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HIGHLIGHTS:
  • Philosophy Through the Eyes of a Student Philosopher » April 27, 2018
  • Looking for Something Educationally Stimulating to Read? Look No Further Than 2017’s Pioneer Research Journal » March 31, 2018
  • Five Keys to Fostering Independent Learning » March 11, 2018
  • Helping Gifted Students Reach Their Full Potential » January 11, 2018
  • Justice and the Arab Spring: A Guide to the Arab Street » April 28, 2017
  • Pioneer Professor: You Can Be an Entrepreneur » December 19, 2016
  • Pioneer Announces Nominees for Publication in the 2016 Pioneer Research Journal » November 25, 2016
  • AO Dialogue: Pomona College – A Small School With Outsized Possibilities » November 17, 2016
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Five Keys to Fostering Independent Learning

Article Published in The Edvocate on Dec 20, 2017

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The Edvocate article link

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From spotting bias to connecting learning with the world outside the classroom, these classroom practices will help students ‘learn how to learn.’

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By Dennis Pierce

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In too many K-12 classrooms, students are still being spoon-fed information. But this outdated approach to instruction doesn’t teach them to become independent learners and problem solvers.

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Why is this distinction important? The test-centered courses tend to rely on a “sit and get” approach, which “stifles students’ curiosity,” says Matthew Jaskol, founder of Pioneer Academics, which offers high school students the opportunity to collaborate with college professors on original research. “If students don’t feel free to explore and take risks, that’s not a very healthy environment for learning.”

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“The spoon-feeding has to stop,” agrees Alan November, founder of the education consulting firm November Learning. “It does not elicit awe and wonder.”

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Simply imparting information not only fails to engage students, it also leaves them unprepared to navigate a world in which the problems don’t have nice, neat solutions. Rather than giving students information, educators should be giving them the tools and skills they’ll need to learn, think critically, and solve problems on their own, these experts argue.

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Fostering independent learning prepares students more effectively for the rigors of college and 21st century careers. It helps them participate in a democratic society, and it ensures that students will continue learning long after they graduate.

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Here are five keys to fostering independent learning among students.

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1) Students must learn how to find and assess the quality of information.

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Fostering independent learning begins by teaching students how to find the answers to questions for themselves. “Priority No. 1 is getting the right information at the right time,” November says. “If you don’t have the right information, it doesn’t matter that you’re doing critical thinking, because you’re thinking about the wrong things.”

.

Students should learn how to perform sophisticated web searches using Google search operators such as “site” and “filetype” to narrow their queries to specific domains or file types, November says. Students also must learn how to research a topic using multiple sources, and they must understand how to critically evaluate the information they find.

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Jaskol describes how the students working on independent research projects learn how to use critical thinking skills to uncover any bias or flaws in logic. “Students learn not to take everything they read as the truth,” he says. “When a professor shows them the flaws or bias that might exist in a paper they find online, it’s an inspiring experience. Students learn to read with their own critical judgment—which is invaluable to becoming a lifelong learner.”

.

2) Students must learn how to develop new lines of inquiry.

.

To become independent learners, students must learn how to ask thought-provoking, insightful questions that will take their understanding of a topic to a deeper level. “Teaching students how to ask good questions is critical,” November says. “Many students have never been taught how to develop deeper lines of inquiry.”

.

One pathway to developing their own lines of inquiry is through research. Here, Jaskol offers a note of caution about the difference between conducting students’ own research and getting involved in others’ research projects or following a formatted research project. Though there is no better or worse experience in learning, these two kinds of effort develop different skills. The deeper lines of inquiry are best developed through following students’ own ideas, while the latter helps the students exercise the foundations of research techniques.

.

The step where rich nutrients dwell for students’ learning is picking a research topic. Students doing original research through Pioneer Academics learn how to narrow down a topic by asking probing questions that help focus their research, Jaskol says. For instance, Karalee Corley, a Pioneer student from Florida was enthusiastic about anthropology linguistics. She had an idea she wanted to delve into, but had difficulty pinpointing a topic for her paper. Her professor brainstormed with her on different directions, such as language and day-to-day conversations, language and marketing, and language and the workplace. He guided her to come up with 50 different questions for each direction. He then asked her to develop deeper lines of inquiry by following the way she raised those questions, observing the environment, and seeking the inspiration for her paper topic. These inquiry skills made a remarkable difference: after brainstorming with her professor, she spotted a pattern in the way female students adjusted their vocabulary when there were male students around, leading to her paper, entitled “Women’s Language Perpetuates Stereotypes.”

.

When it comes to developing lines of inquiry, November pointed to the Right Question Institute as an invaluable resource. The organization has developed a framework for helping students learn to develop new lines of inquiry by asking more sophisticated questions about what they are learning.

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3) Students must learn how to collaborate and learn from others.

.

Becoming an independent learner also requires understanding how to work with—and learn from—each other. We don’t just learn from books and the internet; we also learn by communicating with our peers and with experts in the field. Students should learn how to collaborate with others and cultivate a personal learning network of peers and experts whom they can turn to for advice and support.

.

Jaskol predicts that, with world development turning everyone into a global citizen, peer learning and cross-cultural mindfulness will be key to individual success. The future will definitely favor those who can understand, communicate with, and team up with others in their network. This is the reason why Pioneer holds peer-learning sessions where scholars are obligated to learn about their peers’ research topics and offer feedback to each other.

.

As an example of the power of a global peer network, November cites Olivia Van Ledtje, who—at age nine—already had a global following on Twitter. Olivia records a video blog called LivBits in which she shares information about the books she has read and her observations about life. With the help of her mother, who is an educator herself, Liv is using social media to expand her worldview, learn from other experts, and even connect with people she admires. “Every kid should have a global network like Liv,” November says.

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4) Teachers must learn to shift their roles.

.

