College Nation

MySpace usage lowers grades in students

Penn State

Social networking sites such as MySpace might seem like an easy way to stay in touch with friends; however, a new study has shown that the use of these sites can seriously impact grades.

A survey of more than 500 students from three Fresno, Calif., area high schools has shown that 72 percent of students who use MySpace have reported a significant drop in their grades.

The study began when Roberto Vaca, a guidance learning specialist at Sanger High School, noticed that students with lower grades were spending a lot of time on MySpace.

According to the study, 42 percent of students with MySpace accounts frequently have MySpace open while doing homework.

Vaca called Tamyra Pierce, assistant professor of communications and journalism at California State University, Fresno. Pierce became involved and began contacting local high schools to see if there was a link between MySpace and lower grades.

The survey specifically targeted high school students, but Pierce said the results could be similar for college students.

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“In talking to a lot of my students, I have seen that they too spend a lot of hours on MySpace,” she said.

Pierce said many students reported spending an upward of four to five hours a day on MySpace, which would detract from homework time. Even more alarming in Pierce’s opinion was the amount of pornography she found on the MySpace accounts of young teenagers. Fifty-nine percent of the sites included sexual poses and 9 percent included direct links to pornography, she said.

“There are just so many risks associated with that,” Pierce said.

The survey said 34 percent of students will delay homework to spend time on social networking sites.

Rob Dunlap, a sophomore communications major, said for him, MySpace is a distraction from doing recreational activities outside.

“I keep getting rid of it and then getting it back again because I’m addicted,” he said. “It’s like cocaine.”

– Courtesy of The Daily Collegian

Fetal sexual orientation stirs controversy

Louisiana State University

As genetic sciences advance, the possibility of mapping an unborn baby’s eye color, height and possible genetic health problems moves closer.

But with scientific possibilities come new ethical questions to consider. Recent debates have increased over the possibility of isolating a gene related to homosexuality. Some have argued that if such a gene can be isolated, expecting parents should be informed so they can possibly change their child’s sexual orientation.

Some say such practices are unethical and should be prohibited. But others say identifying someone’s sexual orientation by their DNA is not possible.

Albert Mohler, president of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, recently implied in a blog that he hopes homosexual genes can be isolated and reversed.

Mohler’s views have raised eyebrows of many gay activists. Malcolm Lazin, executive director of the Equality Forum, a GLBT civil rights organization, responded March 14 in a news release.

“Fetal invasion to alter sexual orientation is reminiscent of the Nazis,” Lazin said. “It reflects a theocratic and Taliban-like plan that should frighten all Americans.”

After receiving a slew of critical e-mails, Mohler posted an update denying that he ever suggested using genetic therapies to make “corrected babies.”

Despite the controversy, Francis Collins, head of the Human Genome Project, concluded in 2006 that homosexuality is not hardwired.

“Evidence from twin studies does in fact support the conclusion that heritable factors play a role in male homosexuality. However, the likelihood that the identical twin of a homosexual male will also be gay is about 20 percent,” Collins concluded in a 2006 study. “This indicates that sexual orientation is genetically influenced but not hardwired by DNA, and that whatever genes are involved represent predispositions, not predeterminations.”

– Courtesy of The Daily Reveille

Department of Education simplifies FAFSA

Syracuse University

Students looking to apply for federal financial aid will soon be able to use a simpler process that will automatically complete complicated calculations and cut out extraneous questions when determining eligibility.

Starting April 1, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid will introduce the FAFSA “4caster,” a new hassle-free application with added technological processing improvements.

The changes were inspired by U.S. Secretary of Education Margaret Spelling’s political discourse, the Commission on the Future of Higher Education, in September 2006. The Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service have worked together to provide American students an opportunity to plug into a new outlet for a better exchange of federal financial aid information.

While the modernized FAFSA “4caster” will not actually increase the budgeted amount of aid given to students, the application will instantly calculate a student’s eligibility for financial aid, significantly reduce the number of questions on the application from 102 to 51, and promptly notify students, and their families, if they are apt to receive federal aid or grants about six months earlier.

– Courtesy of The Daily Orange