Nov 30, 2011

Summer Internships for High School Students

Internships provide incredible opportunities for high school students to gain significant work experience and make decisions about future career goals.

Although college students are usually first in line for internship opportunities, businesses and organizations are increasingly holding opportunities open for students currently in high school or those transitioning to college.

Why intern?
Going through the internship application process will teach you much-needed job search and employment skills. Preparing a resume, asking for recommendations, landing an interview, and understanding what it means to be a responsible employee are all skills that will give you a big advantage in college and beyond.

And it’s no secret that internships strengthen college applications, as these opportunities introduce students to career fields or potential majors and strengthen valuable research or lab skills.

An internship will help you understand how a professional organization functions in the real world. While learning and working, you have the opportunity to refine career goals. In fact, you’ll find that a summer internship can serve as a “trial period” to test ideas about professions and industries—entertainment, nonprofit, technology, health—without making you commit more than a few months.

Where are the internships?
Businesses and organizations sometimes have formal internship programs designed specifically for high school students. For the most part, these programs do not offer housing and are usually limited to students in the region.

For example, here a few of the many organizations making internships available to high school students in the Washington, DC area:

Some of these are “salaried” positions and some are strictly volunteer. Note that they are all highly competitive and deadlines for applications can begin as early as November or December.

But many organizations don’t advertise the availability of summer internships. This is when you have to do a little investigative work on the internet and through newspaper listings. Use your networks—parents, relatives, family friends, teachers—anyone who may have contacts in businesses or organizations of interest to you.

It’s not too early to begin thinking about next summer. An internship, particularly for students at least 16 years of age, is a great way to get to know yourself a little better while building skills that will make you competitive for the future.

Nov 29, 2011

A Unique Opportunity for High School Students to Reach for the Stars

You don’t have to be a science nerd to enter the YouTube Space Lab challenge. You just have to have a little imagination and curiosity about something that could be tested 250 miles above the earth.

“YouTube launched Space Lab to allow ordinary students the extraordinary opportunity of having their experiment carried out in space,” said Zahaan Bharmal, Google’s head of marketing operations and the man behind the idea. “Our goal is to encourage students to explore the world of science, earthbound and beyond, by first accessing YouTube, and ultimately space.”

YouTube and Lenovo, in cooperation with Space Adventures and various space agencies including the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), developed the Space Lab as a worldwide initiative to challenge 14 to 18 year-old students to design science experiments that can be performed in space. Two winning experiments will be conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and live streamed on YouTube.

Students in two age categories, 14-16 and 17-18 years-old are invited to compete either alone or in groups of up to three by submitting a YouTube video describing their experiment on All eligible entries will be scored by a panel of independent judges who will select 60 entries for public voting. Six regional finalists will be invited to Washington, DC, in March, and from this group two global winners will be announced.

The lucky global winners will not only have their experiments carried out in space, but they will also get the choice of a trip to Tanegashima Island, Japan to watch their experiment blast off in a rocket bound for the ISS or the opportunity to receive one-of-a-kind astronaut training in Star City, Russia.

To enter the competition, students need to submit a two-minute video describing their experiment. The video can be as simple as an explanation on a chalkboard or the demonstration of a mock-up in the classroom. Every video must cover the question to be tested, a hypothesis, the method used to conduct the experiment in microgravity, and the expected results of the experiment.

Note that you don’t have to actually DO the experiment. You just have to be able to explain it. And you can use animation, sock puppets, or any other equally-creative method to get your ideas across.

Students may submit up to three experiments in one of two scientific disciplines—either biological or physical sciences. Sample experiments and more detailed instructions are provided on the YouTube Space Lab website.

All entries are due by no later than December 14, 2011 by 23:59 PT. The deadline has already been extended once, and it won’t be extended again.

Nov 28, 2011

Kiplinger Ranks ‘Best Value’ Private Colleges and Universities

Black Friday and Cyber Monday bring out the “shopper” in all of us. As the recession tightens its hold on the economy, bargain-hunters are looking for deals on everything from sweaters to flat screen TV’s.

While shopping for a college education isn’t exactly the same as picking up the Sunday newspaper and circling a few bargains, it’s true that colleges can be evaluated in terms of “bang for the buck,” according to Kiplinger’s Magazine.

“We’re here to help. As always, our 2011-12 rankings for best values in private colleges and universities identify institutions that are both academically strong and affordable—our definition of value.”

And despite the struggling economy, Kiplinger reports that private schools remain competitive and are attracting increasing numbers of low-income students or students who are the first in their family to attend college.

How does this happen? Call it what you will—blue light specials or Cyber Monday bargains—private colleges are discounting tuition rates for freshmen by an average of 49 percent, according to the National Association of College and University Business Officers.

Although sticker price continues to rise by an annual average of about 4.5 percent, the price tag at private institutions is becoming less relevant as colleges continue to slash prices, even to the point of actually reducing tuition as in the recent announcement from the University of Charleston.

While the average cost of a year at a four-year private school runs about $36,000 as compared with $21,000 a decade ago, the cost after financial aid puts total out-of-pocket cost at about $22,000.

College administrators and policymakers may consider the discount level “unsustainable," but for now, “the money is on the table, and students are grabbing it.”

To help students and families evaluate colleges in terms of value, Kiplinger’s ranking takes into account four-year graduation rates, freshmen retention, student-faculty ratios, admission rates, as well as sticker price and financial aid. Two lists are generated—private universities and private liberal arts colleges.

Locally, only Washington & Lee University made the top 50 values in liberal arts colleges, earning the second place spot on the list. The University of Richmond (12), Georgetown University (17), Johns Hopkins University (25), George Washington University (32), and American University (47) were among the top 50 values in private universities.

While heavily biased toward colleges with large endowments and the ability to offer strong financial aid, the following are Kiplinger’s top 15 values in private universities:

  1. Princeton University
  2. Yale University
  3. Cal Tech
  4. Rice University
  5. Harvard University
  6. University of Pennsylvania
  7. Duke University
  8. Columbia University
  9. MIT
  10. Stanford University
  11. Brown University
  12. University of Richmond
  13. Emory University
  14. Dartmouth College
  15. Washington University in St. Louis

And the top 15 values in liberal arts colleges:

  1. Pomona College
  2. Washington and Lee University
  3. Swarthmore College
  4. Williams College
  5. Davidson College
  6. Hamilton College
  7. Vassar College
  8. Wellesley College
  9. Bowdoin College
  10. Amherst College
  11. The Colorado College
  12. Haverford College
  13. College of the Holy Cross
  14. Wesleyan University
  15. Grinnell College

The complete list of 200 top values in liberal arts colleges or private universities may be found on the Kiplinger website.