Fostering independent learners requires a shift in the habits and culture of the classroom. It also requires teachers to give up some degree of control over the flow of information.

.

For example, Jaskol sees a fine line between answering students’ questions and challenging students to find the answers for themselves. Rather than bailing them out if they hit a snag in their research, he says, “the faculty should guide them towards further inspiration.”

.

5) Teachers should challenge students with authentic problems and open-ended questions.

.

With standardized tests increasingly dominating students’ academic lives, it is becoming a norm that most of the problems presented to students are perceived to have a right or wrong answer, Jaskol says. But that’s not how the problems students will encounter in the “real world” take shape. When students are challenged to explore open-ended questions that have some real-world relevance, they develop the skills and habits they’ll need to take on challenges in their lives—and their passion for learning is ignited.

.

November agrees. “If you’re solving for X, it’s just not interesting,” he says. “You’re pumping through a formula. But if you’re applying algebra to design a prosthetic for a child whose family can’t afford one, and you’ve got a 3D printer so you can create one for that child yourself, then it makes sense to study algebra.”

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Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer who has been covering education for more than 20 years. He can be reached at denniswpierce@gmail.com.

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http://www.theedadvocate.org/5-keys-fostering-independent-learning/

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see other news
  • Philosophy Through the Eyes of a Student Philosopher

    What an exciting time to be a student! More than at any point in history, through technology, students have the opportunity to engage at a younger age in studies that interest them. The Pioneer Research Program is at the forefront of this trend by helping students connect with disciplines that they may not have been able to otherwise. One of the many fields that is often reserved for college, and therefore not taught at the high school level, is philosophy. Philosophy is a subject that challenges students to ponder some of life’s most fundamental questions. In the process of pondering thought provoking questions, they often pick up many important academic skills.

    ..

    One Pioneer scholar, Joseph Cho, who attends Homestead High School in Cupertino, California, was given the chance to study with a Pioneer philosophy professor from Johns Hopkins University. Cho, who has since been accepted to Yale University, wrote a profound philosophy research paper, entitled The Case for Proving Infinity. In his essay, he uses the arguments of the seminal French philosopher René Descartes to demonstrate the possibility of the existence of infinity, as well as the existence of God, using non-theological reasoning. Cho states, “Descartes sought to persuade non-believers with rational reasoning that God did exist, and that the soul was distinguishable from the physical body.” He manages to make several complex ideas and arguments understandable not only for himself, but for the reader as well.

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    .

    The topic Cho chose to write about would intimidate most students. He, however, dove deep into the complicated material and excelled in his research efforts. When asked what initially fascinated him about the topic, Cho seemed most motivated by interest and by overcoming challenge. He said, “Descartes’ First Meditations, and his argument for the existence of God, encompasses the idea that the existence of God is the source of our understanding of the infinite, or at the very least, the existence of the infinite. Not only did I find myself captivated by Descartes arguments and his writing, but I also enjoyed the simple challenge of attempting to critique and undermine his idea.”

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    Cho chose to study this field at Pioneer because he wanted to do his own research, rather than reading someone else’s work from secondary sources. He says, “I learned far more than what I could ever imagine simply through Socratic seminar and discussions with my peers. It’s surprising how much more people can learn from simple discussions than through reading textbooks and studying for exams.” Cho continued, “My admittance into the philosophy program at Pioneer was a manifestation of my growing interest in philosophy and literature, and I’m not only glad that I was able to strengthen my passions for the field with my peers and [my professor], but also am grateful that I was recognized as a competent student to be a part of the Pioneer philosophy program.”

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    Joseph Cho’s experience in the Pioneer Research Program  also gave him the opportunity to acquire important skills. Through studying philosophy, students gain the ability to better interpret difficult material and form a more holistic understanding about it. One Pioneer professor from philosophy pointed out in a Pioneer-administered survey about his field that while studying philosophy, students learn “how to approach fundamental questions, how to formulate these questions in the cleanest manner, and finally, how to challenge our most fortified beliefs.”  Another philosophy professor from the same survey added, “Philosophical training is very helpful for critical thinking.” Philosophical analysis requires one to be very skeptical of any viewpoint and to employ extremely rigorous logic to lay out arguments. This makes it less surprising that, according to our professor survey, many students who major in philosophy become data scientists. There are multitudinous possibilities for young philosophers and many different career options for them.

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    In researching philosophy in the Pioneer Research Program, students are challenged to think as a philosopher, and are more capable of doing so under the instruction of a college level professor. Through Pioneer, students are challenged to think about important issues at a wholly different level than they’ve experienced before. Our young scholars leave this program with a better understanding of philosophy, and a newfound readiness for college.

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  • Looking for Something Educationally Stimulating to Read? Look No Further Than 2017’s Pioneer Research Journal

    It’s one of the year’s biggest moments for the Pioneer Research Program – time to see who’s been published in The 2017 Pioneer Research Journal. Last year, hundreds of Pioneer scholars completed extremely sophisticated research projects under the guidance of professor mentors. In the end, a select 6% went through a rigorous review process and were chosen for publication in this annual edition of The Pioneer Research Journal. These newly anointed experts are contributing to the expansion of knowledge. And with such a diverse group of students investigating a wide range of topics, this year’s selection of essays is a great representation of what the Pioneer Research Program is all about.

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    All of the authors in the Journal chose their research topics based on where their intellectual curiosities took them. This year, students covered fields like psychology, literature, and neuroscience, among others. When applying to the program, students select areas they want to investigate, and this information is used to place them with a professor from a field that best suits their interests. There are many possible outcomes, and they’re all student-driven. Because of that, the research papers that are published in this year’s Pioneer Research Journal are all quite different, and reflective of each student’s individuality.

