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What can I do if I fail my university exams?

What can I do if I fail my university exams?

Kirsty Ackah was in her second year at Southampton Solent University when she went to hospital for 24 hours with mental health problems. “I missed my last exam,” she says. Although her university knew what had happened, it was marked down as a fail.

“I was going through severe mental health issues and I didn’t realise I needed to organise retaking the exam over the summer,” she says. “By the time I found out, it was too late.” Beat the graduate blues: how to prepare for life after university

Read more Ackah had to wait 12 months before retaking her third year. “It’s really sad because many students are young and not that well equipped to handle life-altering decisions,” she says. “Some guidance would’ve made all the difference to me.”

According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency (Hesa), increasing numbers of students are dropping out . Failing assessments can be a reason, as retakes are potentially expensive and stressful. Universities minister Michelle Donelan says institutions need to step up and take action. “We cannot let these students down and let talent go to waste,” she says. If you’re struggling or you’ve failed already, here’s what to consider. Was it out of your control?

Although each university has its own rules and regulations, Lanisha Butterfield from the University of Oxford says key reasons for mitigating circumstances include acute illness, unforeseen circumstances such as a traffic accident or bereavement, or a disability or long-term health condition. “All cases are looked at individually. It’s about putting your case forward and asking for help with your application,” she says.

Be aware that financial difficulties, mild illnesses, work commitments, poor time management or loss of material do not generally count as mitigating circumstances. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for help

People often put off applying for extenuating circumstances because they think they don’t deserve it. James-John Connorwood, a law student at Glasgow Caledonian University, developed abdominal pains before sitting his last exam but the prospect of not graduating with his friends terrified him. “I attempted to push through and go ahead with the exam but the pain was excruciating,” he says. “I left the hall before finishing the paper.”

Many universities now allow self-certification requests for extensions. You can often apply for one or two per academic year and they can be used for coursework, written assignments, dissertations and projects. Be careful not to waste them. “I used my free pass for the sake of having extra time on a subject I disliked,” says Valerie Cole (not her real name), who studied sociology and media studies. When she was unwell later that year, she was unable to use a self-certification request and failed two exams. “It cost me. It was £1,500 just for the retakes and I had to pay for the extra year. I’ve had to defer my graduation because I’m still paying my fees back in instalments.” How to make your first year at uni count – even if your grades don’t

Read more Keep a record

If you think you may be unable to perform in an exam, act quickly and make sure you keep a record of all events. Most universities will require written evidence. This can include an official police report if you have been a victim of a crime, a death certificate if you have suffered a bereavement, or a dated letter from a doctor or hospital. “It can be difficult as it can be quite defeating to fight your case. But you have to do it,” says Ackah. Take advantage of academic skills support services, student counselling, lecturer office hours and personal tutors. You can challenge a mark

If your application has been declined, you can request a review of the decision. Education lawyer Rhys Palmer says students are increasingly taking legal action. “Many people don’t appreciate at the time that they have mental health conditions or were unwell and they want a fair chance to resit,” he says.

After a conversation with lecturing staff, Connorwood was made aware of the mitigating circumstances process and will resit the exam. “It’s meant that I haven’t had to give up on my dream of becoming a solicitor. I feel hugely supported by my uni,” he says. “I recommend any student that finds themselves in a similar situation seek help. It could save you from dropping out.”

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March 12, 2020

How Machine Learning, A.I. Might Change Education

How Machine Learning, A.I. Might Change Education

Artificial intelligence (A.I) technologies such as computer vision and machine learning are providing new ways to revolutionize learning and skills training at universities . From doctorate degrees in machine learning (ML) to bots that aid the work of teachers, there’s accelerating interest at the college level in A.I. and ML.

Research firm TechNavio projects that the A.I. market in education will grow by a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of close to 48 percent from 2018 to 2022 (the study also noted the role of chatbots in enhancing learning—hopefully that technology pans out better for education than it did for most of the business world ). Ethics (and Limits) of A.I.

One area in which A.I. intersects with student learning is in ethics . Some studies are already exploring the ethical issues of replacing teachers with bots. However, although bots can enhance education, they can’t replace teachers, according to Bernhardt L. Trout, professor of chemical engineering and director of Society, Engineering, and Ethics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Trout argues that A.I. can enrich the learning of students as they master skills, languages and basic math, but it can’t help students learn creativity or critical thinking. “Bots will not be able to decide for us what is good, although they might be able to help us learn better the issues around the decision of what is good,” he said. “Bots are limited in making certain choices about education in ways that human beings are not limited, so this is where we get into the more ethical issues.”

Trout sees bots teaching themes or the usage of certain words, for example, but they may be limited in helping students critique literature . He believes a bot is unable to teach the essential concepts needed to understand the work of philosophers such as Plato or Dante, or painters such as Michelangelo: “That’s where I think there is an intrinsic limitation.” ML and Educational Data Mining

Zachary Pardos, assistant professor in the Graduate School of Education and the School of Information for the University of California at Berkeley, has been developing a system that uses ML to help students choose a course curriculum based on past student enrollment histories. His research uses 10 years of UC Berkeley student enrollment records.

