March 2010

  • The Other SAT (StraighterLine Aptitude Test)

    Jaime Dalbke

    If you've been paying attention to the posts on this blog, you know that we took a swipe recently - a BIG swipe - at the stranglehold that the Scholastic Aptitude Test has on American higher education. What can we offer as an alternative? In the interest of fair play, we are offering up an SAT of our own - the StraighterLine Aptitude Test. So sharpen up your pencil, put fresh AAA's in your calculator and here we go . . . MATH SECTION 1. A small state college charges $250 per credit hour and requires you to take a minimum of four courses a semester, each carrying three credit hours. At StraighterLine, you can take those same four courses for $39 apiece*. Your total savings for taking those four courses at StraighterLine would be: a) $1 ...

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  • The Final Four: Why It Costs More to Sit in the Stands than it Costs to Earn College Credits

    Jaime Dalbke

    Which costs less - attending college basketball games or earning college credits? Okay, that's a trick question. But before you answer it, here's some perspective. Let's say that you'd like to head out to Indianapolis to watch the men's NCAA Final Four, or off to San Antonio to watch the women's. Good for you, but you'd better bring suitcases full of money. If you visit the NCAA's Website and click on the "buy tickets now" tab, you will find a variety of packages that let you reserve game tickets and hotel rooms. (These packages are not sold by the NCAA, but by sports travel packagers.) And guess what? If you are traveling alone, you will have to pay about $2,500 for a package that includes a five day/four night stay in a hotel and ti ...

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  • Breaking the SAT's Choke Hold on American Education

    Jaime Dalbke

    Did you know that the first Scholastic Aptitude Test was administered way back in 1901? Fewer than 1,000 students took it that year. Over the years, the SAT grown from a psychological experiment into a test that is taken by between 1.5 and 2 million students every year, at $45 a pop. Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organization that administers the SAT, doesn't like to tell how many students line up to take the test annually. The SAT has become a staggering money-maker for ETS, and for dozens of other businesses that swim alongside it like those remora fish that swim next to sharks, scavenging the dollars that ETS has somehow let slip through its jagged teeth. These hangers-on include tutoring companies that charge jumbo fees t ...

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  • 3 Classic Study Strategies that Speed Online Learning

    Jaime Dalbke

    If you want to get some perspective about the power of computers as teaching machines, think about Socrates. That's right - Socrates, the dude who did himself in by drinking hemlock juice. History tells us that every day, Athenian students would gather in a circle around Socrates while he gave long talks and engaged them in spirited conversations. That's a pretty inefficient way to learn. Today, we can fire up our computers and review page after page of information, all presented in an engaging, interactive format. If Socrates saw the teaching power of computers, he would probably drop his toga and run for the nearest Best Buy to get one of his own. Yes, computers are powerful learning tools. But the problem is, they are also capable ...

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  • The New York Times Questions the Value of For-Profit Trade Schools

    Jaime Dalbke

    We all know that there's a boom happening in post-secondary trade schools. Chances are that you have seen some of them opening their doors not far from where you live. Some of these schools can teach you to be a chef or a computer technician. Others will train you to be an electrician, a medical information processor or an X-ray technician. There's a reason why these schools are booming. Some of them offer training for professions where a lot of hiring is actually taking place. Some of them offer lots of job-placement assistance to their grads. And most of them help incoming students qualify for federal loans and other sources of financial aid. Yet a recent article in the New York Times, "The New Poor: In Hard Times, Lured into Trade ...

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