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Long-form investigative articles covering people, events and issues that affect the student body. If you have an idea for us to cover, contact us at [email protected]

Fight against media bias now proves perplexing

Whoever created Superman misled millions of comic book-readers. Journalists are not superheroes like the mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent. Newsflash: Journalists are just people. Most Americans don’t think about who is behind the “”news”” they read, hear or watch. For most of my life, I didn’t. But one morning in high school, I read a local news column in which the writer discussed media bias. The news was never the same for me. I never again took media at face value; I always thought about the motivation of the people behind it. “”The bias of the press”” became my obsession. I kept articles on the topic, taken from the three newspapers that my family received, in a scrapbook. I also began my quest to become an honest journalist. This year, I have the power to make a difference. As news editor, I plan to work hard to honestly and fairly represent the people and organizations at UCSD. Journalism is a business. A small number of corporations own a majority of the country’s daily papers, magazines and television stations. The Hearst Corp., for example, owns 12 U.S. daily newspapers, 18 U.S. weeklies, 16 U.S. magazines, two newspaper syndicates, 27 broadcast TV stations, 11 cable TV networks, six radio stations and countless other ventures. It is a business, and all readers, listeners and viewers need to keep that in mind. I took a class last year on the “”rhetoric of the news,”” in which the concept of objectivity was challenged. The instructor argued that objectivity — the act of representation without extraneous factors — is not possible. I do, and do not, agree with him. While complete objectivity cannot be achieved because human beings are imperfect, the highest level of objectivity is still sought by many noble members of the profession. Readers, listeners and viewers sometimes forget that the news is brought to them by other human beings. It is subject to human error, as are the fruits of any labor. Deliberate error is what I try to be wary of. I believe that it does occur. Right- or left-leaning newspapers publish unflattering pictures of unfavored candidates and this is not accidental. The position of the management of a newspaper often is not only exhibited on its editorial page, but throughout the newspaper. I believe that such partiality is immoral. A one-way slant on the editorial page is not wrong; the staff members are entitled to their opinions. If this bias appears elsewhere, there is a problem. If you can tell the political leanings of a paper by its news coverage, there is a problem. In the news rhetoric class, we analyzed the “”framing”” of issues in the news and searched for inconsistencies in coverage of similar events. When I began the class, I already looked skeptically at the news. All the discussed examples of bias could easily be seen as deliberate. Maybe because I have trouble believing that people are all bad. Maybe, because I’m a journalist myself, I thought that this was hard to swallow. I could not, and still cannot, believe that most journalists deliberately try to lead their audiences one way or another. Sometimes it happens, but I do not consider it the norm. Maybe I have a more optimistic view due to my experiences at The UCSD Guardian. Because the Guardian is a college newspaper, none of the editors have a major financial investment in the paper, and because we represent a wide range of opinions, I have noticed very little intentional bias in our paper. If the Guardian, particularly the news section, seems to under-represent or misrepresent anything at UCSD, I can honestly say that it is not due to editorial bias; it is because we were unable to determine how to find information in other directions. I apologize now for the unintentional bias that will undoubtedly appear in the news section – it’s sadly unavoidable. As this year’s news editor, I ask for your help in my quest to fairly represent what goes on at UCSD. Educate me. I’m a person and a student like you. I take classes, I have tests and I try to be social as well. As a result, I miss things. I’m not Superman and I don’t have bionic vision that enables me to see everything going on everywhere. There are several way for people to inform the Guardian of events and circumstances. The staff box on page two of every issue lists the editors, their phone numbers, e-mail addresses and the location of the Guardian office. Use this information. Our newspaper is here to inform and represent the students of UCSD, but we need everyone’s help to figure out how. Unintentional bias results from being uninformed. I weed through massive stacks of press releases each week, but few are actually pertinent to UCSD. What is? We’re students like you, and we want to know what you find informative. Our Web site at http;//www.ucsdguardian.org provides a forum for comments. Letters to the editor are always welcome; if we do not print them, we at least try to consider their message. We were reminded this week that journalists are just people. Dan Rather, tired and affected by the tragedy, stumbled repeatedly over his words after several hours on the air Sept. 11. The tragedy emotionally affected the whole nation, and journalists did not escape the toil. I believe that the purpose of journalism is to fairly represent the facts and to provide people with the information they need to make up their own minds about occurrences and issues. Journalism should not reach beyond this. To some, journalism is no longer seen as a noble profession. I promise to try my best to provide the most objective news coverage possible this year, and I ask for help. Feedback is important. Please help the Guardian accurately represent UCSD. ...

