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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]

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! ...

Last Words from the Guardian Seniors

Over the last three years, I have noticed that the final articles from outgoing editors are used primarily for three purposes: to give advice, to thank family and friends, and to reflect on events that have happened to the writers throughout their years at UCSD. After thinking about how I would use mine, I decided to do all three. My advice for the students of this school who are not yet in my position is simple, and it’s advice that you have heard from me many times throughout the last three years. It is simply this: You are responsible for your own happiness, so take that responsibility. It is indeed true that our school is somewhat socially challenged. It is also true that, unless you work hard at it, finding a good time can be very elusive. But to those of you who say that it is impossible to have a good time here, I say, “”Get a life.”” A famous comedian said it best: “”If you can’t find something to do, then you aren’t bored, you are boring.”” This couldn’t be more true. Entertainment doesn’t simply fall out of the sky. There are a lot of times that you have to make your own fun. That’s hard to do when you’re studying constantly or going home every weekend. I am a management science major, so I often put it in terms of economics. If you can have fun three nights a week as opposed to zero nights a week, and end up with a GPA that is one tenth of a point lower than you would have had, I have a hard time believing that you don’t consider that in your best interest. The benefits, as far as I am concerned, far outweigh the costs. I was lucky. I realized that in high school, I did way more work and stressed way more about grades than I had to. I would have ended up here with a slightly lower GPA and SAT score, but I didn’t realize that at the time. Once I was here, I took that knowledge to heart and enjoyed my time as much as I could. I am going to UCLA law school in the fall — somewhere I have always wanted to go, so I don’t think that my excessive entertainment hurt me too much. I have done many things wrong in my time here, but that is one of the things I did right. Another piece of advice originally came from a Guardian editor during my freshman year. I don’t even know his name and have never met him, but I remember reading his final article. He said, and I now repeat, “”A life without risk is a life that isn’t worth living.”” Again, being a management science major and being in classes that repeatedly tell you that risk is a bad thing and that humans are averse to risk, this is hard advice for me to swallow. However, it is very true. If every day of your life is a “”normal”” day, then you are doomed to a life of monotony. Get out and take a chance. Sometimes you will fail and sometimes you will succeed, but in the end it’s the attempt that will make you a better person. I have taken many chances in my time here, and many of them have not turned out the way that I have wanted, but I wouldn’t take back any of them. In fact, I wish that I had taken quite a few more. You will never expand yourself as a person if you never step outside yourself and take a chance. As far as thanking people, it is hard to know where to begin. I suppose the first thanks go to my parents and family. They supported me financially and emotionally throughout my time here. I have had some of the highest highs as well as some of the lowest lows of my life in the past three years, but my mom, dad, and sister, Emily, have been there to help me revel in the good times as well as console me in the bad ones. I am eternally grateful to them for that. I would also like to thank the friends I’ve met here, as well as friends such as Aaron, who I knew well before college but who also played a huge role in my college life. After my freshman year, I had only a few close friends — a situation that I was not used to. Luckily for me, I was randomly paired with my sophomore apartmentmate Brendan. We became good friends and met other friends through each other. The result was a group of people without whom I could not have gotten through these four years. I was talking with my friend Joey the other night about how odd it was that he and I — a Revelle student and a Warren student, a political science major and a management science major — have ended up such good friends. All I can say about him, and many of my other friends whom I met through random chance, is that I simply got lucky and am glad that I did. The last group of people that I would like to thank are my Guardian cohorts. I always knew that I would be thanking you, because from the very beginning I considered you guys some of the most competent and able people I’ve ever met. Whenever work needed to get done, there were always people there to do it and to do it well. This was never more evident than a few weeks ago when our computer crashed at 10 p.m. and essentially erased all of our saved material. We stayed there until nearly 4 a.m. making up for what we’d lost. Without the expertise of the people there that night, it could never have gotten finished. I didn’t, however, know that I would be thanking you guys as friends until halfway through this year. Until that point, I just did my job and left. But when I broke up with my serious girlfriend of more than a year, I realized how close you guys had become. I will always owe you all for helping me through one of the roughest times of my life. It is impossible to single anyone out because you all were so great and understanding. I consider that time a blessing because of all that I learned and the friends I realized I had. As far as memorable events, I have a hard time narrowing them down. This year’s Memorial Day trip to Las Vegas was possibly the best time of my life. I still, and will forever, think back and smile about that weekend and all the fun that my friends and I had drinking, gambling, drinking, and just basically being menaces to society. And drinking, too. I can’t think about my time here at UCSD without thinking about my first true love, Ingrid. Although things didn’t work out the way that we had hoped they would, I will always be grateful to her for all that she taught me about life and love. I am truly a different person for the experience. She taught me that although love sometimes hurts terribly, the good times make it all worth it. Finally, to bring all of the three parts of this article together, I relate something that happened during sophomore year. This was the time immediately before I began dating Ingrid and a time when I had to make a decision between her and one of my close friends. Despite all the derogatory sayings that tell you to choose otherwise, I chose the girl. In spite of the heartache that I felt after the breakup and the pain I felt when I realized I would never see my friend again, I would never and could never make a different choice. The advice part of the story is this: There will be certain times when you have to make a choice because you can’t make it any other way. You have to choose that way because your life would never be the same if you didn’t. During these times, it is important to make the choice you know that you have to make. I would never have forgiven myself if I had chosen the opposite way and was sitting here today wondering if this person that I knew I loved could truly have been the one. The thanks part of this story goes out to family and friends who supported me even though my decision, from the outside, may have looked morally questionable. Even though this was the case, they understood that I really had no choice and that I had to be true to myself. The reflection part is obviously remembering the story and pondering the apology I wish I could give for the pain that I caused my friend two years ago. I truly meant no harm, but in a choice between hurting a friend and eternal questioning of myself, I felt I had no other choice. I hope that when I leave, you can use these words to improve your own time here at UCSD. I also hope that you make the best of your time at this school, because these years will be gone before you know it, and you can’t do anything to get them back. ...

