10 speakers gave the most historic speeches ever on a college campus.
JFK’s presidency was filled with unforgettable statements that now dot the American lexicon. And while his address at American University’s 1963 commencement was a seminal moment in American foreign policy at the time, it is his remarks on a hot September day at Rice Stadium that are still recalled 50 years later. It was here that the president famously said Americans "choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard…" Kennedy was a huge believer in the space program at a time the country was uncertain on how much money should be devoted to Apollo. With his moving vow that Americans would not see the moon "governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace," JFK gave all Americans a reason to believe, as well.
Even PC fanboys can’t deny the influence of the business and cultural juggernaut that was Steve Jobs. His commencement talk at Stanford in 2005 became an instant classic known as the "Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish" speech. In it, the Apple legend discussed his own college experience that ended with his dropping out; love and loss; and death. At his passing in 2011, many harked back to the poignant words he had spoken while dealing with the pancreatic cancer that would claim his life: "Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."
Berkeley students like Mario Savio spent the summer of ’64 fighting for civil rights in Mississippi. On their return to the "comfort and security of Berkeley," Savio said they couldn’t forget the people they had tried to help. But back on campus they were faced with the prospect of a ban on political activism. As things came to a head between students and the administration in December, Savio came to the microphone on the steps of Sproul Hall and delivered the speech that would make him the father of the free speech movement: "There’s a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious — makes you so sick at heart — that you can’t take part … And you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop."
This is probably the only time Ronald Reagan and Mario Salvo have been mentioned in the same breath. As president, Mr. Reagan had made a career of badmouthing the Soviet Union, dubbing it the "evil empire" and stoking the (icy) flames of the Cold War. Which is why his invitation to talk to students and faculty at Moscow State University — and the way Reagan made use of the opportunity — still stands as an unforgettable part of his legacy and both countries’ histories. He spoke directly to the young men and women in the audience, praising American values and describing how one could "go to any American town" and see freedom in action. It was an appeal to the idealism of youth that at least one president has since evoked.
This speech is remembered more for its location than the words of its speaker. In the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka declaring segregated schools unconstitutional, Alabama governor George Wallace of "segregation now, segregation forever" fame stuck to his racist guns by marching up the steps of Foster Auditorium and staging his "Stand in the Schoolhouse Door." In a melodramatic attempt to prevent black students from entering, Wallace declared his "refusal to submit to the central government’s illegal use of power." But submit was exactly what he did, to the national guard, in a move that signaled to the entire country that desegregation’s time had totally arrived.
President Kennedy was originally invited to be the keynote speaker at Michigan’s Class of ’64 graduation, but after his assassination, another invitation was extended to his successor. LBJ accepted, and after a White House pool skinny-dipping brainstorming session, he decided he would use the occasion to unveil his new, sweeping social program he collectively called "the Great Society." He peppered the phrase into his monologue, saying the Great Society "rests on abundance and liberty for all" and "demands an end to poverty and racial injustice." Campaigns that still survive, like Medicare and Medicaid, and game-changing laws like the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965, all had their groundwork laid that day, in that speech.
Carmichael arguably does not enjoy the level of recognition awarded to some of his peers in the civil rights movement, but in much of the ’60s he was an important part of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and later of the Black Panthers. Although he had been using the phrase for several months, this speech at Berkeley is the one that is immortalized under the title "Black Power." Probably it is remembered that way because the image of Carmichael lecturing a crowd of privileged, white college kids is so stark and indelible. He told them, "We are now engaged in a psychological struggle in this country, and that is whether or not black people will have the right to use the words they want to use without white people giving their sanction to it … but we are not going to wait for white people to sanction Black Power …"
Who remembers their U.S. history and can tell us what the Marshall Plan was? Or containment? Anyone? Bueller? OK, well, George Marshall’s famous plan was to come to the aid of war-torn European countries after WWII to help them rebuild. (The fact that this would help keep them from going Commie didn’t hurt, either.) To a crowd of 15,000 graduating seniors and their families in Harvard Yard, Marshall said, "The United States should do whatever it is able to do to assist in the return of normal economic health in the world, without which there can be no political stability and no assured peace. Our policy is not directed against any country, but against hunger, poverty, desperation and chaos." Such became official policy, and six years later Marshall was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize for his role as its architect.
In early 1916, Gandhi was back in his native India after two decades of helping Indians in South Africa overcome discrimination. Back in his motherland, he quickly became a prominent leader, hence his invitation to speak at the opening of the Banaras Hindu University. The opulently-adorned audience was in for a surprise once the slight, unassuming man in the simple cloak and turban took the podium. "I compare with the richly bedecked noble men the millions of the poor," he said, referring to his listeners like the Maharaja of Darbhanga and others. "And I feel like saying to these noble men, ‘There is no salvation for India unless you strip yourselves of this jewelry and hold it in trust for your countrymen in India.’" The commotion his words stirred up prevented him from finishing the speech, but he had set the tone for what would become the quintessential grassroots civil rights campaign.
This one might be more appropriately filed under "infamous," but few talks given on college campuses boast a speaker who has been the focus of so much international attention and whose words echo around the globe. As hundreds of people protested on campus and at other spots in Manhattan, the president of Iran shared his thoughts on some of the most hot-button topics of the last half century or so: the Holocaust, homosexuality (specifically that it doesn’t exist in Iran), Israel, Iran’s nuclear proliferation, 9/11, and the U.S.’ activities in the Middle East. It was a classic illustration that even a man with ideas as anathema to Americans as Ahmadinejad can find the freedom to speak his mind within the halls of academia.
