Kaplan was still a test-prep company when the Washington Post Company bought it in 1984, after Richard D. Simmons, the president, convinced Katharine Graham of its potential for expansion and profits.
Over the last decade, Kaplan has moved aggressively into for-profit higher education, acquiring 75 small colleges and starting the huge online Kaplan University. Now, Kaplan higher education revenues eclipse not only the test-prep operations, but all the rest of the Washington Post Company’s operations. And Kaplan’s revenue grew 9 percent during the last quarter to $743.3 million — with higher education revenues more than four times greater than those from test-prep — helping its parent company more than triple its profits.
But over the last few months, Kaplan and other for-profit education companies have come under intense scrutiny from Congress, amid growing concerns that the industry leaves too many students mired in debt, and with credentials that provide little help in finding jobs.
Reports of students who leave such schools with heavy debt, only to work in low-paying jobs, have prompted the Department of Education to propose regulations that would cut off federal financing to programs whose graduates have high debt-to-income ratios and low repayment rates.
Though Kaplan is not the largest in the industry, the Post Company chairman, Donald Graham, has emerged as the highest-profile defender of for-profit education.
Together, Kaplan and the Post Company spent $350,000 on lobbying in the third quarter of this year, more than any other higher-education company. And Mr. Graham has gone to Capitol Hill to argue against the regulations in private visits with lawmakers, the first time he has lobbied directly on a federal issue in a dozen years.
His newspaper, too, has editorialized against the regulations. Though it disclosed its conflict of interest, the newspaper said the regulations would limit students’ choices. “The aim of the regulations was to punish bad actors, but the effect is to punish institutions that serve poor students,” Mr. Graham said in an interview.
He said the regulations’ emphasis on debt would make it harder for Kaplan to serve older working students who must take out loans to attend school.
He added that Kaplan could play an important role in meeting President Obama’s goal of a better-educated work force. Kaplan Higher Ed, Mr. Graham said, has also broadened the reach of the Post Company — beyond the middle-income students who typically use its test-prep services — to include lower-income students.
“We purchased colleges that served mostly poor students, and we have embraced that role,” Mr. Graham said. “For students with risk factors, older working students with children, Kaplan has dramatically better graduation rates than community colleges.”
The company has acknowledged, however, that the new rules could hurt Kaplan. According to 2009 data released this summer by the Department of Education, only 28 percent of Kaplan’s students were repaying their student loans. That figure is well below the 45 percent threshold that most programs will need to remain fully eligible for the federal aid on which they rely. By comparison, 44 percent of students at the largest for-profit, the University of Phoenix, were repaying their loans.
Kaplan is facing several legal challenges. The Florida attorney general is investigating eight for-profit colleges, including Kaplan, for alleged misrepresentation of financial aid and deceptive practices regarding recruitment, enrollment, accreditation, placement and graduation rates.
Kaplan is also facing several federal whistle-blower lawsuits whose accusations dovetail with the findings of an undercover federal investigation of the for-profit industry this summer, including video of high-pressure recruiting and unrealistic salary promises.
“The claims they make are absurd and simply not reflective of the kind of company that Kaplan is,” said Andrew S. Rosen, Kaplan’s chairman. “We’re confident that when a court rules, we’ll have a clear demonstration that this is not who Kaplan is.”
Troubles and Growth
Thus, student organizations offer distractions. “If you want to form a club devoted to solving Rubik’s Cubes or watching ‘Family Guy,’ no problem. If you want to change the world or fight global warming, no problem.”
Later, I visited Grinnell’s Web site to discover the range of club activities. There were the major food groups — Christian groups, political groups, ethnic groups, oddball sports and things I’d never heard of, like the Grinnell Monologues, which exist to “perform a collection of monologues about gender and genitalia,” and the Adventure Sewer Explorers, “dedicated to exploring sewers; good for town relations; will attempt to gather a library of material about sewer engineering.”
For the rest of our campus tour, it seemed impossible to escape student organizations: fliers and posters pinned to dorm walls, messages in chalk on sidewalks, folding tables in student unions.