One goal of the initiative is to use ML to get an idea of what every course entails, and to focus on sets of employable skills rather than single-course curriculums. In theory, this ML-powered data mining could help students choose the best courses to meet their goals, making their educational pathway that much more efficient.

Machine learning can also provide data on how students are mastering skills. Pardos has studied AI systems that provide insight on how much additional training students require in a particular skill. “Essentially, the AI is saying: ‘Does the student need to be given more practice, yes or no?’” Pardos said.

Meanwhile, UC Berkeley is among the universities using an assessment and learning system called Aleks , which stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. Aleks helps teachers determine whether a student has mastered certain skills. The university uses the ML algorithms to develop a personalized curriculum for students in an area such as math, chemistry or accounting. Based on the results of the AI assessment, students might switch their degrees from an area like sociology to data science. Sign Up Today Membership has its benefits. Sign up for a free Dice profile, add your resume, discover great career insights and set your tech career in motion. Register now A.I. Plays Tutor and Detector of a Student’s Mood

Meanwhile, ML is playing a role by providing analysis of students’ emotional states, according to Bruce McLaren, research professor at Carnegie Mellon University and the past president of the International Society for Artificial Intelligence in Education. ML applications can tell if a student is bored or confused, and then teachers adjust lessons based on that. In addition, CMU uses ML software to help students analyze each other’s papers as part of a peer review process.

“For instance, you got two students who write papers, and they review one another’s work, but then they might also be aided by some artificial intelligence or natural language processing that can analyze the papers and provide additional feedback,” McLaren said. “There’s a system that’s been used in some classes at CMU to do that.”

Over the next several years, artificial intelligence and machine learning could have an outsized effect on how students learn, as well as how universities structure their academic curriculum. But will all that cutting-edge tech actually improve learning?

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March 12, 2020

5 Tips to Scholarships for International Students

5 Tips to Scholarships for International Students

International students who search for an opportunity to study abroad face a big challenge. They have to choose a school and a country where they want to study, calculate their budget and expenses, as well as learn how to apply. Thankfully, while education abroad can be really costly, there are some things that can help you get the scholarship of your dreams.

Applying for scholarship can resolve many of your financial problems and provide you with great financial security. There are probably countless options available for students such as yourself. So, all that’s left for you to do is check the tips below and start applying. 1.Research

When something is as challenging and as complicated as this, your first step should always be research. Do you know where you want to study already? If you do, make sure to check the scholarship requirements, maybe even get in touch with people who work at the university to ask them questions.

If you don’t know where you’ll study and what your options are, make sure to perform deep research online. These are some of the most popular scholarships given to international students:

·The Fullbright Scholarship that allows you to study and conduct research in some of the most prestigious United States academic institutions. It’s granted to students, artists, and young professionals.

·The Cappex Heart of America Scholarship that’s available for undergraduate and graduate student who wants to earn a degree in health and occupational safety.

·Berkeley College International Student Scholarship that awards up to 25% of tuition to international student. Their decision on the sum is based on your financial needs or merit.

·GotChosen Scholarship that is awarded to both domestic and international students who need financial aid to pursue their higher education. The amount given with this scholarship is $40K. 2.Make a Strategy

The scholarship application process can be long and tiring, so you want to approach it strategically. This is the time to use your organizational skills. When you perform research and decide on the scholarships you plan to pursue, make sure to organize all the information regarding this.

Firstly, write down what you need, including the university specifics, location specifics, merit specifics, as well as deadlines and rules. You’ll have a limited amount of time to spend on the application process and you definitely want to be ready for this. Then, note down all the paperwork and documents you need to apply, and make sure to gather the data before the application time begins. You’ll need all kinds of things to impress and get a scholarship, including references, school transcripts, papers you’ve written, etc.


This is where you have a big advantage nowadays – you have technology on your side. You don’t have to write actual letters and wait for them to be delivered. Most of the things concerning scholarships are processed throughout digital messages.

As soon as you can, get in touch with the universities and advisors in the schools you want to attend. Ask them for any details and definitely ask questions if you have any. Communication can make all the difference in your chances to land a scholarship. 4.Take Your Sweet Time Writing

Most of the scholarship application process requires writing. You’ll have to submit piles of paperwork, so get started as soon as possible. You need to perform research, think of a great idea for your scholarship essay, make an outline, write and edit. There’s quite a lot to do, and the pressure is bigger than ever. If this is causing you headaches and you don’t think your essay skills are sufficient to grant you that scholarship, you should know that Edubirdie writes your scholarship essays with amazing results. This is an extraordinary service that you can use if you get stuck, knowing that they’ll create the best scholarship essay for you. 5.Gather the References

Many scholarships nowadays require reference letter . Or at least, they’ll require that you provide them with contact information of your professors or former employers. This is the time to get proactive. Don’t just list people in your application before speaking to them first. Ask for letters of reference and permissions to give their contact information. This way, you’ll be sure that if they call them, it will go well for you.

Scholarships are about financial assistance and aimed toward your education, which is a really important step for your success in the future. This is why you need to tackle the applications carefully and with a great deal of organization. Thankfully, there are many scholarships now available to international students, so explore all your options for the best education you can get.

Emma Rundle is an essay writer for an academic writing service in the US. She works on academic projects with the goal to help students. Her focus is on scholarship essays and applications.