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    Every edition of the Journal has many different types of papers to read, yet they all hold in common a very personal touch and perspective. This year, several students seemed especially interested in exploring human emotion through various lenses. Sammer Marzouk from Chicago, USA, authored The Impact of Emotions, Ambiguity, and Apathy on Decision-Making in Individuals with Alzheimer’s Disease: A Proposal to Facilitate Diagnosis of Alzheimer’s Disease, while Yumeng Li from Beijing, China, wrote The Power and Significance of Agency in the Iliad. Sammer’s paper covers the effect of emotion on decision-making among Alzheimer’s patients. Yumeng’s paper explores how the characters in the classic epic, The Iliad, are affected by their emotions.

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    The Journal also shows the interest students have in remedying pressing social issues. An American student, Gabrielle Battle, wrote her research paper on discrimination, and though emotions aren’t the main focus, the reader can still see how they play a part. She takes elements of different emotions, and uses them to illuminate her point about racial bias. She conducted field research and wrote her paper, Divided By Discrimination: An Analysis Of Racial Profiling During A Shopping Expedition to document what she found. She discusses varying social interactions among people of different races, and records the test subjects’ feelings based on how they behaved in the situation.

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    With so many wonderful students from all over the world doing research about so many different topics, this year’s edition of The Pioneer Research Journal is a fascinating read. See for yourself. Click here to be brought to a digital version of this year’s Journal, and enjoy what these forward-thinking minds have to say.  

    see more
  • Five Keys to Fostering Independent Learning

    Article Published in The Edvocate on Dec 20, 2017

    .

    The Edvocate article link

    .

    From spotting bias to connecting learning with the world outside the classroom, these classroom practices will help students ‘learn how to learn.’

    .

    By Dennis Pierce

    .

    In too many K-12 classrooms, students are still being spoon-fed information. But this outdated approach to instruction doesn’t teach them to become independent learners and problem solvers.

    .

    Why is this distinction important? The test-centered courses tend to rely on a “sit and get” approach, which “stifles students’ curiosity,” says Matthew Jaskol, founder of Pioneer Academics, which offers high school students the opportunity to collaborate with college professors on original research. “If students don’t feel free to explore and take risks, that’s not a very healthy environment for learning.”

    .

    “The spoon-feeding has to stop,” agrees Alan November, founder of the education consulting firm November Learning. “It does not elicit awe and wonder.”

    .

    Simply imparting information not only fails to engage students, it also leaves them unprepared to navigate a world in which the problems don’t have nice, neat solutions. Rather than giving students information, educators should be giving them the tools and skills they’ll need to learn, think critically, and solve problems on their own, these experts argue.

    .

    Fostering independent learning prepares students more effectively for the rigors of college and 21st century careers. It helps them participate in a democratic society, and it ensures that students will continue learning long after they graduate.

    .

    Here are five keys to fostering independent learning among students.

    .

    1) Students must learn how to find and assess the quality of information.

    .

    Fostering independent learning begins by teaching students how to find the answers to questions for themselves. “Priority No. 1 is getting the right information at the right time,” November says. “If you don’t have the right information, it doesn’t matter that you’re doing critical thinking, because you’re thinking about the wrong things.”

    .

    Students should learn how to perform sophisticated web searches using Google search operators such as “site” and “filetype” to narrow their queries to specific domains or file types, November says. Students also must learn how to research a topic using multiple sources, and they must understand how to critically evaluate the information they find.

    .

    Jaskol describes how the students working on independent research projects learn how to use critical thinking skills to uncover any bias or flaws in logic. “Students learn not to take everything they read as the truth,” he says. “When a professor shows them the flaws or bias that might exist in a paper they find online, it’s an inspiring experience. Students learn to read with their own critical judgment—which is invaluable to becoming a lifelong learner.”

    .

    2) Students must learn how to develop new lines of inquiry.

    .

    To become independent learners, students must learn how to ask thought-provoking, insightful questions that will take their understanding of a topic to a deeper level. “Teaching students how to ask good questions is critical,” November says. “Many students have never been taught how to develop deeper lines of inquiry.”

    .

    One pathway to developing their own lines of inquiry is through research. Here, Jaskol offers a note of caution about the difference between conducting students’ own research and getting involved in others’ research projects or following a formatted research project. Though there is no better or worse experience in learning, these two kinds of effort develop different skills. The deeper lines of inquiry are best developed through following students’ own ideas, while the latter helps the students exercise the foundations of research techniques.

    .

    The step where rich nutrients dwell for students’ learning is picking a research topic. Students doing original research through Pioneer Academics learn how to narrow down a topic by asking probing questions that help focus their research, Jaskol says. For instance, Karalee Corley, a Pioneer student from Florida was enthusiastic about anthropology linguistics. She had an idea she wanted to delve into, but had difficulty pinpointing a topic for her paper. Her professor brainstormed with her on different directions, such as language and day-to-day conversations, language and marketing, and language and the workplace. He guided her to come up with 50 different questions for each direction. He then asked her to develop deeper lines of inquiry by following the way she raised those questions, observing the environment, and seeking the inspiration for her paper topic. These inquiry skills made a remarkable difference: after brainstorming with her professor, she spotted a pattern in the way female students adjusted their vocabulary when there were male students around, leading to her paper, entitled “Women’s Language Perpetuates Stereotypes.”

    .

    When it comes to developing lines of inquiry, November pointed to the Right Question Institute as an invaluable resource. The organization has developed a framework for helping students learn to develop new lines of inquiry by asking more sophisticated questions about what they are learning.

    .

    3) Students must learn how to collaborate and learn from others.

    .

    Becoming an independent learner also requires understanding how to work with—and learn from—each other. We don’t just learn from books and the internet; we also learn by communicating with our peers and with experts in the field. Students should learn how to collaborate with others and cultivate a personal learning network of peers and experts whom they can turn to for advice and support.

    .

