Smarter Colleges vs. Best Colleges

A new study by Luminosity found what they believe are the 20 top colleges/universities in the U.S.  They tested students' abilities to solve problems and use critical thinking skills. I agree with most of the schools on their list - take a look for yourself and see how they arrived at their findings. I think some schools will be surprised they didn't make the list!


Source:  Business Insider   

The 20 Smartest Colleges In America

Think there's a difference between the most selective colleges and those with the smartest students?
That's what Lumosity, a cognitive training site run by Lumos Labs, sought to find out with a series of games designed to test America's leading higher education institutions.
After realizing that national and global rankings for colleges each year were based almost solely on standardized test performances and information about the school's resources (including endowment per student, student-faculty ratio, and graduation rates), Dr. Daniel Sternberg at Lumosity took it upon himself to discover which institution really had the smartest individuals.
He and his team tested 60,000 students at over 400 colleges and universities to play games that measured various cognitive skills including attention, memory, speed of processing, problem solving, and flexibility.
The study even broke down the college rankings by cognitive area, finding that Dartmouth College performed the highest on attention, Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology was the best with memory, Harvard students ranked highest at speed of processing, and that Yale students performed best on flexibility.
The overall winner was the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the school with the best problem solvers. MIT has consistently ranked highly on best-of-schools lists, and was recently named the top university in the world by the QS World University Rankings list, beating last year's winner the University of Cambridge as well as Harvard, Yale, and Princeton for the title.
The top 20 schools are below. Click here to view the complete Lumosity study.
  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  2. Washington University in St Louis
  3. Dartmouth College
  4. Wellesley College
  5. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology
  6. Duke University
  7. College of William and Mary
  8. University of Portland
  9. University of California-Berkeley
  10. Vanderbilt University
  11. Carnegie Mellon University
  12. Macalester College
  13. Worcester Polytechnic Institute
  14. University of California-Los Angeles

Read more:

Take the SAT or ACT for admission to U.S. Colleges?

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The SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) is the most common college admission test that international students take before they apply to U.S. colleges and universities. However, the ACT (American College Testing) is another option. 

picture from
They both test for college preparedness in academics, but they go about doing so very differently.

According to the ACT website ( here are the differences between the two tests:

"The ACT is an achievement test, measuring what a student has learned in school. The SAT is more of an aptitude test, testing reasoning and verbal abilities.
The ACT has up to 5 components: English, Mathematics, Reading, Science, and an optional Writing Test. The SAT has only 3 components: Critical Reasoning, Mathematics, and a required Writing Test.
The College Board introduced a new version of the SAT in 2005, with a mandatory writing test. ACT continues to offer its well-established test, plus an optional writing test. You take the ACT Writing Test only if required by the college(s) you're applying to.
The SAT has a correction for guessing. That is, they take off for wrong answers. The ACT is scored based on the number of correct answers with no penalty for guessing.
The ACT has an Interest Inventory that allows students to evaluate their interests in various career options."

A recent article in U.S. News discusses the differences as well:

"When it comes to preparing to apply to U.S. colleges, many international students take the SAT, a standardized test that gauges college readiness.

But the SAT is not the only option prospective college students have. Another test, the ACT, is accepted by all U.S. colleges as well. 

The ACT surveys knowledge learned, whereas the SAT focuses in part on critical thinking and reasoning. And it's an increasingly popular test choice: For the first time last year, more graduating seniors in the United States had taken the ACT than the SAT. 

While the number of international students choosing the ACT is rising, students from abroad still represent a much smaller portion of testers than their domestic peers, says Jon Erickson, president of ACT's education division. Despite having more than 400 testing centers worldwide, the organization hasn't traditionally focused its marketing efforts abroad, he says. 

That's likely the reason Chinese students aren't usually aware the ACT is a U.S. college prep option, according to Sam Hwang, founder and CEO of New Pathway Education and Technology Group, a company based in Beijing that offers SAT and ACT tutoring. 

"No one's really taking it, but only because they don't know what it is," Hwang says. 

The two tests have different formats. The SAT has three sections—critical reading, math, and writing—while the ACT has four components: English, math, science, and reading. Each section on the ACT tests a student's learnings from high school courses; the science portion, for instance, requires knowledge of either Earth science or a physical science, as well as biology, according to the ACT's website
"The structure of the ACT is conducive to international education," Erickson says. "It's tied very much to subject level [and] I think the science part is also attractive to international students. A lot of international students who are looking to U.S. colleges tend to be in STEM fields, so I think that's attractive."

