Top Ten

December 18, 2006

Lacrosse Rape Case Hurts Applications to Duke

As the pregnant victim of an alleged rape by three Duke University lacrosse team members nine months ago demands a paternity test, administrators at Duke blame the incident for a 25% drop in early admission applications. For five years running, Duke saw about 15,000 early admission applicants, but this year received only 11,098 early admission applications. In particular, early admissions dropped from the eastern seaboard and major metropolitan areas, where the rape case has received the most media attention. Fox News

$44 Million Engineering Building for McMaster

At the same board of governors meeting last Thursday that heard about projected deficits and the need for across-the-board budget cuts at McMaster University, the Dean of Engineering presented a report on the new $44 million, five-storey, 125,000 sq. ft. facility that will house a growing number of engineering students and faculty, including the new graduate schools of Biomedical Engineering and Mechatronics. Construction began in the fall, and is expected to be completed by winter 2008. McMaster Daily News

Centennial College Community Program Profiled in Globe & Mail

Friday's Globe & Mail included an item about the Community Program Initiative at Centennial College, which offers young people in two rough Scarborough neighbourhoods an opportunity to "drop back in" to school and transition from high-school dropout to college student. The program is one of 19 which received a funding boost last week from Ontario's Youth Challenge Fund. Globe & Mail

Colleges Move Toward Online Strategies

The Chronicle of Higher Education reports that traditional nonprofit colleges are shifting their budgets from direct mail and print viewbooks toward pay-per-click online campaigns on search engines and online directories, search engine optimization, and the services of third-party call centres and "lead aggregators." For-profits like the University of Phoenix still dominate internet marketing, spending more than Dell or General Motors on internet marketing, and employing about 4,000 lead conversion specialists. Some colleges have shifted as much as half their marketing budget toward online strategies, paying up to $90 per lead. Some call centres guarantee to telephone every lead within 3 minutes of its being received by a college website, 24 /7. Chronicle of Higher Education (requires subscription)

Podcasts Still Slow to Catch On

Although there are currently as many as 60,000 podcasts available on the internet, recent studies are suggesting that podcasting may always be a niche phenomenon. The Pew Internet & American Life Project surveyed 3,000 adults in August, and found that only 12% of internet users have downloaded a podcast ever, and only 1% do so regularly. A March study by Forrester Research also concluded that while 2% of North American internet users have tried podcasts, only 1% tune in regularly. The Diffusion Group forecasts that 10% of internet users will download a podcast next year, but their own research also shows that more than 80% of podcast downloads never actually reach an MP3 player. About 75% of current podcast traffic is driven through the iTunes Top 100, about half of which are repurposed television broadcasts from major media companies. BusinessWeek

Major Overhaul of US Education Proposed

Last Thursday, the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce warned that Americans face a grave risk of losing their prosperity to better-educated workers overseas, and proposed a far-reaching redesign of US elementary and secondary education that would greatly enhance teacher salaries and add "merit pay." The commission, organized by the non-profit National Center on Education and the Economy, was funded in part by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The report, "Tough Choices in Tough Times," also proposes starting school for most children at age 3, establishing government education savings plans for every baby in the country, moving education funding to the state level, and requiring all students to write Board exams at 10th grade to "filter" students. Critics, including the national teachers' unions, have urged caution in making drastic changes. New York Times | Executive Summary

UK Open University Airs Final Broadcast

It was "the end of an era" for Britain's Open University last week as the "televarsity" made its final television broadcast. Since it launched in January 1971, the OU has televised tens of thousands of course-related programs, mainly at night. Increasingly, OU has found it easier and more cost-effective to send students CDs or DVDs, or provide podcasts online. BBC

UK Graduates Regret Degree Choice

A survey of 876 graduates by the UK-based Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development found that, while 90% would go to university again, fully one-third of graduates feel they studied the wrong course at university, and would take a more scientific or technical program, business or a professional qualification. Difficulties finding employment seemed to impact their views. Two-thirds felt that their university could have offered them better career advice. BBC

Generation Y Aims for Entrepreneurship

USA Today reports that members of the millennial generation are increasingly deciding that corporate America doesn't fit their needs. "Armed with a hefty dose of optimism, moxie and self-esteem, they are becoming entrepreneurs." The generation that demanded customized music on their iPods now is doing the same with their lives, seeking a work-life balance their parents lacked. Of course, many are discovering that entrepreneurship isn't a way to get that balance at all. USA Today

Memorial University Greeting Cards

Newfoundland's "rich vernacular" is featured on a series of holiday greeting cards from Memorial University of Newfoundland. From the best-selling Dictionary of Newfoundland English come definitions for "duff," "babbish," "horsy-hops," "crunnick," "tommy-sticker," and "janneys." The cards, developed by MUN's Image Services and printed by MUN's Printing Services office, sell in packs of 12 for $16.50. MUN News