Surviving the college 'crack up'

What was I most afraid of when I came to college? I would have to say the “”Freshman 15.”” It is what legends are made of and what made me buy three different-sized pairs of jeans, worrying that my waist would quickly expand to unthinkable proportions. Unfortunately, that was the least of my problems. While I have no reliable diet advice, I can offer some advice on another freshman epidemic: the college crack-up. I’m not talking about the feeling that you are losing your mind during finals. That’s normal. What I mean is a long tradition of severe college-induced nervous breakdowns. From Sylvia Plath to Elizabeth Wurtzel, many great women have had them. If you look at the history of famous females, a lot of them were, shall I say, a little nutty. A bout of psychosis is not a sign of weakness: It means you’re “”special.”” With today’s pharmacology, almost everyone can be effectively treated for what ails them. But considering that most antidepressants take four to six weeks to start working, there are some great books to read in the meantime. Plath, Wurtzel and Virginia Woolf kept me company in the darkest hours of my freshman year. I hope someone, somewhere will find solace in “”The Bell Jar”” or “”Bitch: In Praise of Difficult Women.”” Perhaps the quintessential piece of fem-depression literature is Plath’s “”The Bell Jar,”” which is based upon her own breakdown at Smith College. “”‘The Bell Jar’ chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood,”” notes its publisher, Harper Collins. “”Brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful, but slowly going under.”” Aren’t we melodramatic? If it is any consolation, if you ever feel that you are “”slowly going under,”” just remember that you are also “”brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful.”” While Plath has her place in history, a better recommendation for the modern nutcase is “”Prozac Nation,”” by Elizabeth Wurtzel. Of all the sad teenage girl memoirs — and there are quite a few — this is by far the best. In fact, all of Wurtzel’s books, “”Prozac Nation,”” “”Bitch”” and “”Radical Sanity”” are essential for anyone losing her mind and trying to find it. In “”Prozac Nation,”” Wurtzel writes about her colorful life as a child of divorce who spent the school year cutting her legs in the girls’ bathroom and her summers overdosing on anti-histamines at summer camp. That story has a somewhat-happy ending. I don’t want to spoil it for you, but perhaps you can infer it from the title. A movie based on the book will star Christina Ricci, Michelle Williams and Anne Heche, and will be released soon. You always feel smarter when you go to a movie and say “”Oh yeah, I already read the book,”” don’t you? Wurtzel also picked up a “”Rolling Stone”” college journalism award while attending Harvard and survived an attempted suicide — “”brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented and successful, but slowly going under.”” In “”Bitch,”” Wurtzel, who always writes with a distinctly feminist slant, traces the history of women who refuse to follow the rules, who refuse to stop crying, who refuse to behave, who refuse to go quietly. While it is discouraging to look back on Plath, Woolf and Anne Sexton and realize they all killed themselves, there is some hope that the world is becoming a better place for “”difficult women.”” Wurtzel, Susanna Kaysen (who wrote “”Girl, Interrupted””) and Beverly Donofrio (author of “”Riding In Cars With Boys””) are still here. So remember: If you feel like you are “”slowly going under”” the bell jar this year, you’re not nuts. You are special and in good company. ...

University community hit hard Tuesday

The morning of Tuesday, Sept. 11 seemed like a relatively normal workday in Washington D.C. For Muir senior Amanda LaRoche, a participant in UCSD’s Academic Internship Program and an intern at the U.S. Department of Education, nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the nation’s capital. LaRoche and her coworkers were going about their normal business in the department’s offices, located next to the Capitol building. Miles away in New York, an incident would take place that would forever change America as we know it. It was not until shortly after 9 a.m. that LaRoche and her colleagues first learned of the events that were unfolding in New York City. Upon learning that American Airlines flight 11 took an unexpected turn from its course to Los Angeles and crashed into Tower One of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan, LaRoche and her coworkers did not feel they were in danger. They, like many people across the nation, were watching on television as the second plane, later identified as United Airlines flight 175, also en route to Los Angeles, crashed into Tower Two of the World Trade Center. According to LaRoche, the atmosphere in the office building was one of astonishment, as many found it hard to believe that the scenes they were watching on television were real. However, shortly after 9:40 a.m., when a third plane crashed into the nearby Pentagon, employees at the Department of Education were told to evacuate the building. LaRoche remembers the chaos that followed. “”There was a lot of fear, and we were told to evacuate the building quickly because the Capitol was seen as a target as well,”” she said. “”That was the first time I have ever felt a physical threat on my life. By the time we got outside, the streets were overflowing with people and everyone was panicking.”” After she was ushered out of the building, LaRoche waited alongside hundreds of federal employees who were standing outside the Pentagon, watching as the flames began to consume a part of the building. From the nearby metro stop right outside the Pentagon, Muir senior and fellow AIP participant David Butler also watched as the plane first crashed into the building, disintegrating into the flames “”I couldn’t understand how this could have happened at the Pentagon, of all places,”” Butler said. “”This building is known worldwide as being incredibly secure and impenetrable and I couldn’t understand how this large, American carrier was able to hit a building as safe as that.”” But apparently, even the safest of buildings was not strong enough to resist the attack that took place that day. UCSD alumnus Terri Duggan Schwartzbeck, who works just blocks from the White House, also witnessed the attack at the Pentagon. Upon hearing the plane crash at the Pentagon, Schwartzbeck and her colleagues quickly evacuated the office building. According to Schwartzbeck, there was a widespread fear that other buildings in the area would be attacked next. “”After the Pentagon was hit, we realized we were near a big target — the White House,”” Schwartzbeck said. “”It was strange, but that day you evaluated everything as a potential target.”” As terrorists attacked symbols of modern-day American democracy, UCSD students and alumni who were present during the attacks — along with those watching on television nationwide, and around the world — felt a sense of helplessness. Still, the most difficult aspect of this national tragedy will most likely be the aftermath. According to those who witnessed Tuesday’s events first-hand, Americans will never regain the same sense of security that they felt prior to the attacks. Although the government has ensured that increased security measures will be taken, the trauma that these events have caused will not be easily forgotten. “”We have to fly back home in less than nine weeks,”” LaRoche said. “”I have no idea how I am going to do that, because once you’ve been through something like this, everything changes. It is very difficult to salvage that sense of security.”” According to students, the aftermath of the terrorist attacks has also fostered a sense of community among all Americans. This sense of unity was seen at a candlelight vigil that thousands of people attended in Washington the night after the attacks took place. “”We all have something in common now,”” Butler said. “”No matter what part of the United States you live in, you were affected by these events, and because we all have this shared experience, there is a sense of unity among all Americans following the tragedy that took place.”” While few can soon forget the images of the attacks, these students are now struggling to somehow cope with this tragedy. As the search for those missing continues in both New York and Washington, Americans hold with them a sense of hope that one day, they will recover from the anguish caused by the loss of thousands of innocent lives. “”This will definitely be a day I will never forget,”” Butler said. “”This was a day I was forced to review my own invincibility — and that has given me a whole new perspective on life itself.”” ...