But the science portion also presents an additional challenge, notes Jose Toro, an American student in a Florida high school who took both the ACT and SAT. "The first time I took it, I was rushing for time—I felt so pressured," he says, adding that the SAT felt like a "more laid back" option. "Especially because there is a science portion in the ACT, you really have to analyze the science, and it takes time." 
The format might be a good choice for students who are stronger in quantitative subjects than in English reading and writing. While two thirds of an SAT score comes from English sections (reading and writing), only half of the ACT sections are purely language-based, Hwang notes. And although a writing portion is required in the SAT, it's an optional add-on for ACT test takers. 
Still, the ACT demands a mastery of the language, Erickson says. 
"The whole test is in English," he notes. "Every section has some correlation with a student's ability to speak or translate English."
International students preparing for the ACT should study up on idioms, which have both literal and figurative meanings, recommends Carolyn Kidd, a high school student from Maryland who took both the ACT and SAT. "Since the English section is made up of a ton of idioms, be sure to know only the most common ones, as they tend to show up frequently. 
"Other than that, know, and be sure to review, trigonometry and basic science skills, especially chemistry," she adds. 
For help studying for either exam, both the SAT website and ACT website offer practice questions (sometimes for a fee), as well as lists of testing centers and registration requirements to guide students through their preparation."

Link to Emerson College News: Article about Excuse Me, Can You Repeat That?

International students focus of communications book

The Guide can be ordered using these links. Search for the online bookseller in your country

The Guide can be ordered using these links - click on your country. (Worldwide from the distributor)

India     UK     France 

Australia   Germany    Spain

Slovenia    Finland    Sweden    Denmark    Italy    Netherlands

International Students in the U.S. Offer a Lesson for Classmates

by Cathryn Edelstein

Imagine you hail from Asia, Africa or South America and have been accepted to a college in the United States. You have made the necessary plans to attend – sent in your deposit, obtained the required documents to travel and purchased your plane ticket. As the day to board the plane with your belongings neatly packed in a suitcase arrives you wonder – have I made the right decision? How will I fit in? Are my English communication skills good enough? Will I adjust to a new culture?

According to the Open Doors Report a little over 723,000 students from around the world chose to attend U.S. educational institutions in 2010/2011.  Each had their own reasons to leave their native countries in pursuit of education in the United States. Some sought to broaden their learning in academic areas not available in their native country while others wanted to experience a different culture and believed that studying abroad would enrich their lives and future careers.  Whatever the reason, they took the risk to change their lives – even if for a limited time.

This may sound like a simple concept – after all many of us have traveled and experienced a different culture and with the exception of a few minor bumps, have returned with stories to tell and memories for a lifetime.  Attending a school in a foreign country is entirely different. From adapting to different living accommodations, adjusting to new instructional styles, meeting academic expectations and making friends, students who study abroad risk everything. Combine these challenges with speaking, reading, writing and listening in a second language and we begin to see how demanding an endeavor this really is.

As a college professor, I have educated many international students who face academic challenges that at times seem insurmountable. The constant effort they exert to fit in and complete their assignments successfully often astound me. They often tell me it takes an hour to read and process just a few pages of a textbook. They visit the academic support center a few times for each paper they write.  They are constantly looking up words and translating them into their native languages to understand terms and vocabulary they never heard before. I am always impressed by their diligence and ability to aim high and not use their foreign status as an excuse to do mediocre work.

Recently a group of students from China approached me to listen to a presentation they were going to make in another class later that same day. They listened carefully to my suggestions eagerly taking notes and strategizing how they would incorporate the corrections I recommended. From improper phrasing on their PowerPoint slides to vocabulary choices that needed to be changed, they listened carefully and left quickly to incorporate the changes. In an effort to do their very best work, they sought to practice in front of an available professor and accept the critiques made. This scenario is just one of many I have similarly experienced. Over and over again, I have witnessed incredible effort and this type of work ethic.

Individuals who travel to study in a foreign country should be commended and their extraordinary effort noticed by not only their professors, but by their domestic peers. Too often the extra work they do goes unnoticed. These students have left the comfort of their native environments to explore and grow.  It is ironic that they made the decision to study in a foreign country for their own personal growth because their addition to our communities has added diversity to our institutions and provided their peers and professors the opportunity to learn not only about the cultures they come from, but also show us how hard work and consistent determination ultimately triumph.

ANNOUNCING A CONTEST - Win a free copy of Excuse Me, Can You Repeat That?