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March 8, 2020

Scholarships helping students pursue higher education

Education is the pathway to success for many people. Whether you plan on entering a four-year or two-year college or if you are thinking of enrolling in a trade or technical school, a degree can open the door to many opportunities.

But many students may have difficulty paying for a degree or diploma because of the high cost of education. A host of scholarships are available in Greene County to reduce the impact of rising tuition costs.

The key to getting a scholarship is to know where to look, said Jennifer Costanza, guidance counselor for Carmichael Area School District’s middle and high schools.

“Scholarships are available based on grades, achievements, interests and special needs,” she said. “For instance, there are scholarships for people who have seizures, scholarships for people who want to be teachers and scholarships for student-athletes. The list of potential scholarships is almost endless.”

Financial aid is available from the federal, state and county governments. The Community Foundation of Greene County helps students find scholarships in their respective areas. Eligibility criteria vary for each scholarship so be sure to carefully review specific guidelines. Most scholarship applications can be completed and submitted online.

Costanza also recommends checking for specific scholarships that are available at colleges and schools. In addition, she advises students to consider other forms of financial aid, such as student loans and work-study programs.

“Before you look at all your financial aid options, you will need to start by filling out a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA),” she said. “This will tell you which types of student financial aid you will be eligible for.”

With all the financial aid options available for students today, there is no reason why students can’t pursue higher education, Costanza said.

“High school guidance counselors are more than happy to assist students and their families find a scholarship that best meets their needs,” Costanza said. “We want to see each student succeed in life.”

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March 8, 2020

Study: Tough teachers get better results from students

Study: Tough teachers get better results from students

Credit: Fotolia Teachers walk a fine line, says Jordan Catapano, an assistant principal al James B. Conant High School in Hoffman Estates, Illinois.

On one hand, he says, educators don’t want to frustrate students by setting standards so high an “A” is unattainable. But they also don’t want to bore students and leave them thinking the quality of their work doesn’t matter. The hope, he says, is students will “rise to the occasion.”

“The term ‘tough teacher’ can have a negative connotation,” he says. “Ideally, a tough teacher is someone with high expectations about what students can accomplish, but is also well-versed to guide and support students along the way.”

These tough-grading teachers also seem to be on the right track, according to a recent study by American University’s Seth Gershenson, who analyzed grading standards of 8th- and 9th-grade Algebra I teachers in North Carolina over a 10-year period and then looked at their students’ long-term outcomes. He found students gained more knowledge from teachers with rigorous grading standards than those with lower expectations.

The study weighed the effect of grading standards on students’ end-of-course exam results, how the grading standards impacted students’ performance in subsequent math courses, and how the impact varied by students, schools and teachers. Gershenson also examined the characteristics of schools and teachers that affect grading standards. Higher standards yield better results

The research, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, is a follow-up to Gershenson’s 2018 study about grade inflation , in which he found while many students get good grades in Algebra I, far fewer earn top marks on end-of-course tests.

This newest study shows students whose teachers had the highest grading standards scored 16.9% of a standard deviation over those with low-expectation teachers. Tougher grading practices also translated into higher achievement in the subsequent Geometry and Algebra II courses. In Geometry, students whose teachers had high grading standards in Algebra I scored 7.3% of the standard deviation. In Algebra II, that group scored 8.6% of SD.

The results were consistent across all student subgroups including white, black and Hispanic students. They were also consistent across all types of schools, with the greatest impact seen in middle schools and among high-poverty schools.

Teachers with more experience also tend to have higher grading expectations, and their students achieve at higher levels. The report found students with teachers who had four or fewer years of experience had expectations significantly lower than average, but expectations ticked up the longer teachers stayed in the profession. Those with more than 21 years of experience had the highest expectations.

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The undergraduate program a teacher attends also makes a difference, according to the study. Teachers who graduated from selective colleges and universities typically had higher standards, as did teachers with graduate degrees. Expectations highest at middle, suburban schools

Gershenson found grading standards were highest in suburban schools, middle schools and schools serving more affluent students. But it’s also important to note middle school students that take Algebra I tend to be higher academic performers.

In the executive summary, the Fordham Institute Senior Vice President for Research Amber M. Northern and President Michael J. Petrilli assert instruction and grading practices should be improved. They say teachers can’t be blamed for low grading expectations if they aren’t sure where to set the bar.

Voices from teachers in the report also point to the variety of ways grading is approached. One said, “[That teacher]’s more like, ‘They look like they were working all day. I’ll just give them a checkmark.’ And I’m like, ‘You only scored 15 out of 20 on this assignment. Either you need to fix these five or take your 15 out of 20.’ So each of us have our own personalities and the way we run our classroom, so those are different for sure.”

Northern and Petrilli also point out external factors put pressure on teachers to go easier on the grades, especially in high school when every grade counts toward the student’s final grade-point average. They mention, for example, an incident in which a coach asked for a bump up in a student athlete’s grade so he could play in a football game.

With more colleges and universities looking beyond admission test results for indicators of students’ college readiness, those GPAs are becoming even more important. As of January 2018, there were 1,000 ACT/SAT test optional colleges and universities .

“Grade-point averages will now matter even more,” they write, “so it is key that they be accurate representations of a student’s academic performance.”