Organizations have gone viral. Harvard has more than 400, up from about 250 six years ago. The University of California, Berkeley, has more than 1,000 organizations. The University of Wisconsin, Madison, estimates more than 800, with a Web site that encourages students to “Discover your passions. Bring your résumé to life.” The Web site of the College of William & Mary, which has 400 clubs, boasts “endless geekery from quiz bowl to Ping-Pong to heavy metal.”
One Sunday at a hometown hotel, my family watched a video presentation for Carnegie Mellon. After becoming acquainted with various clubs devoted to building self-propelled robot cars for Darpa field tests, an attractive student enthused about ballroom dancing. A few weeks later, the scene was repeated by a coed at Rose-Holman Institute of Technology in Indiana. Given the institute’s academic atmosphere, the video held out the promise of full body contact, a selling point for geeks and nerds and my son.
Here’s a quick quiz. What do the following have in common?
The Charles Darwin Experience
Laser Squad Bravo
Live Nude People
Immediate Gratification Players
(They are all campus improv groups.)
One student affairs officer tried to reassure me, “College is where kids try out things they’ve only seen on the Internet.” That remark covers a host of parental nightmares and a lot of neat stuff. There are clubs that challenge members to make a movie in 24 hours or write a novel in a month. In the realm of sweat, I found clubs for skateboarding, kickball, poker, Ultimate Frisbee, hacky sack and unicycling while playing the kazoo. No less competitive were dance clubs devoted to hip-hop, swing, tap, square, bhangra and baile.
Brown University has the Poler Bears, described as “psychedelic and silly, muscular and meta-performative, abstract and out there . . . and yes, it can be unabashedly, gracefully, palm-sweatingly, heart-poundingly sexy as well.” (The Poler Bears recently put on a Lady Gaga spectacular to raise money for a new pole.)
Clubs today, it seems, exist to provide stress relief and a sense of community. For many prospective students, finding a group of like-minded individuals will be the deciding factor.
Asked about the phenomenon, Harry R. Lewis, former dean of Harvard College, confessed, “I often got calls from parents who asked, ‘Why does Harvard have a mariachi band? I sent my son or daughter to Harvard to become an engineer, not to play in a mariachi band.’To which I would respond, ‘Would you rather have them go out drinking?’ ”
James R. Petersen is author of “The Century of Sex.”
Mr. Rusnock is not a teacher. He is a grad coach, one of 27 in Houston monitoring thousands of students who take so called credit-recovery courses online. Like many other districts across the state, particularly those with high dropout rates, the Houston Independent School District offers these self-paced make-ups to any student who fails a class. In the spring and summer terms, 6,127 Houston I.S.D. students earned 9,774 credits in such courses, which are generally taken in conjunction with a full load of regular classes. About 2,500 more students are enrolled this fall.
The program reflects a trend in Texas and nationally as school districts seek cost-effective ways to bolster graduation rates. But questions remain over whether the digital curriculum — which school districts buy from Apex Learning and other providers — offers the same quality of education as traditional courses. Little research exists on how much, or how little, students learn.
The Texas Education Agency does not regulate credit-recovery courses or even track their proliferation, though the courses have expanded rapidly over the last decade. The Austin I.S.D. and the Dallas I.S.D. each reported educating about 4,000 students in credit-recovery courses last year. Pearson Education, makers of the popular credit-recovery software NovaNet, reported its use in 400 Texas schools.
Robert Scott, the state’s commissioner of education, said he was concerned that some districts might be offering an easy way out of a rigorous curriculum, rather than an avenue back to regular classes.
“Any tool that helps get kids credit toward graduation is certainly worth having,” Mr. Scott said. “But any time you’re accelerating education that quickly, there’s a concern that the quality of the content standards you’re going over will be lessened.”
Apex Learning, Houston’s provider, supplies written tests in addition to the standard computer-based multiple-choice assessments, and school districts determine whether to use them. NovaNet does not provide such tests. The Austin I.S.D. uses its own written tests in combination with the company’s online curriculum; without this safeguard, students would be able to earn an English credit without writing a single sentence.
