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Harvard’s “Standard Strong” Condemnation

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Source: Tim Sackton

Earlier in June, a lawsuit against Harvard University alleged that the university discriminates against Asian American applicants by ranking them lower on personality traits.

Personality is one of the four declared areas that Harvard’s holistic review examines in each applicant, making it a significant factor in admittance to the school. Court documents further revealed that Asian American bias was once investigated and discovered in 2013, but Harvard took no action on the findings.

Within college admissions, race especially has a complicated history with the implementation of affirmative action, an initiative taken to bolster diversity within universities by giving special consideration to underrepresented groups.

Underrepresented groups typically consist of racial minorities and those lower in socioeconomic status, yet despite being a racial minority, Asians are not considered underrepresented.

Data from the Pew Research Center reveals that while 28% of all U.S. adults have a college degree, 49% of Asian Americans have college degrees.

There exist endless explanations for why Asian Americans do not struggle with educational attainment, including parenting, the instilling of a superior work ethic, and the lesser degree of discrimination that Asian Americans face.

Though these potential reasons may contain kernels of truth, the ultimate issue is whether individuals from a racial group should be penalized by higher institutions for the success of their group.

This issue of representation is wildly controversial, given the perspectives that need to be considered, and there lies no easy or obvious moral solution. Yet the most unsettling aspect of this lawsuit against Harvard is not that discrimination exists. It is the way in which the university’s alleged discrimination manifests—in the personality element.

Within current society, discrimination undeniably exists, whether it is outright or discreet or systematic. However, we attempt to trust that a system as monumental and sacred as college admissions shields itself against common stereotypes, like the ones that deem Asians as competent but lacking in warmth and social skills.

A recent Asian American graduate from New York University, who declined to be named, described Harvard’s attempt to justify the consistently lower ratings as an attempt to

“underscore the semblance of Asian Americans as exceedingly studious and concomitantly lacking in any semblance of an interesting or unique personality.”

This supposed observation can be summarized by the term “standard strong,” most often applied to Asian American applicants, denoting an applicant’s lack of distinguishing features that warrant admission.

“My parents, along with numerous other Asian American families across America, recognized the need for their kids to be ‘different’ before their children were born,” Anonymous explained. He continued,

“And yet no matter how different my generation tried to be, no matter how much of a ‘personality’ we tried to cultivate, we somehow managed to only be ‘standard strong’ by the time we submitted our applications.”

Anonymous’ intention is not to say that racial diversity is not something to be upheld and valued, rather that “there is simply no need to pit minority group against minority group in the ever-upward struggle towards the ‘American Dream.’”

As discouraging as the reality that the lawsuit contends is, it is imperative to recognize the difficulty in reversing socialized tendencies like widely unchallenged racist stereotypes.

Harvard admissions officers must already understand the weight that comes with their decisions, in terms of others’ livelihoods and an immense reputation to be upheld. In all the murkiness though, Anonymous still said,

“But I’m confident that no matter what [the ruling is], we’re at least moving forward in the right direction.”

By: Janice Lee

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College Life

How will the Declining Travel Industry Bounce Back From COVID-19?

Conor Krouse

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Airplane for United Airlines flying over a vast landscape with human settlement far off in the distance

The International and national travel industries hit a slump due to the coronavirus outbreak. However, efforts are now being made to revitalize the industry. From hotels and resorts to modes of transportation such as flight agencies, and Amtrak, prices are low and sales have plummeted. 

Over the course of the pandemic, sales dropped drastically throughout the entire industry. Many airlines and public transit companies also completely ceased operations for a temporary time. Shares in many of these airlines and travel agencies also plummeted. 

United Airlines, one of the largest flight corporations in the world, shares dropped from a peak of 82.20 to a rock bottom 21.38 U.S. dollars in a single month. This occurred between February and March of 2020. Another decline was seen in Marriott. One of the world’s largest hotel chains, stretching over every continent with over 5.5k locations, took a dip from 150.78 to 63.81 U.S. dollars in this same time frame.

These slumps are temporary of course. As of September 10, 2020, the United States has elected to cease COVID-19 screenings in all domestic airports, thus aiding the travel industry. Symptom screenings will still be conducted, however, it will be on a much easier, and more efficient scale for the CDC. With this being said, health and safety is still a large priority in protecting the US from another peak of the virus. Every effort is still being made to prevent a wider spread and to ensure control of the virus.

Marriot Hotel  at night, dimly lit with no one in sight - showing the effects of covid-19 on the hotel.
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“Aviation and travel-industry groups in the U.S. and Europe are separately attempting to reopen international travel routes by imposing some type of rapid virus testing, either before people leave or as they arrive.”

