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Do Standardized Tests Measure Educational Quality?

May 28, 2020

Standardized tests play a key role in today’s education system. They can take the form of aptitude tests that measure scholastic readiness or achievement tests that measure subject-specific knowledge. But how well do standardized tests measure educational quality?

Arguments in Favor of Standardized Tests

There are various arguments in favor of standardized tests. Here are the main reasons why they are good for measuring educational quality.

Standardized Tests Enable Consistent Assessment

Every teacher grades pupils differently. When college admissions committees only see overall grade point averages, nuances between teachers with higher and lower expectations are lost. So, standardized testing can act as a balancing force. Standardized tests can provide colleges with objective data with which they can compare prospective candidates.

Standardized Tests Prepare Students for College

If students attend high schools that do not offer advanced placement courses or a large number of extracurricular activities, standardized testing can enable students to set themselves apart from their high schools. Tests like the ACT and SAT give students the chance to show they are smart and motivated, so they will not be judged on their high schools when applying for college. And passing some specific standardized tests is required to gain entry to some degree programs. For instance, passing the Law School Admission Test is vital for prospective law school students. As for LSAT dates and deadlines, the test is held four times a year, in February, June, September or October, and December, and the registration deadline is about one month before the test date.

If students are enrolled in highly competitive high schools, standardized testing can also be beneficial. That is because it enables students to show they are intelligent and qualified, even if being in a class of many high-achieving students prevents them from being top of their classes.

Arguments Against Standardized Tests

Opponents of standardized tests typically say the test promotes a teaching-to-the-exam study method, meaning students only learn-and-repeat what is required by the curriculum. The opponents say that undermines students’ abilities to innovate and critically think. They, therefore, believe that standardized tests are not the best way of measuring student performance.

Teaching to the Test

Standardized testing means the main focus is on obtaining high grades. That means teachers feel compelled to teach students solely so that they can pass the tests. And in some schools, teachers spend less time teaching the arts and social sciences because they feel it is more important to prepare students for standardized tests in areas like math and English. That can lead to a less-rounded education for students.

Multiple Choice Tests

Standardized tests consist of multiple-choice questions or open-ended questions, and some feature both. Opponents of standardized tests that only use the multiple-choice format say the tests are too simplistic and do not reflect accurate student intelligence. On the other hand, tests that feature open-ended questions enable students to show their knowledge and apply critical thinking, often through extended responses.

Final Thoughts

Standardized tests are good because they are quantifiable and enable comparisons. But, as noted above, there is a negative side to standardized testing. There are other measures that can show how well schools and students are performing, such as graduation rates, enrollments in advanced placements and other college prep courses, and college remediation rates for recent high school graduates.

So, do standardized tests measure educational quality? Yes, they do. However, if they are used as the sole source of measuring educational quality, they are not wholly reliable. Standardized tests should be just one of many measures that are used to evaluate students’ abilities and their readiness for college or a career.

Other Transition

5 Perks of Graduating College in the Winter

May 27, 2020
5 Perks of Graduating College in the Winter

Graduating in December means finishing all your classes and requirements mid-school year, and getting your diploma just in time for the holidays. It might not come with wrapping paper and a bow, but it’s a pretty impressive gift. If you’re a winter grad or are thinking about graduating next winter, take a look at this list of perks that can come with finishing college in December.

It can be a money saver.
If you’re graduating early, that’s one less semester’s worth of fees and costs that spring up between classes. Dealing with student loan payments after college is tough, and this can help cut some of those costs you’ll be faced with.

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Helpful Advice When Applying to College

April 29, 2020

The college application process is an exciting time. This is an opportunity for high school students to figure out where they are going to go next. There are a number of hurdles that high school students must cross and one of them is the college application process. There are a few tips that students need to keep in mind as they are applying to college.

Know the Deadlines

This is at the very top of the list when thinking about 10 Tips When Applying to College. It is critical for everyone to remember that college is competitive and schools receive thousands of applications from qualified applicants every year. They are not going to bend the rules just because one person missed the deadline. Make sure to know the deadlines and get all of the materials in on time. Furthermore, when a student misses a deadline, this shows a lack of maturity, preparedness, and time management skills. Know the deadlines and get everything in on time.

