SMMUSD board seeks to fill empty seat Jan. 15

Applications for an empty seat on the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education are submitted, the interested candidates were by a subcommittee on Jan. 5, and their eligibility determined after press time.

The seat was vacated by Ben Allen, who was elected to the California State Senate on Nov. 4. Allen then resigned his position on the SMMUSD board, starting a 60-day clock to fill the hole on the board.

The six members currently on the board will vote for Allen’s replacement on Jan. 15 in a public meeting.
Board member Craig Foster of Malibu said he’s looking for a candidate that has the interest of the Santa Monica and Malibu students in mind.

“Clearly, I’m going to be looking for somebody who shares that vision that we need to make every decision focused on what’s best for the kids,” Foster said.

A total of 11 candidates submitted applications for the open school board seat. Three of those candidates — Patty Finer, Ralph Macher and Dhun May — ran for the school board in the November general election, but lost.

Foster said electing one of those three candidates would be “problematic.”

“If the school board is acting on the behalf of the people…I think it would be a big mistake to go against the wishes of the voters and put somebody on who had a chance to be elected and didn’t get elected.”

Finer is putting her hat in the ring for the seat again because she feels she has a place on the board, and was not discouraged by what Foster said.

“Craig’s entitled to his position,” Finer said. “I would like to be on the board, I’d like to try to fix the problem. That’s why I decided to run. If it’s not what the board wants, they’ll make their decision.”

Finer already sits on the Visual and Performing Arts Advisory Board for the school district, a position she said she would keep regardless of the results of her candidacy for the open seat on the board.

Among the issues Finer believes are important to the SMMUSD are possible polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) in both city’s schools. PCB is a chemical which has been shown to cause a variety of adverse health effects including cancer, according to the Environmental Protection Agency.

Finer believes the PCB issue is not on the radar of the school board.

“What the board doesn’t want is me there because they know I’m going to look at that issue and I know we have to address it and they don’t want to,” Finer said. “That could be a problem.”

Another candidate in the running for the open school board seat is Jake Wachtel, a teacher and former tennis coach from Santa Monica who co-founded THREADS, a nonprofit organization that donates clothing to families in need.

Wachtel said he was the only cross-district candidate, and feels his experience in education and media would be valuable to the board.

“What I bring to the school board is an ability to understand budgets, understand the classroom and understand policy,” Wachtel said. “All three of those things are very critical to be an effective board member and something that is very needed at this time.”

The public meeting on Jan. 15 will subject the 11 candidates to questions by each of the six board members.

“On the one hand, it’s great that we have all that transparency, it’s great that we have so many people applying,” Foster said. “On the other, these people have a lot of guts to submit themselves to this level of public scrutiny. It’s a brave thing that each of them are doing.”

Foster said the appointment will likely be made that night or soon thereafter.

The main issue facing the school board is the notion of separating Santa Monica and Malibu into their own independent districts, Foster said. The issue has been a point of contention for the past four years.

“I think the best thing that the school district can do to help Malibu schools would be to continue the process that’s in place to put together the thorough understanding of what the two districts would look like independently and…move forward to create those two independent school districts,” Foster said.

Foster is president of the Advocates for Malibu Public Schools, an organization that is working on separating the two school districts.

Finer said she would support separating the districts, but only if it was economically feasible.

“You need to make sure if Malibu wants to be its own school district, it’s strong enough to stand on its own two feet,” Finer said. “I don’t think the numbers are there.”

If the board members do not agree on a candidate during the meeting, they would be forced to try again in a few days, Foster said. If no one is selected after the second vote, a special election would then occur, which Foster said would cost anywhere between $200,000 to $1 million.

“My first choice would be to let the voters decide this,” Foster said. “But it’s really expensive to do that. And that’s money we’re taking directly out of the students’ education.”

Permalink: http://www.malibusurfsidenews.com/school/smmusd-board-seeks-fill-empty-seat-jan-15

Advertisements

CalStateTEACH program adopts new Common Core standards

An online teaching-credential program has revamped their curriculum to reflect the implementation of the new Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for K-12 education in California

“We were ready for the Common Core when the Common Core came,” said Sharon E. Russell, systemwide director of CalStateTEACH, an 18-month online program that allows students to earn their teaching credentials virtually.

The CCSS focuses on children understanding what they are taught and being able to explain their answers out loud in the classroom.

“That is one of the things we have emphasized,” Russell said about the program’s attention to the CCSS. “We have totally rewritten our literacy program to reflect the Common Core and then the change in mathematics is profound. We have embraced the Common Core.”

