National / International News

Essex road has slowest UK broadband

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:39
A street in Essex and another one in Wales have the slowest broadband speeds, according to online comparison site.

DJ Travis denies indecent assault

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:35
Former Radio 1 DJ Dave Lee Travis pleads not guilty to a single charge of indecent assault against a woman in January 1995.

Waitlisted for college? Here's why

Marketplace - American Public Media - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:29

College admissions rates across the country hit some all-time lows this year. Stanford University, for instance, took only around five percent of applicants. In response to the crazy numbers game of college admissions, schools are growing their wait lists and using them in some surprising ways.

You may think a wait list is for applicants who aren't quite as good as those admitted outright. But it's not that simple. Chris Munoz, the vice president for enrollment at Rice University, says the differences between candidates accepted and those on the wait list "are so subtle and so nuanced." It is less about who is "better" or "worse," and more about the college making sure it can get the exact student body it wants.

Schools stock wait lists with all kinds of applicants -- A-plus students, athletes, candidates who can pay full tuition. Munoz says wait-listing students is like choosing back-ups for a sports team. You want one for every position."Sometimes you need quarterbacks," he says, "and sometimes you need tight ends. So it's luck."

In the end, the wait list comes down to "yield." This is the percentage of students who will accept the college's acceptance. Schools use wait lists to manage the uncertainty of who will actually say yes when admitted. The yield percentage isn't just important for hitting enrollment targets, it has big financial implications.

Over the years, yield numbers have come to affect a school's ranking and bond rating. Low yields will pull down the rank and make it harder to secure financing. To keep yield high, colleges want as many of the students they initially admit to come.

For the most elite colleges, this is less of a problem. Few applicants are going to turn down an Ivy League college or top liberal arts school. But for other institutions it's not so easy. Some schools try to predict which applicants will actually say yes by factoring in a student's "demonstrated interest." This includes things like campus visits and alumni interviews. Other schools, however, are suspected of playing the numbers game a bit more aggressively.

There are rumors that some colleges actually wait-list applicants who seem too good to be true. Admissions offices realize certain top-notch candidates have a high chance of getting in somewhere higher up the rankings food chain. By putting them on the wait list, the admissions office can see if the applicant gets rejected by other schools and comes back begging to be accepted. This way, colleges can catch some prized applicants without risking their yield numbers. Basically, a school doesn't want to be used as safety and then ditched for a first choice.

Admissions consultant Annie Roskin thinks some of her clients may have been wait-listed in this way.

"The thing is you don't know what a wait list means," she says, "kids don't know." Maybe too many quarterbacks applied that year. Did they show enough demonstrated interest? Perhaps their applications just weren't strong enough. Or, the school wanted to soften the blow of rejection and gave them "courtesy wait lists"—a tactic sometimes used for students related to wealthy donors or who have alumni relatives. Who knows?

Katy Murphy is the president of the National Association for College Admission Counseling. She says the wait list "is purgatory for a kid, basically."

Increased use of the wait lists are part of the vicious admissions cycle. Acceptance rates are falling. That panics kids into applying to more and more schools, which drives acceptance rates further down. All of this lowers yield numbers and encourages colleges to use the wait list. "It's our own admissions march madness vortex," Murphy says.

School rankings fuel all this madness. Murphy says it's part of the increasing commodification of higher education—this idea that college is a product that will predictably deliver things like great jobs and happiness. The rankings establish a brand. They suggest some kind of quantification—the better the number, the higher the return on investment.

Murphy says the reduction of schools to numbers drives ambitious applicants to pursue a small group of elite colleges, not because they are the best fits, but because they are the most effectively branded. She says, "I think everybody would be better off if they didn't believe that there were only thirty colleges that were good colleges."

If that doesn't change, expect more kids to be stuck in admissions limbo on the wait list.

VIDEO: Film features plight of African park

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:22
The lethal realities of life in Virunga National Park are the subject of a British documentary which has just had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York.

Rio police 'to probe' dancer's death

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:08
Police in the Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro say they will conduct a thorough investigation into the death of a dancer which sparked riots.

S Sudan president sacks army chief

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:06
South Sudan's president sacks the head of the national army amid reports of military setbacks - including rebels seizing the oil hub of Bentiu.

Match-fixer arrested in Finland

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:05
Convicted football match-fixer Wilson Raj Perumal is being held by Finnish police on an international arrest warrant, officials say.

Facebook earnings surge on mobile ads

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 02:03
Social networking giant Facebook reports better than expected profits, as a surge in mobile advertising helps boost its revenues.

VIDEO: Ziggy Marley's memories of his father

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:54
Ziggy Marley joins BBC Breakfast to talk about his new music and his memories of his late father Bob Marley

Dog bites highest in deprived areas

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:47
Hospital admissions for dog bites are three times as high in the most deprived areas of England as in the least, official figures show.

UK team to shoot for fusion record

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:38
The director of a UK science facility says it could set a new world record in nuclear fusion by the end of the decade.

Mercedes may rethink team order plan

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:22
Mercedes say they may be forced to rethink their policy of Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg racing without team orders.

AUDIO: Recognition that 'Cornwall is not England'

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:20
Cornish people will be granted minority status under European rules for the protection of national minorities.

Shakespeare's birds cause US trouble

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:11
How 60 starlings multiplied into a nightmare flock of 200 million

Brother's death 'devastates' duchess

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:10
The Duchess of Cornwall has been left "devastated" by the news of her brother's death, Clarence House says.

Nigeria rapist to be stoned to death

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 01:05
An Islamic court in northern Nigeria sentences a man of 63 to death by stoning for raping a girl of 10 and infecting her with HIV.

VIDEO: Fee increase for small claims court

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 00:58
Fees to make a claim using small claims court courts have been increased from April 22nd, with some almost double what they were previously

Korea ferry disaster school reopens

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 00:46
The South Korean school devastated by the loss of many of its students in a ferry disaster last week starts to hold classes again.

Boy, 11, in canal pipe fall named

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 00:45
An 11-year-old boy who died after falling into a canal in Lancashire is named locally as Robbie Williamson.

Banksy street works to be auctioned

BBC - Thu, 2014-04-24 00:34
A collection of street art works by Banksy, removed from walls, is to go on display at a London hotel before being sold at auction.
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