Honors program grows, even as standards increase
The University Honors program will welcome its largest freshman class in history in the fall with nearly 400 tuition deposits received already. Remarkably, the growth coincides with escalating academic standards for admittance to both the program and the University as a whole.
While the criteria for admittance to the program vary, the average incoming Honors freshman for next year has a 1300 SAT score and a 3.8 GPA, and has finished in the top 10 percent of his or her high school class. As recently as three years ago, a 1200 SAT score was considered a benchmark for Honors students, according to Honors associate director Rebecca Oliver.
The Honors program has witnessed steady growth since its inception, but this year's intake is explosive. In fall 2003, the program admitted 265 new students. Last fall, it welcomed 294 new students.
Oliver added that a new recruiting strategy, where current Honors students connect with applicants through online chats and phone calls, contributed to the growth.
Xerox donates $25K toward undergraduate research
Xerox Corp. has donated $25,000 to the Diamond Scholars program, a research initiative that matches undergraduates with faculty mentors in hopes of exposing students to the culture of research early in their academic careers.
Diamond Scholars started in fall 2004 with a dozen Honors students. This year's group, which gathered last week for an introduction to the research process, grew to 22 members and includes students from outside the Honors program.
"The expansion is in keeping with our belief that all undergraduates at the University should have opportunities to do research," said Vice Provost for Undergraduate Studies Peter Jones.
The program also has broadened its definition of research to include creative works. In addition to drawing from the social and hard sciences, the latest group of Diamond Scholars includes students in the arts and humanities.
Tax program brings $1.5 million to N. Philly
North Philadelphians are $1.5 million richer this spring, thanks to a volunteer program through Temple's Career Advancement Network that prepared 809 tax returns at no cost for low-income families and residents.
The program, part of a citywide Campaign for Working Families, is meant to secure the Earned Income Tax Credit for needy families and steer them away from the high fees and costly refund-anticipation loans offered by commercial preparers.
Of the 20 locations participating in the Philadelphia campaign, Temple's site, at 1415 N. Broad St., was cited in a March 16 Philadelphia Daily News editorial as the busiest in the city. It was staffed by Temple students and a group of National Civilian Community Corps/AmeriCorps volunteers.
Andre Roualet, manager of the Career Advancement Network, estimated that the average person saved $250 by using Temple's site, avoiding the fees and interest rates of professional preparers. The Career Advancement Network is part of Temple's Center for Social Policy and Community Development.