The program

CalStateTEACH is a multiple-credential program that is offered in four regions in California – Fresno, Fullerton, Los Angeles and Monterey Bay, said Daba Asemebo, the program’s coordinator.

Each region has a director which holds an office in their respective CSU campuses. Students can go to the directors if they need assistance other than what is provided by the program’s regular faculty advisors, who give assignments in the online modules which will help track academic success.

Through the program, students will be able to obtain credentials that will allow them to teach in general education classrooms in the state of California.

Along with the online courses the program offers, students must also go out into the field and put into action what they have learned through “student-teach positions” where they are required to practice techniques they have learned in an actual classroom setting. They must complete a certain amount of hours in a classroom setting each term.

Elizabeth Ramirez, 21, education major at CSUN, feels getting practice at other schools would benefit her.

“Since we are going to be teachers and be in the field, you have to make friends and see if other schools do the same thing you do,” Ramirez said.

The program offers financial aid to its students and comes with the staple $55 application fee, making it similar to other educational programs.

However, students of CalStateTEACH take classes over three terms of summer, fall and spring, which are each 15 weeks in length. Students earn a total of 45 semester units each term, which are divided between student teaching, observation and the online coursework, according to the program’s frequently asked questions.

Each term costs just above $3,000, but if a student wants a more on-the-go learning experience, they have to shell out an extra $1,000 for an iPad, according to the program’s website.

New technology

CalStateTEACH, which started in 1999, implemented the use of iPads in its program beginning fall 2010.

“It changed everything we do,” Russell said. “We have this 21st century device that changed us from being an e-learning program to a mobile-learning program. It changed where our candidates can work and study.”

Russell said enrollment in the program has increased 25 percent since the iPad was implemented. During this spring term, 631 students are enrolled in CalStateTEACH.

Russell said that a year before the program rolled out the iPad, CalStateTEACH’s faculty had to be comfortable with it, which is something she feels not many educational programs make sure of when releasing new technologies.

“I personally think that’s where a lot of programs and implementations start off on the wrong foot, that you have faculty and students learning things at the same time,” Russell said. “That’s good in many cases, but not when you have a new technology device.”

Ernest Black, regional director of CalStateTEACH for the Los Angeles area, said the bringing about of the iPad has been smooth for students because the way they are learning has changed.

“The biggest difference is that the student has more control over how they learn, what they learn,” Black said. “So the big part of that is the choice.”

Russell feels the main benefit for students using the iPad to study is the inherent convenience of the device.

“You can be doing your work at Subway eating lunch. You can be doing your work while you do laundry at the laundromat,” Russell said. “So it’s expanded the world for our candidates.”

While Russell feels there are not many drawbacks having this new teaching tool, she said the iPad has led to a bit more administrative work.

“It changed the way the staff works,” Russell said. “The support staff in (the CSU) office are engaged in the logistics of getting the materials to the students, so it’s changed that. That’s the only place we’ve had an increase of work that before, we just sent list of names to our bookstore and they sent boxes of materials out to the students.”

Students want classrooms

While the online program could make it easier for the budding K-12 teacher to earn their credential from practically anywhere there is a internet connection available, recent studies show students feel they learn better in a more traditional setting.

In July of 2013, Millennial Branding, a research and management consulting firm, and Internships.com surveyed more than 1,300 students about various topics centered on education.

In the survey, called The Future of Education, 78 percent of students said learning in a traditional classroom setting would be easier than doing so online. In addition, only 43 percent of respondents felt online education would be either the same or better quality than other forms of learning.

Karam Deep, 21, an education major, would rather be in a physical classroom than a virtual one.

“I think it is less motivating to do things online, and it is easier to see a teacher do something or explain something in person,” Deep said.

Samantha Kang, 22, also an education major, likes the in-person interaction from other students that she gets inside a classroom.

“I like getting the answer to a question on the spot rather than waiting, and I like getting feedback from other peers as well,” Kang said.

Is online better?

While recent studies suggest students prefer a classroom setting over online education methods, other research contradicts those sentiments.

In 2013 alone, 7.1 million students in higher education are taking at least one online class, according to a study by the Bobson Survey Research Group.

The study also found that 73 percent of academic leaders rated learning outcomes either equal or superior to face-to-face instruction in 2013, compared to just 54 percent in 2003.

Black said the CalStateTEACH program being online and on iPads can help students who learn in various ways depending on what works best for them.

