Tuesday, April 26, 2011

10 Most Historic College Campuses in the World

Although colleges and universities more than understandably evolved over the centuries, all of them owe a debt of gratitude to the medieval institutions who started it all. Since 1088, the world of higher education has expanded magnanimously to all corners of the globe, encompassing a far more diverse range of programs, faculty, staff and students. The following have paid witness to this drastic change more than any others, laying the rocksteady foundation for today's institutions. But even beyond that, they have all played an active role in shaping world history itself, regardless of their contributions' sizes.

  1. University of Bologna: This lauded institution has been in continuous operation since 1088, give or take a few years. For the longest time, they only offered doctoral degrees, though in recent times they expanded their offerings. Today, around 100,000 students spread across 23 different faculties at 8 different branches and schools — including an international location in Buenos Aires. Considering its Catholic roots, it probably comes as little surprise that University of Bologna receives accolades for its civil and canon law programs. Throughout its incredible history, the school has graduated such diverse cultural luminaries as Dante Alighieri, Nicolaus Copernicus, Albrecht D–rer and Umberto Eco.
  2. University of Oxford: As with many medieval universities, the exact date of founding remains largely unknown, though it's well known that teaching was going on in 1096. Although the oldest English-speaking school in the world (pictured), much of University of Oxford's wealthy intellectual legacy stems from massive influxes of Continental students and ideologies. Catholic orders, Renaissance beliefs and figures and scholars fleeing Nazism and Communism have all, at one time or another, flocked to this academic safe haven and eventually left their permanent mark. The year 1878 saw the landmark addition of the first women's college, with a second following a year later — and three more came shortly thereafter. Even today, it remains one of the world's most eclectic, prestigious and influential universities thanks to this diverse heritage.
  3. University of Salamanca: Spain's oldest university started offering classes around 1130, but never received a papal charter until 1218 and a royal charter from King Alfonso X until 1254. By 1255, it was able to refer to itself as a university thanks to the confirmation of Pope Alexander IV. Because of its age, this institution participated in its fair share of notable historical events, both amazing and absolutely terrible. For one, many of its graduates and faculty assisted the government in its unjust expulsion and torturing of innocent Jews. Geographers at the University of Salamanca also played an integral role in assisting Christoffa Corombo on his historic voyage attempting to discover a quicker trade route towards the West Indies. After his accidental landing in the Americas, the very same school that backed his journey would go on to debate the ethical and economic impact of interacting with its indigenous peoples.
  4. University of Modena: University of Modena actually spreads itself across the eponymous city as well as Reggio Emilia, with eight faculties comprising the former and four in the latter. The original campus was founded in 1175 by former University of Bologna educator Pillio of Medicina, but its original medieval structure fizzled out entirely by 1338. At that point, it ceased offering degrees and focused more on holding classes until funding forced the 1590 suspension. However, it revived itself in Modena around 1680 and eventually picked up its charter five years later. Today, both campuses host a total of around 20,000 students. Anyone visiting Modena needs to head over to the school and explore the Orto Botanico dell'Universit– di Modena e Reggio Emilia. This free botanical garden began as a small plot for medicinal plants, grew into an herbarium and subsequently expanded to its lush form locals and tourists currently enjoy.
  5. University of Vicenza: Many academics, unfortunately, consider the University of Vicenza one of the least significant surviving medieval schools. In spite of this mindset, however, it still deserves recognition for its age and endurance. It was founded in 1204 and received recognition as a stadium generale at some point in the 13th Century.
  6. University of Cambridge: The second-oldest stadium generale in the English-speaking world sprouted thanks to the first. Because of myriad disputes with faculty and townspeople alike, a small throng of Oxford intellectuals went on to found the competing university in 1209. Today, it is considered amongst the best institutes of higher learning on the planet, but it certainly took an interesting historical path to get here. On the orders of King Henry XIII, Cambridge disbanded its canon law program and dissolved any and all associations with Catholicism. As a result, classes shifted towards math, science, the classics and Bible — offerings which eventually inspired some of the most influential politicians, scientists, mathematicians, writers and thinkers of all time. Without Cambridge, there would be no laws of motion, atom splitting, unified electromagnetism, theory of evolution and natural selection, Turing machines or quantum mechanics. Nor would the electron, hydrogen or structure of DNA been discovered. Among a staggering heap of other accomplishments, of course.
  7. University of Padua: A 1222 split from the University of Bologna resulted in the creation of University of Padua, whose new students and faculty desired more flexibility and freedom. At first, it only focused on providing degrees in law and theology, though it expanded its offerings to include astronomy, rhetoric, medicine, dialectic, philosophy, rhetoric, grammar and philosophy by 1399. During and shortly after the Renaissance, University of Padua enjoyed recognition as one of the world's intellectual and research powerhouses, likely due to its closer affiliation with the Venetian government than the Catholic Church. Even now, the 65,000-student institution is oftentimes considered amongst the greatest institutes of higher learning in Italy.
  8. University of Naples Federico II: Unlike the other historical universities listed here, this one never affiliated itself with any religious institution. Rather, it received its initial patronage from Emperor Frederico II in 1224, making it the oldest state school in the world. Curiously enough, however, its most famous alum made a name for himself as one of the foremost Catholic theologians. St. Thomas Aquinas likely formed many of his influential religious theories based on his exposure to classical philosophy, letters and political science at University of Naples Federico II.
  9. University of Siena: Established in 1240, University of Siena funded itself on taxes levied upon individuals and families renting living quarters to citizens. By 1252, Pope Innocent IV was declaring that teachers and students alike would be exempt from taxes, forced labor, night watchman duty and military service — particularly those involved with Latin, medicine and the natural sciences. Following a giant influx of University of Bologna faculty and students angered with a young man's death sentence, the institution in Siena swelled significantly, even enjoying stadium generale status. While it may not have played a huge role in Italian history, the school did witness major power switches in the region and hosted many extremely vocal demonstrations against Risorgimento.
  10. University of Coimbra: Portugal's oldest university is a public school founded in 1290 following the approval of King Dinis. It actually started out in Lisbon before the 1308 move to Coimbra — a result of tensions with Pope Nicholas IV, the citizenry and the students. The core curriculum originally offered classes in the arts, canon law, law and medicine, which remained intact during the transition. In 1338, King Alfonso IV brought the school back to Lisbon, where it stayed until 1537 when King Jo–o III sent it to Coimbra permanently.