Study breaks just got sicker

Computers: Sure, they’re lovable, but are they actually useful? Aside from firing up the old beige box to, say, write a term paper or exchange e-mails with grandma, why push that little green button at all? How about the sheer, irrational joy of watching a foul-mouthed frog be pureed to bits at the click of your mouse? This, and much more, is available at www.joecartoon.com. The Web site: riotous. The creator, who goes only by Joe Cartoon: a mystery. The inimitable purveyor of Flash animation of the most despicable, tasteless and hilarious kind has been making the world a little funnier since March 20, 1961, his birthdate. The scant personal information he offers on his site raises more questions than answers. Can Cartoon really “”take a toothpick and from 200 yards away slam it right through your forehead, substantially lowering your IQ forever?”” Does he really play “”a mean bluesharp?”” And is it indeed true that he is, as he claims, a ninja? One fact Cartoon offers cannot be disputed: “”If Joe thinks it’s funny, it is; if you don’t, you’re stupid.”” When it comes right down to it, Cartoon’s identity is irrelevant. All that matters is that, for whatever reason, he is one sick guy. And that makes for some funny cartoons. As www.joecartoon.com loads – slowly – it becomes apparent that these short films have more in common with “”South Park”” and “”Beavis and Butt-Head”” than Disney or Dreamworks. In the tradition of the former two, the animation quality is low. Also, much of the humor centers on blue-collar, white trash Americana, at once ridiculing rednecks and celebrating their unique approach to life. Take, for example, the Joe Cartoon classic “”Lump, The No-Legged Dog.”” The screen fills with a bright-eyed mutt, but as the title suggests, cute little Lump is missing all appendages. The unseen narrator, his owner, belittles Lump’s pathetic attempts to perform tricks like staying (“”Like you could go anywhere!””), lying down (“”Didn’t have very far to go, did you boy?””) and sitting (“”You fat, stinky dog!””). His hillbilly twang and outrage over Lump’s destruction of his treasured Garth Brooks T-shirt reveal Cartoon’s lowbrow roots. If the humor of the piece doesn’t come through in print, take it on faith that it’s worth your log-on time. Animals figure prominently in many of Cartoon’s best cartoons. “”Joefish”” features a hamster with a beluga-sized attitude being dropped into a tank of piranhas. The carnage is gratuitous and thoroughly entertaining. The “”Superfly”” series chronicles in four parts the epic adventures of flies who drink beer and get a wicked contact high (“”Dude, I’m buggin’!””). Perhaps the best-known of Joe’s twisted creations are two cartoons not condoned by Black & Decker or any other kitchen appliance manufacturer: “”Frog Blender 2000″” and “”Micro-Gerbil 2001.”” The former puts you at the controls of a blender and pits you against an insulting frog – who happens to be inside the jar. “”You ain’t got the balls,”” he taunts you in a lazy drawl, “”Ya pansy.”” Needless to say, once you have clicked your way through the blender’s 10 speeds, the frog is in no mood for conversation. “”Micro-Gerbil 2001″” builds upon the same principle of an obnoxious animal primed for your destruction, this time in a microwave. The catchphrases are different, of course, such as the immortal “”Who’s yo daddy?”” The wait-don’t-click-the-back-button-yet ending makes it a standout. Over the past few months, Cartoon’s once-pristine shop of horrors has become commercialized. Banners and pop-ups now slow download times and are annoying. Also, the line of “”Joe Stuff”” – merchandise such as T-shirts and coffee mugs with characters and catchphrases – seems cheap and opportunistic. However, they do make great holiday gifts, and the ubiquitous ads keep the site free. Cartoon may not have class, a trust fund, good grammar or good spelling, but he does have the best game in town for on-the-Web laughs. His humor is random and his punchlines hot from left field, and some of the jokes may make you cringe. www.joecartoon.com is definitely not a site to show to your kid sister, as expletives and candy-colored violence dominate. But at 3 a.m., when you thought your keyboard could only bring you endless misery as you hack and sputter through a 10-page paper due the next morning, it hits the spot. Finally, something practical on your computer. ...

