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National CrossTalk Fall 2001
News Editorial Other Voices Interview

Learning Online
Canada's Athabasca University offers college courses at the click of a mouse

  In This Issue

Jaap Tuinman is president of the Open Learning Agency, one of the many British Columbia institutions that cooperate to bring distance learning opportunities to thousands of students. (continue)

Learning Online
Canada's Athabasca University offers college courses at the click of a mouse

SAT Summer Camp
Parents and students hope for a score-raising experience

British Columbia's Boom in Distance Education
Universities look beyond their campuses to create innovative programs

A Town and Gown Library
City joins San Jose State University in collaborative arrangement

News From the Center

Other Voices
After Affirmative Action
Access, diversity and selective public institutions

Uncertain Times
State Funding for higher education shrinks and tuituins rise

Measuring Academic Potential
Is the SAT II the Answer to the college admissions dilemma?
  Kathy Elliot earned an online masterís degree in education from Athabasca University while working as a wilderness guide in Canadaís Yukon Territory.
By Kay Mills

Graduation day at Athabasca University in Alberta last June looked like any graduation at countless Canadian and American universities -a sunny day, students wearing caps and gowns, proud family members snapping photographs, the university president awarding degrees. But many of the graduates who attended the convocation had never been to Athabasca before because it offers its classes entirely at a distance, mostly online.

The university held its convocation in a tent in the parking lot because it has no gym or stadium-not even a campus, if you get right down to it. Without a university band, Athabasca's academic procession features a bagpiper. Athabasca holds a convocation because, as its president Dominique Abrioux said, "Traditions are important"-even for online learners. "It's the only time we meet our students. We want to leave them with a lasting impression."

Athabasca University, which is 30 years old, is located in the small town of the same name (Cree for "land of whispering reeds and hills") 84 miles north of Edmonton. The university is the town's largest employer with about 300 people on staff. From the outside, the offices resemble a small liberal arts college. But inside, there are no classrooms. The modern building is set in a wooded area, and deer are often seen on the grounds. Once in awhile, a bear may amble along to peer into the registrar's window...(continue)


SAT Summer Camp
Parents and students hope for a score-raising experience

Teenagers from nine states and several foreign countries gathered for a ten-day "SAT summer camp," in an effort to improve theor scores on the crucial college admissions test.  
By Kathy Witkowsky

All her life, Tiffany Madsen wanted to go to summer camp. But the 17-year-old honor student and athlete from Everett, Massachusetts, was always too busy working and playing sports. When she finally got her chance this year, she happily packed her swimsuit and basketball, her cell phone and CDs. And of course, her number-two pencils.

That's right: her number-two pencils. That's because Tiffany had chosen to attend Whitman Enrichment Programs, a ten-day residential camp devoted to intensive SAT preparation. Forget cabins, canoes and campfire songs. This camp was all about keeping score-and then raising it.

Tiffany's mother, Debra Pace, said she'd never had to push her daughter. But Tiffany's grandmother had picked up the tab for the camp, and "expects a big return for her money," Pace said, as she dropped off Tiffany at Curry College, outside Boston. It was one of two college campuses (the other was California State University, Long Beach) where Whitman held four sessions of SAT camp this past summer. Before she left, Pace had these words for Tiffany: "Get the best score you can."

That also was the message delivered at an introductory orientation session by camp director Bill Dorfman, an affable New Yorker and former private school headmaster." We want to make sure that everyone here-I hate to put it so crassly-gets what they paid for," Dorfman told the campers, who came from nine states and half a dozen foreign countries. Most of the 22 campers-eight boys, 14 girls-attend private schools, many of which are boarding schools. "We have all of these different backgrounds," Dorfman noted, "but we're all here for the same reason: to get the best SAT score we can." (continue)


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