From OnlineCollege.org
Posted by Lindy Kahn, M.A., CEP for Kahn Educational Group, LLC

Thursday, April 21, 2011

More Non-Californians are Offered Freshman Slots at UC Schools

Applicants from other states or countries made up 18.1% of the 72,432 students admitted to at least one of the nine undergraduate University of California campuses, up from 14% last year and 11.6% in 2009, data show.

The University of California's recent decision to boost its enrollment of out-of-state students for the extra tuition they pay was evident in the higher number of non-Californians offered freshman admission for the fall, according to data released Monday.

Applicants from other states or countries made up 18.1% of the 72,432 students admitted to at least one of the nine undergraduate UC campuses, up from 14% last year and 11.6% in 2009, the figures show. The trend was most dramatic at UC Berkeley and UCLA, where 31.2% and 29.9% of freshman admission offers went to non-Californians.

But fewer out-of-state than in-state students typically accept their UC offers. Officials said they expect the systemwide enrollment of non-California freshmen this fall to end up below 10%, the maximum set by the UC regents in December when they moved to boost the proportion of such students from 6% now. Out-of-state students pay $23,000 more annually than in-state students, money the cash-strapped system says it needs.

Overall, 68.2% of all the 106,186 applicants to UC were accepted by at least one of the campuses to which they applied, a slight increase over the 68% of the year before. However, more students than ever were denied admissions at their first- and second-choice campuses.

"Because of these dire financial circumstances, our campuses have had to make very difficult decisions to turn away highly qualified students who they know would thrive and contribute greatly to the life of their campuses," said Pamela Burnett, UC's interim director of undergraduate admissions.

More than 12,700 students turned away at other UC campuses will be offered a spot at the university's 5-year-old Merced campus, even though they did not apply there. That way, Burnett said, UC will honor the goal of the state's master plan for higher education, which calls on the university to admit all academically eligible applicants, generally in the top 12.5% of high school graduates based on grades and test scores.