Credit recovery is just part of a larger devolution in the traditional 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., lecture-and-textbook high school model, which educators increasingly acknowledge fails many children. Other trends include raising the maximum age for Texas high school students to 25. There has also been a rapid growth of “dropout recovery” charter schools that exclusively serve troubled teenagers. For accelerated students, the number of dual-credit classes taught in partnership with local colleges has increased.
T. Jack Blackmon, who heads up the Dallas I.S.D. credit-recovery program, said the old model would continue to crumble.
“It’s the vision for the future as far as I’m concerned: kids going at their own pace,” Mr. Blackmon said. “The traditional school is only good for about a third of the kids, the ones who want football or choir or social activities — kids who have the school bug. For the rest of them, it’s just standing in line, waiting for the factory model to give them an education. A lot of kids don’t want to wait in line.”
Terry Grier, superintendent of the Houston I.S.D., expanded Houston’s credit-recovery offerings in January. He had successfully started similar classes in San Diego and in Guilford County, N.C. In those cases, the dropout rate was cut in half during his tenure, though credit-recovery was just one of the programs at play.
One of Mr. Grier’s goals upon arriving in Houston last year was to make similar improvements. District officials put Houston’s dropout rate at 15.8 percent — higher than the self-reported rate in New York (13.5 percent), but lower than Indianapolis (29.8 percent) and Los Angeles (34.9 percent).
The district prides itself on academic rigor and student support, provided mostly by grad coaches who make daily decisions about when students have mastered the material and how much time they should spend on a particular skill. Students in Houston take an average of 61 days to complete credit-recovery courses — about 26 days less than a typical semester-long course — and they are required to take written tests.
This article was produced in partnership between The Texas Tribune and The Hechinger Report, a nonprofit, nonpartisan education-news outlet affiliated with the Hechinger Institute on Education and the Media, based at Teachers College, Columbia University.
organised Inter-medical colleges quiz contest held
Islamabad: Islamic International Medical Colleges is a constitute department of Riphah International University organised first Inter-Medical College Physiology Quiz competition at its main campus, I-14 Sector.
The students from 13 medical colleges of Islamabad, Rawalpindi and other cities participated in this quiz competition.
The students of Foundation University Medical College got first position while the students of Army Medical College obtained second position. And the students of Ayub Medical College acquired third position.
Hassan M. Khan, Pro-Chancellor, Riphah International University, was the chief guest. He appreciated the initiative taken by RIU and emphasized the need for organising such events.
Principal of Islamic International Medical College, Professor Major General (r) Masood Anwar, in his opening remarks, stressed the importance of physiology in medicine and advised the students to participate in such events.
KARACHI: Pakistan Academy of Letters recently organised a graceful literary reference ceremony to pay tribute to the renowned archivist, famous for preserving voices, Lutfullah Khan.
Speaking on the occasion, guest of honour Sir Syed University of Engineering & Technology (SSUET) Chancellor ZA Nizami highlighted the invaluable services of the great archivist and oral historian Khan.
He said that Khan was a committed and devoted person who spent most of his life collecting voices from different walks of life. He has archived a wide variety of voices including the speeches of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad to the poetry of Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Noon Meem Rashid, Jigar Muradabadi to the sermons of Maulana Ashraf Ali Thanvi.
Nizami told the audience that Khan had some unique and extinct record of voices, which no national institution could claim to have. He offered to provide full support on behalf of the SSUET to preserve the valuable and important record of voices with latest technology, adding, that the preserved record of voices by Khan was in fact historic.
Expressing his views about Khan, renowned intellectual and critic Dr Muhammad Ali Siddiqui said, “We are a nation that tends to either distort history or give it a shape as we want to see it but late Khan recorded the voices in their original forms with complete honesty and sincerity.”
He said that as a broadcaster, Khan was the senior to ZA Bukhari and Patras Bukhari, yet he was never remembered as such. He claimed if one was to listen to the material that Khan had recorded, they would require at least three-and-a-half consecutive years, adding that he was able to save contemporary history to a great deal.
Fatima Hassan, a poetess, informed the moot that Khan had more than 5,000 voices preserved in a very organised way with well-maintained catalogues. He was a multifaceted man who entered the world of archives through his passion for classical music. However, it was being an archivist that overshadowed the rest of his talents.