The Nobel Prize is one of the most prestigious awards in the world and has recognized some of the world’s best thinkers and leaders for more than 100 years. Yet not every decision the Nobel Committee has made has been popular or even historically and scientifically sound. The committee has been subject to a wide range of accusations of bias, prejudice, and just plain ignorance over its history. And the winners themselves? Many may have made brilliant discoveries while embracing controversial politics and perhaps even major ethical violations. As a result, the Nobel Prize has a long history of scandal that has tarnished the sanctity of many an award. Here are just a few of note to look at, as we learn the names of new award winners on December 10th.
Danish doctor Johannes Fibiger won the prestigious prize in 1926 for his research on cancer, but the honor would go down as being one of the most dubious in Nobel history. The prize was awarded to Fibiger after he reported discovering the cause of gastric cancer in rats: parasitic worms carried by common cockroaches. At the time, this was a major breakthrough in research, as doctors were furiously hunting for the causes of abnormal cell growth in humans, and the idea that it was caused by infection was quite popular. Had the discovery been legitimate, Fibiger would have gone down in the annals of history as one of the most important scientists of all time, but unfortunately for him, he hadn’t quite been thorough with his experiments. While Fibiger was a meticulous researcher, he neglected one key part of any scientific experiment: the control group, an oversight that would taint his reputation and his Nobel Prize. As it turns out, the parasites carried by the cockroaches weren’t the cause of cancer in rats (or in humans) and the lesions and tumors he found in the rats carrying them weren’t cancer but simply benign growths caused by vitamin deficiencies, a fact Fibiger would have noted had he had a control group. While Fibiger was discredited in the mid-1930s, it was not until 2004 that the Nobel committee admitted its mistake.
Chemist Fritz Haber’s Nobel Prize win wasn’t tainted by the fact that he did poor research or was inaccurate in his conclusions. Quite the opposite, as Haber was a brilliant and meticulous scientist. Haber’s disgrace is far more disturbing, sadly. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work on what is now called the Haber process, a method for synthesizing ammonia that made it possible to manufacture more effective fertilizers (though it should be noted that the process also aids in the production of explosives). Today, food production for half the world’s population depends on this method, and Haber’s work has helped to reduce or end famine in places all over the world. Unfortunately, Haber’s research wasn’t all beneficial to society. He is today known as the "father of chemical warfare" because he helped to develop many of the chemical weapons, like chlorine gas, that were used by Germany in World War I, weapons that resulted in tens of thousands of deaths. Since then, there have been numerous calls to posthumously strip Haber of his award, though the Nobel committee stands by its decision.
Sometimes, discoveries honored by the Nobel Committee start off sounding like a good idea, but a few decades later are out of fashion and, in this case, considered downright inhumane. In 1949, the Nobel Committee couldn’t decide which doctor was most deserving of the award, and so it was divided between Walter Rudolf Hess for his work in understanding how the brain controls the internal organs and Portuguese neurologist Antonio Egas Moniz for his development of the prefrontal lobotomy. At the time, this form of psychosurgery was considered to be a revolutionary and effective way of helping those with serious mental illnesses. Just a few years later, however, critics would (rightly) point to serious moral and ethical problems with the practice that would cause it to fall out of use and Moniz’s name to fall into disgrace.
William Shockley may have been a brilliant physicist, but it was his personal political views that led to not only his Nobel win being disgraced but his career as a whole. The aptly named Shockley would win the Nobel Prize in 1956 (along with John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain) for his role in the invention of the transistor, a development that made possible the wide array of electronics and innovations we use today. While certainly deserving of the prize for his work, Shockley would eventually alienate himself from the scientific community and the public through his support of the eugenics movement. As part of his mission to improve human genetics, Shockley donated sperm to the Repository for Germinal Choice, a sperm bank developed to spread humanity’s best genes. His racism and radical ideas would eventually ruin his reputation and undo any honor afforded by the Nobel Prize.
Doctor Harald zur Hausen was honored with the Nobel Prize in 2008 for his discovery that HPV causes cervical cancer. That this discovery is significant and could potentially save lives is inarguable, but his winning of the Nobel Prize would cause a huge amount of scandal nonetheless. Why? Because of corporate sponsorship. As it turns out, pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca had recently begun sponsoring the Nobel website and had links to two senior figures on the medicine prize’s selection committee. More importantly, it held a stake in two HPV vaccines which would be much more publicized, and profitable, with a Nobel Prize linked to them. Unfortunately for Dr. zur Hausen (who was not found to have a role in the scandal), his prize would be tainted by a Swedish police investigation into improper influence, and while charges were never brought against AstraZeneca, the 2008 prize will always be associated with this alleged impropriety.
The decision of the Nobel Committee to award its peace prize to former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was perhaps one of the most controversial in the history of the award. Jointly awarded to Kissinger and North Vietnamese leader Le Duc Tho, the award was intended to honor the duo for their work on the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, an arrangement intended to bring about a cease-fire in the Vietnam War and a withdrawal of the American forces. Le Duc Tho declined his part of the award, citing the fact that there was no actual peace in Vietnam at the time (and he disliked Kissinger), but Kissinger accepted, causing quite a commotion around the world. Those familiar with history will understand why, as Kissinger was not exactly a proponent of peace. He had prompted the bombing of Cambodia and Laos, played a major role in Operation Condor, a campaign of kidnapping and murder in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay, caused the death of French nationals under the Chilean Junta, and caused Cyprus to be divided into two by supporting Turkish intervention. When the award was announced, two Norwegian Nobel Committee members resigned in protest. The award remains one of the most controversial Nobel decisions to this day.