“All of this is not necessarily available in the old stand-and-deliver classrooms where the teacher lectures and you kind of regurgitate what was lectured,” Black said.

Russell feels there is a place for both traditional brick-and-mortar learning environments and CalStateTEACH.

“I think we all have the same goal,” Russell said. “We want to help prepare the best teachers for the all the children. Our goal in CalStateTEACH is to have creative and collaborative teachers, teachers that know how to work with each other, and teachers who know how to use the right technology in the right moments.”

 Gabby Escamilla contributed to this story.

Permalink: http://sundial.csun.edu/2014/02/calstateteach-program-adopts-new-common-core-standards/

Apps you didn’t know you needed: midterms (or exams) edition

It’s midterm season, and while some students have already taken their tests, many are preparing for — maybe even dreading — days of studying.

But students needn’t worry too much because there are several apps available that can facilitate efficient studying, help calm nerves and aid in concentration. For example, studies have shown ambient noise can aid in concentration and stress relief.

Here are some recommendations that could help ease midterm stress.

Flashy cards

app1For those who are visual learners and love using flashcards, Brainscape is a solid choice in studying software. The app lets users create their own flashcards by creating a subject — i.e. Biology, English, etc. — then making a deck. Inside the deck, the user can type in both the questions and answers to what they’re studying and make as many cards as they wish.

As a student goes through each flash card, they can choose from one of five colors indicating how comfortable they feel about their knowledge of a particular card, ranging from red (not at all) to blue (perfectly). Based on what color they chose, the app determines how soon a card will show up again.

Brainscape keeps track of the user’s progress with a percentage of overall mastery of their chosen subject along with a “confidence breakdown,” a pie chart that indicates the user’s confidence level in each individual subject, as well as the entire library of flashcards.

If a student chooses, they can create an account that lets them sync their flash cards with other iOS devices.

Users can buy other pre-made flashcards by visiting the “Brainscape marketplace” within the app, where additional subject flashcards are available for purchase.

Brainscape is free, with additional content starting at 99 cents. It is only available for the iPhone, iPad and Mac computers.

Take the coffee shop with you

app2Coffitivity attempts to recreate the ambience of a coffee shop, a frequent studying spot for students. Users can choose from three pre-recorded soundtracks named “Morning Murmur,” “Lunchtime Lounge” and “University Undertones.”

Users are also able to send in audio of their own favorite coffee shop sounds for possible inclusion to the app’s website and mobile app.

A feature that may be appealing to students is the ability to play music from iTunes while listening to the recordings on the app. A user can balance volume levels and decide how loud they want their music or the ambient sounds.

Coffitivity’s website can be accessed for free. For on-the-go users, the Coffitivity app costs $1.99 and is available for iPod, iPad and Mac computers.

‘Tis the season for studying

app3Relax Melodies Seasons is another application that provides ambient sounds.

The difference: users can put themselves in the sounds of summer or the ambience of autumn with time-of-the-year-specific recordings.

The app features a total of 32 ambient sounds, with 24 corresponding to the four seasons in a year. Some examples of non-melodic choices are “Fireplace” or “Family at the Beach,” while others such as “Aurora” and “Dream” feel more like an instrumental song.

Two of the sounds which are not season-centric are “Concentration” and “Pre-Sleep,” recordings designed to have positive effects on brainwaves.

Lending credence to the “seasons” part of the app’s name, Relax Melodies Seasons offers eight classic Christmas songs such as “Carol of the Bells,” “Deck the Halls” and “Jingle Bells.”

Users can mix and match any of the 32 sounds, giving them the freedom to create their own ambience and can choose from five pre-made combinations of sounds in its “Favorite” section.

There is a free and paid version of Relax Melodies Seasons which is available for iPod, iPad and Mac computers. Other Relax Melodies apps are available for Android devices.

Sounds to study to

app4Study is an app designed to increase a user’s productivity. It involves a 45-minute track that includes nature sounds — mainly birds — and slow, short melodic phrases.

According to the app’s iTunes page, it is generally recommended to take a break after 45 minutes, hence the track’s length. The ambient sounds can be put on repeat with a simple swipe of a button.

The app’s “Info” page says the user is meant to experience a “body-relaxed, mind-alert state that’s ideal for studying.”

Study is free and is available for any iOS device.

Namaste

app5For students who are looking for to relax or relieve stress before or after a big test, yoga can be the perfect solution.