Gershenson recommends school, district and state leaders monitor grading practices to ensure teachers are not giving “easy A’s,” that they address the “damaging consequences” of low grading standards, and that they use grading practices as one aspect of strengthening the teacher workforce.

“It will take time,” he writes, “but we must learn how to make high expectations and high grading standards a part of the teaching culture through hands-on teaching, optimized incentives and stronger professional development.”

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February 13, 2020

Planning for your child’s overseas education? Here are some tips to consider before sending money abroad

Planning for your child’s overseas education? Here are some tips to consider before sending money abroad

From navigating remittance platforms to assessing exchange rates, sending money abroad could be a tricky affair. Sending your child abroad for studies is a big step in any parent’s life. Preparing for their overseas education is a long process- right from conducting research for identifying the right universities and courses, checking the eligibility criteria, appearing for entrance examinations and then subsequently planning travel and accommodation abroad.

Even though an education loan would cover the university tuition fee, parents often must support their children for accommodation and other overheads while they study abroad. Foreign remittances for education, in India, form a huge part of the money sent abroad. In fact, money remitted for studies abroad grew by 76.61 per cent from 2021.4 USD million in 2017-18 to 3569.9 USD million in 2018-19.

Getting familiarized with the process of remitting money to your child’s destination country is a critical aspect for parents. From navigating remittance platforms to assessing exchange rates, sending money abroad could be a tricky affair.

Here are a few tips that could come in handy when remitting funds abroad:

Planning ahead of time : Often, people make last-minute decisions to transfer money, which may not be the most feasible option. Apart from emergencies, plan your remittance sufficiently in advance to ensure a seamless experience. Ideally, you should plan this as soon as your child selects universities or once they get accepted into a college of their choice.

Choosing the right remittance partner : Take time to compare platforms and understand aspects such as the exchange rates, transaction limits, processing fees, customer service, and experience, etc. Some players levy additional charges to the beneficiary and may have other hidden costs associated. Ensure that you opt for a platform that guarantees transparency and delivers the full credit amount to your recipient.

Understanding the transaction limit : For students receiving money from India, there are guidelines set by the RBI under the Liberalized Remittance (LRS) Scheme. Living expenses of students studying abroad are covered under the LRS and the limit is USD 250,000 per annum. The maximum transaction limit for sending remittance using an online channel is USD 25,000 per transaction, which is also the maximum daily transaction limit.

Exchange rates: It is important to gather information on the latest exchange rates and assess charges of the services available. Platforms such as digibank Remit offer 24×7 locked-in FX rates, which allows one to book the transaction at the displayed rate (i.e. guaranteed rate) and the funds get debited at the same rate, once the transaction is successfully processed.

Ease of transfer : Transferring money abroad is no longer an extended and complex process. Digibank has integrated technology to deliver a fully digitized, quick and hassle-free experience, avoiding the need to walk into your bank or any cumbersome documentation whatsoever.

Emergency fund transfer : Being stuck in a foreign country with limited access to funds during an emergency is a highly stressful scenario. Few remittance platforms have a cooling period before you are allowed to add a new payee. In such cases, payment receipts could take anywhere between 1-2 working days. While selecting a remittance platform, opt for one that facilitates same-day transfers.

Overall, selecting the right remittance platform could go a long way and translate into significant savings over the course of your child’s entire college term. Evaluate your options carefully and choose a platform that ascertains safety, security, and reliability.

By Asheesh Jain – Head, Investment and FX Business, Consumer Banking Group, DBS Bank India.

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February 10, 2020

Celebrating girls and women in science

Celebrating girls and women in science

FEB 11 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, with this year’s theme being “Investment in Women and Girls in Science for Inclusive Green Growth”.

The theme focuses on the reality that science and gender equality are both vital for the achievement of internationally agreed development goals, including the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is an opportunity to promote full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls.

It is also a reminder that women and girls play a critical role in science and technology communities and that their participation should be strengthened. However, long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science-related fields. Data from Unesco states that fewer than 30% of researchers worldwide are women and approximately 30% of all female students select STEM-related fields in higher education.

Globally, female students’ enrolment is particularly low in ICT (3%), natural science, Maths and statistics (5%) and engineering, manufacturing and construction (8%).

The 2015 Gender Bias Without Borders study by the Geena Davis Institute also showed that of the onscreen characters with an identifiable STEM job, only 12% were women.

In Malaysia, there has been a drastic drop in the number of students overall (both boys and girls) choosing STEM streams in secondary and vocational schools. In 2012,48% of students chose STEM streams with this number dropping to 44% in 2018.

In 2017, the number of students in local universities and colleges enrolling in fields related to science, Maths, computers, engineering, manufacturing and construction was 334,742, compared to the 570,858 students majoring in arts and humanities, education, social sciences, business and law.

In 2019, the Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Ministry (Mestecc) announced that it had set a target to achieve a 60:40 ratio, with a target of having 60% of students majoring in STEM.

The ministry has since initiated the Energy, Technology, Environment and Climate Change (Estecc) education programme to provide more exposure in science for one million students and to nurture their interests in choosing a career in the field. Activities are to be provided by agencies such as the National Nanotechnology Centre, National Science Centre, National Planetarium and the Malaysian Nuclear Agency in partnership with private strategic partners.