Pauling is one of the few people in history to win a Nobel Prize in more than one category, first taking home a prize in chemistry for his work on the nature of chemical bonds in 1954. While Pauling had worked on numerous weapons projects for the U.S. military during his career, the advent of the nuclear era gave him pause and he became a fervent peace advocate, along with scientific heavy hitters like Albert Einstein who were calling for the end of nuclear testing. His enthusiasm would cause Pauling some problems, however, in the McCarthy-era world. He would have his passport withdrawn by the U.S. State Department and was accused numerous times of having communist leanings. The peace prize only added fuel to the fire, as did the International Lenin Peace Prize he won from the USSR in 1970. He was ordered to appear before the Senate Internal Security Subcommittee and was dogged with communist rumors for years, despite remaining a pivotal figure in the scientific community and one of the greatest American scientists of all time.
American politician Cordell Hull was the U.S.’s longest-serving Secretary of State, holding office for 11 years during the tenure of FDR. In 1945, after WWII, Hull was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his role in establishing the United Nations. While the development of the UN may have been a bright spot in a world recovering from a devastating war, Hull winning the prize was not without controversy. In 1939, the SS St. Louis had arrived in the U.S. with almost 950 Jewish refugees on board, seeking asylum from Nazi persecution. Despite FDR wanting to help, Hull, together with a group of Southern Democrats, put up strong opposition by threatening to withdraw their support for FDR in the upcoming election if the refugees were allowed to stay. In the end, the ship was denied entry and the refugees were forced to return to Europe where some were allowed to stay in the U.K. and other European nations, though more than a quarter of the passengers would eventually die in the Holocaust.
There is no debate that the discovery of the structure of DNA was a huge boon to science, but the decision of the Nobel Committee to award only these three men for it was certainly controversial, and has been a point of contention since the award was announced in 1962. Like many major discoveries, the revelation that DNA had a helical structure wasn’t the result of the research of any one person, instead relying on the insights of several bright scientists working at the time. Among them were Alec Stokes, Herbert Wilson, and Erwin Chargaff, and Oswald Avery. Yet the researcher most shortchanged by the honor was Rosalind Franklin, whose work contributed directly to Watson and Crick solving the mystery of the DNA molecule’s structure. What’s worse, many believe that Watson and Crick bent (or just plain disregarded) ethical rules by looking at Franklin’s data without her permission or knowledge, with information about her unpublished work given to them by Wilkins, a co-worker of Franklin’s. Allegations of sexism have plagued the honor for decades and it remains a major point of contention today, especially with Watson’s history of racist, sexist, and homophobic outbursts.
German chemist Otto Hahn was a pioneer in the fields of radioactivity and radiochemistry and is today regarded as one of the most important figures in the development of nuclear chemistry. Hahn’s prize was for his work with nuclear fission, a discovery that would eventually lead to the development of nuclear weapons, a connection that Hahn would always deeply regret. His award is not only tainted by the death of thousands of civilians at the hands of those who would use his work to develop atomic weaponry, but also to a glaring omission (many believe to be due to personal biases) by the Nobel Committee itself. Like many other scientists honored by the Nobel Prize, Hahn was not working alone on his discovery. He was aided by physicist Lise Meitner, who played a key role in helping to puzzle out how nuclear fission works and the two had worked together on the papers that were key to Hahn getting the award. Today, her exclusion from the award is considered one of the most glaring oversights by the Nobel committee of all time (though she was nominated 13 times, she never received an award). Though it certainly does help that element 109, Meitnerium, was named after her.
With the tantalizing promise of a holiday break hovering over students everywhere, hopping back into the routine come January will more than likely prove something of a chore. Thankfully, the Internet exists. And it hosts some great speeches and lectures from across time and (terrestrial, obviously) space to help jumpstart that enthusiasm. Start 2013 off solidly by turning toward these videos of some famous folks hoping to inspire thoughts of character and success.
David McCullough at Wellesley High School delivered a commencement speech that managed to hit viral status because of the sharp truth behind his words. In a society that celebrates narcissism and ego as desirable traits, it’s refreshing – and wholly necessary – to hear someone use a platform normally reserved for stoking unwarranted entitlement issues in the service of dismantling them.
Let next semester be the one where you work hard, (hopefully) do well, and — more than anything — show a little love to your fellow students and teachers. Keep the confidence, ditch the narcissism, and sign up for projects meant to promote empathy and compassion in a so often cold and unfeeling world. Or, at least, campus.
It might seem unusual to include a concession speech in an article meant to pump you up, but let us explain (and let us also declare our decision entirely nonpartisan). When Hillary Clinton lost the Democratic Party’s nomination to Barack Obama in 2008, she devoted her time at the podium to declaring her progress a groundbreaking victory for women in politics. Her speech stands as an example of how to step down graciously and wring positives out of negatives.
Carnegie Mellon professor Randy Pausch famously dedicated his last lecture before passing of pancreatic cancer to the importance of not completely letting go of the imagination and drive coloring childhood. Be realistic, of course, but he dishes out stellar advice about staying focused and achieving goals without retreating into tired old generic platitudes.
Without compromising on inspiration, the actor and comedian encourages the 2011 graduating class at Northwestern to try and succeed, but stay humble and — for god’s sake — gain some perspective. As he points out so eloquently, and hilariously, good people fail and terrible people succeed; their worth does not rely on how well or how poor they proved at achieving their dreams.
By all means, power on headfirst into next semester like a rhino with a rocket strapped to its butt, because that’s an absolutely amazing image and we hope you love it too. Do keep in mind, however, that absolutely no shame exists in admitting weakness and vulnerability when life grows too overwhelming.
The luckiest (not to mention probably the wisest) students find inspiration in mentors and other educators and professionals who broke ground, paved the way before them, and other familiar metaphors. At the 20th Annual AFI Lifetime Achievement Awards, actor Denzel Washington illustrates how to properly pay homage to the men and women we look up to for advice and guidance.
