Higher education, lower blood pressure: study

According to the AFP, the more advanced degrees a person has, the lower their blood pressure, a study published online has found. An analysis of some 4,000 patient records from the 30-year Framingham Offspring Study found that, controlling only for age, women with 17 years or more of education–a master’s degree or doctorate–had systolic blood pressure readings 3.26 millimeters of mercury lower than female high school drop-outs. Men who went to graduate school had systolic blood pressure readings that were 2.26 millimeters of mercury (mmHg) lower than their counterparts who did not finish high school, the study, published online in the open access journal BMC Public Health, says…

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California headed for cuts for for-profit students

California’s student aid commission said on Friday that aid funds going to students at for-profit schools should be slashed first when the state cuts its education budget, Reuters reports. The U.S. Education Department has criticized some for-profit schools, which range from universities offering PhD’s to trade schools offering car-repair training, for low graduation rates and high loan default rates. The California Student Aid Commission, which administers financial aid programs, voted unanimously on Friday to put Cal Grant aid to for-profit schools’ students at the bottom of its priority list when the state is forced to make budget cuts relating to education financing…

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Comcast, NBC deal opens door for online video

New internet video services from companies such as Netflix and Apple are offering a glimpse of a home entertainment future that doesn’t include a pricey monthly cable bill. To challenge the cable TV industry’s dominance in the living room, though, online video services need popular movies and TV shows to lure viewers, and access to high-speed internet networks to reach them. Yet they have had no rights to either–until now. To win government approval to take over NBC Universal last month, cable giant Comcast Corp. agreed to let online rivals license NBC programming, including hit shows such as “30 Rock” and “The Office,” the Associated Press reports. Comcast also agreed not to block its 17 million broadband subscribers from watching video online through Netflix, Apple’s iTunes and other rivals yet to come…

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British educators telling students: Go abroad

Caught between the rising cost of university tuition in England and the falling percentage of applicants offered places, one British school is giving its students some surprising advice, reports the New York Times. By any measure Hockerill Anglo-European College is one of the most successful schools in Britain. Named last month as one of the government’s flagship academies, its students regularly come at or near the top of exam results for the entire country, outperforming such famous names as Eton or Harrow. But unlike those private schools, where fees can exceed £28,000, or $45,000, a year, Hockerill, in the Hertfordshire town of Bishop’s Stortford, is a state comprehensive, which charges no tuition fees and is forbidden from selecting its students on the basis of academic ability. And while a third of Hockerill’s 830 students are boarders, they are chosen on the basis of need rather than ability to pay. So when Simon Dennis, the school’s principal, heard of government plans to triple university tuition fees in England to £9,000 a year, he decided to make use of the school’s international focus, urging his students to apply to universities abroad and hiring a counselor to help students apply to universities in countries whose fees are cheaper…

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Facebook a factor in college admissions?

Prospective college students, beware: There’s yet another reason to make sure your Facebook profile is suitable for all. According to a Kaplan survey of college admissions officers, more than 80 percent of college admissions officers consider social media presence when recruiting students, The Huffington Post reports. Although this doesn’t necessarily mean that Facebook and other online profiles will be considered in making admissions decisions, All Facebook reports that at least one Harvard admissions officer — who posted on a Quora thread in response to the question “do high school students’ Facebook profiles affect their college applications?” — said that a student’s online presence “absolutely” prejudices her.

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Survey: IT college grads not ‘ready to go’

Fifty-nine percent say they plan to hire new IT workers soon.

Many companies and college IT departments are ready to hire as the economy thaws, but more than nine in 10 college graduates who majored in information technology (IT) aren’t prepared for life in the workforce, according to a national survey.

Eight percent of new IT hires are “well trained” and “ready to go,” while 44 percent are “well trained” but have “gaps” in their skill set, according to respondents to a survey conducted by SHARE, an association of IT industry professionals, including colleges and universities.

Three in 10 IT companies said new hires were “severely deficient” business skills and are often in need of remedial training from superiors.

IT know-how wasn’t the problem for many recent IT college graduates, according to the report and a SHARE official, but rather interpersonal skills that proved lacking. Problem solving was the most critical area of need for IT companies, with 77 percent of respondents saying new hires needed that skill.

Seven in 10 said new IT workers needed critical thinking skills, and 61 percent pointed to writing and communication skills.

College and university IT professors are providing students with essential technical skills, but educators could help students develop business acumen, said Ray Sun, director of marketing for SHARE, which has more than 2,000 member companies in its association.

“These are skills that you can practice,” Sun said. “[Colleges need to] create an environment where that can be practiced and coached. I don’t think that’s something that you can stand up and lecture about. … It’s just like a management skill, but until you actually practice it I don’t think you really absorb it.”

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Harvard, Princeton reinstate early admissions

Harvard and Princeton say they are restoring their undergraduate early admissions programs, the Associated Press reports. Harvard dropped its early admissions program four years ago, saying it wasn’t easy for disadvantaged students to access and contributed to high school student anxiety. Princeton followed suit, hoping other schools would join in, but the idea didn’t catch on. The two schools announced Thursday that they will restore their respective programs. Both also say students accepted early will have until the regular spring deadline to decide whether to attend…

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Fixing higher ed: Lumina’s Jamie Merisotis

In a story that published Sunday in the Washington Post Magazine, I offer eight suggestions to “fix” higher education, says Daniel de Vise of the Washington Post. After reading the story, you can rank the ideas in a poll, which you will find farther down on this blog. For the story, I sought help from several great leaders and thinkers. Some submitted their own thoughts on how to improve higher education. I’m posting them this week. Here is the eighth, from Jamie Merisotis, CEO of the Lumina Foundation…

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Company claim: Emergency alerts get to students in 20 seconds

Universities have failed in recent years to send alerts to students.

A two-inch keychain might be the solution for campus officials hoping to avoid public scrutiny next time their emergency text messages hit a logjam and don’t reach student and faculty cell phones.

IntelliGuard Systems’ RavenAlert, which provides the campus community with a keychain that rings when it receives an emergency message, avoids delays by sending thousands of messages over a private wireless network.

So instead of connecting to a myriad of mobile devices – all with different internet protocol addresses – the RavenAlert system sends the college’s alert to thousands of keychains with the same address.

More news about emergency alerts in higher education…

Ohio State to rethink its emergency alert system

Federal law could spur campus alert systems

Notification delays surface in Alabama shootings

Not getting the (text) message

And the message is usually received in less than 20 seconds, said Roy Pottle, chairman and CEO of Intelliguard Systems.

Text messaging bottlenecks won’t just cause delays in the first emergency notification, security experts said, but make it nearly impossible for campus officials to send updates about shooting or developing weather emergencies.

“If you’re relying on text messages as [a notification system], your student is walking into harm’s way,” said Pottle, whose company works with six campuses, including the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. “It’s not just the initial message, but the ability to send out information as it occurs in an emergency.”

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Security to ward off crime on phones

More consumers are buying smartphones. So more criminals are taking aim at those devices, reports the New York Times. Criminals still prefer PCs for stealing personal data, bank and credit card account numbers as well as for running frauds. However, most PC attacks focus on Microsoft’s decade-old Windows XP operating system, which is slowly being replaced by the more secure Windows 7. Over the next few years, hackers will have to find new targets.

With smartphones outselling PCs for the first time–421 million of the hand-held computers are expected to be sold worldwide this year, according to market analysts at IDC–the long-predicted crime wave on hand-held devices appears to have arrived. According to the mobile-security firm Lookout, malware and spyware appeared on 9 out of 100 phones it scanned in May, more than twice the 4-in-100 rate in December 2009…

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