Read the Instructions Carefully

Not every college application is going to be the same. There are going to be some differences from school to school. Particularly when it comes to essay prompts, it is important for students to read the instructions carefully. If students submit an essay that doesn’t address the prompt at the top of the page, this is not going to look good for the school. Therefore, every student must read the instructions along with each individual application. While this might sound like a lot of work, it is important to put the best foot forward.

Proofread All Submissions

Students have plenty of time to complete their college applications. Therefore, there is plenty of time to proofread. Spelling and grammar mistakes on college applications exude a sense of carelessness. This does not reflect well on the applicant. It is helpful to get another set of eyes on every essay. Sometimes, it is hard for students to pick up mistakes in their own work. Having someone else read it is a good idea. This way, all spelling and grammar mistakes are caught before they reach the desk of the committee.

Think About Recommendations Carefully

One of the most important parts of every college application is the letters of recommendation section. This is an opportunity for the committee to get to know each applicant on a personal level. Think about who is going to present the applicant in the best light possible. Try to get letters of recommendation from different areas including academics, athletics, and other extracurriculars. Each letter should show a different side of the student. Not much is going to come from three letters that all say the same thing about the student. Try to create a well-rounded picture with the letters of recommendation.

Tips for Applying to College

These are a handful of the most important tips that everyone needs to remember during the college application process. Keeping these tips in mind will set up every student to be successful in the future.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Transition

The Top College Towns of 2020

April 22, 2020

Choosing a college is no small feat. There are a ton of factors that come into play, from academic programs to athletics. One factor that definitely shouldn’t be overlooked is location. The town or city a school is located in can play a big part in both your college experience not to mention your life and work after graduation.

When making our choices, we considered several factors, including student life and culture, available recreational activities, nearby attractions, and availability of high-speed internet and other college necessities. Here are our picks:

1. Gainesville, FL

Gainesville houses the University of Florida, known for its research programs, athletics, and parties. Gainesville was, at one time, one of the fastest-growing cities in the US, thanks in part to its excellent climate, beautiful landscape, and large number of entertainment options. 

When it comes to living in Gainesville, there’s plenty to do, including several state parks and museums to check out, and the Gainesville Raceway is a popular spot. The town also has a growing startup culture, so if building businesses is your thing, you’ll be in good company once you graduate.

2. Berkeley, CA

Located across the Bay from San Francisco, Berkeley has a long reputation as a great place to live. The weather is beautiful, the atmosphere is electric, and creativity and activism are everywhere. The University of California is regularly ranked as one of the best in the country, and the area has a rich history dating back to the late ‘60s and the hippy movement. What more could you want in a college town?

Berkeley also has another major advantage: it’s situated only an hour or so away from Silicon Valley. This makes it an ideal candidate for folks in the tech space, as well as potential founders looking to fund startups.

3. Boulder, CO

Boulder has a reputation as one of the best places to live in the US, with gorgeous surroundings, excellent art and food cultures, and the popular University of Colorado providing a backdrop. Like Berkeley, Boulder has a bit of a hippy past, and between that and the beautiful natural landscape make it an ideal spot for adventurous students and adults alike.

There’s a ton to do in Boulder, especially if you like outdoor activities. The entire area is surrounded by nature preserves, recreational land, and climbable mountains. The city also regularly makes lists of the best places to live in the US, including “Happiest City,” “Brainiest City,” and “Best City to Raise an Outdoor Kid.”

4. Athens, GA

Home of the University of Georgia, Athens rounds out the list of best college towns. Unlike some of the other towns on the list, rent in Athens actually falls below the national average, making it an affordable town both during school and after graduation. Music is a big part of the culture, with several national acts, including R.E.M. and Widespread Panic, coming out of Athens. The University of Georgia is home to the Georgia Bulldogs, and their games are a big part of life in Athens.

One downside to living in Athens is that you may have a harder time finding reliably fast internet here, especially if you’re living in the more outlying areas. If that’s the case for you, there are rural internet options available that might help.

These four college towns have something for almost everyone, whether you’re a football fan itching to get on down to Georgia or a budding software engineer looking to make it big in Silicon Valley. Just don’t forget to squeeze in some studying and secure your college renters insurance upon move in!

Other Transition

Home Away From Home: Completing a Long Distance Campus Move

April 22, 2020

Long-distance moves are already stressful and exhausting, but when your destination is a college campus with a new dorm, a full class load, and an entirely new social circle, it can feel downright overwhelming. Here are a few tips and suggestions to keep in mind as you prepare to leave the familiar comforts of the well-known behind and launch into the geographically distant academic adventures that lie ahead.