Tawakkol Karman’s 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Lecture might involve geopolitics outside most students’ influence (what we’re trying to say here is, next semester you probably won’t contribute to nuclear disarmament. Sorry, but it’s true), but it remains an inspiring watch imploring humanity to gravitate toward a more harmonious, tolerant outlook. Apply her worldwide perspective to more localized issues and conflicts to try and contribute just that much more to what she hopes for the future.
In this incredibly rare (and brief) footage of Rudyard Kipling from 1933, the celebrated British author may wax hyperbolic, but he discusses why veracity and truth remain paramount priorities to writers of all types. This beautiful, eloquent little work, darlings, should also be a paramount priority in academia.
If there’s one thing students universally complain about, it’s definitely time, but the legendary psychologist (yes, that is a thing people can be) behind the Stanford Prison Experiment believes a shift in perceiving it could help life flow a little slower. Hear what he has to say about the relationship between understanding how we nestle into chronology and our overarching sense of happiness.
Civil Rights figurehead Martin Luther King Jr.’s world famous speech on equality between races still resonates into today, where many individuals and demographics still wind up squashed beneath institutional oppression and marginalization. Although the full video cannot be made legally available, his words still inspire more than just students looking to forge a more whole, more just society.
With warmth and humor, the adorable Parks & Recreation star explains how nobody’s life passes in a vacuum — everyone needs some degree of interaction with others in order to survive and grow. Spend next semester connecting more with loved ones and reaching out toward others who might need your love and support when things get difficult.
JFK is lauded for launching America’s space program, and this speech is just plain inspiring. The United States literally reached for the sky on this one, folks, and managed to succeed; you can, too, but you’re probably going to have to invest hefty amounts of time and probably money, as well as fail, before finally discovering exactly what you need.
All reasonable individuals these days believe that gendered violence remains one of the nastiest stains left on the human race, and this activist used his TED platform to discuss the social factors that keep allowing it to happen. Specifically, rigid adherence to expectations that men must act a certain way, women must act a certain way, and never the twain shall meet; try to make this coming semester one that busts up stereotypes and promotes safety.
One of the foremost neurosurgeons and postmodern psychologists survived the Holocaust and emerged with some deep insight into the nature of human resilience — and even kindness. His remarkable lecture on discovering meaning and tilling a sense of compassion and empathy illustrates why we need two of the most important personality qualities in life.
Even viewers who don’t know the difference between a Muggle and a Mugwump can still soak up some life lessons from author J.K. Rowling’s speech to the Harvard University Alumni Association. Rather than approaching failure (not, as we should probably add, genuine trauma) as solid evidence of inferiority, get creative and find ways to maneuver not-so-goodness into a more encouraging opportunity.
Students don’t have to strive toward work in a creative industry to understand the relationship between art, innovation, and attempting to reflect something honest and insightful back onto humanity. In his Nobel Prize in Literature lecture, renowned playwright and screenwriter Harold Pinter explores both the subjectivity and the reality of this perspective, providing some provocative points to consider between semesters.
Despite surviving some major traumas, setbacks, and aimlessness, affable comedienne, actress, and talk show host Ellen DeGeneres illustrates that pluck and humor work wonders when pushing through life. Character, she touts, stands above all else when it comes to yanking goals out of the mind and into reality.
Because some people really, really want (need?) a verbal evisceration to get themselves going, and who are we to deny them that opportunity? Also, the language here is definitely not for sensitive audiences.
The American education system is not generally known for forward thinking, which partly explains why many of our students are still using textbooks from 1970 and original Apples that are by now collectors’ items. That being said, there is a crop of magnet and other specialized schools (and even a healthy dose of public schools) that are embracing this whole "new millennium thing" and updating their learning environments to keep their kids competitive in the modern marketplace and prepared for engineering careers, math careers, and other careers that would require such knowledge. Come along with us as we take a look inside 10 of the most high-tech schools in the good old U.S.A.
From the outside, HTH looks simply like a nicer-than-average school; but inside, average is nowhere to be found. Colorful graphite bars and patterns crisscross the lofted ceilings. There are comfortable-looking couches and chairs. The general openness of the place makes it look more like an elite university than a high school. Apart from simply unique aesthetics, the facilities serve an important pedagogical purpose. Every wall features either space to display student work or glass to allow transparency of labs and conference rooms, and some are flexible to allow customized teaching scenarios. The labs include specialized biotech, mechanical engineering, and graphic design areas. Between them and groups like the school’s robotics team, the school ensures it lives up to its name.
U.S. News & World Report recently named this tech magnet the most connected classroom in America, and for good reason. Every student is given a fully loaded Dell laptop and power block, and each classroom has at least two desktops, in case a student has had to drop his or her PC off at the in-house repair center known as Laptop Central. Classrooms also boast SMARTboards with the ability to save and upload to Blackboard anything written on them. The entire building is wireless-enabled, leaving even the 10 computer labs free of the clutter of Ethernet cords.
This magnet school is designed to be a hands-on experience for students interested in the STEM fields. Ninth-graders kick off their high school careers with a full-year technology survey course to give them a foundation of engineering skills and knowledge to build on. Seniors will complete a major research project, either on campus or at a government or university research lab the school partners with, in categories like astronomy, optics and modern physics, energy systems, and more. But it’s hard to imagine students could do any better than to work in one of the 14 Jefferson labs, from chemical nanotechnology equipment in the chemical analysis lab to the electroencephalographic system in the neuroscience lab.
The New Tech system now includes 85 schools in 16 states, and the schools continue to pop up, but this one in Napa was the first. Local business leaders like Bill Gates helped launch the school in 1996 as a place to revolutionize education and turn out students with valuable skills. They made the basis of their idea project-based learning, and they started from the word go by giving students a hang in the design of the building and the school website. Each student is given a computer, which they’ll need to access assignments and give the 200 media presentations required during their high school career. Instead of period bells, hall passes, and book reports there are smart boards, bright classrooms, and a cybercafe.