Summer Camp Counselor Job Taxing but Rewarding

I’ve worked a lot of summer jobs, beginning with a filing stint at a high-tech office when I was 15. Although I welcomed my paychecks, I loathed being shut inside an air-conditioned, professionally decorated meeting room with only stacks of musty paper to distract me from the San Diego sun. I opted for a change when I was 16: retail. This job stationed me at a UTC kiosk alone for seven hours at a stretch. I certainly got my fill of the San Diego sun — I think I was perpetually sunburnt for the three months I put up with the stinking job. That summer, I grew to hate the mall and all it stood for: whining brats, pushy parents and commercialized, useless goods shoved down the throats of sheep-like consumers. No wonder then that I returned to office slavery the next June and suffered again the hellish commute, insulting supervision and repetitive tasks. Last summer, with tuition looming, I worked a combination of my dreaded occupations, pushing paper by day and hawking overpriced stationery by night. I averaged 70 hours per week in July. By September I was exhausted and by June I knew I couldn’t sit behind a desk or stand behind a counter for one more minute. About then, my best friend told me that she was interviewing for a camp counselor position. My interest was piqued. I envisioned myself on a grassy knoll, perhaps under a spreading oak tree in dappled summer sunlight, with a group of sweet-eyed youngsters around me eagerly devouring my lesson on poetry forms and short story techniques. As I posted my resume on some camp counselor job placement Web sites, I was already quantifying the impact I’d have on the lives of impressionable, guidance-hungry children. What challenges I’d face! What maturity I’d gain! What a stirring, rewarding way to spend a summer! I ended up taking a position at a Southern California horse-riding camp, far enough from home to feel like I was embarking on an adventure, but close enough to dash down to San Diego to take care of business when necessary. It didn’t matter that I had little horse experience per se; I would teach electives like singing and drama, and I’d head up our weekly camper-produced newspaper. Of course, I wasn’t picky about what I would teach. All I wanted was to spend my summer outdoors, working with children and animals and other students like me. Sure, the work would be hard, I told myself naively, and the pay would be low compared to, well, anything, because minimum wage laws don’t apply to camp counselors. I reported to training week with high spirits and a backpack full of books — training week, you see, was also finals week, and I commuted back and forth, praying that I wouldn’t crash my car as I taped lecture notes to my steering wheel and studied my way down the highway. The directors of the camp taught us everything we would need to know for our 10 life-altering weeks of summer camp. Horse-illiterate people such as myself were given basic riding instruction and taught how to care for the horses on the ranch. We had seminars on “”risk management,”” — “”risk”” meaning “”lawsuits from parents of injured children”” — and emergency preparedness. We discussed how to handle homesickness, bedwetting and other “”problem camper”” concerns. I was primed on that first Sunday, ready to tackle the job, sure that I was up to handling whatever came down the path. OK, so I wasn’t so sure. In fact, I was terrified. Here I was, 19 years old, without younger siblings or much baby-sitting experience to have prepared me for assuming responsibility for minors. What was I thinking, stepping in “”loco parentis”” and taking the challenge of improving campers’ lives? I knew the camp once was a Christian camp and while many of the campers were strongly religious, I am not. I am comfortable with the basics of Christian theology — thanks, MMW — but I was hardly the person to consult during a crisis of faith. And what if my girls were having boy trouble? Sex is a touchy topic at camp — essentially, it’s not supposed to exist — but if my girls came to me with questions or concerns, was I to turn them away empty-handed? Trials came at me fast and furious from the start. I mediated a dispute between two bickering siblings, and while neither party was entirely satisfied with the outcome, a moderate success was achieved. I was surprised to find that teenage girls are incapable of keeping their belongings clean, even if punishment is threatened and enforced. I faced rumors that the staff members that remained from the camp’s Christian days were trying passionately to convert the heathens like me. Several of my girls were appalled when they found out I wasn’t Christian, and were likewise upset when I interrupted their religious discussion — at 10:30 at night, long after all the other girls were asleep — and made them go to bed. And while the sex issue has been largely null so far, my girls have run the gamut from ignorant about “”that reproductive thing”” to very knowledgeable in the ways of the world. I have had to monitor their conversations closely, and artfully change the subject when things shift toward the dodgy. I have had girls in my cabin whom I was devastated to see leave, and girls I would have sent packing on the second day of the week. My classes have been filled with charmers, prodigies, trouble-makers and attitude-coppers. When the summer began, I was nervous about my lack of experience with children — how does a 10-year-old act, anyway? I have since learned that they are just people, slightly smaller and less formed than adults. As the other counselors and I embarked on our first week of camp, one of the camp directors told us to touch one life each week — that should be our goal throughout the summer. Have I met that goal? I don’t know. At the end of this week, I collected evaluations from my girls; two of them said their least favorite thing was “”evil counselors”” — could I count myself among them? That very same day, I overheard two of the younger girls who had attended my newspaper class mention my name. “”Claire?”” one of them said. “”She’s the best!”” I tried not to grin stupidly, and failed. My life is being touched, too. I have six weeks left of camp. Some days, I can’t imagine putting up with one more dirty cabin, one more mouthy camper, or one more rumor spreading through the staff. All I want to do is pack my things and move into the Hillcrest house that waits for me when I return to San Diego in September. Other days, when the weather is fine and the ponies are calm and the children are cooperative and bright and unique, I imagine quitting school and staying here forever. Yes, I shovel horse poop and tell 7-year-olds not to run to the waterslide at the pool, all for the grand sum of $1.04 per hour. We’re on call 24 hours a day, six days a week. But every experience is an important one, and one I wouldn’t give back for nine-to-five in a cubicle or a coffee shop for all the money in the world. ...

