News on scholarships, peace corps, women engineers, other issues

Scholarship search firms charge high fees but may provide no more useful information than prospective college students can collect on their own in a local library, at a school guidance counselor's office, or colleges to which they're applying, warns Donald Chenelle, director of undergraduate admission and university financial aid at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland. But begin your search for funds after your junior year in high school, he advises, as many scholarships have early deadlines.

The Peace Corps wants teachers for Africa, Asia, Latin America, the Caribbean , and the South Pacific. More than 85,000 volunteers have served over the past 21 years. Peace Corps volunteers receive a living allowance, paid travel, training, and health care, plus a readjustment allowance at the end of two years of service. There are Peace Corps Recruiting Offices in major US cities.

As part of what appears to be the seeds of similar programs springing up around the country, five full scholarships will be awarded in 1983-84 by Bradford College, Bradford, Mass., to students with one or more unemployed parents and who demonstrate academic excellence and great financial need.Applicants must be US citizens. Bradford is 35 miles north of Boston. It enrolls students from 25 states and 30 foreign countries and has BA programs in the creative arts, humanities, social sciences, administration, and management.

Foreign students who want to attend college or university in the United States can obtain a new publication that lists a wide variety of grants and scholarships available to people from other countries.

The publication, put out by the Domestic Affairs Department of the American Jewish Committee, is titled ''Higher Education in the United States: Opportunities for Foreign Students,'' and may be obtained for $1 from the American Jewish Committee, 165 East 56th Street, New York, N.Y. 10022.

The number of women majoring in engineeering today is 18 times higher than in 1970, an increase from 360 to more than 6,500. Nationally women represent 15 to 20 percent of all engineering students.

Students who borrow most default the least, ''The Chronicle of Higher Education'' reports, citing a study of Guaranteed Student Loans. Borrowers whose total debt is more than $9,000 have a better payback record than those who borrowed less.

The study found that the total default rate on federal loans guaranteed by state loan agencies since 1965 was 12.16 percent. The rate was 13.33 percent for borrowers who owed between $1,000 and $2,000 in guaranteed loans. It was only 5. 67 percent for those who owed between $13,000 and $15,000.

A recent National Assessment study sponsored by the Education Commission of the States reports that students with poor academic track records made some large gains in reading while holding their own in science and mathematics over the course of the seventies. But academically able teenagers lost ground in math and science skills.

The tentative ''why'' behind the results is threefold: (1) Comepnsatory education programs flourished, partly as a result of federal programs; (2) Support for science programs dwindled, and mathematics didn't get the emphasis reading, with teachers in these two areas in increasingly short supply; (3) The popular back-to-basics movement often focused on lower level skills, perhaps at the expense of a challenge for more able learners.

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