Harvard's Commencement Speaker; Exam Multitasking

Also in academia news: when Goldman Sachs invested in a for-profit college company

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Today in academia: unplugging (some) technology before an exam, Harvard's commencement speaker, U.S. safety-schools, and the latest for-profit college investigation..

  • Early commencement news: Harvard's class of  2012 speaker is pictured above.  It'll be Time's editor-at-large Fareed Zakaria, reports the Harvard Crimson. It seems like a pretty good get--although he'll be hard-pressed to be funnier than Amy Poehler, who, earlier this year, was honored with a very prestigious Atlantic Wire "commencie" award for her hand-holding advice to outgoing graduates. Harvard's president Drew G. Faust, seemed pleased: "Fareed Zakaria is an unusually creative and incisive thinker in the realm of international affairs, and it will be a particular privilege to hear from him as Harvard looks toward the future from the vantage point of its 375th anniversary." [The Harvard Crimson]
  • Students are using the library. As a place to camp with their laptop a few hours before an exam.  A University of Washington study highlighted by Inside Higher Ed is fascinated with how undergrads choose to manage their time before an exam. And students aren't as distracted as the researchers presumed. They also tend to look at libraries as a refuge rather than resource. When hunkering down in the library only hours before a test, "85 percent only had 1 or 2 information technology (IT) devices running when interviewed." Which doesn't seem like students are swearing off tech during crunch time. They add, "81 percent checked for new messages such as email messages or Facebook." So they're not exactly ungluing themselves from Facebook, either. [Inside Higher Ed]
  • Trend: U.S. colleges are seen as safety schools for Indian student applicants. In The New York Times overview report on Friday about Indian students who are applying to American universities (and the elite universities that are accommodating), it's interesting how the stateside universities are sometimes seen by these parents and students: as safety-schools. "American universities have now become 'safety schools' for increasingly stressed and traumatized Indian students and parents, who complain that one fateful event — the final high school examination — can make or break a teenager's future career." [The New York Times]
  • What happened to a for-profit college company after Goldman Sachs became an investor.  The latest in a series of investigations about the admissions practices of for-profit colleges (Harper's just had a very good take in its October issue) arrives in a lengthy report from The Huffington Post. It explores Education Management Corp, the for-profit college company recently investigated by the Justice Department for widespread fraud. And the article notes the cutthroat recruiting practices present after Goldman Sachs invested: "The admissions staff nearly tripled, requiring expanded floor space to accommodate a sales force of more than 2,600 across the country ... New recruits were viewed simply as a conduit for federal student assistance dollars, the employees said, and pressure mounted from management to enroll anyone at any cost." [The Huffington Post]
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