Another famous poet Sarshar Siddiqui, Chairman of the Academy Abdul Hameed and Resident Director of the Academy Agha Noor Muhammad Pathan also spoke on the occasion. staff report
Fashion Pakistan proudly welcomes you to the third Fashion Pakistan Week. Pakistan’s most powerful and influential designers are all under one roof for one week only in Fashion Pakistan Week 3. This is a one in a lifetime experience for all those who appreciate and understand high fashion at its best. Fashion Pakistan Week is ready to show the entire industry and media who the real designers of the fashion industry are. It’s the official fashion event of this year. Fashion Pakistan Week is the country’s first and largest platform providing a much-needed boost to Pakistan’s fledgling fashion industry. This council’s objective is to show the world that the Pakistan fashion industry is a force to be reckoned with and was created to promote and support Pakistani fashion in the global marketplace. As a part of the Council of International Fashion Designers, Fashion Pakistan Week members represent a major segment of the design fraternity working together to encourage, promote and facilitate the development and growth of the fashion industry and make it competitive in international markets by building on relationships with buyers both overseas and domestic, establishing and strengthening ties with foreign designers. Fashion Pakistan Week achieved their first landmark with the huge success of Fashion Pakistan Week 1 and 2. It not only opened new vistas for the council, but also reinforced the council’s trust in the fact that nothing is impossible. It encouraged others to take the plunge and, as a result, Fashion Pakistan Week has sent a recent plethora of fashion weeks in Pakistan. Fashion Pakistan has grown over time, and more and more designers keep joining the platform. This has encouraged the council to set sights higher and provide the impetus to organise another event that is even bigger in proportion to the previous two. At the time of its inception, Fashion Pakistan had some very clear objectives that we strive to fulfil to the best of our capabilities. As a company whose board is democratically elected, by the designer, for the designer, Fashion Pakistan is the fashion fraternity’s representative body. Fashion Pakistan Week’s primary objective is to educate, empower and encourage designers and promote traditional crafts.
KARACHI – Hello! magazine has arrived in Pakistan, on a mission to celebrate the country’s glamorous side – one that is missing all too often in international news coverage – and to help develop a home-grown celebrity culture.
A clink of jewellery, a tinkle of glass, a hushed audience and a lit-up runway – and Hello! Pakistan is launched in Karachi, with an extravagant four-day fashion show.
Publishers hope the magazine, which will hit newsstands in mid-April, will – by showcasing gloss and glamour – dispel some of the gloomier images foreigners associate with Pakistan.
“We will highlight the fashionable and the athletic, the intellectual and the aesthetic,” says Zahraa Saifullah.
Pakistan already has a number of local publications whose glossy pages are devoted to showcasing the weekend engagements of the Pakistani elite.
But the team at Hello! Pakistan – the country’s first international franchise of this kind – says that their approach will be different.
“The aim is to move beyond the ‘typical 10’,” says Wajahat Khan, the consulting editor at the magazine. “We want the 11th man, the 12th girl, the 13th cross dresser.”
“We have a thriving television industry, an emerging literary scene – and we have a very strong art scene,” adds editor-in-chief Mahvesh Amin.
“We’re going to tap into all of these as well as others – politicians, businessmen, sports figures – and cover them as personalities.”
In the US and the UK, she says, the mere sight of a celebrity walking down a street – say, Angelina Jolie – can classify as news. In Pakistan, this isn’t really the case.
“So we’ve decided that our coverage will be more achievement-oriented,” she says. “People who are doing good things have done great things. This way, we’ll create celebrities.”
Saifullah, who says she grew up watching her mother and grandmother flipping through the pages of international Hello!, says it took her two years to coax the international franchise into Pakistan.
Initially, the management was “reluctant to enter a market that is not really perceived as a prime investment opportunity,” she says.
It’s true, the market for an English-language print publication is limited in a country with low literacy rates even in Urdu.
According to consulting editor Wajahat S Khan, the circulation figures of such magazines barely hit the 30,000 mark.
Moreover, Hello! Pakistan, which will be published once a month, will be priced at Rs 500 – no small amount by the country’s standards.