With efforts put in place to still maintain health standards within the country, travel all over the US is opening up. From the perspective of a current college student, cheap travel is a blessing. Hotels are almost half their normal listed prices. For example, a high-rise hotel suite in downtown Manhattan, New York, is currently listed at 115 U.S. dollars compared to the usual 211 U.S. dollars. 

In beach towns all across the East Coast of the US, hotel rates are a bottom dollar. We’re at the very beginning of what vacation spots call the “shoulder season.” That being the end of the vacationer, tourist rush, and into the cheaper pricing points where many small hotel chains close for the season. However, as of late, the shoulder season has been prolonged. With warm weather still upon the Mid-Atlantic region, now is the time to travel. Companies are desperately seeking for customers. 

Finally, Amtrak is now reopening business as well. Starting September 14, monthly, ten-ride, and six-ride multiple ride ticket holders will have access to all business trains. However, only these pre-reserved ticket options will be allowed on their trains for a limited time.

Pre-existing symptoms and COVID-19 trackers will be sent out to any and all travelers, prior to arrival to ensure safety and a virus-free environment. Prices for these monthly rates have not been raised or lowered, however, the value is extremely high. For a six-ride multi-ticket, six rides are available for a 45-day stretch. Amtrak is also in the process of expanding the rail system. 

Amtrak train going down the railway out in the western United States, with desert plants all around the track
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Now is quite possibly the best time to get a 10-ride or even monthly multi-ticket ride for Amtrak’s services. Travel is fun, relaxing, and you see far more of the country than you ever would from the air. It is the ultimate adventure.

“Amtrak’s chief executive pleaded with House lawmakers Wednesday to approve $2.84 billion in additional funding for the national railway system as Congress and the White House fight over another round of coronavirus stimulus.” 

The travel industry has and will always be prevalent in America, however, the COIVD-19 pandemic has taken a toll. Right now, prices are extremely low, quite possibly the lowest in history. Now, as the vaccines are being developed and people are beginning to return to normal life, travel has returned as a necessity. Now is the time to venture out, and see the places on your bucket list. Hotels are available, and transportation is cheap and safe. 

Keep in mind, if you do venture out of your homes, off-campus, remember to do so carefully. Wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing.

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College Life

Top 10 Items Every Senior in College Should Have to Survive Their Last Year

Mariah Olmstead

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Person in a blue sweater and dark pants walking in between rows of book shelves in a library towards the camera

As we dive into the fall of 2020, this brings in a new slew of seniors in college. Even though we are fighting through a pandemic, colleges around the globe are opening back up and students are going back to campus. With the anxiety of trying to complete their last year, here are the top 10 must-haves that seniors need to help them get through the tough classes, final papers, and stressful time before graduation. 

1.) Journal 

Journals are not only great for writing one’s inner-most thoughts, but they’re also great for writing those to-do lists, and forgetful notes. Being a senior in college isn’t easy by any standards. About 61 percent of college students are stressed or seek help for anxiety. Even for students who don’t want to talk about their troubles, using a journal to write out frustrations, is great for letting go of all that anxiety. 

2.) Monthly Planner

Let’s face it, we forget things sometimes, and with a jam-packed schedule during senior year, forgetting that important test, or final paper can be scary. Monthly Planners can help with avoiding disasters like missing exams, or classes. They’re also great for writing down appointments with an advisor, peers, or remembering to order that cap and gown. Here is a good planner that will help you organize your to-do list items for maximum productivity.

3.) Highlighters and Pens

Senior year of college comes with a lot of reading and writing. Having a highlighter to go over the important sections of a book for a test, and having a pen is essential for all those writing needs. You never know when the professor will ask you a question regarding the reading and you forget which section it’s in, so highlighting can help with remembering the takeaways.

Woman in a green shirt, jeans, and glasses, looking up towards a large stack of books piled high
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4.) Sticky Notes

This goes along with reading. If you are renting a book, perhaps highlighting isn’t the best plan, but sticky notes are a great substitute. You can write notes on the sticky notes and put them on various pages throughout your book. 

5.) Backpack

Although classes are still online, colleges are opening back up again, which means having a sturdy backpack to hold everything that you need for those occasional in-person meetings, can help you come prepared. There can be a section of the backpack to hold a laptop, pens, pencils, notepads. Don’t forget your mask!

6.) Snacks

Snacks are great for those days when your schedule is swamped and you have no time for lunch. Or for that boost of energy that may be needed during late-night study sessions. Salty snacks may cause a student to be thirsty, so keep a refreshing drink on hand, just in case. Water is preferred in reusable water bottles to save money and the environment. 

7.) Headphones 

Music is great for keeping focused, and for keeping the sound around you blocked out. Using headphones while enduring those long study times in the library can help the time go by faster, and if the classroom is noisy, popping in those headphones can block out all the outside sound to help a student focus better. 

