Sunday, December 6, 2009

The top 20 most expensive college dormitories

One of the more interesting battlegrounds of the escalating college amenities war involves the continuing construction of glitzier upscale dormitories. It’s really no surprise. Today’s college student needs more dorm room to accommodate the variety of electronics necessary to support his or her lifestyle, and the more pampered prefer singles, hopefully with fully tricked out private baths. And many colleges, particularly those not engaged in the US News and World Report prestige war, are increasingly willing to provide whatever is necessary to attract students to their campuses and keep them there.

But lifestyle accommodations come at a cost. For the 2009-2010 school year, room and board increased 5.4 percent at public colleges and 4.2 percent at private colleges to an average price of $8193 and $9363 respectively for a standard double room. When available, private rooms come in somewhat higher.To get an idea of how much these costs can figure into the total price of a college education, Campus Grotto compiled a list of this year’s most expensive* college dorms:

1. Eugene Lang College, NY: $15,990
2. Cooper Union, NY: $15,275
3. Suffolk University, MA: $14,544
4. UC Berkeley, CA: $14,384
5. New York Institute of Technology, NY: $14,290
6. Fordham University (Lincoln Center), NY: $13,830
7. Fordham University (Rose Hill), NY: $13,716
8. UC Santa Cruz, CA: $13,641
9. Manhattanville College, NY: $13,500
10. Chapman University, CA: $13,384
11. Sarah Lawrence College, NY: $13,370
12. UCLA, CA: $13,314
13. Olin College of Engineering, NY: $13,230
14. New York University, NY: $13,226
15. St. Johns University of Queens, NY: $13,140
16. American University, DC: $12,930
17. Marymount Manhattan, NY: $12,874
18. Drexel University, PA: $12,681
19. Pomona College, CA: $12,651
20. Vanderbilt University, TN: $12,650

* Double occupancy freshman dorms

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Colleges create new majors in video game design and development

Not so many years ago, majoring in game design at the University of Pennsylvania meant skipping class and staying up all night playing pinball at the "Dirty Drug" on the corner of 34th and Walnut Streets. At some point, Pong and Pac-Man introduced the digital age, and students found new, technology-based ways to waste time.

Flash forward a few years, and games have suddenly joined other mainstream media worthy of academic study. Today it’s all about the industry, as perfectly respectable post-secondary institutions are rushing to offer majors in video game design and building breathtaking facilities to support student interest in the field.

This fall, UC Irvine announced the establishment of the Center for Computer Games & Virtual Worlds. Construction is nearing completion on a 4,000 square-foot, 20-room “Cyber-Interaction Observatory” for faculty research that includes plans for floor-to-ceiling projection screens, 3-D stereoscopic displays, and gesture-based interfaces. Expanding on the Game Culture and Technology Lab founded in 2001, UCI will offer a 4-year undergraduate program in “game science” joining radio, TV, and film as legitimate media-based academic majors or concentrations.

But it isn’t just about fun and games. Advocates for video design and development are quick to point out that applications go far beyond game-playing or entertainment. Virtual worlds and simulators are used for everything from stroke rehabilitation to combat exercises. In fact, the entertainment industry frequently leads the way for computer applications in health, communications, and defense.

On the east coast, High Point University recently opened the Nido R. Qubein School of Communication which offers a similar major in Games and Interactive Media supported by an amazing lab also featuring floor-to-ceiling screens and up-to-date video equipment used to provide students with hands-on experience in virtually every video game currently on the market. Students in the program are not only encouraged to play to learn but also to hone skills as story-tellers, critics, artists, and potential entrepreneurs.

So far, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has not created a specific job category for game design and development. But students graduating with related majors are expected to find jobs in the rapidly expanding market for serious games development, especially those with specific expertise in design, animation, programming, audio engineering, or testing. The new majors at UCI and High Point join those already offered at the University of Southern California, UC Santa Cruz, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the Rochester Institute of Technology and several other colleges and universities bringing respect to a field formerly considered a simple waste of time.

For a complete list of all colleges currently offering majors in Game Design and Development, click here.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Stanford students discover 'creepy' monument moved to less intrusive site

It’s not on the usual tour guide route. And if you’re interested, you will have to ask for directions and take a major detour across campus to a spot adjacent to the newly-constructed Hyatt Classic Residence senior housing complex facing the Stanford Mall on Sand Hill Road. But if you’re looking for the memorial tablet constructed to mark Leland Stanford Jr.’s original burial place, you’ll be disappointed. It’s gone. In its place, an unobtrusive metal sign advises the curious that the memorial tablet has been moved.

Following a story that appeared a couple of weeks ago in this column, several Stanford students set out to find Leland Stanford Jr.’s original burial place and the memorial tablet marking its location. “It took two tries,” said Stanford senior Justin Solomon. “The second time, we went with a flashlight. The tablet is really nowhere near the development or the burial site.”

For over 100 years, the marble memorial stood sentry over the spot where Leland Jr. was originally buried. Carved into its face are lines selected by Jane Stanford from a poem by Felicia Dorothea Hemans that read in part “Yes, it is haunted this quiet scene, fair as it looks and all softly green….” In response to questions concerning the poem, Stanford’s archeologist Laura Jones said, “There is something kind of creepy about it.”

In 2000, the tablet disappeared to make way for the university’s Sand Hill Road development. Evidently, a monument proclaiming that the area was “haunted ground” did not suit developers hoping to attract upscale senior citizens. To avoid disturbing the community, Stanford University quietly relocated the tablet some distance away from the site of the small mausoleum that held Leland Jr.’s remains from 1884 until they were exhumed and moved to the much grander family mausoleum in 1893.

While a series of metal signs explains the relocation, the tablet no longer marks what Jane Stanford hoped would be a permanent memorial to her son. Stanford’s real “haunted ground” is actually down the street somewhere in the vicinity of the Hyatt-managed senior citizen complex.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Get Inside the Admissions Office with Unigo and WSJ On Campus

Unigo and WSJ On Campus would like to invite anyone interested in the college admissions process to an “exclusive, live and interactive” webcast—Inside the Admissions Office, tonight at 7 p.m. EST. Cosponsored by the Independent Educational Consultants Association (IECA), the webcast will feature heads of admission from Bryn Mawr, Grinnell, Marquette, Princeton, the University of Pennsylvania, UVM, Wesleyan, and Williams, who promise to draw back the curtains on the college admissions process and reveal what students need to know to get into top-choice schools.

Inside the Admissions Office, broadcast at, will be moderated by Jordan Goldman, founder and CEO of Unigo. Topics will include:
  • What a dean of admissions looks for when reviewing a college application
  • The importance of grades, test scores, interviews, essays and more
  • How applicants can overcome their weaknesses and make the most of their strengths to make applications stand out
  • The role parents should play in the process
  • The people behind the titles

If you have questions you’d like answered by the deans of admissions, send an email to If your question is selected you could win an iPod Nano (see official rules).

Following the event, IECA will be posting the podcast on their website (, so those who cannot watch live will be able to see the entire broadcast. Again, the webcast will take place tonight at 7 p.m. EST (4 p.m. PST) at