Loan Acceptance Rising With Upped Enrollment

LONG BEACH, Calif. — With more students enrolling in universities, more students are turning to student loans to help pay for college. “”There has been a definite surge in terms of the people who are going to school,”” said Molly Sullivan, a spokesperson for college financier Sallie Mae. “”That of course increases the number of people taking out loans for education.”” In 1970 there were an estimated 8.6 million students enrolled at the university level. Today there are 16.7 million students, an increase of 94 percent. Outstanding debt on college loans in 1999 totaled $178 billion, Sullivan said. The average amount owed on Stafford Loans, according to the U.S. Department of Education, in 1995-1996 for undergraduates completing their educations at public universities was $11,950. At a private university that amount rises to $14,290. For those who continue on to get a master’s degree, those numbers jump to $15,000 for a public college and $21,410 at a private college. Recently, California State University at Long Beach students borrowed an average of $6,200 by the time they graduated in the 2000-01 academic year, according to Financial Aid Director Dean Kulju. Students at CSULB could qualify for up to three types of loans to pay for their college education depending on their need: the Stafford Loan, a work-study loan and the Perkins Loan. The Stafford Loan can be disbursed to any student wanting assistance for college. “”Basically it is a federally sponsored loan program where there are two categories, subsidized and unsubsidized,”” Kulju said. “”Subsidized meaning while the student is in school, the interest is paid on their behalf by the government, that is if the student has financial need.”” The government will continue to pay for the interest for a six-month grace period after the student either graduates or withdraws from school. “”The unsubsidized loan is for a student that does not have the financial need,”” Kulju said. “”While the student is in school they are responsible for the interest.”” Under the Stafford Loan, an undergraduate student can borrow up to $46,000 for school, but can only have $23,000 subsidized, Kulju said. Work-study loans are also allocated to CSULB, Kulju said. The $1 million amount given to CSULB is only enough to where 600 students participate in the loan program due to their financial need. Students will work to pay off their loans while in school. A Perkins Loan is also allocated to CSULB, and a maximum of $1,500 can be given to students who qualify per academic year. “”The Perkins Loan is a good program because it is a fixed interest rate whereas the Stafford Loan is a variable rate,”” Kulju said. The Perkins Loan rate is fixed at 5 percent and students are given a nine-month grace period to begin repaying the loans. Kulju said that the loan could also be deferred or canceled if you become a police officer or teacher, for example. This loan is also being done through the campus instead of a bank, as with the Stafford Loan. With an increase in the amount of loans given to students, the U.S. Department of Education last tear released a report called “”Debt Burden Four Years After College”” on the burden student loans had on bachelor’s degree recipients from 1992-1993, and how the loans are affecting them four years later. The study found that half of those who received bachelor’s degrees in 1992-93 borrowed money to help pay for school, owing an average of $10,142. Of those that moved on to graduate education, 28 percent continued to receive loans for school. Undergraduates who did not further their education owed an average of $7,100, left paying an average of $151 per month. Those who continued on to earn a master’s degree owed $17,200, paying an average of $246 per month. Only 16 percent of all borrowers from 1992-1993 were able to pay off or have their loans forgiven by 1997. In 1992 the Reauthorization of Higher Education Act raised the loan limits. This group of students being studied would not benefit from the changes in the borrowing laws. The total amount of money borrowed that year was $17.2 billion. That amount would increase 38 percent to $23.8 billion a year later. When students either graduate or withdraw from college, they can choose many types of options to repay their loans. “”One of the common [plans] would be over a 20-year span and they would divide the payments up over that span,”” said Joshua Henry, information specialist for the Federal Student Aid Information Center At Sallie Mae, the average time of repayment is lower. “”The typical [repayment] term is done in 10 years,”” Sullivan said. “”But we have various repayment options depending on what is in the best interest for each borrower.”” Henry said that there is also a different type of plan called an Income Contingent Repayment Plan. “”That is where you send in some sort of documentation as to how much you make and your repayment will be based on that, instead of putting all the payments in a certain time period,”” she said. “”After 30 years, if you still owe money on that student loan, because of regulation of the government, you don’t have to pay anymore on it.”” Students can also consolidate their loans to simplify their loan repayments. The interest rate will never exceed 8.25 percent by law. Loans can be consolidated during the grace period, once a student enters repayment or during deferment or forbearance periods. A lender cannot refuse to consolidate a loan due to the number or types of loans, the school attended, the interest rate borrowers would be charged, or the different types of repayment schedules available to them. — Daily Forty-Niner ...