We wish our school had turned us loose with drill presses and jig saws in our freshman year of high school. That’s what students of this magnet school have access to in the technology lab. Moreover, the 75 or so students don’t have to compete for computer time, what with the five stationary labs and two "roaming labs" stocked with Mac iBooks, PowerMac G5s, and Dell Workstations. Couple that with a CNC milling machine, TVs on the wall for clocks, and a T1 Internet connection pumping through the place, and you’ve got yourself the school of the future.
After first being proposed in 2004, students finally got to set foot inside this brand new, $40 million building on Sept. 4, 2012. We’re guessing it was worth the wait. It’s got the smartboards, high-tech science labs, and open design that are now par for the course on the latest schools, but it pushes the tech envelope with innovations like the "MediaScape room". Here students work in pods around giant screens for collaborative video and Internet learning or teleconferencing. The agribusiness lab is fitting for the surrounding farming community. Even the construction of the building is techie, with its efficient energy system that includes geothermal wells for cooling, heating, and melting snow on the sidewalks and copious windows for providing natural light.
The Washington Post has referred to this private K-12 school as "ultra-wired" and Apple has named it its "Site Visit School" for the State of Virginia. Every single student, from preschool to senior year, has "immediate access" to either an iPad or a MacBook Air since 2010. Teachers like music instructor David Cosby uses a program called SmartMusic to send assignments and track his high school students’ progress. Tenth grade history students used their MacBooks to create oral history videos by interviewing someone with first-hand knowledge of a historical event. Some teachers maintain Wiki pages for their classes. All this technology has required a corresponding amount of trust and freedom from the teachers, which they have given students by allowing them to text and email even while they’re lecturing.
Companies don’t come more "techie" than IBM, and this school (known as "P-Tech") is working arm-in-arm with the company to develop the IT professionals of tomorrow. It’s a revolutionary new program that combines high school with college over six years and turns out students ready to enter the industry. Students take both traditional and original courses like "workplace learning" that were developed by analyzing IBM employees. As for hardware, laptops are readily available to students, and day trips to IBM facilities provide them real-world lessons in the making of computer chips and other tech.
A common refrain about some of the labs at this school is that many colleges have nothing that compares. Case in point: the $1.5 million biomedical engineering lab, complete with spectrometer, polymerase chain-reaction machines, and more high-tech medical gadgetry that students have used to do everything from engineering glow-in-the-dark bacteria to cloning carrots. More "techie" tech can be found over at the Interactive Game Design Lab, or perhaps the Multimedia Learning Lab and its industry-level software like Adobe Premiere Pro and Illustrator. If that still doesn’t sate a student’s tech thirst, surely one of the other 12 labs will.
Not only does this school rule in the tech department, it’s considered one of the all-around best high schools in the country. About 100% of seniors graduate on time, and the school has been widely praised for its hands-on approach to college-level lab research. The school has been recognized twice at international science competitions as one of the best in the world. Of course, SEM’s technology doesn’t hurt, like the million-time magnifying electron microscope, the engineering robotics lab, and of course, stellar computer labs.
College is that perfect time in between high school and the working world, where you no longer have to hide the fact that you love reenacting scenes from Star Wars because there are 20 other kids just like you now, and you haven’t yet found a job or a spouse who conspire to make sure you never get to do that. It’s a time you can have fun and be yourself, or experiment with some wacky stuff until you figure out who that self is. Here are 10 schools offering unabashed students a shot at some off-the-wall groups.
Many people love donning costumes on Halloween, but for most of them, one calendar day a year is enough when it comes to playing dress-up. You know, once they hit adulthood and everything. Here at Glen Ellyn, Ill., every day can be Halloween by joining the COD Cosplay Club. (If you’re unfamiliar with the portmanteau, "cosplay" is short for "costume play.") Highlights of the year include Anime Central in nearby Rosemont and the Masquerade during the SciFi/Fantasy Club’s CODCON. Basically it seems the goal is to really become your character, whether it be Inspector Gadget, Street Fighter’s Ryu, or Han Solo.
The subversive band known as the NoZe Brothers has a long and illustrious history of stirring the pot over in Waco, Texas. Members, who never admit to being in the club, adorn themselves with fake nose/Groucho glasses masks in honor of a student in 1924 with a nose so big the founders said they could form a club around it. Through their satirical paper The Rope (their answer to the official Lariat), minor to major vandalism, traditions like UnRush, and the best parties on campus, the Brothers have been freaking out square Bears for decades.
The website insists the UMN Campus People Watchers club is "not creepy" so many times, one might get the impression that it doth protest too much. But the group insists it’s more of a quasi-scientific club for studying the human species, as represented by other student groups, and reporting on their activities for the benefit of prospective members. That, and hosting human scavenger hunts at the mall (which sounds like a pretty good time, in all honesty). A recent campus organization to get the non-creepy treatment was the MinNeopians, an unsanctioned student group devoted to enjoying something called Neopets. We told you Minnesota had some odd clubs.
When two students decided it would be funny to have a group that revolved around feeding the little furry creatures that roamed their campus in 2002, they discovered a surprisingly large demand for the activity. By the second semester of its existence, the UM Squirrel Club had hit 100 members. Now it’s one of the most popular student clubs. Here’s how it works. Step one: meet outside the library. Step two: grab a handful of peanuts. Step three: give the peanuts to squirrels. There are no dues and meetings are canceled for bad weather, so de-stressing is virtually guaranteed with membership. And proving the odd club’s popularity is not a fluke, other schools have gotten in on the action.