While the push has been to get more students across the board to major in STEM, the Education Ministry has also studied and looked at the reasons why girls choose a STEM course or career. They found five key factors: their interest in exploring and doing experiments, career guidance, inspiring teachers, role models and peer influence. Clearly, relationships play a role in their choice, and this highlights the need to adequately train teachers and school counsellors to engage more girls in STEM fields and to continue connecting them with role models.

But getting more girls involved is not the sole responsibility of schools, and this is where we all need to play a proactive role. The government needs to work together with NGOs, professional bodies and other civil organisations to get rid of gender stereotyping.

Research and data show that including more girls and women in science and in male-dominated areas will not only bring in fresh points of view, new talent and creativity, but in some countries, it will also increase women’s social and financial positions.

As parents, we can do so much more to encourage our daughters to take up science as a career. In the early years, parents and schools can introduce all children – both boys and girls – to activities and toys that encourage them to build and make things and get them interested in exploring the world around them and how it works. Women scientists can also be invited to schools to talk to girls about their work, and even encourage older girls who are studying STEM subjects to talk to their younger counterparts about their passion for the subject.

In the workplace, mentor programmes help and support women when they are working in a minority, with women in senior roles often very keen to offer support to younger women entering their field. And probably one of the most important things is to make sure that girls see plenty of examples of successful women scientists in the news and media.

Recent studies suggest that 65% of children entering primary school today would have jobs that do not yet exist and that shifts in the global job market would result in 58 million net new jobs, particularly data analysts and scientists, artificial intelligence and machine learning specialists, software application developers and analysts, and data visualisation specialists.

With the Fourth Industrial Revolution on our doorstep and with jobs of the future to be driven by technology and innovation but women still having less than two-thirds of the economic opportunity that men have, it is incumbent upon all of us to raise our daughters to be courageous enough to walk down the road less travelled.


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February 10, 2020

International students are key to a strong economy

International students are key to a strong economy

Students walk along the T. Anne Cleary Walkway and the Pentacrest in Iowa City on Thursday, March 14, 2019. After stalling in the House last year following contentious Senate passage, a bill aimed at enshrining free speech protections on Iowa’s public university and college campuses has another shot. The full Iowa Senate on Monday passed with a 35-11 majority proposed legislation spelling out the primary role of public higher education in Iowa – as it relates to free speech – and explicitly restricting suppression of First Amendment rights as they pertain to public assemblies, campus speakers, and student groups, among other things. KC McGinnis for The Gazette As the Iowa caucuses draw near, the presidential candidates should let voters know where they stand on ensuring our nation continues to attract the best and brightest students from around the world to keep America as a science and technology global leader.

The reason? Science and technological advancements have been the predominant drivers of gross domestic product growth during the past half-century, according to a study by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. In Iowa, for example, we can boast of more effective and efficient ways to farm because of science.

Our nation’s role as a global leader in innovation, however, remains in jeopardy as the number of international students applying for physics Ph.D.s at essential U.S. institutions are experiencing a major decline. According to a survey by the American Physical Society, international applications to a representative subset of the physics departments responsible for training and educating more than 70 percent of the nation’s physics Ph.D.s dropped 22 percent during the past two years.

Fortunately, our U.S. Sens. Joni Ernst and Chuck Grassley are in a position to help by co-sponsoring the Keep STEM Talent Act, which would enable high-skilled international graduate students to both study at U.S. universities and provide a path to a green card if they secure job offers from U.S. employers after graduation. Both Ernst and Grassley sit on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over the legislation. The presidential candidates should also take note because Iowans care about science. In fact, in a survey jointly conducted by Research! America and Science Debate, 74 percent of respondents said it is important that presidential candidates talk about how science and scientific research will affect their policymaking decisions.

More than half of the students conducting research in my theoretical physics group at Iowa State University are from outside the country, so I know firsthand the concerns international students have about studying physics in the U.S. First, they are concerned about simply getting here because of visa delays. Once here, they worry about whether they will be able to stay upon graduation and work for American companies on crucial research that impacts issues most voters care about, including health care and national security. Our country needs the best and brightest students — both domestic and international — to keep our STEM workforce pipeline viable, and that includes Iowa, which has more than 12,000 open STEM jobs, according to a report by the Iowa Governor’s STEM Advisory Council. To achieve that goal, the U.S. Senate should pass the Keep STEM Talent Act. And Ernst and Grassley are integral to making that happen.

James Vary is a physics professor at Iowa State University and a descendant of Iowa immigrant farmers (1858). We value your trust and work hard to provide fair, accurate coverage. If you have found an error or omission in our reporting, tell us here.

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February 5, 2020

Girls Can Do Anything

Girls Can Do Anything


Weekly Insights and Analysis

Some of the world’s best minds are going undeveloped because of our failure to educate girls. It’s surely a truism, but when you hear it directly from Michelle Obama you may get a chill up your spine. That was my experience in December when I joined the Grassroots Leaders Roundtable, organized by Ms. Obama’s Girls Opportunity Alliance, in Long An Province, Vietnam. Michelle Obama and friends at the Girls Opportunity Alliance Grassroots Leaders Roundtable in Long An Province, Vietnam, on December 9, 2019 (Photo: Chuck Kennedy / The Obama Foundation) The GOA is a program of the Obama Foundation that empowers adolescent girls around the world through education, especially poor girls from disadvantaged communities, allowing them to achieve their full potential and transform their lives, families, and communities. Ms. Obama was accompanied to Vietnam by actors Julia Roberts, Lana Condor, and Ngo Thanh Van and Today Show cohost Jenna Bush Hager.