Saifullah does not reveal any figures, but has full faith that her publication will do well. “We’ve done our research,” she says.
“I can say with complete conviction that we will break the numbers of all English-language publications in the country.”
In freelance fashion writer Moiz Kazmi’s opinion, two types of people will read the magazine.
“Firstly, people will buy the magazine if they – or people that they know – have been featured in its pages,” he says.
“Secondly, there are those who look at who’s-wearing-what in the magazine, then take it to their local tailors to get the clothes copied for themselves.”
There are some critics out there though. Munawar Bawany, member of a local branch of Tanzeem-i-Islami, a Lahore-based religious organisation that aims to inculcate Islamic mores and values within society, says he would not read the magazine – and would discourage his children from “bringing it into the house”.
“Such magazines promote and perpetuate ideologies that aren’t inherently Islamic, that aren’t part of our culture,” he says. “I would be concerned about the effect it may have on young people.”
Saifullah, however, is quick to reassure that the magazine will take great pains to remain “socially responsible and culturally aware”.
“You will never find a picture of a topless Veena Malik plastered on our cover,” she says, referring to the incident late last year when Pakistani film actress Veena Malik shocked segments of society by appearing on the cover of an Indian magazine, apparently naked and with the letters I-S-I tattooed on her arm – an impertinent allusion to Pakistan’s intelligence agency.
There are some further concerns. Publishing a lifestyle magazine that serves as an open advertisement of wealth could be problematic in a country like Pakistan where kidnappings – often for staggering amounts of ransom – are on the rise.
A publication of this nature could also be viewed as symptomatic of a deeply-divided society – a disconnected elite, firmly ensconced in its own ivory tower, versus the impoverished masses.
Indeed, as models sashayed down the runway over the course of the four-day fashion showcase at Karachi’s upscale DHA Golf and Country Club, on the far side of the town, bullets were fired and buses torched as the city’s law and order situation took a turn for the worse.
But there is nothing wrong, says Saifullah, in portraying a more buoyant image of the country.
“It’s about time we began moving away from all this negativity that we dwell in and that we seem to thrive on,” she says. “There are so many positive things taking place in Pakistan that remain unspoken.”
Despite the confidence of these courting colleges, I was still a directionless junior. So I started clocking in hour after hour with my small library of guidebooks, fretting over student-to-faculty ratios and weighing the advantages of large versus small schools. For days I would be besotted with a school. Then I would find out that it rains perpetually in the region where the school is located, or that it is a “beer and football” school, or that it got a pitiful two-and-a-half-star quality-of-life rating from Fiske. I did find my dream school, Antioch College, only to go online and discover that it was “in a period of transition” — that is, it had closed.
Choosing the right college felt like trying to answer one of those dreaded multiple-choice questions that has two right answers. You march up to your teacher’s desk to expose the flaw, and she tells you to pick the best answer. Sometimes I would simper like a child, intimidated by the gravity of the adult decisions I was being forced to make, and that would mold my future.
I began my college sojourn in earnest with a tour of Colgate. We were all handed Chipwiches, those spectacular amalgams of cookies and ice cream. That gave Colgate the early lead until I took a tour at nearby Hamilton College. Not to be outdone, Hamilton was doling out coupons for the locally famous half-moon cookies and some pretty excellent stir-fry vegetables, courtesy of the cafeteria. Admitted applicants could look forward to a pair of Hamilton flip-flops if they visited campus before deposits were due. Colgate followed up by sending me an idyllic poster of the campus lake along with a handwritten note from the admissions director.
Now I was extremely conflicted; anyone who thinks teenagers cannot be bribed with food and flip-flops does not know teenagers. And the more time passed, the more muddled my mind became.
Even harder to ignore was a Princeton Review e-mail cajoling me to patronize their Web site by offering a personalized list of colleges “looking for students like you!” And there were simply so many colleges like Franklin & Marshall that e-mailed periodically to remind me that they “look forward to hearing from you!” Others, like Ursinus College, extended a special Priority Select application deadline, after their regular decision deadline. A painless application with no teacher recommendation, no essay and no fee, it was a hard offer to resist. But I did.
