Today in academia: a student debt conundrum, a homecoming for detained U.S. students in Cairo, the latest adderall on-campus fretting, and Harvard's early application vortex.

  • Take a loan or don't take a loan, either way there's no good answer on how to best pay tuition. And here's the flip-side of the student loan debt problem (average debt for students who took loans last year: $25,000+). It's just as bad, apparently, for the debt-free. For those students that are trying to pinch pennies and work extra jobs, "[e]ducators aren't sure that's always such a good thing," the Associated Press informs somewhat counter-intuitively. "Students who take extreme steps to avoid debt at all costs, they say, may get stuck with something much more financially damaging than moderate student loan debt. They may not wind up with a college degree." So, to generalize further, the choice for college students is: work longer hours and risk burning out before you get a degree, or take a loan and be burdened with it while hunting for a job after graduating. If you choose the "debt aversion" route, you check off "risk factors" for not being able to graduate, and if you take a loan then you'll be stuck trying to pay it off for years.  [Associated Press]
  • The latest fretting over on-campus Adderall use: there's no way to police it.  Talking about Adderall on college campuses is a tried-and-true newspaper trend--identify a unnamed prescription user who sells pills on campus and use him/her to tell the story of how the study drug is proliferating at schools nationwide. The Washington Post, in its latest appraisal of the usage of the ADHD medication, focuses on how it's tough to regulate.  Well, yes. The using students, after all, are presumably glued to computers in the library a few hours before an exam. And the Post, in an "analysis of statistics from area schools" found that there wasn't much reported incidents involving the study drugs. To one interviewed Vanderbilt administrator's credit, he just side-stepped the issue to talk about another pervasive campus problem: "Study drugs are 'kind of a silent issue. Everyone’s aware of it, but I think we’re all focused on the more prevalent one — alcohol.'” [The Washington Post]
  • Those U.S.  students throwing Molotov cocktails in Egypt are back home and deny throwing explosives. At least one of them, Derrik Sweeney, says to the Associated Press that the account of him and two other students hurling firebombs off a rooftop in Tahrir Square last week at Egyptian security forces is off.  Sweeney, who's now safely returned stateside after being detained by authorities, "denies doing anything to harm anyone and said he and the other Americans weren't ever on the roof or handling or throwing explosives." His mother, when interviewed earlier last week, had the same remarks: "He cares about the world. He cares about people and I can't imagine him ever doing something to hurt someone." [Associated Press]
  • Harvard and Princeton's early application vortex grabs applicants from everywhere else.  Like, for instance, the University of Pennsylvania (for the last time, it isn't Penn State). Or Stanford, MIT and Columbia. At least, that's how the The Daily Pennsylvanian chose to frame its declining early admissions numbers: "Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Columbia, Stanford and Yale universities declined by 4.72 percent, 5.68 percent, 0.83 percent and 18.01 percent respectively" due to, the theory goes, those same possibly advantaged applicants choosing to apply to Harvard or Princeton instead. But the idea doesn't explain why "Dartmouth, Cornell and Brown universities saw slight increases in early applications," as the newspaper also notes. You'd think that there'd be plenty of overlap between the Dartmouth, Harvard and Penn applicants. [The Daily Pennsylvanian]