    Jaskol predicts that, with world development turning everyone into a global citizen, peer learning and cross-cultural mindfulness will be key to individual success. The future will definitely favor those who can understand, communicate with, and team up with others in their network. This is the reason why Pioneer holds peer-learning sessions where scholars are obligated to learn about their peers’ research topics and offer feedback to each other.

    .

    As an example of the power of a global peer network, November cites Olivia Van Ledtje, who—at age nine—already had a global following on Twitter. Olivia records a video blog called LivBits in which she shares information about the books she has read and her observations about life. With the help of her mother, who is an educator herself, Liv is using social media to expand her worldview, learn from other experts, and even connect with people she admires. “Every kid should have a global network like Liv,” November says.

    .

    4) Teachers must learn to shift their roles.

    .

    Fostering independent learners requires a shift in the habits and culture of the classroom. It also requires teachers to give up some degree of control over the flow of information.

    .

    For example, Jaskol sees a fine line between answering students’ questions and challenging students to find the answers for themselves. Rather than bailing them out if they hit a snag in their research, he says, “the faculty should guide them towards further inspiration.”

    .

    5) Teachers should challenge students with authentic problems and open-ended questions.

    .

    With standardized tests increasingly dominating students’ academic lives, it is becoming a norm that most of the problems presented to students are perceived to have a right or wrong answer, Jaskol says. But that’s not how the problems students will encounter in the “real world” take shape. When students are challenged to explore open-ended questions that have some real-world relevance, they develop the skills and habits they’ll need to take on challenges in their lives—and their passion for learning is ignited.

    .

    November agrees. “If you’re solving for X, it’s just not interesting,” he says. “You’re pumping through a formula. But if you’re applying algebra to design a prosthetic for a child whose family can’t afford one, and you’ve got a 3D printer so you can create one for that child yourself, then it makes sense to study algebra.”

    .

    Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer who has been covering education for more than 20 years. He can be reached at denniswpierce@gmail.com.

    .

    http://www.theedadvocate.org/5-keys-fostering-independent-learning/

    .

     

    see more
  • Helping Gifted Students Reach Their Full Potential

    Education Week’s blogs > Education Futures: Emerging Trends in K-12, December 11, 2017

    By Dennis Pierce

    .

    When Tyler Bennett and Esther Reyes began their freshman year at Achievement First High School in Brooklyn four years ago, Monica Debbeler could tell right away they were destined for success–and that the school was dedicated to bringing the challenging opportunities they needed to them.

     

    “Tyler was truly motivated by her desire to learn, not just by grades or social pressures, but by a very deep desire to know and understand more,” said Debbeler, who is the school’s dean of college. “And Esther impressed me from day one with the seriousness with which she approached her education. She has gone above and beyond in her academics in ways no student has before.”

     

    The Challenge of Challenging Gifted Students

     

    Finding opportunities to keep gifted students like Tyler and Esther engaged in high school can be challenging. That’s true even for a school like Achievement First, a public charter school with a strong college preparatory mission, where students must be accepted into a four-year college before earning their diploma.

     

    Debbeler–a researcher who served as special projects coordinator for the 800-student school at the time–had come across Pioneer Academics, which offers college-level research opportunities to exceptional high school students worldwide.

     

    “It immediately struck me as an opportunity that would push our most intellectually curious students to a level beyond what our high school could offer,” she said. “The opportunity to do research before even enrolling in college is something that our (gifted) students are hungry for.”

     

    Collaborating with Professors

     

    According to Pioneers Academics’ program director and co-founder Matthew Jaskol, the Pioneer Research Program identifies gifted high school students and arranges collaborations with faculty from prestigious colleges and universities, who mentor the students one-on-one as they pursue original research of their own choosing.

     

    The program, which is conducted entirely online during the spring and summer months, gives high achievers an outlet in which to channel their passion for learning, while also exposing them to the rigors of college-level research. Since its founding in 2013, more than 800 students from 27 countries have benefitted from the experience. And, thanks to partnerships with several nonprofit organizations, many students–including Tyler and Esther–have received need-based scholarships to participate.

     

    Tyler, who is passionate about literature and writing, studied with a Pomona College professor for her research. She chose to compare Ta-Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me and Tony Morrison’s The Bluest Eye. Esther was mentored by a professor from New York University’s Program in International Relations as she researched the challenges that Muslims face in modern France.

     

    “I feel there are some similarities between my own Mexican heritage and those who identify as Muslims,” said Esther, whose father was deported back to Mexico when she was a child, leaving her undocumented mother to raise three daughters and support the family. “In my writing and discussions, I want to talk not only about what it means to be a Mexican, but also what it means to be from different cultures, ethnicities, and backgrounds.”

     

    This fall, both girls have moved on to Ivy League universities: Tyler to Princeton and Esther to Yale. They credit their research experience with helping them transcend their personal circumstances and prepare for success in college. The experience “has made me a better writer,” Tyler said. “It has built up my confidence to the point that I now believe in my abilities and feel that I deserve to attend a premier university with the highest academic standards.”

     

    From the Classroom to the ‘Real World’

     

    Some of the “passion projects” that students take on within the program have important real-world implications. For instance, Indian student Rahil Bathwal used graph theory–the mathematical study of network nodes and their connections–to explore potential solutions to his native Mumbai’s landfill problem.

     

    “The waste management problems, I’ve seen in my city are quite drastic, and I wanted to develop something that could be implemented in the future,” said Rahil, who is now attending the California Institute of Technology. “This (experience) has helped me understand real-world problem solving.” Although he has moved on to college, Rahil continues to work on his research study.

     

    Pioneer Academics’ Jaskol said that students like Rahil face an often-overlooked challenge: With schools and districts focused on helping struggling students achieve grade-level proficiency, students at the very top end of the academic spectrum often aren’t getting the stimulation they need to stay engaged in school or tap their full potential.