What’s going on in Michigan? Does everyone go stir crazy in the cold weather? Not only does WMU get in on hand-feeding rodents, it’s also the home of DEUCES, the Dignified Educated United Crust Eaters Society (think maybe they thought of the acronym first?). This is a club devoted to one thing: eating the crust of a pizza. They even have a club constitution and everything. Obviously, eating the specified pizza part without fail is commandment number one, but members must also demonstrate "an appreciation and respect for crust." Your guess is as good as ours as to how that should be accomplished. Maybe eating it with a tux on or something.
No matter how many schools form teams, a club based on a fictional sport from a children’s fantasy story is always going to be odd. The International Quidditch Association claims there are 810 Quidditch (the chosen sport of students in the Harry Potter universe) teams in the U.S. alone, over 200 of which are located at colleges and universities. And it all started right here on the grounds of the Middlebury campus in 2005, and we do mean on the grounds. While the characters in the story played the game on flying brooms, taking their lives in their hands hundreds of feet in the air, in this version the worst case scenario is a wicked thigh burn from straddling the broom too tight.
Sometimes the phrase "playing tiddlywinks" is tossed out to describe someone wasting time or euphemistically, a la "bumping uglies." It actually is a real game that’s been around forever, only it would be odd to see someone playing it, hence why we’re mentioning it on this list. Harvard was one of the first American institutions to get in on the tiddlywinks-for-adults movement in the ’50s, by starting a society and associated team that tests its squidging and squopping skills against other collegiate squads from MIT, Cornell, and elsewhere. Guess when you’ve got football teams like theirs you’ll look for any contest you can win. Hey-o!
Weird student groups are common ‘cross the pond: you’ve got your Pirate Society at the University of Sussex, and your Fetish Society at the University of Birmingham. But only in York can you get together with like-minded young people and put on a giant onesie shaped like an animal. The principle behind KiguSoc is that everything can be made better by adding these costumes, known as Kigus. For what it’s worth, the group appears to have been founded by a gerbil, a lizard, and mouse. If you’re thinking of joining, bear in mind your face will still be visible once you have the costume on. Just something to think about.
Unlike some strange societies, KU’s Medieval-Renaissance Club seems to be a bit more in on the joke. A member of the Society for Creative Anachronism, the group provides a forum for reenacting ye olde times by dressing up in period garb, peppering "prithees" and "m’lords" into conversation, and "generally beat the crap out of" one another. Other than that, the two major dos are a dinner theater in the fall and a Renaissance Faire in the spring. It’s been around since 1988, but in spirit it’s positively medieval.
Who knows if it’s the flowing grog, the wenches/freedom to be a wench, or what, but the Middle Ages seem to be a popular source for club origins. At the University of Chicago you’ll find another member of the SCA, known as the Shire of Grey Gargoyles. Every Sunday there’s a four-hour "armored and rapier combat" practice, which once a month is preceded by a club business meeting … but then it’s right back to rapiers! But the club also geeks out on medieval dance, cooking, literature, and calligraphy. Frats have nothing on the hierarchy system here: the Shire is a feudal system. That’s right, peasant — bring the king more grog!
There’s something about politicians and partying. Why is it that so many of them seem to enjoy a good time, and perhaps a little too much of it? Maybe it’s the pressure of making decisions that can affect millions, maybe it’s just that their lives are under more scrutiny than regular people. Whatever the reason, it’s clear that there are plenty of politicians who like to party, just like us, and we can imagine that partying with them in college (their time or ours) would have been pretty epic. Which ones do we think would be the most interesting? Read on to find out.
Imbibing students owe a lot to President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After all, it was FDR that ended prohibition. Not at all surprising, considering he was rumored to enjoy a cocktail or two in the Oval Office every evening. He was also reported to enjoy making cocktails for cabinet members, so he was a generous and fun guy to be around. Plus, it’s said that he never had more than a few, and looked down on those around him who drank to excess, so he even had a thing or two to teach students today about responsible drinking.
It’s no secret: the late Ted Kennedy loved to party. From paying another student to take his Spanish test (a stunt that got him kicked out of Harvard), to several publicized drunken incidents, there’s no shortage of fun and interesting moments from this politician. We’re sure that Ted Kennedy could have taken any co-ed to school when it comes to drinking and crazy stunts.
Another politician that is commonly known as a good-time drinker, the younger George Bush has plenty incidents of his own to live up to his reputation. At age 20, he was arrested for disorderly conduct, an incident in which he allegedly had a few beers with friends and stole a hotel Christmas wreath. And most notoriously, Bush took his younger brother Marvin out drinking, drove home, and lost control of the car, driving with a garbage can under the vehicle the entire way home. Bush was a danger, no doubt, but we’d love to hear the stories (of the days before he gave up alcohol) that haven’t been dug out of his skeleton closet.
It’s one thing to party with coeds while you’re still in college, but Representative Ted Vick from South Carolina, a 39-year-old man, did just that this year. In May, he was arrested for DUI and unlawfully possessing a firearm. The best part? He had a 21-year-old recent female graduate of the University of South Carolina in the car with him: he had been partying at college bars in downtown Columbia, S.C. Vick, a part-time pastor, had previously made "traditional Southern family values" a major part of his campaign for Congress, but dropped his campaign following the arrest.
We all know Sarah Palin as a tough Alaskan mom and politician, but before she took on that persona, she was a funny college girl in the 80’s. Need proof? Look no further than a photo of Palin in a pink t-shirt reading, "I May Be Broke, But I’m Not Flat Busted." If that’s not enough, consider the rumor that as a sports reporter fresh out of college, Palin had a one-night stand with a young basketball star Glen Rice. Palin may not have as much drinking and debauchery in her past as the others on this list, but we’re certain that we’d have a hilarious time with the Tina Fey look-alike.
