March 19, 2017

Inbox [March 19]: Worcester State tests exam-free waters, WPI among tops for earning potential, Anna Maria receives $200K grant, AAS gets $17.7M for expansion and renovation, Worcester County advantageous for home-buyers

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WPI's Beech Tree -- campus won't be so serene with all these robots in town.

Interesting and worthwhile things happen every day in our community. Alas, we can’t cover them all. That’s where Inbox comes in, to offer readers an easily digestible compilation of interesting and noteworthy items you and your neighbors keep telling us about.

Worcester State going ‘test optional’ for fall 2018

Because SAT and ACT test scores are not very predictive of student outcomes, Worcester State University is joining a growing number of universities going “test optional” in its undergraduate admissions process, beginning with applicants for fall 2018.

“Worcester State University seeks the fairest, most outcome-oriented process for admitting students,” Vice President for Enrollment Management Ryan Forsythe said. “Our research shows that SAT or ACT scores are far down the list of factors that predict whether or not a student will succeed. We therefore have decided to consider students who do not submit those scores for admission.”

Forsythe says that several months of research and campus community input preceded the decision to change the testing requirement. “For some,” he added, “the test scores are an unnecessary barrier that discourages them from applying.”

Current practice, for those entering fall 2017 or spring 2018, requires that applicants submit either an SAT or ACT score. Applicants who do not provide a test result are not considered. Except for some specific programs, students applying for the fall 2018 admission cycle will no longer be required to submit such a score. Applicants may or may not choose to do so.

Exceptions to the new policy include applicants to the university’s high-demand nursing and occupational studies programs; international and English as a Second Language applicants; and those who were home-schooled.

More information is available on the Worcester State University website

CNBC ranks WPI 7th in country

CNBC has ranked WPI seventh nationally in its recent survey, “The 30 colleges where students go on to earn the most money.”

Using the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, CNBC calculated that the median income for graduates 10 years after graduation is $80,300. Harvard topped the list at $95,500. Other Massachusetts schools on the list were MIT ($89,200), second; Bentley ($76,900), 15th; and Mass. Maritime ($69,000), 30th.

Read the entire story on CNBC’s website

Anna Maria receives George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation grant

Anna Maria College has received a $200,000 grant from the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation to support the upgrade of existing classrooms on campus to create modern, interactive spaces for teaching and learning.

“We are very grateful to have the George F. and Sybil H. Fuller Foundation’s generous support for this important upgrade,” Anna Maria President Mary Lou Retelle said. “This technology will allow Anna Maria College students to further enhance their learning environment and improve their skills.”

These interactive technology classrooms will provide a collaborative “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) learning environment, and replace all existing projectors with 75-inch LED touchscreen displays with the ability to simulcast classroom technology as well as personal devices. Along with webcams and additional hardware/software, faculty and students will be able to work collaboratively with each other and connect with others outside the classroom.

The two-year phased grant of $200,000 will allow for this update of Anna Maria’s classrooms, elevating student profile and enhancing the college’s competitive edge.

MassDevelopment bond helps Antiquarian Society expand

MassDevelopment has issued a $17,705,600 tax-exempt bond on behalf of the American Antiquarian Society, a scholarly society and independent research library in Worcester.

The AAS is using bond proceeds to expand and upgrade its facilities by buying a property at 4 Regent St. for office, meeting and storage space; demolishing existing structures and making improvements at 90 Park Ave. for parking; and reconfiguring its existing facility at 185 Salisbury St. by relocating its conservation laboratory, HVAC systems, and other service equipment while creating new seminar, meeting and exhibition areas. The AAS is also using bond proceeds to refinance past debt, and United Bank purchased the bond.

“The AAS preserves some of the most significant artifacts and printed material from American history, from tea from the Boston Tea Party to the preeminent collection of the works of James Fenimore Cooper,” MassDevelopment President and CEO Marty Jones said. “The organization provides Massachusetts residents with an incredible cultural resource, and we are pleased this bond will help AAS update its facilities and better serve visitors to New England’s second-largest city today and in the future.”

The American Antiquarian Society, a scholarly society and a major independent research library, was founded by the Revolutionary War-era newspaper publisher Isaiah Thomas in 1812. The AAS library houses the United States’ largest and most accessible collection of printed cultural materials dating from the Colonial period through 1876. The organization also curates manuscripts and a substantial collection of secondary texts, bibliographies, digital resources and reference works related to all aspects of American history and culture before the 20th century.

“With the help of MassDevelopment, we can update and expand our main library building and ensure that we continue to preserve and share the nation’s many diverse stories with the American people,” AAS President Ellen S. Dunlap said.

In buying vs. renting, Worcester County second in state

Worcester County is the second-best county in Massachusetts in which to buy a home, according to SmartAsset, a financial technology company.

Last week, SmartAsset released a survey that compares average rent and home prices in counties across the U.S. in order to find the places where buying makes the most sense.

Worcester County’s rent-to-buy index was 77.4, just below Bristol County’s 78.0. The average monthly mortgage payment, according to the site, was $995, and the average home price was $359,428. The average monthly rent, meanwhile, was $1,329.

Read the entire story on the SmartAsset website

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