Combined with enrollment cutbacks at Cal State campuses and community colleges, UC's push to enroll more out-of-state students threatens to diminish opportunities for Californians, according to William Tierney, director of USC's Center for Higher Education Policy Analysis.

"We are moving in the opposite direction of where we need to go," Tierney said. "We need to be increasing capacity and participation in higher education, and the public sector is decreasing that. I understand why they are doing it, but it's not in the best interest of the state."

UC officials said they expect enrollment of California freshmen to stay nearly the same in fall 2011 as it was last year, about 32,600. They also emphasized that public universities in Michigan, Virginia and Colorado enroll more than 30% of their undergraduates from beyond their borders, triple UC's goal.

UCLA and UC Berkeley once again were the most selective UC campuses. UCLA accepted 25.3% of its applicants and UC Berkeley, 25.5%. Next were UC San Diego, with 34.1%; UC Irvine, 45.5%; UC Santa Barbara, 45.7%; UC Davis, 46%; UC Riverside, 62.2%; UC Santa Cruz, 67.9%; and UC Merced, 78%.

Admitted students have until May 1 to decide whether to attend, and some students may later switch campuses if they are offered admission from waiting lists. About 16,500 UC applicants were wait-listed for at least one campus this year, up from 10,700 in 2010, when the university first used the lists.

Among ethnic groups, Asian Americans continued to make up the largest share of UC admission offers, with 36%, up from 35.4% last year. White students remained at 30.6%, and Latinos increased to 26%, up from 23.3%. African Americans made up 4.1% of the accepted pool, compared with 4.2% last year.

Written by Larry Gordon, Los Angeles Times

Posted by Lindy Kahn, M.A., CEP for Kahn Educational Group, LLC


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Admission to College, With Catch: Year’s Wait

For as long as there have been selective colleges, the spring ritual has been the same: Some applicants get a warm note of acceptance, and the rest get a curt rejection.

Now, as colleges are increasingly swamped with applications, a small but growing number are offering a third option: guaranteed admission if the student attends another institution for a year or two and earns a prescribed grade-point average.

This little-noticed practice — an unusual mix of early admission and delayed gratification — has allowed colleges to tap their growing pools of eager candidates to help counter the enrollment slump that most institutions suffer later on, as the accepted students drop out, transfer, study abroad or take internships off campus.

“Life happens — we all understand that the size of the freshman class diminishes as they progress,” said Barmak Nassirian, an associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers in Washington. “This is an attempt at what is called enrollment management.”

But while the practice, known as deferred admission or a guaranteed transfer option, offers applicants another shot at their dream school, it can also place them in limbo, as they start college life on a campus they plan to abandon. And it can create problems for that institution, which is not usually told about the deal the student has struck with a competitor.

Monica Inzer, the dean of admission at Hamilton College in upstate New York, called the practice “borderline unethical,” saying it had the effect of recruiting students from other colleges. “We would allow a student to defer for a year, but never to matriculate full time at another college,” Ms. Inzer said.

No one tracks how many colleges use this admissions option, and some are reluctant to reveal that they do. In New York State, they include Cornell University, Medaille College in Buffalo and several campuses in the State University of New York system, including the ones in Albany and Geneseo. Many others around the country, like the University of Maryland and Middlebury College in Vermont, have long had variations on the practice, accepting students if they agree to start a semester later.

Though deferred admission is not entirely new, admissions officers say the number of colleges offering it has increased in recent years, and they expect that to continue as baby boomers’ children, who created their own demographic bulge, move into adulthood.

“Throughout the Northeast in particular, the number of traditional freshmen will continue to go down, so schools that aren’t already doing something like this are talking about it,” said Gregroy P. Florczak, vice president for enrollment management and undergraduate admissions at Medaille. “You’re going to need to pick up in transfers what you are losing in incoming freshmen.”

Some admissions officers suggested in interviews that deferred admission had also provided an edge in college rankings. Because the rankings are based in part on the SAT scores and high school grade-point averages of freshmen entering in the fall, the scores — presumably lower — of students who are to begin later are not included. Deferring the admission of some students also lowers the college’s admissions rate, making it appear more selective.

William Caren, associate vice president for enrollment services at SUNY Geneseo, said the effect on rankings was not a motivation for his campus’s offering deferred admission, but “a collateral benefit.”

