Marc Levy / AP

Champions of Cheyney University filled the state Capitol rotunda Tuesday, bringing a decades-long fight for more funding to lawmakers’ doorsteps.

The historically black state-owned university has been plagued by an enrollment slump, administrative turnover and what one federal judge called “historic neglect” by the state.

Phil Pavely / Chatham University

For the first time since its founding in 1869, Chatham University welcomed male undergraduates during this year’s convocation ceremony. Harvard University Graduate School of Education Professor Richard Light spoke to students at the event about getting the most out of their college experience.

Essential Pittsburgh: Investigating Greek Life

Mar 12, 2015
Jeff Simms / Flickr

A video of members of the SAE fraternity at University of Oklahoma performing a racist chant has been garnering national headlines. It also places a spotlight on the negative aspects of Greek life at institutions of higher education in the United States. Atlantic Monthly magazine writer Caitlin Flanagan conducted a yearlong investigation of Greek problems titled The Dark Power of Fraternities. And Eric Kelderman writes about Greek life for the Chronicle of Higher Education.

Talking about the enduring popularity of the rather old-fashioned tradition of fraternities, Flanagan says:

“You would think if there were something as un-modern, essentially un-modern, as a fraternity -- you know, clubs that are largely all white, clubs that are exclusionary in all sorts of ways and that have real problems in terms of violence against women -- you would think in modern America those would be the sort of things dying on the vine. You’d think there’d be no role for them at all anymore. And yet they are currently at kind of a zenith of popularity. So we’re really stuck here with a system that nobody knows what to do with but that hundreds of thousands of young men absolutely love.”

Asked about the challenges of university oversight of fraternities and sororities, Kelderman explains:

“Universities have struggled with this idea of holding Greek organizations accountable. They’re private organizations, they often live in privately owned housing, and that creates a number of complications …”

Also in the program, former August Wilson Center CEO Andre Kimo Stone Guess and Robert Morris University Director of Special Programs and Student Community Standards offer their perspectives on contemporary fraternity culture.


Cory Doctorow / flickr

For the second time in two years, the Pennsylvania House is considering a bill that would expand high school students’ access to advanced placement (AP) courses in the state.

House Bill 512, introduced by Rep. James Roebuck (D-Philadelphia), would establish standard practices for how public colleges and universities accept transferable credits from students who pass AP, International Baccalaureate or College-Level Examination exams. The measure has moved out of committee and awaits action by the full house.

Mark Nootbaar / 90.5 WESA

Two bills are sitting in the Senate Committee on State Government aimed at strengthening Pennsylvania’s Right-to-Know Law.

Legislation introduced by Sen. John Blake (D-Lackawanna) would bring more transparency to state-related universities, while Sen. Dominic Pileggi’s (R-Delaware) bill would establish a fee structure for commercial requests and update definitions within the law.

With college costs rising faster than inflation for the last decade, Pennsylvania lawmakers have unveiled a 13-bill package that would make higher education more affordable, especially for students from lower-income families.

Ways to Combat Underage Drinking on College Campuses

Feb 9, 2015
Thai Nguyen / Flickr

The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is working with four universities to combat underage drinking. One of the schools taking part is Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

We’ll find out what the university is doing to address this problem with Ann Sesti, Assistant director for IUP's alcohol, tobacco and other drugs program in the Center for Health and Well-Being.

Also taking part in the conversation is Ken Healy, alcohol education specialist with the PA Liquor Control Board Education Office.

Ken Healy responds to a listener’s tweet, which adds a new layer to our discussion:

Velkr0 / Flickr

While college may not be for everyone, gone are the days when you could go from work to longtime employment without some form of higher education. As the costs of college increase and as more jobs require a level of education beyond high school, trade schools are seeing a boost in enrollment. What are the economic benefits of attending trade school over college?

Brian O'Roark, professor of economics at Robert Morris University, says that student loan debt is a big factor in the decision to attend trade schools. He explains that at a time when four years of traditional college often results in tens of thousands of dollars of debt, for many students the decision to pursue a trade instead makes good economic sense.

“Skipping college actually ends up saving them in the long run because they don’t have to pay those student loans back. So if you find a trade, or if you go to a trade school and find a job that you can work at without incurring that debt, that’s actually a good thing for you.”

With annual tuition ranging from $12,000 a year for a four-year public college to as much as $45,000 for a private college, more Pennsylvania students are leaving with more than a diploma — rising debt.

The cost of a four-year public college education in Pennsylvania costs a little more than $12,000, but some students are facing more than $36,000 in debt at graduation.

The state now ranks fourth in the percentage of college graduates with loan debt and third in the average amount of debt per student, according to a survey by the Institute for College Access and Success.

PASSHE Unveils New Application

Nov 8, 2013

Students applying to schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) will now be able to send multiple applications using the same website.

The Multi-University Electronic Admissions Application (MUEAA), which was unveiled Friday, allows potential students do their college research and applications on the same website.

PASSHE spokesman Ken Marshall said the application saves basic information for a student’s other applications.

State Treasurer Rob McCord is urging parents to open a Pennsylvania 529 Guaranteed Savings Plan (GSP) before Sept. 1 to take advantage of last year’s lower cost per college credit.

529 plans are offered by states that include tax-free earnings growth and withdrawals.