Several people studying and reading on the bottom floor of a library, with bookshelves wrap around both the bottom and 2nd floors
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8.) Portable Phone Charger 

There are days where students can spend anywhere from one to ten hours in the library or computer room studying for exams or writing a paper. Using that time to listen to music or snap chat with a friend can drain the phone’s battery. Keeping your phone charger on you can ensure that your phone stays charged for the extra usage during those long hours of studying away from your dorm room. 

9.) Sweater

Sweaters are great for both comfort and warmth. If the sweater has a hoodie, it’s even better for covering the face and napping. Senior year comes with lots of studying and test-taking, which means less sleep. Sleep is important for rejuvenation and it’s healthy for the brain. Depending on where students study, some colleges have cold classrooms as well. Having a sweater for the cold classrooms, and for napping is essential. 

10.) Notebook 

This goes along with a journal, but instead of writing your inner-most thoughts, a notebook is useful for note-taking, writing essays, and journal entries for college classes.

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College Life

5 Tips for Surviving Remote Learning and Knowing When To Make a Change

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Woman in a dark cardigan and white shirt, looking at the computer, biting her pencil

Remote learning is a complete game-changer. For some students, it might be better than in-person classes. You don’t have to worry about getting yourself out of bed anymore, and the flexible schedules may be a godsend for some.

On the other hand, according to a study, many college students find remote learning to be somehow more stressful and less instructive than in-person learning.

Last spring, many universities adopted some type of pass/fail model. This allowed students who were dealing with difficult circumstances to adapt as well as they could with a fail-safe ready.

This semester, most students have been thrown back into what will look like a regular school year (at least on their transcripts, if not in reality). Here are some tips for adapting to the new school year and things to consider if remote school just isn’t for you.

1. Don’t be afraid to change your routine completely

Remote learning is completely different from regular in-person classes, and you really have to change your routine in order to make it work for you.

For example, a lot of students don’t give themselves any time between remote classes, when in reality they probably need more. Schedule snacks and walking breaks into your class schedule. And since they are already home all of the time, it’s really difficult for some people to come up with work hours.

For some students, this might sap working motivation, and for others, it might put a layer of anxiety over any relaxation time. If you’re the first kind of student, consider blocking out a specific work schedule with breaks interspersed, so you can actually get some work done.

And if you are a more anxious student, consider allocating a specific place in your dorm or apartment, or find somewhere outside, to do your work. Instead of doing work in bed or on the couch, label a specific place as your work area; this way, you won’t feel like you are constantly in a work environment, with all of the pressure that entails.

2. Start your day definitively

Part of what makes remote learning so strange is that your day never really seems to start. You can wake up, stay in your pajamas, go to class, and then fall right back asleep, staying in one room the entire time.

Don’t let this be your routine. Plan to eat breakfast. Consider doing something that makes your mornings just a little bit more pleasant with a little bit of yoga or some meditation. But try your hardest not to make classes a blip in your lounging schedule, because that will lead to disaster.

3. Schedule movement

This is probably the best way to keep yourself motivated and avoid that feeling of overwhelming laziness. As mentioned in the first tip, you have to really mix up your routine sometimes.

Do that by scheduling movement throughout the day. Go for a run in the morning. Take little walks around the block when you would normally have been walking to class.

Do some easy warm-up stretches before sitting down to another Zoom meeting. Consider putting your calls on headphones and just walking around your dorm or apartment while chatting with someone.

4. Give yourself a break

It could take a long time to adapt to virtual learning. The entire country is also in a precarious place in a lot of ways, and anxiety is totally normal. Instead of expecting your usual level of output, it’s okay to see some decreased levels of motivation and productivity.

If you see yourself struggling right off the bat, consider dropping down to a lighter class load. Many universities, though they are reverting to a regular grading system, are giving students more time to drop classes.

So take advantage of that offer if you need to! Employers will understand if you need to take fewer classes. Go for quality over quantity.

5. It’s okay if remote learning is not for you

It’s incredibly important to be honest with yourself. If this fall semester doesn’t go well and you know that a remote semester isn’t for you, consider a deferral.

The current schooling paradigm is a continuous model of going to school for 15 years straight and then entering the workforce. But that does not need to be followed by everyone. If remote learning just goes in one ear and out the other, don’t waste your education or tuition.

Consider taking a semester or quarter off in order to participate in any number of amazing remote opportunities. You can apply for an internship or think about an independent research project.

Check out volunteer positions and roles in your area or get involved with community organizing for a movement that specifically interests you. It’s also okay to take a lighter course load if that would help you retain the information you learn online better.

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