Horoscopes

Aries (March 21-April 19) This week, Aries, a close friend or colleague may provide an unusual glimpse into his emotional motives: Before mid-week, expect others to discuss previously withheld feelings, past social events or sentimental loyalties between friends. All is positive, Aries: Watch for gentle surprises, subtle declarations of love and shared appreciation from co-workers. Listen carefully for promising ventures. Taurus (April 20-May 20) Before Wednesday, Taurus, physical energy may be low: Watch for minor muscle aches, low back pains or temporary skin ailments. Expect vitality and optimism to return before mid-week. Some Taureans, especially those born in late April, may also experience increased dream activity, fresh social insight and quick romantic realizations. Expect deep feelings to emerge, Taurus. It’s time to test key relationships and create long-term romantic commitments. Gemini (May 21-June 21) Romantic frustration and social moodiness will soon fade, Gem: Over the next two days, many Geminis will receive a powerful glimpse into their own emotional needs. After Thursday, yesterday’s family relations and romantic disputes will no longer affect key relationships. It’s time to let go of the past and move on. Cancer (June 22-July 22) Over the next few days, Cancer, watch for a new level of romantic passion in key relationships. Many Cancerians have recently experienced a brief period of romantic distance or complex social pressure. Before mid-week, however, expect a dramatic shift: Both romantic partners and close relatives may now compete for your attention, demand equal time or propose unusual home activities. Leo (July 23-Aug. 22) Business success and romantic fulfillment now become a top priority, Leo. Over the past few weeks, many Leos may have felt restricted in working environments or misunderstood by loved ones. All of this quickly fades early this week, Leo, and will soon be replaced by dedication and renewed passion. Gather information and social energy over the next few days, Leo, and then prepare for new business projects or ask loved ones for added time, attention or commitment. A strong week, Leo: Stay alert. Virgo (Aug. 23-Sept. 22) Recent romantic delays or social regrets may drain your energy early this week, Virgo: Expect the vague promises of loved ones to now be temporarily bothersome. All of this, ironically, is a precursor to expanding career ideas and new workplace negotiations, Virgo. Start preparing to leave behind fear, low confidence or past employment restrictions. Late Wednesday, vitality rapidly increases: Pace yourself and watch for fast business proposals or sudden announcements from loved ones. Libra (Sept. 23-Oct. 23) Before mid-week, short-term relationships or brief love affairs may be highly distracting: Expect new friends or potential lovers to present unusual invitations or rare social information. Over the next few weeks, however, loved ones will also vie for your time, social attention and continued dedication. Stay focused: At present, subtle actions and public appearance may be extremely important in close relationships. A complex and demanding week, Libra: Avoid romantic triangles, if at all possible. Scorpio (Oct. 24-Nov. 21) Minor health concerns, infections or skin irritations are accented early this week, Scorp. Before Wednesday, expect physical vitality to be quickly changeable. Stress, social tensions or last-minute revisions may now cause delays, Scorp. Avoid taking on extra work or risky projects and all will be well. At present, both workplace and romantic partnerships may need to dramatically change to ensure success. Remain quietly dedicated: By early next week others will take the lead. Sagittarius (Nov. 22-Dec. 21) Lovers and close friends may strongly disagree this week, Sage: Expect long-term relationships to now conflict with new social obligations. Before next week, loved ones will avoid public gatherings or rapidly discount the ideas of mutual friends. Go slow and expect unusual social outbursts. All passes quickly, Sage, so not to worry. Do, however, avoid bold public statements or changing social opinions, if at all possible. After Friday, daily financial stress will be lifted: Expect important gains. Capricorn (Dec. 22-Jan. 19) Late Tuesday, Cap, a lover or close friend may ask for rare emotional guidance. Key issues involve conflicts between relatives, divided social loyalties or doubtful romantic partners. All may seem small, but an alert attention to detail may now reflect an important emotional issue. Offer support and comfort, Cap: Social and family relations will soon regain their balance. After Wednesday, watch also for minor but annoying messages from past business associates. Avoid public financial discussions. Aquarius (Jan. 20-Feb. 18) Daily confidence and romantic attraction are highlighted this week, Aquarius. Although workplace differences may now be complicated by ego battles or small criticisms, many Aquarians will approach business decisions with a rekindled self-awareness. Romantic partnerships may be similarly affected, Aquarius: Watch for a powerful wave of sensuality, attraction and emotional motivation to arrive early Wednesday evening. Respond quickly to instinct, Aquarius: Sincere reactions will be rewarded. Pisces (Feb. 19-March 20) Business relationships, social invitations and group plans will clarify early this week, Pisces: Watch for the bold or obnoxious types to no longer create annoying distractions. For the most part, Pisces, this is an indication that long-dreaded workplace or financial changes will be avoided. Some Pisceans may also experience a similar emotional shift in a close relationship. Watch for loved ones to let go of negative ideas, family criticism or outdated opinions, Pisces: Offer genuine support and guidance. If Your Birthday is this Week: Love relationships will dramatically change over the next two months, Gem. Many Geminis will now experience a division between their romantic lives and home priorities. Key decisions may involve repairing a difficult family disagreement or encouraging loved ones to leave outdated influences in the past. Before late August, outstanding relationship questions will need to be settled: Don’t avoid complex decisions. Early September will usher in fast business, academic or financial demands, Gem. Expect to be busy, confident and newly motivated. ...