Notes in the Margins: Branding, legacies and the cost of athletics to all students

David Leibow: The Number One Cause of College Unhappiness The biggest reason students flounder academically is that they're unprepared. Students from weak high schools have studied curricula that aren't rigorous enough. Students from strong high schools have studied curricula that, if anything, are too rigorous. One thing both groups have in common: no one has taught them how to study. (Huffington Post)

More College Employees Give To Democratic Candidates Although non-profit institutions are not allowed to contribute funds directly to political candidates, their staff and faculty are -- and according to a recent report from the Center for Responsive Politics, employees at many prominent colleges and universities gave big to Democrats. (Huffington Post)

Research Universities, Wary of Politics, Open New Campaign for Federal Money The Association of Public and Land-Grant Universities has pressed the idea that public universities must reduce their dependence on state budgets, in favor of more-reliable federal support, by emphasizing the importance of scientific research as a national asset. Yet universities, even as they push for more federal money, feel that states must maintain at least their current levels of support. (

Defense Dept., Congress Seek to Improve Academic Programs That Serve the Military Members of Congress have said that more may need to be done to monitor the rigor of college programs used by Department of Defense tuition-aid recipients. (

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New Book on Legacy Admissions A new book seeks to highlight -- and ultimately dismantle -- the preferences that elite colleges often extend to the children of alumni. (

2 For-Profit Education Companies Seek to Move West for Accreditation Geography, rather than concerns about the association that accredits them now, accounts for the move, officials say. (

How student fees boost college sports amid rising budgets The money going into college athletics is soaring, and accounts for as much as 23% of the required annual bill for in-state students. Students at a Virginia university, for example -- even if they're not sports fans -- will pay about $1,000 a year in fees to the school's athletics department by graduation. They just didn't know it from the school's billing statements or website. (USA Today)

American University, now home to the 'American Wonk' "Branding" has become a popular buzzword as universities compete to attract top students and faculty members and also maximize revenue from tuition, research and donors. Instead of selling the stereotypical college experience, schools try to capture what makes them distinct. (The Washington Post)