ANNOUNCING A CONTEST - Win a free copy of Excuse Me, Can You Repeat That? LIKE the book’s Facebook page and share your answer in the comment section: What American idiom is the funniest when translated in your native language? The two people with the funniest responses will have a book shipped to them. Contest ends November 15, 2012. Limit -One response per person.
  For example: In the U.S. we say "it's a piece of cake" to say something is easy. In Turkey people say "it's a piece of pie" (translated) and in China "it's a plate" (translated)

Jag Bhalla wrote a fun book for National Geographic called I'm Not Hanging Noodles on Your Ears and Other Intriguing Idioms From Around the World.   Not hanging noodles on your ears: Russian - not kidding

To reheat cabbage: Italian – rekindle an old flame

Like fingernail and dirt: Spanish, Mexico – well suited

Bang your butt on the ground: French - die laughing

Plucked like a chicken: Yiddish - exhausted

To bite the elbow: Russian – to cry over spilt milk

Smoke from 7 orifices of head: Chinese – to be furious

To become naked: Japanese – to go broke, poor

An ant milker: Arabic – a miser, tight wad

Give it to someone with cheese: Spanish - to deceive

Squeezer of limes: Hindi – self invited guest, idler

To break wind into silk: French - live the life of Riley

Greetings Differ Around the World

How we say "hello" , what accompanying gesture(s) we make and what we talk about when greeting someone depends on culture:

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United States

In the United States it is customary to shake hands (if a formal situation), look at each other and smile when we greet someone. We only hug or kiss someone when we know them well or we are relatives. Men traditionally don't kiss each other but women can kiss each other (on the cheek) and men and women can kiss (on the cheek) when they are close friends or related.

What do American's say after hello? We often comment on the weather - saying something like "It's getting cold. Looks like summer is over." or "What a beautiful day - I am going to try to spend time outside today."

In other countries, the conversations are very different.

For example, my students from China tell me that the conversation after an initial greeting usually revolves around food. Asking if someone has eaten, what they have eaten and if they have plans to eat are often asked.

I found a website with contributors from around the world that have explained greetings in their culture. They can be seen at . I have copied and pasted some of their entries - but you may want to look at this website on your own.

-¡Hola! ¿Como estas? (Hi, how are you?)
-¿Que hacés? (more informal, the equivalent to What’s up?)
-¿Todo bien? (You all right?)
Bien y ¿vos? (I’m fine and you?)
Or more formally:
-Buenos días/Buenas tardes (Good morning / afternoon) or
-Hola, ¿Qué tal? (which doesn’t make much sense grammatically to me but I say it anyway! This greeting is more general and somewhat friendlier.)
In Argentina, people are fairly tactile: we hug and kiss and hold hands all the time. We give one peck on the check when we greet friends and family and even acquaintances. When we’re introduced to new people, say at a party, we tend to kiss too, especially women. Men hug and kiss their friends too (both male and female). In a more formal situation, we shake hands (at least the first time we meet.)

In Brazil we can be pretty formal in greetings in a business setting, like “Olá, prazer em conhecê-lo” (Hello. Nice to meet you).
Brazilians are really well-known for the warm, latin-american-like greetings, very effusive, festive with lots of kisses and hugs. Among men, if they are friends, there’s generally a light hug and a tap on each other’s back. Among men and women or women/women, kisses are the norm.
How many? Well, that’s where the problem comes in! It will depend on the region. In Brasilia, my hometown, we kiss twice on the cheek. If you go a bit farther, more to the south of Brazil, let’s say, São Paulo, then one kiss is the routine. So, you’d better check in advance how many kisses and how tight you should hug a Brazilian! Anyway, with Brazilians, everything will do, kisses, hugs, taps. Leave shaking hands only to formal situations.

Great Britain

Our main greeting (used at all times of the day)
-Hello, how are you?
-Fine thanks / Very well, thanks
At this stage in the conversation you should always pretend to be fine, even if you are not. This is the expected answer. You can only break this rule with a really good friend.
Different areas of the UK sometimes have regional greetings. For example in Yorkshire it’s common to say Alright! instead of “hello, how are you?”.
In more formal situations we say “Good Morning’’, “Good Afternoon” or “Good Evening”. These are commonly used more when speaking on the telephone as well.
Kiss, hug or shake hands?
We British are usually not very tactile, although we’re getting better at it. On meeting someone for the first time, we would normally shake hands if it’s a formal situation (at work for example), or even just smile at each other. If it’s a friend or casual acquaintance, we would hug or (between two women or a man and woman) make one kiss on the cheek.


