Class Notes: Penn State, School Lunches and More Education News

Each week, TIME's Kayla Webley fills you in on the goings on in the education world, everything from pre-K to higher ed.

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Engineering Majors Are the Hardest-Working Students
College students, on average, say they study about 15 hours a week, according to the annual National Study on Student Engagement (NSSE). But when NSSE broke down their findings by major, they found some students study much more than others. While engineering majors reported spending 19 hours a week hitting the books, business and social sciences majors clocked only 14 hours per week. The survey also tracks behaviors generally thought to lead to success in college. Of those findings: 88% of first-year students said they took careful notes during class, but only seven out of 10 students sought help when they did not understand the course material.

In Wake of Scandal, Penn State Teaches Students How to Interview for Jobs
Just in case students encounter potential employers who want to chat them up about the sexual abuse scandal at their alma mater, Penn State’s career services department issued a letter to students giving them advice on how to handle the potentially uncomfortable situation. “Students may acknowledge that they are primarily concerned for the victims and also concerned for Penn State in these unsettling times. However, students should keep the focus on the job or internship for which they are applying and how they will excel in the opportunity,” the letter says.

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Do Colleges Have Too Much Power?
Speaking of Penn State, I wrote an article this week titled, “Crime on Campus: Penn State Raises Question, Do Colleges Have Too Much Power?” In the story, I raise the point that despite having a responsibility to disclosing campus crime, the process is often fraught with confusion, loopholes, inaction, inconsistencies and, in some cases, negligence and cover-ups. One of the most troubling aspects of the Penn State scandal is that school officials who were notified that a young boy was allegedly raped in a campus shower in 2002 did not report the incident to local authorities. Their inaction begs the question that even though there are laws in place that stipulate the proper protocol to follow upon hearing reports of sexual abuse, assault and harassment on campus, What’s to stop officials at large-scale institutions — many of which operate full-fledged police departments — from sweeping such unpleasantness under the rug? Read my full story here.

New ‘Race to the Top’ Round
In the Department of Education’s competition that just keeps giving, Education Secretary Arne Duncan announced a third round of Race to the Top yesterday. This time around the nine states who were runners-up in the last round — Arizona, California, Colorado, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and South Carolina — are able to submit applications to win a portion of $200 million if they can demonstrate a meaningful investment in advancing science, technology, engineering and mathematics education.

The Next Penn State?
Officials at The Citadel, a military college in South Carolina, admitted this week that they did not do enough to pursue allegations of inappropriate sexual activity by a counselor at a 2002 summer camp held on campus. In 2007, school administrators were told of the sexual abuse and conducted an internal investigation, but the police were never informed of the allegations. (Under federal law, school officials are required to disclose all sexual abuse allegations reported on campus.) The man accused of the sexual abuse, Louis Neal ReVille, who is now in custody, went on to become a school principal and coach in Mount Pleasant, S.C. According to local reports, he has now “confessed to charges he sexually molested teen boys, aged 13 to 15.”

Bullied LGBT Youth Report Negative Health Effects in Later Life
New research from the Family Acceptance Project at San Francisco State University found that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered youth who experience high levels of victimization in middle and high school are more likely as young adults to be depressed, make a suicide attempt that requires medical care, get a sexually transmitted disease or contract HIV. According to the researchers, this is the first known study to examine the relationship between bullying in school — specifically bullying related to sexual orientation and gender identity — and adult health. Read more on the study here.

Update: 11 States Apply for ‘No Child’ Waivers
Eleven states submitted applications for relief from the strict requirements of No Child Left Behind, the federal education standards championed by George W. Bush in 2002. The waivers, announced by President Obama in September, would grant states exemptions from rules that officials have long complained are impossible to meet, including one key provision requiring all students to be proficient in math and reading by 2014.

Pizza Is a Vegetable, Says Congress
Pushing back against the plan to improve the health of schools lunches, Congress voted this week to unravel many of the standards passed by the Agriculture Department earlier this year, according to the Associated Press. Among the measures scrapped: tomato paste on pizzas will continue to be counted as a vegetable, as it is now. The USDA had wanted only to count a half-cup of tomato paste or more as a vegetable, and a serving of pizza has less than that, says the AP. Congress also walked back plans to limit the use of potatoes, restrict the amount of sodium on the menu and boost the amount of whole grains.

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Kayla Webley is a Writer-Reporter at TIME. Find her on Twitter at @kaylawebley or on Facebook at You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.