Go Into Things Healthy

It’s a good idea to take some time before your big move to ensure that you’re in tip-top physical, mental, and emotional shape as you go through the rigors of a larger move. A few suggestions for ways to do this include:

  • Getting a checkup.
  • Sleeping well in the days and weeks leading up to the move.
  • Eating healthy food.
  • Exercising.
  • Meditating and/or praying on a daily basis.

If you can pursue health and wellness in the lead up to your move, you’ll be able to weather the drama and chaos much easier.

Pack Smart

When it comes to your move you may think you’re on your own. After all, none of your friends or family are likely coming with you to live on campus. But that doesn’t mean you can’t ask friends and family for help

Pull the classic “if you come and help me pack I’ll get everyone pizza at the end of the day” pitch. This turns the event into less work for yourself as well as a fun opportunity for everyone to hang out one last time before you leave.

Plan Your Trip

Before you ever hop in the car or turn the key, make sure to carefully plan out your trip. What route will you take? Do you need to stop along the way to rest? Are you giving yourself plenty of time to get there even if you’re held up by a minor issue like traffic or an extra rest stop visit? Taking the time to plan things out can make everything more peaceful as you go.

Set Your Expectations

When you arrive on campus you’ll likely be exhausted and overwhelmed. That’s why it’s important to set your expectations ahead of time. Try to time your arrival so that you have enough time to unpack and then crash and get some rest. In addition, take time before you arrive on campus to associate yourself with several of the classic college concerns of any student, such as choosing classes, looking for extracurricular activities, nailing down financial aid, and understanding where all of the on-campus sports and exercise equipment is.

In addition, if you’re living in a dorm, associate yourself with some of the wiser considerations when it comes to moving in with a roommate. For instance, make sure to create a roommate agreement, discuss appropriate decor, and define boundaries. Before you do any of that, though, remember to be patient and strive to create a good relationship at your initial meeting.

Making It a Smooth Move

If you take the time to foster your health, inform yourself, recruit help, and plan ahead you’ll be able to make a cross-country college move much easier on your mind, body, and soul. When the big day comes, instead of feeling overwhelmed and scrambling, you’ll feel empowered and ready to embrace the adventure that lies ahead.

Remember that renters insurance and tuition insurance are musts when going away to college! GradGuard offers both so you can have even more peace of mind when going through this transitional time.

BIO: Dan Matthews is a writer with a degree in English from Boise State University. He has extensive experience writing online at the intersection of business, finance, marketing, and culture.

Other Transition

15 College Student Benefits You Might Not Know About

April 20, 2020

College is a unique time in life. When else will you be surrounded by people your own age, and study among people with your same academic interests? It’s the time when you’re existing in that state of not being a kid anymore, but not quite being a grown adult yet either. But did you know that college is also a time when you can get tons of discounts and rewards just for being a student? Businesses and schools have perks for students that a lot of people don’t know about. Here are 15 that are definitely worth checking out:

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What You Need to Know About Applying for College

February 28, 2020

After 12 years of general education, the time has come to join the big leagues. No matter what degree you’re aiming for, going to college can be exciting and frightening at the same. It all starts with you trying to find a reputable college.

If this is your first time applying to college, you might be feeling a little nervous and confused. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. Your college experience should always be an exciting experience.

Here’s what you need to know about applying for college.

Research Early On

You don’t have to wait until you graduate high school to look for a college. In fact, it’s recommended that you search during your time in high school. You should spend a majority of your junior year in high school looking for colleges.

Your senior year should primarily focus on learning the admission process. The admission process can vary, so it’s important to research each college and its requirements. This is where college admissions counseling comes in. They’ll help you set up everything and guide you through the process.

Determine Whether You Should Take the SAT or ACT

Once you’ve figured out what college you want to attend, the next thing you need to consider is what test to take. You can either take the SAT or the ACT. Both of these tests are used as an entryway into most colleges and go over the same subjects. The only real difference is how they’re scored. SATs are scored using a scale between 600 to 2400 while the ACTs measure scores by using 1 to 36.

In general, it doesn’t really matter which test is taken as most colleges take both of them. It’s just that some students do better with the SATs than the ACTs and vice versa. It is possible to take both of them. In fact, taking both of these tests can increase the likelihood of you getting accepted.