Bill Clinton has famously noted that he experimented with marijuana, but "didn’t inhale." Of course, no one really believes that. We’re sure that Bill Clinton loved to party in college, with or without pot, and he still parties hard to this day: for his 65th birthday he held a three-day celebration featuring Lady Gaga, Bono, Stevie Nicks, and Kenny Chesney. Clinton is also known to have experimented sexually.
Bill Clinton may have been shy about his past pot use, but New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg most certainly hasn’t been. When asked if he believed marijuana should be legalized for medical use, and if he’d ever tried it himself, he responded, "You bet I did. And I enjoyed it." Bloomberg did, however, regret making the remark after he learned that it was used in a full page advertisement from the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation.
Former gubernatorial candidate Kinky Friedman is famous in Texas for his no-nonsense, humorous style, which we’re certain was with him back in college at the University of Texas. It was also in his college years that he earned his nickname "Kinky," thanks to his curly hair. As a college student, Kinky formed his first band, King Arthur & the Carrots, which poked fun at surf music and recorded only one single. And although much of Kinky’s life is devoted to satire, he was dead serious (we think) about running for Texas governor, winning an impressive 12.6% of the vote as an independent candidate.
Colonial Americans drank beer quite often, not necessarily for fun, but because it was safer than potentially contaminated water. So it’s not entirely surprising that President John Adams drank a ton of beer and cider in his day. But we’re still in awe of the amount of alcohol President John Adams is reported to have put down on a daily basis. It’s said that he drank a "tankard" of hard cider every day, and even enjoyed beer with breakfast.
Yet another president who greatly enjoyed drinking, Martin van Buren in reported to have had an incredibly high tolerance. In fact, rumors state that van Buren could drink "for days" without showing signs of intoxication, which led to his nickname "Blue Whiskey Van." Drinking did catch up with him eventually, though: he lost the 1840 presidential election because his opponent, William Henry Harrison, pointed van Buren out as an alcoholic.
Freshman year is one of the best times in college. Everything is so new and exciting, and, best of all, you don’t have Mom or Dad breathing down your neck, telling you to clean your room or get home before curfew. But with this new freedom comes lots of bad decisions and regrettable mistakes. Part of it is learning the ropes of college and the other part is mostly bad judgment. The good news is these things happen to just about every first-year college student regardless of what program you study – criminal justice, health, liberal arts, technology, design. Here are seven mistakes every freshman makes:
This is one of the most common mistakes freshman make, and, sadly, many don’t learn the error of their ways until they see their grades. Whether it’s that annoying 8 a.m. class or the last class of the week, skipping class is one the dumbest things you can do in college. Not only does it put you behind in class, but you also miss out on valuable lessons and important information that can help you better understand the class material and succeed on exams. Skipping class could also mean missed pop quizzes or extra-credit opportunities that only happen every once in a while. Being a good student should be your No. 1 priority while in college, and it all starts with the simple act of going to class.
College is a time for exploration and experimentation, which, for many students, involves drinking or doing drugs. For freshman, the newfound freedom and lack of supervision opens the door for excessive partying. Partying too much can lead to a slew of problems, including academic failure, run-ins with the law, and suspension from school. For many, it only takes one blackout night, police scare, or threat of suspension to teach most freshman how to handle their alcohol and tame down their partying, while others take all four years (or more) to finally figure it out.
Freshman are known for having some of the worst health habits of all time. When they’re not in class, they’re typically overeating at the dining halls, avoiding the gym, partying, and not getting enough sleep. These bad habits are what lead to the infamous freshman 15. Besides weigh gain, neglecting your health can also lead to illness, stress, and other health problems that may get in the way of school and your social life.
With all this newfound freedom come fewer inhibitions, and for many students, this includes sexual inhibitions. Freshman are notorious for sneaking students of the opposite sex into the dorms and "shacking up" whenever the opportunity arises. Sometimes they know the person, and sometimes they don’t even know their first name. Even if it’s all in good fun, this kind of carelessness can come back to bite you when you’re least expecting it. If you’re going to have sex, be smart about it. Use protection, get tested, and know your partner’s status.
It happens every year. Freshman finish their first semester of college and feel confident in taking on a bigger course load the second semester only to find out that they are in way over their head. The overeager or misguided freshmen who take too many classes usually end up dropping a course or agonizing over school until the end of the semester. To avoid overexerting yourself, only take as many classes as you can realistically handle.
This is one of the more regrettable mistakes freshman make in college. Every year, credit card companies and retailers target college students to apply for credit cards and rake in the dough when they max out their card or miss payments. Although it may seem like a good idea to have a credit card as a backup form of payment; it is more risky than safe. Before you apply for any tempting credit card, talk to your parents and see if this is a viable option for you.
You may not think much of it at the time, but not getting to know your dorm floor’s R.A. is a mistake you may later regret. At first, most freshman are hesitant to get to know their R.A. because they don’t want to befriend the enemy, but they will later come to see that your R.A. only wants to help you and make your college experience memorable. Getting to know you R.A. is helpful, especially since they are older and have been in your shoes before. Whether you have a question about school, life, or love, your R.A. is always there to listen and help however he or she can
There are some skills that you learn in college that will most certainly not come in handy when crafting your resume: keg standing, dragging break-ups out for more than a year, turning Ramen into a three-course meal. But some skills you pick up in college are serious signals to employers that you would be a great hire. Consider how you can demonstrate that you have these qualities when you start applying for jobs regardless what state you’re in: Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming, New Jersey – always be sure to practice and use these skills.
Communication comes in many forms, and you’ve been practicing them all since you started college. You talk to peers, as well as superiors, face to face; email with old friends, parents, and professors; and probably use texting, phones, and chat services to stay in touch with people. You’re an expert by now. In the workplace, this is an invaluable skill; you’ll have to communicate with team members and supervisors about projects, and use the appropriate level of formality and authority. On your resume, this skill should shine as you effectively communicate, both through the words and design of the document, that you’re the best fit for this job.
