Monday, February 4, 2008

University Updated

Two significant updates from the college world this week. I have a daughter at Radford University in Virginia and one who is a junior in high school.

Update #1: The Virginia Tech Effect.
People often say that education is slow to change. Last week at 2:00 am my cell phone and my wife’s cell phone started ringing. Obviously, with a child in college, a 2:00 am cell phone call is not good. It turns out that it was the automated warning system for Radford University telling us that a man dressed as a security guard was lurking around the dorms and that all students should stay in their dorm rooms and not come out. This automated alarm went out to all parents, students and faculty. We also got an email alert at the same time. About 10 minutes later we got a second automated call and email saying all was well (turned out the guy dressed as a security guard was actually a security guard). Although I hate to be awakened at 2:00 am, I will sleep much better knowing that this system is in place and works. Communication was a huge issue in the Virginia Tech incident, so it is a great credit to universities that they were able to get a fix in place this fast and that the fix is effective.

Update #2: Applications to college on the rise.Kevin Carey did a piece on college applications allegedly debunking the myth that college applicants were on the rise saying that applications, not applicants, were on the increasing. His statement is based on the fact that each student puts in many more college applications than ever before and the number of college seniors does not change that much. Wrong. We recently did the college tour with my high school junior and any parent in a similar situation would definitely hoist the BS flag on Mr. Carey. The fact is that the next two years will be the largest classes of seniors ever. This is combined with an increasing push to get more kids in college that is actually succeeding. The result is that it is much harder to get in college. Most of us parents could not even come close to getting into the schools we graduated from 20 years ago. It is a challenge to get accepted to so-called “safety schools” today. Case in point is Christopher Newport University which became a University in 1992 and over the last 10 years the average SAT score is 500 points higher for admission. Our campus tour guide made the point that many seniors at the school couldn’t get in as a freshman today. The main problem in any education issue is that looking at the national numbers shows a totally different picture than the problems facing each individual state.

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