Friend's Sudden Move to the Straight and Narrow Causes Disappointment

A few days ago, I felt an urgent need to contact a high school friend with whom I had not spoken in at least two years. As I tried to compose a friendly greeting to type into the instant messenger’s empty dialogue box, I vaguely began recalling the details of her life as I last knew them. I could remember a handful of lifetime turning points that I knew she had hit during our years without contact. I couldn’t wait to hear what paths she had paved for herself, and which bridges she had burned along the way. After transferring to San Francisco State University from my hometown’s community college, my friend sent me a brief e-mail two years ago describing how she met a man who was sweeping her off her feet — all the way to Ireland. According to the note, she was head-over-heels for her soul mate, and she would be settling in Ireland for an indefinite amount of time to remain a part of his life. She didn’t think twice about putting school on hiatus, or about disappearing in Europe with someone she had known for only a month or so. She was one of my most carefree companions. Her life was shamelessly novelesque, and I wanted the juicy update that I knew she would happily hand over. As I typed my lame but trustworthy greeting, “”Hey — it’s been a while,”” into the dialogue box, I had no idea what to expect from her. I admit that perhaps that is what I always relied on her for — a fast-paced, impulsive lifestyle of which I was a part only because I was a part of her. It was always a win-win situation — I remained safely guarded from the consequences of such a lifestyle by surviving solely on the meat of her stories, rather than enjoying the fruit of such adventures firsthand. Call me bland, but I decided to move meticulously after suffering through a few bad choices of my own. When I met her during my freshman year of high school, I was an awkward and shy 14-year-old with more lust for the nonconformist, pulp fiction life she led than my timid nature would ever allow me to embody. She was one of the best storytellers I had been lucky enough to listen to, for one key reason: Her spark and flair were genuine. Everything from the attempted overdose at 13 to the seminude photos she posed for at 16 were documentable events that she never admitted to thinking twice about, but which she laughed about on many occasions. Enthralling me from the start with such stories, I faithfully listened to my friend throughout high school. I listened to the details of an inexplicable divorce that she refused to let scar her, I listened to the makings and breakings of several flings with the boys who drove too fast and did too many drugs and invariably failed to keep my friend entertained. I listened to her laugh at her mother’s reaction to her tattoo and piercings, and I listened painstakingly when her jaw was wired shut after her dentist recommended that she have her jaw broken and realigned. I listened to her scoff at those who badmouthed her for getting her nose “”realigned”” while she was already under the knife for the jaw procedure. I listened to her dreams and goals of being an erotic dancer, a child therapist, a photographer, and a counterculture-loving San Franciscan. Meanwhile, I was going to class from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. I was putting in time with yearbook and student government and volunteer-needy retirement homes. I was meeting my A through F requirements. I was taking my Advanced Placement courses. I was not living or dreaming outside the box like she always had been — I was happy just listening to the live version of her oral history. Needless to say, when I messaged my friend the other day, I was feeling those old, stinging hunger pains that gnawed at me throughout high school — my almost voyeuristic thirst for the latest chronicles. Until last month, I’d been reading about the media, welfare laws, and campaign finance reform all year — no wonder I was drooling for the next chapter of her racy saga. Racy, however, the next chapter was not. My friend, after replying to my greeting with excitement, quickly reported that she recently found God through Christian worship, she had learned to speak in tongues and heal people through the power of touch, and that overall she had experienced a complete “”reformation.”” Well, I can’t accuse her of letting time turn her into a bore. I grimaced as I watched her text pop onto the screen. What was difficult for me to swallow was not that she is Christian now. Rather, the devil was in the details of her story. She described a weeklong religious retreat at which the thick presence of God at a three-hour prayer session inspired her to wail aloud, roll across the floor and to speak in tongues — or babble in baby talk, depending on your stance. She also described how a woman suffering an injured ankle was called to the stage. My friend then felt the urge to touch the wounded limb, and when she did, the sufferer was healed. Healed! My friend has changed. She is now the textbook stereotype of the prophecy-spouting religious fanatic — she told me that my house, because it was built in 1908, might have demons and must be anointed as soon as possible. She also believes premarital sex is a sin, that drugs are equivalent to Eve’s apple, and that the Bible should be read literally — and of course, those who don’t treat it as such will rot in Hades. She is someone I never would have opened myself to, someone I don’t find intellectually unique, someone I would never wait and wait to hear from. Now, I’m struggling to reconcile her two identities, to make sense of who she was versus who she is. I have no idea how I am going to find closure to my love affair with her life. I was trying to maintain ties, expecting that things would be as they once were, but time, space and religion just won’t let me preserve my moment. I feel as if I’ve been dumped. Yet, the more I mourn, the more I realize that this is what happens to high school friendships once you move away to college. This is life. ...