     

    While U.S. law acknowledges that gifted students have academic needs that are not traditionally met in regular school settings, “there are no specific requirements in place for serving these students,” Jaskol said. “Instead, gifted education is a local responsibility. As a result, gifted students can end up as an underserved population. Only by challenging them — and not simply assigning them more of the same sort of work–will we discover just how much they can achieve.”

     

    Dennis Pierce is a freelance writer with 20 years of experience in covering education. He can be reached at denniswpierce@gmail.com.

    see more
  • Justice and the Arab Spring: A Guide to the Arab Street

    Students began signing on to Pioneer Academics’ Pioneer Open Dialogue Series (PODS) landing page a half-hour early, not to get a good seat, for no one had to leave their home to attend; but to make sure the technology was working.  “Microphone?” “Check!”  “Camera?” Check!” “You’re good to go,” from Pioneer Academics Program Director Matthew Jaskol meant you were registered, signed in and ready to participate in Pioneer Academic’s first Pioneer Open Discussion Series event of 2017: Justice and the Arab Spring: A Guide to Arab Street with Princeton University Professor Lawrence Rosen, PhD.

    When 9:00 a.m. EDT arrived, 35 students from US, India, Canada, Qatar, South Africa, Turkey, Taiwan, and China were online and excited to join Dr. Rosen in a discussion of cultural components of the Arab Spring through the eyes of people on the street in the Middle East.

    .

    First, the students met two men politely trying to determine who was responsible for a bird escaping from a shopkeeper’s cage.  Who’s responsible for the loss? The shopper or the shopkeeper?  In Arab culture, it’s the first sentient being involved who is responsible. In this case, the bird! It is man’s responsibility to use his reason to understand this, and to enhance his relationships with others. So the shopper and the shopkeeper agree they both are responsible, and parted friends, i.e., indebted to each other.

    .

    Next Dr. Rosen introduced the students to Hussein from Morocco, who inquires of Dr. Rosen whether there is corruption in America. “Yes,” responds Dr. Rosen, as he cites several examples.

    .

    “Bribing a politician,” posits Dr. Rosen? “No, that’s just politics,” says Hussein.” “Kickbacks,” says Dr. Rosen. “No, that’s just business,” says Hussein. Then Dr. Rosen cites nepotism; and Hussein says that’s just family solidarity, and concludes, “That’s why America is a great country, because there is no corruption there!”

    .

    Lastly the students met Ibanik, also from Morocco, who tells us about an individual whom he knows not, based on pictures he is shown of that person in social settings. He talks about the person without regard for chronology, as if the person’s past is his present.

    .

    Each of these examples, Dr. Rosen explains, are manifestations of Arab culture, in which reason and relationships are paramount, and which seem unintelligible to many Westerners.  By understanding these men on the street, Dr. Rosen went on, one can better understand the Arab Spring and what it meant to the countries of North Africa and the Middle East.

    .

    Dr. Rosen responded to student questions submitted in advance (so he could prepare better answers) and to some rising spontaneously during his talk.

    .

    .

    Dr. Lawrence Rosen, Ph.D., is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Anthropology at Princeton University. He is both a distinguished anthropologist and accomplished attorney at law.

    .

    Student reactions to the Pioneer Open Dialogue Series were enthusiastic, even though for some it was late night; while for others, early morning.  “It was a great presentation and it really invoked a lot of thoughts for me,” said one student. “The session was enlightening, and has helped me understand the situation of the Arab Spring from a different point of view,” explained another.

    .

    Pioneer Open Dialogue Series is free to persons of all ages and ethnicities from around the world. All that is required is a computer with a camera and microphone. “It’s Pioneer’s way of providing additional educational opportunities to a much wider audience than the Pioneer Research Program provides,” Pioneer Academics Program Director Matthew Jaskol states. “It’s a way of sharing great ideas,” Jaskol explained, “without regard for anything but the joy of learning.”

    .

    The next Pioneer Open Dialogue Series discussion is planned for Summer 2017.

    .

    Pioneer Academics provides 100% online educational opportunities for academically outstanding high school students around the world through it’s innovative Pioneer Research Program. Learn more at www.pioneeracademics.com.

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  • Pioneer Professor: You Can Be an Entrepreneur

    Pioneer Academics held a Pioneer Open Dialogue Seminar (PODS) with Professor Ted Zoller of University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business on December 16, 2016. At UNC, he oversees the teaching and outreach programs of the Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. Dr. Zoller spoke online with 20 students from six regions: Rwanda, India, China, Hong Kong, the United States, and Malaysia. He spoke about what it takes to be an entrepreneur and how students can develop the skills necessary to become one.

    Co-host: Christina Sun

    .

    Cohosting the event was Christina Sun, one of Professor Zoller’s students in the Pioneer Research Program last summer. Christina is a senior at Harbin No.3 High School in Harbin, China. Opening the event, Dr. Zoller said to the students that the goal of his talk was “to open you up to what could be your entrepreneurial future.”

    What is entrepreneurship?

    Dr. Zoller challenged student attendees, asking, “are you an entrepreneur?” He said that many young people don’t see themselves as entrepreneurs when, in fact, they have the potential to be. He said the common excuses are “I don’t have an idea,” “I don’t have enough resources,” and “I don’t have the capability to be an entrepreneur.” Dr. Zoller then told students that entrepreneurship is a process of constructing and designing their own lives. He said that the biggest barrier to becoming an entrepreneur is giving oneself permission to seize opportunities. The students learned Howard Steven’s definition of entrepreneurship – “the pursuit of opportunity without regard to resources currently controlled.”

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    Dr. Zoller likened entrepreneurship to playing checkers and not chess. One always has to look at the changing context of the market. A new idea is only disruptive until the market adopts and assumes it. Innovative ideas may not initially be well received because they’ve never existed before. But if they solve a real need, then they will become part of the market landscape.

