5 things you need to know about higher education this week
Colleges are always changing things up, and the best way to prepare yourself for admissions is to stay a step ahead of their various rules, regulations, and policies. But other than that, their curricula, student culture, and surrounding environment are also evolving and changing — so whether you’re a junior still trying to decide on a dream school or a senior that’s filtering through your acceptance letters, it’s always good to keep a finger on the pulse of higher-ed news. Thankfully, CollegeVine cares about the same things you do, and we do the heavy reading so you don’t have to. Here are five headlines this week we’ve curated for you about game-changers in the higher-ed world.
University of Pennsylvania Approves Nutritional Science Major for 2016-17 Year
The University of Pennsylvania prides itself on its 80-plus majors, and they’ve recently unveiled the newest addition to their family — a major in nutritional sciences that bridges its College of Nursing and College of Arts and Sciences. Right now, UPenn students can only take nutritional sciences as a complementary second major because of its novelty, but the university does also offer a minor in the field for students whose course loads are heavier.
This major’s curriculum is modeled after the programs of the “top 10 nutrition majors worldwide” and is intended for nursing students, biology students, and premeds so that they can attain a more comprehensive understanding of the functions of the human body.
Cornell University Increases Tuition, Halts Need-Blind Admission for International Students
Cornell’s Provost Michael Kotlikoff announced last Thursday that the university planned to increase tuition by 3.75% and begin need-aware admissions for international students, effective the 2016-17 academic year. This is also accompanied by a 2% increase in on-campus housing and dining costs.
The 3.75% will apply to Cornell’s own endowed colleges, as well as the contract colleges that are partly funded by New York State. However, Kotlikoff says that this is the lowest tuition hike that the university has seen in recent years ($1,830 to last year’s $1,920) and is indicative of a positive trend.
Cornell’s Student Assembly expresses dissent over the need-aware policy, saying that this will favor privilege over skills in international admissions. The university administration claims that this was a drastic measure due to a shortage of funds in Cornell’s financial aid allotment.
Princeton University’s Average GPA Increases After Repeal of Grade Deflation Policy
Princeton University’s been known for its stringent grade deflation rule limiting the amount of A’s to 35% in all its classes, but this rule has been repealed since October 2014. Now, GPAs are at an all-time high, with an average of 3.4 across all majors and grades at the university for fall 2015. This is an increase from the fall 2014 average of 3.368.
However, according to a university survey, this increase is not evident in introductory classes, and multiple professors teaching these courses have noted that they have not seen any statistically significant change in grade distributions before and after the rule’s repeal. Also, the effect of the rule’s repeal also varies across departments — engineering majors, in particular, seem to have benefited the most from this change.
ACT Essay Scores “Inexplicably Low,” Cause Controversy
In September 2015, the ACT introduced a new writing section that would be graded on the same 36-point scale as all of its other sections, and many top students who routinely score above 30 in the other sections are being met with scores in the mid-twenties.
Statistics from ACT show that while the top 5% of test takers scored 32 or above in English and reading and 30 or higher in math and science, their average writing score lags behind at between 27 and 28.
Some students were able to rectify this by asking for a re-grade from ACT, which costs $50. However, ACT will refund the student if they award the essay a higher score the second time around. Others have sidestepped this by avoiding the essay section completely.
ACT officials said that this was an effect of students and test prep companies being unaccustomed to this new writing prompt, and that they expect scores to rise in the following years as the new essay prompt grows more and more familiar.
Cornell University Announces New “College of Business”
One of the Cornell administration’s earliest announcements in 2017 involved the formation of a new college within the university. It will combine the current School of Hotel Administration, the Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, and the Johnson Graduate School of Management into a new College of Business.
Within this new college, each component institution will still retain its own identity apart from the other two, much like how Cornell’s College of Architecture, Art, and Planning comprises the Colleges of Architecture, Fine Art, and Urban Planning.
Many Cornell students, alumni, and faculty have objected to this move by the administration, claiming that the decision was made one-sidedly by the administration without consulting any outside opinions.
Students and alumni from the School of Hotel Administration were especially vocal against the move, saying that a merger like this would rob the school of its unique traditions and character. As the oldest and one of the finest hospitality and management programs in the nation, Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration has created a legacy of illustrious alumni in the industry and its own subculture — students and alums of this school at nicknamed “hotelies,” and even have their specialized set of jargon.