Making The Cut

Graduate and professional school present testing hurdles even higher than those the SAT presented high school students. Curricula vary among colleges and universities, so admission officers look at graduate examination scores as another way of choosing possible candidates for their schools. Kenrick Leung Guardian This creates a great need for tutoring and test preparation to boost test scores. The test preparation market is growing and diversifying, reflecting the demand of college students with different levels of tutoring. Though tests are crucial to the admissions process, other qualifications, such as undergraduate GPA, course load and extracurricular activities are taken into account. Nevertheless, what makes testing so valuable is the level playing field and common measure it creates for all applicants. Rather than having one exam that is taken by all students, graduate schools require different tests depending on what potential students wish to study. Each test is separate from the others and has different time lengths and questions. Some tests require using computers, while others still require a No. 2 pencil. With all the tests around, here is a look into the major tests available and how to best prepare for a graduate admissions test. Graduate Record Exam (GRE) Three sections: verbal (30 minutes, 30 questions), qualitative (45 minutes, 28 questions), analytical (60 minutes, 35 questions). Scoring: Each section is scored from 200 to 800. Average: 470 (verbal), 570 (quantitative), 540 (analytical). Almost all masters and doctoral programs require the GRE, therefore it is not necessarily related to any particular field of study. Financial aid and grants are also determined using GRE scores. The verbal section measures ability to comprehend and analyze written materials. The qualitative section determines elementary mathematical concepts, and the analytical section looks at relationships among sets of information and it tests logical thinking. The GRE is a computer adaptive test, which means that instead of filling in the bubbles, a computer scores questions. This is important as computer adaptive tests force the test taker to answer questions according to what he has already answered. If a question is answered correctly, the next question gets more difficult. The opposite occurs when an answer is incorrect. In addition to the GRE, subject tests and a writing assessment are also available. Each school has different requirements for which tests its applicants must take. Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) Two sections and two essays: analytical writing assessment (60 minutes, two essays), verbal (75 minutes, 41 questions), quantitative (75 minutes, 37 questions). Sections have subscore ranges of 0 to 60. Writing assessment ranges from 0 to 6. Average: 500 Business school candidates must take the GMAT, which tests general academic ability, but not business knowledge. A great score won’t necessarily get you into the school of your choice, but a low score could keep you out. Note that the GMAT is a computer adaptive test, making it easy to take the test anytime and anywhere. Law School Admission Test (LSAT) Five sections and one essay: two logical reasoning (35 minutes, 24-26 questions each), logic games (35 minutes, 23-24 questions), reading comprehension (35 minutes, 26-28 questions), experimental (35 minutes, 24-28 questions), writing sample (30 minutes). Scoring: Overall scores range from 120 to 180. Average: 150 The LSAT is different than other tests because it does not test verbal and mathematical ability, instead testing logical and analytical thinking. LSAT questions emphasize quick, complex reasoning. Medical College Admission Test (MCAT) Three sections and two essays: verbal reasoning (85 minutes, 65 questions), physical sciences (100 minutes, 77 questions), writing sample (60 minutes, two essays), biological sciences (100 minutes, 77 questions). Scoring: Scores from each section range from 1 to 15 and writing sample scores range from “”J”” to “”T,”” with “”T”” being the highest. Average: 8 for each section; writing sample average is “”N.”” Medical schools require this rigorous and intensive test that often lasts longer than six hours with breaks. The MCAT tests critical and verbal skills as well as numerous scientific concepts. While the LSAT does not generally follow formulas, the MCAT is heavy in memorization, requiring a basic knowledge of general and organic chemistry, physics and biology. Test preparation courses One of the most common and effective ways students prepare for their admission examinations is to take a test preparation course such as those offered by Princeton Review and Kaplan. These companies’ classes cover the basics of each test and proctor mock exams. Many students find the courses helpful because they organize key concepts and provide review sessions for all materials covered. Most courses consist of several classes that go over the various sections and essay portions of the test. Students learn how to approach individual questions as well as overall test-taking techniques. To reinforce these ideas, mock exams are given under regular test-taking conditions. For applicants who need more structured test preparation, well-scheduled courses offer a systematic timeline. Many students consider these classes essential to boosting their scores. These classes are also convenient and flexible, as many companies provide a multitude of possible time slots. Course lengths vary by the type of test taken, but most last about 10 weeks. Courses cost from $500 for quick reviews to more than $4,000 for personalized, private sessions. The average fee for a regular course hovers around $1,000. Critics of admissions tests often argue that these tests allow only those who can afford prep classes to achieve high scores, leaving those who cannot afford expensive tutoring behind. The Career Services Center recommends doing research to find the best course offered and warns against choosing the first course available. Reading your way to the top If the idea of spending 10 weeks or at least $1,000 for preparation sounds too intense or extreme, another option is to self-learn through the numerous graduate test preparation books that are available. Many of the companies that provide courses also sell books that closely represent what is taught by instructors. Besides Kaplan and the Princeton Review, other companies such as Peterson, Arco, and Barron’s offer guides for virtually every test out there. Although an instructor is not there to discuss problems, the convenience and flexibility of reading a book help in preparation for the admissions tests. However, be wary of using books to study for computer adapted tests. Reading a book can never recreate the feeling of taking a test by computer. There are many books and many ways of approaching the tests, but the best one is the one you are most comfortable using. When looking for books to use, make sure sample exams are included. These sample exams replace the mock exams used in preparation courses. On-campus help The Career Services Center offers help for students needing more information for graduate tests. Students can pick up informational bulletins, which have details on price, location and times of exams. Besides having flyers, the center also offers test-taking tips and techniques. Addresses and locations of test preparation services are also available. Although the Career Services Center does not say which courses are most effective, an applicant should look for several things in a test preparation course: What are the costs? What are the qualifications of the instructors? How long does the course last? If you aren’t satisfied with your scores, can you take the class again for free? For more information, contact the Career Services Center’s Professional and Graduate School Opportunities Program at (858) 534-4939. The center’s Web site, http://career.ucsd.edu is also helpful for learning more about graduate admissions tests. For those who decide to attend graduate or professional school, admissions tests conjure up old memories of the SAT or ACT. However, with preparation and knowledge of what may appear on the test, graduate school examinations can be much easier. ...

