The seven best colleges for free speech

When I first started at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), I wanted to make sure that we wouldn’t just aggressively police violations of freedom of speech–we also would credit universities that protected the First Amendment despite calls for censorship, says Greg Lukianoff for the Huffington Post. Unfortunately, I soon learned that a school could be very good at defending the speech of one speaker while censoring a different student or faculty member the school disagreed with or simply disliked. Finding the best and most consistent schools hasn’t been easy. Nonetheless, it is crucial to give credit where credit is due, so FIRE has decided, for the first time ever, to name its top colleges for free speech…

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Examine alternative routes to a 4-year degree

As economic uncertainty continues to linger, more families are taking stock of potential alternatives to the traditional path to a four-year college degree, according to U.S. News & World Report. A popular option is one that involves taking the first two years of college at a less expensive two- or four-year college and then transferring into a higher profile (and higher priced) four-year institution from which the degree is granted. On the surface, this strategy seems very practical as a cost-savings measure. It becomes even more so if the student is able to avoid residential expenses by living at home for the first two years. Upon closer examination, however, the net impact–financially and educationally–might not always match expectations…

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Windows 8 targeted for 2012

If you’re just now getting used to Windows 7, check out this good news, says TG Daily. The new iteration of Microsoft’s operating system is on tap for a 2012 launch. The turnaround time is more or less on par with previous Windows upgrades, but this time there’s a lot more to talk about. That’s because Windows 8 won’t just simply be the OS you start finding on new computers down the road, but it’s also poised to invade tablets, specialized next-gen computing products, and other platforms…

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Dharun Ravi pleads not guilty in Tyler Clementi webcam case

A former Rutgers student accused of using a webcam to spy on his roommate’s same-sex encounter pleaded not guilty Monday to 15 charges including bias intimidation, invasion of privacy and evidence tampering, the Associated Press reports. It was the first court appearance for 19-year-old Dharun Ravi, the main suspect in the crimes allegedly committed against Tyler Clementi, a fellow Rutgers freshman who killed himself days after the alleged spying. His death sparked a nationwide conversation about bullying against young gays…

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Study links college majors to potential earnings

Geological and geophysical engineering are among fields with virtually no unemployment.

The choice of undergraduate major in college is strongly tied to a student’s future earnings, with the highest-paying majors providing salaries of about 300 percent more than the lowest-paying, according to a study released May 24.

Based on first-of-its-kind Census data, the report by Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., also found that majors are highly segregated by race and gender.

College graduates overall make 84 percent more over a lifetime than those with only high school diplomas, the study said. But further analysis of 171 majors shows that various undergraduate majors can lead to significantly different median wages.

Petroleum engineering majors make about $120,000 a year, compared with $29,000 annually for counseling psychology majors, researchers found. Math and computer science majors earn $98,000 in salary, while early childhood education majors get paid about $36,000.

“It’s important that you go to college and get a [bachelor’s degree], but it’s almost three to four times more important what you take,” said Anthony Carnevale, director of Georgetown’s Center on Education and the Workforce. “The majors that are most popular are not the ones that make the most money.”

“What’s It Worth? The Economic Value of College Majors” analyzes data from the 2009 American Community Survey, whose results were released last year. It’s the first time the Census asked individuals about their undergraduate majors, enabling researchers to tie in salary data, Carnevale said.

The study found that white men are concentrated in the highest-earning majors, including engineering and pharmaceutical sciences, while women gravitate toward the lowest-earning majors like education, art, and social work.

The report also categorized the 171 majors into 15 fields, discovering different majors led to different industries. About 43 percent of law and public policy majors end up in public administration, but only 13 percent of social science majors do. A higher portion of social science majors end up in finance, researchers found.

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New textbook exchange site helps students ‘defy’ publishers

College students spend more than $900 annually on textbooks.

After a bachelor’s degree, a law degree, and a business degree, Derek Haake estimates his total textbook costs at around $20,000 — and now he’s hitting back at the publishing industry with a website that could slash college students’ book costs.

Haake, of Akron, Ohio, launched the site BookDefy.com in April, creating a forum for students hoping to sell their textbooks for more than a few bucks to peers looking to save cash on used books.

Read more about textbooks in higher education…

Are textbooks a ‘scam’? Students think so

Lawmaker to push for open online textbooks

Using BookDefy’s software, students can privately list their used textbooks. Other students – once they find the book they’re searching for – can privately message the seller and arrange a textbook swap at local businesses and campus hangouts designated by BookDefy, which is free for college students.

“One of the things that kept plaguing me was the high costs of books,” Haake, 32, said of his time in higher education. “Instead of sitting around and complaining I wanted to get out there and do something about it. … I want to turn this whole parasitic industry on its head and do something good for college students.”

Haake said BookDefy has about 100 members so far, and he expects that number to rise when the site begins its marketing campaign later this year.

BookDefy appeals to both book buyers and sellers because the site gives students a way to get “much more than what the bookstores will pay, but still less than the bookstores charge,” he said.

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Why liberal arts matter

When my parents arrived at Wesleyan for my graduation, they were very proud — of themselves and of me, Michael S. Roth reports for CNN. They hadn’t known much about college when they had first sent me off to school. My father (like his father) was a furrier, and my mother had given up big band singing to raise a family. She sold clothes from our suburban basement to help make ends meet. Sending me to a prominent liberal arts school meant something special to them because it represented access to opportunity. This wasn’t only economic opportunity, but the chance to choose work, make friends and participate in a community based on educated interests rather than just social and ethnic origins. Since I am now president of Wesleyan University, I guess we all got more than we bargained for. My parents were part of a wave of Americans after World War II whose confidence in the future and belief in education helped create the greatest university sector in the world. Students from all walks of life began to have the chance to acquire a well-rounded education, and it was on this basis that Americans created a vibrant culture, a dynamic economy and a political system that (after many struggles) strove to make equality before the law a fundamental feature of public life…

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Female magazine fans flock to Nook Color

Even as the iPad remains the favorite son of the magazine business, publishers are discovering that the Barnes & Noble Nook Color is a very promising younger daughter, the New York Times reports. The Nook Color has surprised publishers of women’s magazines like O, The Oprah Magazine, Cosmopolitan and Women’s Health by igniting strong sales that rival — and in some cases surpass — sales on the iPad. The success was not so easily predictable for a device that has been on the market only since November and faces stiff competition from Apple, Amazon and the Android-based tablets…

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Colleges should be more worldly

The image of American college students celebrating Osama Bin Laden’s death in streets across the nation was not a particular surprise, report Alma College President Jeff Abernathy for the Washington Post. Most of these students have lived with the loss of the World Trade Center for more than half of their lives, and Bin Laden was, as one Boston University student told an NPR reporter, our Lord Voldemort. But the endless images of college students celebrating a major military accomplishment left me grasping to recall the last time American students were so deeply animated by international political events. We might use the moment to reflect on troubling trends in our colleges and universities…

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Texas guns on campus bill hits roadblock

Legislation to allow people with concealed handgun licenses to carry guns into college classrooms in Texas has hit a roadblock, the Associated Press report. The measure had been attached to a fiscal matters bill in the Texas Senate. But when the bill was taken up in the House, Democratic state Rep. Mike Villarreal made a parliamentary objection. The San Antonio lawmaker pointed out that the Texas Constitution bars any bill from taking up two different subjects. Because the bill was a fiscal matter, it could not include the gun legislation…

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