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    Success

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    Dr. Zoller led a discussion of words like “opportunity,” “risk, “luck,” and “failure” in the context of entrepreneurship. He also lingered on the word “success,” saying everyone has a different understanding of it, but that “unless you define it, you don’t know how to acquire it.” He advised students to think about the special contribution they wanted to make in their lifetimes and the change they’d like to see in the world, and then define that as success for themselves.

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    Preparing to be an entrepreneur

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    One student in India asked what formal training or things students should do to prepare to be entrepreneurs. Dr. Zoller suggested studying the nature of markets, finance, and economics, and also building experience in the domain in which they’d like to make a difference, like biotechnology, product development, etc. He also recommended students consider universities that have programs to teach innovation, problem solving, and business creation.

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    New ideas

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    The discussion also touched on the nature of ideas. Students learned that “ideas are valuable, but ideas that are applied are invaluable.” Dr. Zoller told them that entrepreneurs may have new ideas or not, but that they take ideas and make them available to others to solve real problems.

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    What makes an entrepreneur?

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    In the session, Dr. Zoller conceived of a model of entrepreneurship in which the entrepreneur understands both the market and an innovation. The entrepreneur knows the need of a customer that’s not being met and then the insight that will allow an innovation to meet that need. The customer may not be aware a problem is not being solved until they’re presented with the solution. This is where the entrepreneur’s value proposition lies. This entire process is one of iteration. The expert entrepreneur arrives at the value proposition through having an insight that they test in the market, and then take the market’s feedback to improve their solution. This is often called “lean methodology.”

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    The importance of teams

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    Dr. Zoller also hit on another key component of entrepreneurship—execution. It is essential to deliver a solution in a timely way that does not expend more resources than it creates. He said that a strong team brings in “left brain entrepreneurs,” those who focus on details, and “right brain entrepreneurs,” those who see the big picture. The left brain entrepreneur dives deep into the business plan and into how very specific details work. The right brain entrepreneur considers how the overall business model meets market trends. A good venture will make use of both kinds of people because they complement each other.

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  • Pioneer Announces Nominees for Publication in the 2016 Pioneer Research Journal

    Pioneer Academics has announced the nominees for publication in the 2016 Pioneer Research Journal! The nominated papers were produced by 10th and 11th grade high school students from around the world and are the culmination of their participation in the Pioneer Research Program.

    The Journal is published each year to showcase the outstanding work of select young Pioneer scholars.

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    For many of the nominees, the paper represents an academic milestone. Despite their prior unfamiliarity with the academic research process, the students quickly learned how research is conducted at the undergraduate level and beyond. Under the guidance of their Pioneer professors, all distinguished educators at top American colleges and universities, the students mastered critical research skills, such as determining a research topic, locating sources, and forming cohesive, structured arguments to defend research results.

    ˝Pioneer really taught me many skills, both academic and personal,˝  said nominee Sophia Xu of China, whose paper provided a business model for app developers that could help create effective solutions for keeping diabetes in check. ˝The most important skills Pioneer taught me are the academic research skills. Pioneer showed me how to select information which was most important for my research paper. The second set of skills Pioneer taught me was on a more personal level – how to express my opinions and how to clearly communicate with professors.˝

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    ˝Something that surprised me is the amount of pride that I feel after having done the Pioneer Program,˝ said nominee Rahil Bathwal of India, who used mathematical models to solve his city’s trash problems.

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    Each nominated paper will be evaluated by the Pioneer Research Journal Committee, a panel of distinguished professors from leading American undergraduate and graduate institutions, who will determine which papers are to be included in the Journal. The research papers under consideration represent the top 20% of papers written in the Pioneer Research Program’s academic year of 2016.

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    The 2016 Pioneer Research Journal student nominees are as follows.

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    Nominees

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    Adonyev, Philipp

    Eton College – Windsor, United Kingdom

    We should not strive to be happy

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    Bathwal, Rahil

    Jamnabai Narsee International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

    Locating Obnoxious Facilities

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    Chen, Xinyu

    High School Affiliated to Shanghai Jiao Tong University – Shanghai, China

    Sound of Silence: African Spirituality, Cosmology, and Christianity in The Bluest Eye

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    Cheng, Yi-Yun (Ethan)

    International School of Kuala Lumpur – Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

    A Review Paper on the CRISPR/Cas System

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    Du, Yibing

    The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China – Beijing, China

    East European Jewish Children’s Health Conditions on the Lower East Side, New York City, 1890-1914

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    Erez, Erce

    Robert College of Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey

    Visual Proofs of Fibonacci-like and Other Interesting Sequences

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    Fu, Minqi

    Beijing National Day School – Beijing, China

    Could LIGO Have Heard the Event GW150914 Before Its Upgrade?

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    Guo, Boyu (Beryl)

    WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

    Your Body, My Voice: An analysis of Chinese Naruto Fans’ communication patterns

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    Hu, Sean

    Pacific American School – Hsinchu, Taiwan

    Athena’s Spoiled Olives – How Institutional Flaws of the European Union and Greek Politics Instigated a Failing Economy

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    Huang,Yutong

    The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

    The Silver Lining Behind the Darkness: Social Media as an Innovative Tool to Combat Sex Trafficking in Southeast Asia

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    Ick, Isaac

    Dobyns-Bennett High School – Kingsport, Tennessee, USA

    Molecule Transistors: The Effects of Test Molecules on the Conduction Patterns of a Lithium Nanowire

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     Jin, Miaochen (Andy)

    Beijing No.8 High School – Beijing, China

    Coloring Integers: Van der Waerden’s Theorem and Related Theorems

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    Khanna, Samar

    Dhirubhai Ambani International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

    The Effect of Elastic Waves on Semiconductor Band Gap Energies

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    Khemka, Pranav Bharat

    Jamnabai Narsee International School – Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

    Study of Neural Circuits Involved in the Intuitive Decision Making Process in Teleostei