There is no single or simple approach to this mission, but roundtable participants all agreed that education is the key for these girls, and that they need holistic support, including tuition, soft-skills development, and leadership training, so they can rise to their full potential. We shared our successes and challenges, as well as the stories of girls in our programs who have achieved things far beyond our hopes. We talked about collaborating to maximize our resources, support one another, and inspire more action for girls’ education, and we discussed the progress that has been made and the many people who are working in their own way to support girls and young women who have been left behind due to circumstances beyond their control.

Vietnamese girls face more barriers to educational attainment than boys. This is especially true for low-income families, internal migrants, and ethnic minorities in remote and mountainous areas. Economic and financial challenges, and administrative barriers for internal migrants, make it difficult for families to cover the costs of girls’ schooling. Low-income families often feel pressure for their daughters to work, rather than study, in order to contribute to household income or help out in the home. In remote or mountainous areas and parts of the Mekong Delta, some people believe girls don’t need an education, since they will be married and expected to assume domestic responsibilities. Vietnamese girls face more barriers to educational attainment than boys, especially girls from poor families in remote and rural areas. (Photo: Whitney Legge / The Asia Foundation) With funding from a variety of donors, including the Estée Lauder Companies, Jerry and Thao Dodson, the Merali Foundation, Meredith Ludlow and Marc Teillon, Lana Condor, the RYTHM Foundation, and the Mark and Thuy Barnett Foundation, The Asia Foundation’s scholarship programs in Vietnam support girls from disadvantaged and low-income families. The girls are selected from six regions to attend secondary school through graduation, to build key life and leadership skills, and to enter university, where many pursue traditionally male-dominated STEM fields. Our education programs are distinguished by the locally grounded, personalized support we provide to each of our young scholars. I’m grateful for the support of The Asia Foundation, which helped me complete my secondary education. Without this timely support, I was about to drop out in the 11th grade in order to save my family’s resources for my younger brother to go to school. — Le Hoai Thuong, freshman at Nam Can Tho University. Le Hoai Thuong received a scholarship from The Asia Foundation, and throughout my 10 years leading our girls’ education programs in Vietnam, I have met so many amazing girls like her—from low-income families, who have lost one or both parents, or who are living with disabilities. Many of them tell us that they were about to drop out of school due to their families’ financial hardships or pressure from their parents. The Asia Foundation’s support often came just in time to help these girls complete their education and come closer to their dreams. The Asia Foundation’s Dinh Kieu Nhung working with Vietnamese scholarship students (Photo: Whithney Legge / The Asia Foundation) Another example of the impact of this support is Ha Thi Anh, one of just two female students in the department of civil and industrial construction at the National University of Civil Engineering. Once a shy student from a rural province, Ha Anh is now a confident and accomplished student. She enthusiastically participates in all program activities—including soft-skills training workshops, supplementary English lessons, and volunteer activities. In any activity, she always plays a leadership role by gathering and organizing her peers. In her, we find an abundant source of energy and an intense desire to rise. She regards her family’s situation not as a fault, but as a motivation to achieve her goals. She works part time as a tutor to help cover the cost of living in Hanoi. She cultivates her English capabilities in any way possible and seeks advice from senior students and friends in her major. She explores opportunities for study abroad and many other previously unimaginable things, with the hope of a brighter future and supporting her parents.

Witnessing the transformation of these young women is indescribably inspiring. Their success is our goal and our ultimate reward. More than 70 percent of Asia Foundation scholarship recipients have been admitted to university and vocational colleges. Many are becoming leaders in their communities and are role models for their siblings and neighbors. Most of these girls have excelled in making their own way. More than 80 percent of the graduates from our first university scholarship cohort, in 2015, were recruited for high-paying jobs, while 10 percent pursued master’s degrees overseas. Dinh Kieu Nhung with Ha Thi Ahn. More than 70 percent of Asia Foundation scholarship recipients have been admitted to universities and vocational colleges. (Photo: Whitney Legge / The Asia Foundation) Yes, girls truly can do anything. There is still a long way to go, but I have seen so many girls with the right support fulfill their potential and embark on a life-changing path. I am so proud to have had the opportunity to collaborate with Michelle Obama and the Girls Opportunity Alliance to bring more visibility to the need to educate girls everywhere.

Dinh Kieu Nhung is education program specialist for The Asia Foundation in Vietnam. She recently received the Foundation’s Presidential Award for Exceptional Performance for furthering The Asia Foundation’s mission. She can be reached at [email protected] . The views and opinions expressed here are those of the author, not those of The Asia Foundation or the Obama Foundation.

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January 23, 2020

Why getting into college is getting easier

Why getting into college is getting easier

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Earlier this month, scores of high school seniors submitted their applications to college. Now comes the worst part: waiting.

In the wake of a college admissions scandal and as the super-low admission rate at many top colleges receives widespread attention, the business of getting in to college is more intense than ever.