Simply Yoga is a beginner’s yoga app with three workouts of 20, 40 or 60 minutes and includes over 30 poses and three pre-made routines. The app offers instructional videos for each pose.

Simply Yoga has both a free and paid version — which allows users to create their own routines and is ad-free  —  and is available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.

Matt Damon visits CSUN to introduce NYU professor Diane Ravitch, a representative of the Education on the Edge speakers series

Diane Ravitch, research professor of education at New York University, spoke for the first inaugural Education on the Edge speaker series in Northridge Center of the USU Wednesday, and discussed her views on the problems within American education and what should be done to fix them.

Matt Damon, Academy Award-winning actor known for such films as “Good Will Hunting” and the “Bourne” movies, introduced Ravitch, who is acquainted with Damon’s mother.

“I’m very honored to have the opportunity to introduce Diane tonight,” Damon said. “She’s somebody that I have admired for a very long time. She’s an amazing person. She’s America’s foremost historian in the areas of education policy, she’s a champion of public education, she’s a courageous speaker and she’s a truth-teller.”

Michael Spagna, dean of CSUN’s college of education (COE), felt Damon’s appearance was important because actors, artists and athletes have gained cultural relevance, which could make an impact on others by publicly supporting an educator.

“I think if we can transfer some of that cultural appreciation that we have for actors like Matt Damon to teachers, we’ve done a great thing because they’re, right now, not appreciated that much.”

After approaching the podium, Ravitch promoted her new book “The Reign of Error” and throughout her speech, a common theme was “hoaxes” related to education.

She said former President George W. Bush’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 was a hoax because Senator Lamar Alexander, her former boss at the U.S. Department of Education, told her he didn’t believe that 100 percent of children would be proficient in math and English by 2014 – an ambition of the act – but it was important to have goals.

“That means the people who passed (the act) didn’t believe it was possible, and for the last 10 years we’ve been firing teachers… and closing schools based on an impossible goal…that’s a hoax,” Ravitch said.

Ravitch criticized the Race to the Top program, an incentive that provides grants to states that implement certain education reforms.

“It’s causing more teaching (only to pass) tests, it’s demoralizing teachers and principals (and) it’s causing more schools to be closed.”

Ravitch said she didn’t know where “the top” was and why educators were racing there.

“Does this mean that we’re all supposed to get higher test scores?” she asked rhetorically. “More likely, it means we’re in a race, and a race has few winners and a lot of losers. But that’s not what American education is about. American education is supposed to be about equality of educational opportunity, not a race to the top.”

Ravitch also discussed high school graduation rates and said the notion that graduation rates are flat or low is another “hoax”.

“(It’s) the highest they’ve ever been in history…We are making progress, and we’ve got to recognize it,” she said.

Ravitch emphasized the problem of poverty, calling it a “barrier to greater progress” and lamented that others have said it was an excuse for bad teachers.

“The hardest problem that we face is the biggest problem, and that is that the cause of low test scores, the cause of low academic performance, the cause of almost everything  negative that happens is poverty,” Ravitch said. “We must reduce poverty in this country.”

Nina Rees, president and chief executive officer of the National Alliance for Public Charter schools, was a former colleague of Ravitch and disagrees with Ravitch’s views on poverty.

“That mindset very much contradicts the viewpoint of a lot of reformers who believe that regardless of how poor you are you should have access to a high quality education,” said Rees. “(We also believe) it is the educators job to bring that quality education…and you certainly should not be making excuses for kids who come from a disadvantaged home. If anything you need to invest even more time and energy because education ultimately is (their) ticket out of poverty.”

Ravitch mapped out several solutions to the problems she feels America is facing with education, including good prenatal care for women to facilitate normal cognition in their children, universal pre-kindergarten, arts programs in schools and reduced class sizes.

Spagna feels Ravitch’s visit is an example of CSUN’s commitment to education.

“(Ravitch) recognizes that we are a big producer of quality teachers, and so she wants to speak at institutions where a lot of people are going into a profession and wants to inspire them,” COE Dean Spagna said.

Teachers and students have mixed feelings about myCSUNtablet initiative

To begin the fall semester, seven academic programs were given the opportunity to combine education and technology, potentially leading to one cohesive force of learning.

However, after a month of implementation, the myCSUNtablet initiative has garnered mixed reviews among teachers and students.

“I’d rather just take notes on paper and just have a typical lecture than sit there and do activities on the iPad,” said Mei-Ling Cabrera, junior cell and molecular biology major. “I guess it’s kind of a learning thing but I don’t learn like that.”