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    Li, Kevin

    Naperville North High School – Naperville, Illinois, USA

    The Market Efficiency of “Smart Money” During the Tech Bubble

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    Liu, Enci (Jessica)

    The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

    Chinese Tracking: An Unexploited Controversial Hotspot with Underlying Benefits

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    Luo, Dinghao

    The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, Chin

    Comparison of the Effectiveness of Lithium, Valproate and Aripiprazole for Bipolar Disorder

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    Ma, Xiaoyuan (Carol)

    Shenzhen Middle School – Shenzhen, China

    Employing Nature: A Review of Microbial Remediation of Heavy Metal Contamination in Soil

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    Madadi, Ali Masoud

    United World College Dilijan – Dilijian, Armenia

    How Afghan Migrants Impact Their Homeland Through Remittances

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    Mafi, Mina

    Crystal Springs Upland School – Hillsborough, California, USA

    The Role of Islam in the Gulf Nations

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    Qu, Jason

    St. George’s School – Vancouver, Canada

    Political Culture and Perspective in Transition: Generational Cleavages in the 2016 European Union Referendum in the United Kingdom

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    Roth, Joshua

    Northside College Prep High School – Chicago, Illinois, USA

    Culture and Pain: The Effect of Culture on the Production of Endorphins in the Brain

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    Surprenant, Zita

    Crossroads School – Santa Monica, California, USA

    Residential Skyscrapers in New York City

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    Tan, Xin

    Chengdu Experimental Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

    The Great Leap Forward: An Althusserian Analysis of Leftism as Ideology

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    Tomar, Ria

    Mission San Jose High School – Fremont, California, USA

    The Neural and Cognitive Basis of Dreaming

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    Truesdale II, Wallace

    The Pingry School – New Jersey, USA

    When the Soldier Becomes the Robot: Examination of the Mental Effects of Autonomous Weaponry

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    Ugur, Baris Eser

    Robert College of Istanbul – Istanbul, Turkey

    Behavior of Single Molecule Capacitors in Correlation with the Molecular Structure

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    Wang, Jingxu

    High School Attached to Capital Normal University – Beijing, China

    2016 United States Risk Analysis

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    Wang, Yixi (Cecilia)

    Chengdu Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

    Comparison of Nonverbal Communication in Traditional Chinese Medicine and Western Medicine

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    Wong, Yun Ying (Alesha)

    Tenby International School – Penang, Malaysia

    Comparing and Contrasting Economic Development: The Case of Malaysia and Singapore

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    Xu, Cheng (Sophia)

    WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

    Potential for Developers and Investors in Diabetes Apps to Profit by Improving the Chinese Healthcare Industry

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    Xu, Wenxi (Tilly)

    The Madeira School – McLean, Virginia, USA

    A comparison of Ideologies and Practices: Malcolm X’s influence on Black Lives Matter

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    Xu, Yuchen (Henry)

    The High School Affiliated to Renmin University of China – Beijing, China

    A World of Possibility — Tier-Oriented Base-Storage Network for CCN Routing

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    Xi, Yue (Kelly)

    The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

    High-Tech Organicity

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    Yin, Boshang

    Beijing 101 Middle School – Beijing, China

    The Chinese Reform of the Science and Humanities Curriculum

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    Zeng, Lu (Doris)

    Shenzhen Foreign Languages School – Shenzhen, China

    From the Dark Knight to Francis Underwood: Twenty-first Century Noir Heroes

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    Zhang, Haiyi

    The Experimental High School Attached To Beijing Normal University – Beijing, China

    Urbanization, Tourism, and Village Life: Cuandixia Village

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    Zhang, Tianren

    WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

    The Impact of Florence Nightingale on Sanitary Reform during the Victorian Era

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    Zhang, Tongxin

    WHBC of Wuhan Foreign Languages School – Wuhan, China

    How Effective is Fiscal Policy in Correcting Income Inequality?

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    Zhang, Zijun (Annabel)

    The Experimental High School Attached To Beijing Normal University – Beijing China

    Characterization of chitosan/PVA scaffolds with chitosans of different average molecular weights for tissue engineering

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    Zhao, Zihao (Tony)

    Shenzhen Foreign Languages School – Shenzhen, China

    The Relationship Between Supercontraction, Water Content and the Mechanical Properties of Spider Silk

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    Zheng, Ziyue (Mae)

    Shenzhen Middle School – Shenzhen, China

    Immigration: A Cure or a Curse? The Effects of Immigration Inflow on the Wages and Employment of European Residents

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    Zhong, Haoyang

    The Affiliated High School of South China Normal University – Guangzhou, China

    Investigation of the radicalization process of Aum Shinrikyo Members

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    Zhou, Chen (Andre)

    Chengdu Jiaxiang Foreign Languages School – Chengdu, China

    Impact of School Facilities on the Quality of Senior High School Education in China: A Quantitative Study

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    Zhu, Mengwen (Jack)

    Henan Experimental High School – Zhengzhou, China

    Analyzing Tactile Sensory Plasticity through TISL, Attention, and Perceptual Learning Generalization

     

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  • AO Dialogue: Pomona College – A Small School With Outsized Possibilities

    Even though it’s small in size, Pomona College has a major reputation and is consistently ranked among the best liberal arts colleges in the US. It’s strong in research, resources and professional opportunities for students, and diversity in its community. This is why Pioneer Academics recently organized an Admission Officer (AO) Dialogue session for its Pioneer scholars with Assistant Dean of Admissions at Pomona College Samantha Schreiber.

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    Schreiber explained why Pomona’s size shouldn’t be considered a negative factor:

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    ˝Many of the opportunities for students exist because of the size of the school, and we can counterbalance our small size by having the consortium of Claremont Colleges. It’s also very easy to expand your circle here. Closer relationships are more valuable than having lots of people around.˝

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    Pomona is one of five undergraduate colleges and two graduate institutions that make up the Claremont Colleges Consortium. Even though Pomona has only 1663 students, there are almost 5,500 students living within a square mile radius/a 2.6 square kilometer radius, said Schreiber.