However, it may actually be getting easier to be admitted, despite perceptions.

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For starters, the vast majority of schools where most Americans get their post-secondary education admit most of the students who apply , according to recent research from the Pew Research Center based on U.S. Education Department data.

While schools such as Harvard and Stanford accept less than 5% of all applicants (both universities hit a record low last spring), the average admit rate across all institutions is more than 50%, according to Pew.

Of the more than 1,300 four-year colleges and universities Pew analyzed, only 17 admitted fewer than 10% of applicants in 2017, according to the latest data available.

On the flipside, more than half of the schools admitted two-thirds or more of their applicants, Pew found.

A separate Pew report showed that admission rates have, indeed, fallen in recent years. But that is largely because prospective students are applying to more schools than they used to, while the number of spots available has increased at a slower rate, according to Pew.

Altogether, colleges are admitting more students, but not enough to keep pace with the steep rise in applications .

Christopher Rim, president and CEO of Command Education, advises the students he works with to apply to as many as 18 different colleges , including safety schools with acceptance rates at or above 50%, to alleviate stress around getting in.

That way, “they know they are going somewhere,” he said. “That really helps.”

“You can be a star student but, at the end of the day, you can’t control this process,” Rim said.

You can be a star student but, at the end of the day, you can’t control this process.

Christopher Rim

president and CEO of Command Education

A decline in international enrollment is also lessening some of the competition applicants face for spots.

This fall, digital media company Inside Higher Ed found that some colleges are reporting flat enrollment of new international students, while others are seeing substantial drops — in some cases, up to 50%.

This decline in international applicants will open up seats for domestic students, according to Hafeez Lakhani, president of New York-based Lakhani Coaching.

In previous years, a major influx of international students heightened the competition for acceptance into America’s top colleges, as a growing number ofapplicants angled for a limited number of spots. But changing attitudes abroad about studying in the U.S. and more restrictive student visa policies have reversed the trend, Lakhani said.

“This is not a windfall,” he added. However, “if you were a candidate who would be waitlisted, you have a real shot now.”

If you were a candidate who would be waitlisted, you have a real shot now.

Hafeez Lakhani

president of Lakhani Coaching

Further, more high school seniors are choosing their own in-state public school, where acceptance rates are even higher.

The average public school admit rate is 70%, compared to 64% at private schools, according to The Princeton Review.

But beyond increasing their odds of acceptance, state schools have an additional advantage for college-bound seniors: price.

“Ultimately students often choose a school based on sticker cost,” said Robert Franek, The Princeton Review’s editor-in-chief and author of “The Best 385 Colleges.”

The significant increase in the cost of college has outpaced both inflation and — even more starkly — family income over recent decades (see the chart below).

As college costs soar, the top concern parents and students share is affordability and dealing with the debt burden that often goes hand-in-hand with a degree, according to The Princeton Review’s 2019 College Hopes & Worries survey .

As a result, roughly 70% to 80% of all students now study in their home state, according to the College Board.

However, choosing a college based on sticker price alone can be a mistake, Franek added. When it comes to financial aid , private schools typically have more money to distribute and can often ended up being less expensive than public college — after accounting for scholarships and grants.

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January 22, 2020

How Can You Be an International Student From Home?

How Can You Be an International Student From Home?

One of the many personal and professional advantages derived from studying abroad is that employers increasingly prize international experience. But not everyone can afford to leave their jobs and other commitments behind for months or years at a time to pursue an international degree — even if it means better career prospects down the line. The good news? If you fall into this category, studying abroad isn’t out of the question. In fact, one option offers a perfect solution: blended education. Here’s a closer look at the many benefits of international studies, along with how to get the best of both worlds with a blended master’s degree.

The benefits of international study

A growing body of evidence points to the value of international studies . For starters, students who study abroad have higher GPAs and graduation rates, and are more likely to graduate on time when compared to their peers who have not studied abroad.

Additionally, international studies have been shown to support cross-cultural competence and technical skills, which are of paramount value in today’s globalized workforce. Which begs the question: just how important is international experience to employers? Data shared in an Institute of International Education (IIE) report speaks for itself, including the following : Study abroad has a positive impact on the development of a breadth and depth of cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal 21st century job skills, including intercultural skills, curiosity, flexibility & adaptability, confidence, self-awareness, communication, problem solving, language, tolerance for ambiguity, course or major-related knowledge, teamwork, leadership, and work ethic.

Study abroad facilitates understanding of enhanced career possibilities as well as the confidence and ambition to pursue these paths.

The skills acquired through study abroad experience have a long-term impact on career progression and promotion throughout a graduate’s career.

Both short-term and long-term study abroad programs have distinct advantages.

The overall takeaway? At a time when “skills have become the global currency of the 21st century,” according to the OECD, the value of the benefits conferred by international study cannot be overstated. IIE president Allan Goodman said of the findings, “In today’s globally interconnected economy, most students will develop careers where they work for or do business with international companies. […] Our goal is to help educators and employers better understand the specific links between study abroad and career skills, to advance their mutual interest in developing global talent. Alumni report that the skills gained through study abroad can be powerful tools for long term career success.”