Cabrera is among those types of students who prefer a more traditional form of learning, consisting of taking notes on paper while listening to a professor’s lecture.

Ibtissam Haddada, 24, senior student, said she initially struggled with learning how to use the applications on the iPad, but supports the initiative moving forward.

“It’s a good thing [for] education,” she said. “It’s a good thing also not to carry too much stuff on you; it’s just [the] iPad that has all kinds of notes you need, everywhere you go, basically.”

After having taught at CSUN for 15 years, Beth Phillips, who teaches classes for the physical therapy doctorate program, feels using the iPad as a teaching tool has been quite an adjustment.

“It’s teaching an old dog a new trick for sure,” Phillips said. “I was happy with a scalpel in the anatomy lab and chalk in the chalkboard. But I’m convinced now that I’m halfway through with this that it is going to be really helpful once I’m done with it.”

Phillips said she has experienced technological snafus when students are trying to access an application all at once, but that the problem was not a major hinderance to the learning environment.

Brandon Johnson, a student in one of Phillips’ classes, has benefitted from the myCSUN tablet initiative.

“It has actually helped me out in preparation for quizzes and examinations and, deeper than that, helped me actually understand what’s happening in the human body rather than just recording what is on a test,” Johnson said.

Some professors are not only using iPads to teach course content, but also to administer exams and quizzes.

Cindy Malone, professor of biology, said that students may be experiencing added stress from the new software they’re using to take tests.

“There was no amazing revelation of wow, everybody did much better, but that could be just it was a lot of stress taking the exam on the iPad,” Malone said. “The new software and the inability to take notes on stuff and just a whole new thing may have masked any kind of increased learning that we may have seen. The increased anxiety decreased the ability to find the right answers.”

Phillips believes that once the kinks work themselves out this semester, using iPads will become a better experience for students and professors alike.

“I think once everyone gets used to using it and understands how to quickly download things, what apps work best for themselves, its going to be very efficient,” Phillips said. “There’ll be much less use of paper and much less strain on your muscles carrying around heavy textbooks.”

As part of the initiative, students are required to either already possess an iPad or buy one through Apple or the CSUN bookstore. Students can opt to pay for the device in two- or three-semester installments using their financial aid.

Phillips said she tries to accommodate students who either cannot afford an iPad or have a different type of tablet.

“I don’t want somebody to have finances be the reason they can’t participate [in class],” Phillips said. “They won’t have as many bells and whistles and widgets and things they can interact with, but they will have all the basic content in a PDF format if they can’t buy the iPad.”

The long-term impact of the myCSUNtablet initiative remains to be seen, but some students are already looking forward to the possibilities.

“I think the future is bright,” Johnson said. “I think that it’s all about storing information in one localized area that allows students and professors ease of access to necessary and pertinent information to help us absorb the information that we need to learn.”

CSUN Pan-African department changing name to Africana

The Pan-African studies department will change its name to Africana studies after a recent unanimous vote by faculty.

The change comes years after students and faculty complained that the name on a graduating student’s degree did not match the department name, said Johnie Scott, chair of the Pan-African Studies department.

“Students historically have always wanted their degrees to reflect the discipline, the department or the school they were in, not only here, but in colleges across the country,” Scott said.

When the Pan-African studies department was founded the degree students received read African and African-American Studies, not Pan African studies, Scott said.

The name change has not officially been announced as new letterheads, business cards, etc., dawning the new name have to be finalized.

“It’s a whole rebranding of the department,” Scott said.

Breanna Irby, senior Pan-African studies major, disapproves of the fact that her degree does not reflect her studies at CSUN.

“That kind of upset me because that’s not the classes that you take,” Irby said. “You don’t take African-American studies classes. You take Pan-African studies classes. For it to say African-American studies it’s kind of like a slap in the face just a little bit.”

Scott said the new name will be reflected in degrees for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Scott views CSUN’s change as a stepping stone to consistency across the board in other African-based departments in California universities.

“The fact that being now able to have the degree matchup with the department, we look at it as a sort of forward step, a vanguard step, and hopefully, it opens the door for our sister campuses here within the CSU to do likewise,” Scott said.

Other schools in the CSU system like California State Universities Fresno and Long Beach already name their department Africana studies, while other schools such as California State Universities Los Angeles and Sacramento still use Pan African Studies. California State University, Fullerton names their African-heritage department African-American Studies.

Aimee Glocke, who teaches Pan African studies courses at CSUN, likes that not all CSUs have the same name for their departments.