Get Into the Summer Music Festivities

Awww, the dog days of summer! For many people, summer means frozen lemonade, sunburns and Lollapalooza. Oh wait, that was so six years ago. At least you can still catch the lovely ladies of Lilith Fair. Oops, my mistake. That ended about three years ago. Hey, there is always the This Ain’t No Picnic festival. Actually, all you indie rock kids will have to find something else for this Fourth of July, because that’s out of the picture, too. OK, so the summer festival circuit is not what it once was, but there are still some shows making their way across the country this summer just in time for you to spend your hard-earned cash on overpriced T-shirts. Area:One The festival will feature Moby, Outkast, Paul Oakenfold, Incubus, New Order, The Roots, Nelly Furtado, Carl Cox, The Orb and Rinocerose. Stepping in where Lollapalooza left off, Area:One is a festival dedicated to artistic unity and integrity. However, at the festival’s Web site, http://www.areafestival.com, you will find one inherent difference between Area:One and its alternative predecessors. But never fear, you corporate-phobes, part of the proceeds from Area:One will benefit Greenpeace and Lifebeat. July 31: Mountain View, Calif. Shoreline Amphitheater. On sale now. Aug. 5: Devore, Calif. Blockbuster Pavilion. On sale now. Ozzfest Back from the dead, Marilyn Manson will join Black Sabbath, Slipknot, Papa Roach, Linkin Park and Crazy Town for this year’s Ozzfest. Unlike Area:One, this year’s lineup pays little attention to artistic integrity — Crazy Town is in the lineup — but nevertheless promises to rock as hard as ever. A warning to metalheads planning on going to the San Bernardino show: Leave at least three extra hours of travel time to get to the Blockbuster Pavilion, because the venue’s only access is from one freeway exit; and traffic piles up for miles. June 27: Sacramento, Calif. Sacramento Valley Amphitheater. On sale now. June 29: Mountain View, Calif. Shoreline Amphitheater. On sale now. June 30: San Bernardino, Calif. Glen Helen Blockbuster Amphitheater. On sale now. Vans Warped Tour If one thing can be counted on this summer, it is as always the Vans Warped Tour. Serving up another great collection of California punk, it never fails to deliver. Rancid, 311, Pennywise, NewFound Glory and Less Than Jake are just some of the bands you will find among the many athletes and artisans and the Warped Tour. June 24: Fresno, Calif. Fresno State Ampitheater. June 27: Chula Vista, Calif. Coors Amphitheater. On sale now. June 28: Ventura, Calif. Seaside Park. On sale now. June 29: Los Angeles, Calif. L.A. Coliseum. On sale now. If none of these tours are to your liking, I suggest taking off to merry ol’ England, where they really know how to throw concert festivals, for the annual Reading Festival. Travis, P.J. Harvey, Green Day and Iggy Pop are just a few of the big names you’ll find at the three-day concert. However, if you must spend the summer on this side of the Atlantic, there is still something to be learned from the Brits — beer improves every concert experience! ...