We’re living in a technology-driven world, and there’s no doubt that your job will require some kind of technical skills. You may have learned some basics in high school, but college is where the software you use becomes more involved and specific to your particular field. On resumes, it’s often appropriate to include a technical skills section outlining the software you know. Just make sure you are actually proficient with the programs you list or note your skill level.
Finally, all those college papers are going to pay off! No matter your industry, writing is a critical part of success, and having solid writing skills can put you way ahead of the pack. Whether you’re crafting emails, reports, papers, or press releases, the importance of writing can’t be overemphasized. Every line of your resume is a chance to show off your writing skills. Be sure to use proper grammar, keep everything in the same tense, and double-check for any typos or misspellings.
College is easily the craziest time of a person’s life, schedule-wise. Many people juggle classes, jobs, internships, clubs, and dozens of relationships. Your parents aren’t around to help you keep your activities and assignments straight anymore and you really have to develop your time management skills. Hiring managers look for job candidates who will be able to handle multiple projects and deadlines with minimum supervision. You can show that you’re capable of this on your resume by listing several of your relevant college activities or including a list of duties you performed at a job or internship that required time management skills.
You’ve heard that it’s not about what you know but about who you know. The working world is where you get to experience first-hand just how true that is. But don’t worry; you’re prepared for this. You’ve been building your networking skills in college without even realizing it. Building relationships with people in different majors, classes, and organizations, as well as with professors, has put you in a great position to use those skills for your career. You may not be able to highlight them on your resume, but they may come in handy for getting that resume in front of the right people.
The multitude of college organizations and part-time positions gives students the chance to hone their leadership skills. You don’t have to be student body president to develop the best leading qualities. If you were a section editor at the school paper, social chair of your sorority, or treasurer of even a small club, you’ve got the organizational skills and make-things-happen personality that make you valuable in the workplace. Mention any leadership roles you took on in college or jobs to bring the words "management material" to the minds of employers.
Sticking to your guns is something that really comes into play once you hit higher education. Peer pressure may have had a hand in your high school life, but it’s kicked up a notch in college with the addition of lots of freedom, lots of alcohol and drugs available, and lots of members of the opposite sex. By the time you’ve finished those four years, you’ve hopefully figured out who you really are and what you really think matters. Even if you made some mistakes, you probably learned some lessons and developed your character into something people respect. On your resume, integrity matters; lying to get a job is never a good idea.
You chose your university with high hopes, but now that you’ve spent some time there, you’re not sure if it’s the place for you. If you’re thinking of changing colleges, you might have your dad’s voice bouncing around your head: "Quitters never win." And while quitting school altogether is usually a bad move, transferring to a different college can sometimes be a smart decision for your happiness and your career. Here are seven good reasons to switch to a new school; if your reasons match up, you’ll probably benefit from the change.
With a tough economy and many students having to pay their own way through college without a promise of a job afterward, finances play a big role in where you go to college. If you’re considering transferring schools to lighten your future student debt burden, that could be a great decision in the long run. Tuition rates are climbing, so changing from a private to a public school, from an out-of-state school to an in-state school, or from a four-year school to a community college can have a big impact on your wallet. You might even consider a college close to your parents’ so you could live with them and eliminate the costs of renting an apartment or dorm room.
It’s a common phenomenon, so don’t feel bad. Sometimes a college’s social scene just isn’t a good fit for everyone. The school could be too small and restrictive or too large and overwhelming. If you’ve put in a year or more at a college and tried various clubs and groups in an attempt to find your place, it might be best for your sanity to just try a new school. While you can perform fine academically without a social circle, you miss out on the full college experience and you may experience loneliness and depression. No one can fault you for making your happiness and mental health a priority in your life.
And your current school doesn’t have a good program for it. When you started college, there’s a good chance you didn’t know what you wanted to study. Even if you thought you knew, you probably didn’t know. It’s common for students to figure out what they really want to major in after taking a couple of semesters of classes, and sometimes your current school may not have a stand-out program (or any program, for that matter) for your desired major. The chance to advance your career and do what you’d really like to do is a great reason to transfer colleges, even if you love your current school.
We’ll admit it; some programs at some schools are kind of a joke. They’re relatively easy, may not have great faculty, and might not offer you the opportunities you think you’ll need to get a job later. If you feel like your college has too much of a party atmosphere and your classes aren’t helping you reach your full potential, transferring school is a great way to feel like you’re getting the most for your money. Every tuition dollar will go toward a program that makes you think, learn, and grow in your major.
College is a big change from high school, and even the smartest students can get in too deep once they hit university. Maybe you chose one of the toughest academic schools in the country and now realize you’re going to run yourself ragged if you try this pace for another year. Maybe you chose a difficult, work-intensive major and have decided to change to something you’ll enjoy more. Whatever the reason, transferring schools is a better decision than getting overwhelmed and failing. Find a college that suits your needs and go there.
While college name recognition and a wide network of alumni are far from everything when it comes to school spirit and finding a job after graduation, they can be important to some people and in some careers. Of course, some industries rely on networking more than others, but fellow alumni can be helpful in your initial job search as well as the next time you’re looking for an opportunity. This reason may not be one that would push you to transfer on its own, but combined with one of the others here, it can reassure you that a change is best for you.
Sometimes family situations change suddenly and you just have to roll with the punches. If you’ve had a loss in the family or they’re experiencing financial troubles, it’s completely acceptable (and even admirable) to change colleges to help them out. You can move to a closer college and be there to support your family, whether emotionally or financially. It may not be an ideal situation but you’ll be glad you did it.