Each college with deferred admissions does them a little differently. Usually, the offers are put in writing, and prospective students are asked to submit a form demonstrating interest. But while the college promises delayed admission, students are typically not required to commit themselves or pay a deposit. Colleges often provide academic advisers to help students choose compatible courses at the institution they will attend first.

Such arrangements are different from the traditional “articulation agreements” that four-year public colleges make with community colleges. In those, the institutions work together to ensure the smooth transferring of credits.

When Evi Nam applied to Cornell two years ago after graduating from high school in Concord, N.H., the first word she got from the university’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations was a rejection. “I was heartbroken,” she said.

A few days later, she received another message from the school: the offer of a spot the next fall as a transfer student, as long as she earned at least a 3.3 grade-point average at another accredited institution.

“It felt like a gift from heaven,” said Ms. Nam, who attended New York University for a year, earned a 3.8, and started at Cornell last fall. “It’s an Ivy League. I was singing when they gave me the option.”

But life was not easy at N.Y.U., where, as fate would have it, she also missed the cut for standard admission. Instead, she was admitted to the university’s Liberal Studies Program, a two-year track for slightly weaker applicants, who are guaranteed enrollment in a bachelor’s program their third year.

Ms. Nam held off notifying N.Y.U. about her intention to leave until the end of her year there — and held herself aloof from campus life.

“I knew that I was going to be leaving in a year, so I didn’t want to make any BFF’s,” she said. “It put me in an awkward position. I had no connections with N.Y.U. — it was just a steppingstone for Cornell. A lot of people at N.Y.U. got jealous and cut me out of their lives. It was messy.”

The dean of the Liberal Studies Program at N.Y.U., Fred Schwarzbach, was critical of students who enter knowing their stay will be temporary. Without commenting specifically on Ms. Nam, he said, “In general, we would not admit a student unless that student were committed to a four-year undergraduate experience.”

Still, the benefits of deferred admission can be attractive for both students and colleges.

For years, SUNY Geneseo was on the receiving end of the phenomenon, losing sophomores to Cornell year after year. “A lot of students who apply here also apply to Cornell,” Mr. Caren said. “When Cornell says it will defer their admission, they enroll here for a year. Then they come to the dean’s office and say, ‘Well, I’m leaving.’ We picked up on this, and we decided to do it ourselves.”

Two years ago, Geneseo, the most selective liberal arts college in the state system, began offering students a guaranteed-transfer admission for the following fall. Those students must receive a 3.0 grade-point average from any accredited institution. Geneseo sent out 200 such offers, but only about 15 students accepted.

A more popular program delays admission until the spring semester for hundreds of applicants who are academically stronger than the first group. Mr. Caren said Geneseo last year offered 500 students the option of arriving in the spring, or the following fall; 178 ended up enrolling, up from 50 seven years ago. Though not required to study elsewhere, virtually all do, and more than a third enroll in a four-year college for a single semester.

“We have a number of students who graduate midyear for a variety of reasons,” Mr. Caren said. “So the spring semester balances out very nicely and we can maintain the residence halls at fuller capacity.”

There are many other variations on the theme of finding room in the future for marginal candidates. Middlebury College asks applicants to indicate their willingness to arrive in February instead of September; about 100 students enroll in the spring, most voluntarily. The University of Maryland has offered 4,400 applicants admission for spring 2012 on a take-it-or-leave-it basis.

Fairleigh Dickinson, in Teaneck and Madison, N.J., promises eventual admission to a few hundred applicants each year if they perform well at one of 16 community colleges in the state.

And next fall, Binghamton University, one of SUNY’s four research universities, will begin a program that puts another spin on the community college route. It has just offered about 600 applicants spots in its freshman dormitories. But those students will enroll at Broome Community College a few miles away, becoming eligible for admission to Binghamton in a year or two.

Asked if housing a subset of community college students on campus could make them feel second-class, Sandra Starke, vice provost for enrollment management at Binghamton, said: “We’re hoping that’s not the case. We believe all students will be inspiring one another to do better.”

Written by Lisa W. Foderaro for The New York Times
Posted by Lindy Kahn, M.A., CEP for Kahn Educational Group, LLC


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