Be Ready to Face Rejection

If you get rejected by your college, don’t get discouraged. You can always apply again. But don’t sit around waiting for one college to accept you. Just because one college gave you a rejection doesn’t mean all of them will.

Sure, it may be a little heartbreaking to know that after all of the hard work you’ve done, all you received was a rejection letter. However, even the best of the best get rejections too. They could have the perfect grades and credentials, but the college rejected them anyway.

Applying to college is an exciting process, but it can also be very difficult. So, it’s important that you start off on the right foot. These tips aim to help you achieve just that.

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Other Transition

5 Tips For Succeeding In College As A Veteran

February 10, 2020

Current and newly transitioning service members who assume control of their college careers may initially find it a challenge. When you’re accustomed to following a regimented schedule, it can be tough managing study sessions, test preparation, assignments and interaction with new peers. Yet, the discipline and training that you’ve honed during your service — such as time management, attentiveness, and organization — can give you an edge in succeeding as a student.

As a veteran, you’re also empowered in a unique way. You have a singular worldview as a result of your experience and access to benefits that other students aren’t eligible for, such as the GI Bill. If you’re ready to pursue your degree, here are five tips for succeeding in college as a veteran.

1. Develop a Plan

Planning is key when preparing for military operations, and taking the next steps in your education is no different. Prospective students should contact their schools of choice for academic advising. An advisor can help answer questions about a particular area of study or degree plan. This ensures that you take the proper subjects in order to earn your degree. To be a successful student, consult with your professors and advisors about your course options before registering for classes.

2. Connect With a Veteran’s Administrator About Your Benefits

If you’ve been on active duty for at least two years, you’re entitled to certain benefits through the GI Bill. The bill provides students with a direct monthly payment they can use to cover fees, tuition, books, and other costs. Be sure to find the veteran’s office on campus, where you can connect with an administrator to discuss your unique situation. A veteran’s administrator can guide you through the process of claiming your benefits and the various documents you need to complete.

3. Create a Network

College is the ideal place to begin building a network of peers and future professionals. These connections, made both in and out of the classroom, can help you with your career trajectory. Networking is also a great way to find mentors who can provide valuable advice for your goals and point you in the right academic direction. A mentor could also help reduce culture shock, open the door to new opportunities and introduce you to new people.

4. Utilize Military-Specific Student Groups

Connecting with a military community on campus can help new veterans relate to the challenges of transitioning into college and civilian life. Many institutions of higher learning offer veteran-specific orientations, classes and organizations, which can serve as a support system and source of comfort. Bonding with peers from similar backgrounds can also make a veteran student’s academic career more rewarding.

5. Get Involved

While a strong support network is important, don’t let your military group be the only individuals you interact with on campus. Daily contact with new people from various backgrounds can help enrich your experience. Getting involved in organizations such as sports leagues, honor societies, fraternities or sororities and civic or cultural groups is a great way to meet new people, discover your passions and unwind from the stresses of school.

College doesn’t have to be an unfamiliar, foreign ordeal after your time in the military. Today’s universities offer veterans convenient ways to gain the education they desire. By taking the right steps and utilizing the resources available, a veteran can successfully transition into life as a student.

Bio: Jeremy Silverstein is Vice President of Operations and Vehicle Dispatching at Veteran Car Donations. During the years he’s been with the organization, he has become quite an expert in the industry and has handled tens of thousands of donated vehicles.

Other Transition

Advice for Transfer Students: 5 Ways to Adapt to a New College

January 9, 2020
Happy

Depending on your outlook, transferring to a new college can be an exciting opportunity or an intimidating experience. From learning the campus to making new friends, transferring can be a challenge, but, we have some secrets that will make it a smoother adjustment. With these tips, it shouldn’t be hard at all.

If you’re a transfer student, here are five ways to adapt to your new college so you feel right at home!

1. Attend Orientation

The first thing you need to do is learn the layout of the campus, so make sure you attend your orientation! You’ll get a guided tour with current students who can answer any questions you have. It’s a great opportunity to learn about campus life, academics, and social activities.

Orientations are for new students only, so it’s also a chance to meet other students who are new to the school just like you!

2. Meet With Your Advisor

Schedule a meeting with your advisor as soon as possible. They will be able to tell you what classes you need to take, what credits transferred from your old school, and what you need to do to graduate on time.

College advisors are a great source of other information too. They can provide guidance on career paths and connect you with professors who specialize in your field. Advisors are there to help you succeed before and after graduation.