“The great thing is it shows the diversity in the history of Black people but also, it shows the diversity in the African experience, so I love the fact that we’re not consistent,” Glocke said. “I think it’s really unique for us as a discipline.”

However, Glocke embraces the new name of the department.

“I think it will give us an opportunity to kind of rebirth ourselves in a way,” Glocke said. “We have new faculty, some of our faculty have retired or have made their transition, so i think we have a new energy. We have an attitude of recruiting more students to become majors and minors, and I think that the new name will give us an opportunity to do that.”

Glocke feels the name change delay was not “a big deal” for the university.

“It just might not have been on their radar screen,” Glocke said. “For African, African-American Studies [and] Pan African Studies, naming is really important for us, but I don’t necessarily know that everyone shares that [feeling],”

Pan African studies department and ethnic studies as a whole was “born out of protest,” Glocke said.

In 1968, the Black Student Union and the Third World Liberation Front staged a strike calling for “a larger black studies program,” according to the SFSU website. A year later, the College of Ethnic Studies began, paving the way for other schools in the United States to follow suit.

“If the students want the name change for the degree, then of course, we’ll help to fight for that,” Glocke said. “We come out of protest, so if we see injustice, we’re going to stand up for it. That’s our legacy, that’s our lineage.”

Study shows racial discrepancy in selective colleges

recent study reveals a trend in which the most selective universities in the country are enrolling more White students compared to African American and Hispanic students.

Anthony Carnavale, author of the study, calls the findings “a good news, bad news story.”

“We’re getting more access, but we’re getting more inequality within the system at the same time,” Carnavale said.

According to the study, 82 percent of White students at the top 468 schools — i.e. Yale University, Harvard University, Stanford University and the like — accounted for all new enrollment from 1995 to 2009.

By comparison, new enrollment of African American and Hispanic students was a combined 22 percent to those same 468 schools.

The study suggests that family income does not fully explain the divide in new enrollment.

Low-income Hispanic and African American students graduate at a lower rate compared to White students with the same economic background, according to the study.

Selective universities are known for their high tuition. For example, Stanford University can cost around $42,000 per year compared to just above $6,500 for CSUN.

Carnavale said that even low-income minority students who are academically qualified to attend the top 468 schools often times don’t apply, and the reasons for this are still unknown.

“It’s difficult to go searching all of the country for qualified low-income and minority students,” he said.

However, in a study by Caroline Hoxby of Stanford University, highly-selective universities not only want low-income students with good test scores, but also strive to fund their education should they apply and get accepted.

The study states that “high-achieving, low-income students are considered very desirable by selective colleges.” Because of this, “students tend not only to be offered admission by selective schools if they apply, they also tend to be offered very generous financial aid.”

Former Georgetown student Ali Sharrow, 24, is a prime example. She received a significant amount of grants and scholarships because of her grades, ethnicity and family circumstances.

“Actually, Georgetown footed most of the bill for my education,” said Sharrow, who is Hispanic. “They wanted me enough that they gave me more money to make it work.”

Having worked in the admissions office while she attended Georgetown, Sharrow said that the prestigious Catholic university works very hard to be racially diverse.

“Admissions takes into account every single factor that could possibly affect a student’s performance in school,” Sharrow said. “If [they] see that a student comes from a rough neighborhood or had a tough family life, they are given more leeway in terms of grades than would a student who had higher grades but a perfectly supportive family.”

While the Georgetown study argues that racial diversity is floundering in the top 468 colleges, it also reveals that more minority students are enrolling in schools like CSUN, which are called “open-access,” or less selective (in terms of admission), schools.

According to the study, Hispanic and African American students account for 68 percent and 72 percent of new enrollments, respectively.

In 2012, CSUN had 29.2 percent White students, 35.3 percent Latino students and 6.1 percent African American students, according to the Office of Institutional Research.

Freshman mechanical engineering major Alex Marks, 18, said he chose CSUN not only because he has family and friends who have attended or are attending the university, but also because it makes the most sense for his career.

Marks is also impressed with the racial diversity that makes it one of the most diverse universities in California.

“There’s so much of an evening out of all the borders that there’s no one actual majority, or at least such a majority that it’s noticeable,” Marks said. “It’s actually really refreshing to see such a nice mixture that everything is balanced out and everyone has a fair opportunity and everyone gets to actually come here and learn what they want.”

The study was released by the Center on Education and the Workforce at Georgetown University.