A best-of-both-worlds solution: blended education

Think studying abroad means packing up, taking off, and leaving behind all of your commitments? While this is the scenario presented by full-time international studies, another option exists: blended education (also called “hybrid learning” and “mixed-mode learning”).

Defined by the Glossary of Education Reform as “the practice of using both online and in-person learning experiences when teaching students,” blended learning is a simple concept with huge potential payoffs, including the following: ultimate flexibility in presenting and learning content; increased effectiveness; enhanced efficiency; decreased costs; more opportunities for personalization; extended reach; and the ability to cater to a variety of learning styles through a multitude of mediums and techniques.

In the context of international education, the benefits of blended education are even more profound. Why? Because they not only offer participants all of the advantages of blended learning, but amplified across the international study experience.

The IED Madrid advantage

Deciding to pursue international studies through blended learning is one thing. Finding the right program is another. This is where IED Madrid’s innovative, 11-month blended-format master’s degrees come in. Merging six months of online training with three months of face-to-face training, IED Madrid’s blended programs offer an ideal solution for design students seeking to leverage the many advantages of international studies while balancing their personal and professional lives.

IED Madrid blended master’s degree students have their choice of four programs: the Blended Master in Brand Design ; the Blended Master in Digital Communication and Marketing in Fashion ; the Blended Master in Fashion Management ; and the Blended Master in Strategic Design for Interiors . Each is structured into three modules: two online and one in-person.

Students start with a three-month online module, which allows them to orient and organize themselves through IED’s online platform in the way most suitable to them.

Next, they move into the middle component: three months in remarkable Madrid, the cultural and financial heart of Spain. This gives them the opportunity to interact in person with peers and instructors from all over the world in a dynamic classroom setting. During this time, students also have the opportunity to explore both theoretical and practical methodologies while working on real projects with real companies. IED’s three workstations located in neighborhoods renowned for their innovation, design, and architecture further enhance the learning experience. For European students, IED Madrid offers another unbeatable benefit: Not only is there no need to put your life on hold for a year or more, but no visa is required.

The concluding module resumes the online delivery mode as students return home ready to apply exciting new knowledge and skills in their chosen fields of study.

Throughout their time at IED Madrid, participants are also eligible for internships with a variety of companies while also having access to IED Madrid’s comprehensive Careers Guidance Services aimed at advising participants on their professional development throughout their course of study.

Dropping everything and enrolling in a months-long international study program isn’t possible or beneficial to everyone — especially people who are already working in their chosen fields or who may have personal commitments that prevent them from pursuing a full-time master’s degree online. Enrolling in a blended master’s program, such as the one at IED Madrid, grants access to all of the advantages of studying abroad — not to mention time in amazing Madrid — while also from the comfort of your own home. Article written in association with IED .

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January 14, 2020

Michelle Obama Continues To Encourage Students To Reach Higher

Michelle Obama Continues To Encourage Students To Reach Higher

As part of her latest effort to get more students to pursue education beyond high school, former Former First Lady Michelle Obama has often told her story—including in her recent memoir, Becoming —of being a first-generation college student who dared to “reach higher” and enroll at Princeton University. Her experience drove her to launch an effort to encourage more students to pursue education beyond high school while in the White House, known as the Reach Higher Initiative . This initiative has lived beyond her time as First Lady and Mrs. Obama has continued to stay involved. This week, Mrs. Obama announced a new series of videos on Instagram to inspire students.

Michelle Obama made news when she starred in a rap video called “Go to College” inspiring students to pursue their dreams and at go to college to be able to do so. By rapping in a YouTube video the First Lady hoped to meet students where they are: on social media. (The video has been viewed on YouTube nearly 5 million times as of this writing.) That is deliberate and Reach Higher has continued to do so and this latest effort is no different.

One of Reach Higher’s primary initiatives has been College Signing Day . Building upon athletes declaring which school they will attend to play a certain sport, the First Lady and Reach Higher has sought to uplift all students in the same way. Through events at schools across the country, social media, and more, Reach Higher has celebrated students as they pursue education beyond high school. Other efforts of the initiative include raising awareness around the FAFSA (the Free Application for Federal Student Aid), building capacity of college counselors, and improving completion.

In this new series , Obama is sharing the experiences of four first-year college students, each having “overcome tremendous odds to get where they are.” These videos will be shared on Instagram’s video platform, IGTV, and will share the ups and downs of their first-year at college in an effort to highlight the issues students face when going to college. The Former First Lady said she hopes this will create a supportive community for students who might face similar circumstances.

Low-income students and students whose parents didn’t go to college enroll in higher education at a lower rate compared to their peers. They also are less likely to graduate on average. Encouraging more of these students to enroll and helping them graduate can pay dividends for those students as college graduates earn more, are less likely to be unemployed or in poverty, and are even healthier, among other benefits. Efforts like that of Reach Higher can truly make a difference in the lives of students and that’s why it’s admirable that the former First Lady has invested so much in helping students go to college.

Students who may not know what it would be like to go to college—particularly low-income students and those whose parents didn’t go—might be more hesitant to apply. But videos like these allows students to see for themselves what it might be like to enroll in higher education. Not only can it let them see what it’s like, it can help them know there are people like them who are able to succeed. Sometimes just being able to imagine what the future might look like is enough for students to realize what they thought was impossible is actually achievable.

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January 14, 2020
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