So don’t be shy! You can ask your college advisor questions regarding anything you want to know about your new school!

3. Get Involved in Campus Activities

Graduating on time should be your main focus, but you can’t study all the time. You also need to have some fun! Join clubs, teams, or other campus organizations that interest you. This is a great way to make new friends that are passionate about the same things as you.

Technically, classes are campus activities. So make it a point to get involved in class discussions as well. Being active in class is a good way to connect with other students and impress your professors at the same time.

Don’t assume that everyone on campus already knows each other. Especially if you’re on a big campus, most people won’t even know that you’re new. As long as you put yourself out there, you’ll make new friends in no time!

4. Attend Campus Events

Most colleges provide lots of free (or inexpensive) activities for students. So attend football, lacrosse, or basketball games. Check out performances from the campus theater group, orchestra, or jazz band. Go to art exhibitions or networking events for professional development. Head to a yoga class or sign up for a fitness course at the campus rec center.

These are just a few of the ways that you can expose yourself to new things and meet new friends in the process. Be sure to take advantage of every opportunity to do fun things with new people. You’re going to have a blast!

5. Live on Campus

If possible, live in an on-campus dorm. It will be much easier to assimilate into the campus culture if you eat, sleep, and hang out there. Plus, it’s the best way to get the full college experience.

It’s tempting to want to live in an off-campus apartment, but as a transfer student, you run the risk of isolating yourself, especially if you don’t know anyone at school. Living in a dorm will instantly put you amongst other students. As long as you make a point to introduce yourself and start conversations, you’ll quickly become a part of the scene. Some of these people just might become your new best friends!


If you want to make your transfer as easy as possible, start by attending orientation. Then, meet with your advisor to make sure you’re on the right track academically. Add a few clubs and organizations that interest you, start to take advantage of campus resources and events, and live on campus if you can. It will help you get the most out of your college experience.

With these tips and tricks in mind, it shouldn’t take long before your new school feels like home! 

Bio: Elaine Chavez is the Business Manager at 625 Broadway. With over 8 years of experience in the industry, she begins and ends each day loving what she does. She is passionate about helping people find the perfect place to call home and shines at building a community that everyone is proud to be a part of.

Other Transition

5 Budget Tips for Decorating Your First Home or Apartment

November 21, 2019

Whether you’re moving into off-campus housing during college or settling into a new place post-graduation, the independence of living in your own space is exciting! Turning a new house or apartment into a home is one of the many tasks to complete once you move in. However, decorating can be costly, especially if you’re strapped for cash. Here are some decorating tips that are not only budget-friendly but will enhance your new home. 

Dual-Storage

Directly following your move, finding the time to unpack can be difficult. Figuring out where everything should go is often challenging, and you need time to rearrange furniture and items to find their ideal place. Utilizing household storage containers that are also dual-purpose furniture will go a long way in consolidating and decorating at the same time. With the functionality of keeping things orderly and put away, you can also use something like this for a side table, stacked shelf, or even a seat when sitting room is tight. 

Thrifting

Thrifting for clothes is fun and cost-effective, but have you ever looked at the furniture section of your local thrift store? You’d be surprised at the amount of couches, armchairs, and coffee tables that are available for a fraction of the price as opposed to a regular furniture shop. Most thrift stores will check to ensure that items are in good condition to sell, but you’ll be able to test it for yourself when you’re there. 

Inexpensive Accessories

There are lots of accents that are economical that will enhance your home. Colorful pillows will stand out against a couch, or a soft throw blanket draped over the back of an armchair will provide texture in the room. Pieces with different materials such as these will give visual depth, and will also add to the space instead of making it feel flat. Color coordinating your accents will make your area feel complete, drawing the eye around the room!

DIY/Repurpose

DIY is a popular trend- as it should be! Finding new ways to reuse items can save money and expand your creativity. Look through every room and see where you can find inspiration to repurpose items. One cool project is making potted plants in tea tin containers that have magnets to be able to hang on your fridge, or glass jars that can double as makeup brush holders. For wooden furniture items, refurbishing them with peel-and-stick wallpaper can be a mess-free way to add a patterned design without having to paint!

Moving into your new home is fun, but having to worry about pricey decor items isn’t. With these tips, your space can be upgraded easily and effectively. Let us know some other budget decoration ideas you’ve used in your own place!