The sheen of a college brochure is yet another distraction from the substance of a school. My glossy Vassar brochure boasted a student circus troupe called the Barefoot Monkeys. And though the ground might freeze over from November to April, the brochures of Northern colleges invariably depict eternal spring. The University of Vermont has an elaborate tunnel system that allows students to move from building to building without fear of frostbite. But you’d never guess it from the mail you get, filled with kids in shorts playing Frisbee in the sun.
Soon I had whittled down my options and applied to college. The letters I began to receive from colleges now were less fluffy and more portentous. Bleary-eyed and near-blind with anticipation, I would rip them open and scan frenetically for key words. Words like “regretfully,” “welcome” and “congratulations” shouted at me like McDonald’s signs on the side of the highway. Vassar and William & Mary “unfortunately” told me thanks but no thanks, while Colgate and the State University of New York at Geneseo declared it a “thrill and a privilege” to offer me admittance.
Now it was time to decide exactly where I would like to play Frisbee in the sun. I attended accepted students days at Geneseo and Colgate. Both involved guided tours, reception speeches, free prizes and current students who had “drunk the Kool-Aid,” as my dad liked to joke, milling around wearing “Ask Me Anything” T-shirts and spouting canned lines about student life. (“There are going to be big drinkers everywhere, but there is no pressure to drink here.”) My parents enjoyed the cocktail party Geneseo hosted at a historic inn, and Colgate wowed its teenage audience with an ice cream social — eating ice cream is, it seems, a tradition at Colgate — and the tantalizing promise of many more to come.
I really like my Colgate water bottle and my many nearly identical totes emblazoned with college logos. But rather than enlighten me, the presidents’ addresses and the facts that ran together like slush and the pamphlets and the complimentary ice cream all threatened to immobilize me. I was more confused than ever, but of one thing I was certain: the dogged marketing of the admissions process had left a bad taste in my mouth that no half-moon cookies or ice cream social could wash away.
After all my researching and hand-wringing, I turned down Geneseo and Colgate. And my rejections were not “unfortunate” or “regretful” but, rather, freeing.
When I found out about a gap-year program, Global Citizen Year, I did not need any prodding to apply or any encouragement to commit. I knew instinctively I would do anything to go.
I am spending my year in Senegal. College will have to wait.
Tess Langan graduated from Verona High School, in Verona, N.J., last June.
YDA statement on proposed medical college ‘baseless’
College to be run strictly on merit, with low fee: PU
* Focal person says YDA should reconsider ‘hasty action’, send apology
* Officials concerned approved project, vowed to extend support
LAHORE: Officials at the Punjab University (PU), on Thursday, strongly reacted to the statement of the Young Doctors Association (YDA) with regards to the proposal of establishing a constituent medical and dental college.
PU focal person for proposed medical and dental college Prof Dr Shaukat Ali strongly condemned the statement of 13 YDA representatives, terming their allegations baseless and demanding the association to reconsider their “hasty action” and send a word of regret.
In his letter to the YDA, Dr Ali said that the medical college was being set up as a constituent college of the PU, which would be run strictly on merit and with low fees that would be in reach of the citizens belonging to the underprivileged segment of society.
He added that no effort was made on the part of the 13 YDA office-bearers to verify the matter, either from the vice chancellor or the focal person of the project.
Dr Ali was of the view that levelling such gross charges, and that too before the finalisation of the medical complex plan, was completely unethical.
He wrote that all the concerned officials expressed satisfaction and gave their approval for the medical college during the first inaugural meeting. They also promised to extend unqualified support during the course of the project and even after that, purely on honourary basis.
Dr Ali added that such futile efforts on the part of 13 YDA representatives indicate they needed “experience and patience”.
He hoped that the association would reconsider their hasty action and send the university a word of regret.
He said that all the abovementioned facts had already been highlighted in both the Urdu and English press releases issued by the PU, dated April 2. Being a teacher, he said, he advised the YDA to leave no stone unturned as far as the welfare of young doctors was concerned.
MEETING of syndicate of Islamia College University, Peshawar, will be held at 11am.
GRAND Pashto Mushaira organised by Khyber Literary Society of the Islamia College University will be held at main cricket ground at 9pm.