Study: Many dropouts saddled with debt

    More than two of every five college freshmen who borrow money to pay for their education drop out before graduating with a degree, leaving them facing thousands of dollars in debt and few high-demand skills to earn the money to pay it off, a new study from the National Center for Public Policy and Higher Education reports.

    Examining the most recent data from 1995 to 2001 maintained by the U.S. Department of Education, the May study concludes that half of all entering freshmen took out loans to pay for college and that 20 percent of the borrowers dropped out. The number of borrowers was even higher at community colleges and private institutions, leaving more than 350,000 former students with no degree or certificate facing a mountain of debt.

    These students are twice as likely to be unemployed as those who graduate and more than 10 times as likely to default on their loans.

    “They had, in effect, the worst of both worlds: They did not benefit from the higher income associated with education beyond high school, and they accumulated significant educational debt,” Joni E. Finney, the center’s vice president, stated in the report’s foreword.

    However, the study concluded that taking out loans did not make students more likely to drop out before graduating, pointing instead to factors like academic preparation and socioeconomic status as better predictors of college completion.

    Americans support student steroid tests

    Almost 90 percent of the American public said they supported random testing high school athletes for steroid use, according to a poll performed by the Sacred Heart University Polling Institute.

    Overall, 67 percent said they “strongly supported” and another 20 percent said they “somewhat supported” random tests. Only 9 percent said they were in opposition.

    “We have a culture of youths today that’s more sophisticated in a negative way — they don’t think of the consequences but only the shortest distance to fame,” SHU Director of Intercollegiate Athletics Don Cook stated in a press release. “Unfortunately, they sometimes think steroid use is the best way to get there. The benefit of testing high school athletes is that they’ll learn not to use steroids at 16 and 17, rather than later — and colleges in turn will inherit clean students who are less apt to use drugs.”

    Earlier this month, top officials at the California Interscholastic Federation approved new regulations in an attempt to restrict steroid use. Under new rules that take effect next fall, each of the state’s high school athletes and his or her parents will need to sign a form promising that athletes will not use steroids.

    State lawmakers are considering a bill that would impose mandatory random testing for high school students.

    Student opinion split on video games

    World of Warcraft took the title of “Favorite Video Game” with only 11 percent of the vote, beating out Halo 2 by less than 1 percent, in the first national survey on video game use by the Art Institute system of schools.

    The private university system polled 1,000 students enrolled in its Art and Design and its Animation and Visual and Game Programming departments, attending one of 31 campuses across the country. Many of these students plan to work in the $30-billion-per-year software entertainment industry.

    Yeast could help genome mapping

    UCSD researchers have invented a new technique to organize genetic information stored in yeast chromosomes, allowing them to map the fungus’ genome on a wiring diagram that looks like an electronic circuit board.

    A similar diagram for humans, when developed, will likely help in the discovery of genetic diseases, they predicted.

    In a May study, the researchers said they could use the position of the genes on the diagram to predict the functions of the 343 yeast proteins.

    Yeast has been a traditional favorite for study by geneticists because it grows rapidly. Scientists have also found similarities among genes of other species in the same domain with the fungus, including humans.

    Five ambassadors to speak at forum

    As part of their national tour, five U.S. ambassadors stationed in Asia will make their first stop at a UCSD town hall meeting on May 16. The event will take place at the Robinson Auditorium at 4:30 p.m.

    The tour is an annual event designed to improve American-Southeast Asian relations.

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