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    The school is located in Claremont, only 45 minutes from one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world – Los Angeles. The location provides many opportunities for research, internships or just having fun on the weekend.

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    admissionsaid4

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    .Studying in Pomona

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    Pomona offers 48 majors. That broad array complements the fact that students here have a wide variety of interests, academically and outside of the classroom. They really make the most of of the liberal arts concept, taking classes for fun as well as for learning for the sake of learning. Students often try different courses until they know where they want to focus their attention. This is why those who want to focus on only one field and be around people who are similar to them might not find what they are looking for at Pomona.

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    Students can also choose interdisciplinary majors like STS – science, technology and society – or PPE – philosophy, politics and economics. Media studies is another interdisciplinary major coordinated among different Claremont schools.

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    Pomona also lays claim to an excellent school for the arts. Students can become a serious musician or dancer, learn an instrument for the very first time, or take dance or theater.There are many opportunities to develop one’s creative side. Those who do not intend to major in theater, art, dance or music can still submit art supplements, which showcase their arts backround and artistic work to demonstrate how proud they are of their accomplishments.

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    It’s also important to mention that Pioneer scholars can submit the papers they have written, and the faculty at Pomona will examine them with interest.

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    anthony-shay-classroom

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    Shared Resources

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    The consortium enables students to cross-register and take courses in any of the Claremont Colleges. In addition to academic and faculty support, the Claremont Colleges share many resources that aid the growth and development of their students.

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    The most extensive Pomona programs for research and internships are the Pomona College Internship Program (PCIP) and the Summer Undergraduate Research Program (SURP).The PCIP was created because many internships these days are unpaid, so students have to choose between getting a job and getting important professional experience. If a student gets an unpaid internship, he can apply for the PCIP program which will pay for the internship. The program is run through the Career Development Office (CDO).

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    The SURP program is used for funding research, be it domestic or international, over the summer. Students have to write up their proposal and have a faculty member sign off on it. SURP will ensure the funds to make that research happen. Over 200 students receive funding each year, and they present their experience at a poster conference in the fall.

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    It’s very important to know that this is a widely available program; in fact, 45 percent of juniors and seniors receive this sort of funding. Prospecting students can find out more on the department’s website where receivers of the PCIP or SURP funding are listed along with the titles of their projects.

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    admissions-slide_1

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    The Student Experience

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    Pomona has an enviable student-faculty ratio of eight students to one professor. This means a great deal of personal attention and face-to-face interaction with professors in class. Students are expected to be ready to participate and to engage. They are held accountable for their education and are expected to take it seriously.

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    The one-on-one connection and personalization are a serious aspect of the academic experience at Pomona, even outside the classroom. Academic advising is done by the faculty, which helps students select courses and advise them on graduate programs. But the the most significant benefit they provide for students is showing them different paths to their goal. A great many students come with one idea about what they want to do, not realizing there are many ways to apply their knowledge or to accomplish their goals. It’s important that students come with open minds and explore different options before settling on one focus.

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    millikan-hall

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    The Sponsor Group Program and the ISMP

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    The Sponsor Group allows each student to be assigned two or three class sponsors who help him with any questions.

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    Pomona also offers a great deal of support for international students, such as the ISMP (International Student Mentoring Program). The program is optional. It allows international students to have a mentor, someone to talk to a to about the unique things they are experiencing while being so far away from home. Pomona’s first-year students are 12.5 percent international, while overall, international students comprise 10 percent of the population. This number is rising.

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    yamashita-sagehen

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    Applying to Pomona

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    There are two terms in which students can apply for Early Decision and one for Regular Decision. For Early Decision 1, the deadline is November 1st, and students learn the result on December 15th. The deadline for Early Decision 2 is January 1st, and the results are out February 15th. Regular decision deadline is January 1st, and the results come in by April 1st.

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    The difference between Early and Regular Decision is that the Regular Decision option gives students more time to work on their application and explore more schools. It’s less about tactics and more about having all the information needed to make a thoughtful decision. Admission during Early Decision is binding and prevents the applicant from applying to other schools. There are no set quotas for these two terms, and those who qualify for Early Decision will also qualify for Regular. The question is whether the student is ready to make that commitment.

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    internships

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    Outside of the Classroom

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    The largest student organization is called On the Loose (OTL). It runs programs almost every weekend to get students off campus and out into nature. The programs are all funded by the school because Pomona’s primary concern is that students have opportunities regardless of their financial situation.

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    The Draper Center for Community Partnership is here to connect students to the surrounding community. A majority of Pomona’s students will at some point perform some community volunteer work like tutoring school children or helping in afterschool programs. April 7th is a big day for community service; the entire college is encouraged to engage in projects sponsored by the school.

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    The Career Development Office (CDO) can meet students as soon as they set foot on campus and helps them find opportunities through the Claremont Connect website. The CDO has partnerships with different conosortia in this field which helps them find opportunities for students. Their staff is dedicated to specific areas like internships, graduate programs, and job programs, helping students at every stage of their career.

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    Most students also attend career fairs, and a great many companies come to Claremont because it has five schools and a subsantial pool of highly qualified students.

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    Schreiber finished her presentation by inviting Pioneer scholars to check out Pomona’s YouTube channel to learn more about the school and Pomona’s blog ‘Voices’ where students post their experiences.

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    ˝We also have interns and senior interviewers at our office,” Schreiber said, “whom you can contact online if you have questions.˝

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    Important Note: Colleges’ and universities’ admissions departments do not endorse any program, organization or company. Any type of organized communication with admissions officers should not be construed as an endorsement of the communication organizer.

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