To a certain point, the way we greet each other in Romania resembles that in the UK. We say:
Buna dimineata! (Good morning!) or Buna ziua! (Good afternoon!) or Buna seara! (Good evening!) in the more formal situations, with people we meet for the first time, or with our boss, our clients, etc
And we can add: Ce mai faceti? (How are you).
The answer on this occasion is Bine, multumesc ( Fine thanks).
But when we greet our colleagues, friends or close people things change a little. We say:
-Buna, Ce mai faci? / Salut! Ce mai faci ? (Hi, how are you?) -Bine (Fine) or Nu prea bine (Not too well) followed by details of the problem.
As for hugging and kissing: people hug and kiss on the cheek often – women with women, women with men or even men with men, but less frequently – if they are very young or if they are close. And sometimes if they are colleagues (for example on Martisor day, the 1st of March, when men in our office bring us Martisoare). Older men used to kiss a woman‘s hand instead of shake hands when they were introduced or when they met for example in the street.
If a man wants to impress a woman or to show great respect he usually says Sarut Mana! (which, in a word for word translation, means Kiss Your Hand!)


In India, greetings are indicators of the relative position of individuals in the social hierarchy.
Put in simple English, it means that I will greet someone older differently from someone in my age group or someone younger. This also changes with the gender of the person I am addressing.
Here are examples from Hindi:
How are you? (Greeting an older male/female)
-Kaise hain aap / Kaisi hain aap (aap is the respectful ‘you’)
-Bahut Badhiya, aur aap? (Very fine, and you?)
Greeting an equal
-Kaise hain aap (formal) / Kaise ho tum (semi-formal) / Kaisa hai tu (informal)
-Bahut Badhiya, aur aap? (Very fine, and you?)
Greeting someone younger
-Kaise ho tum (formal) / Kaisa hai tu (informal)
-Bahut Badhiya, aur aap? (Very fine, and you?)
All these are greetings directed towards men. When I greet women or girls, Kaisa changes to Kaisi.
To use the Namaste greeting you add a word defining the person’s relationship with you after the Namaste.
Greeting someone older
-Namaste Uncle/Aunty/Bade bhai (Big Brother)/Bhabhi (sister-in-law)…
Greeting an equal
-Namaste ji (formal) / Namaste bhai /bhabhi (brother/sis-in-law) (semi-formal)
Namaste is not generally used to greet someone younger than you as it is considered a formal, respectful greeting.
Close friends hug. Men hugs men, women hugs women. Older uncles and aunties hug younger children.
Grandparents are not to be hugged, you are supposed to touch their feet and receive blessings for a long life, a speedy marriage, numerous children, etc. Kissing is a big no-no. Only infants are to be publicly kissed.
The touching feet business, especially in large family gatherings leads to funny situations. Within the space of a few seconds, I have to decide whether the beaming relative headed my way is my senior or junior in family hierarchy. Age has got nothing to do with it. I have got ‘uncles’ who are half my age. So, I watch his body language, is he bending forward to touch my feet or is he preparing to raise his right arm in benediction. Most of the times this works. When it fails, I just move on to another pair of feet I am sure of!

Singaporean Chinese

-你怎么样? (A very casual way of saying ‘How are you?’)
-很好 (very good) / 不错 (not bad) / 马马虎虎 (an idiom literally translated to ‘horse horse tiger tiger’, means ‘so so’)
Unlike usual English greetings, we Chinese are more casual. It is ok to say that you’re not doing too good, even on the first encounter.
In more formal situations, we say ‘你好吗?‘ (how are you?) to which we reply the same way. However, these greetings are not used that often in China. We usually nod our heads and simply say ‘你好.’ (hello).
We Chinese tend to be more conservative. On meeting someone for the first time, we would usually nod our heads and smile or shake hands (in formal situations). Kissing on the cheeks might make those who are not used to Western practices rather uncomfortable.

Blog Author/Guide Author Appears in Emerson College Article

Edelstein gives talk on teaching public speaking

Abby Ledoux ’14
October 5, 2012
Department of Communication Studies Scholar-in-Residence Cathryn Cushner Edelstein and other language professionals from around the world gathered last summer at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, to share research, observations, and presentations at the 4th Annual Pronunciation in Second Language Learning and Teaching (PSLLT) Conference.
Edelstein addressed an audience of linguists, researchers, and teachers who specialize in teaching and studying pronunciation. Fittingly, the 2012 conference’s theme was “Setting the Course for Pronunciation Teaching and Assessment.”
Edelstein’s presentation topic, “L1 and L2 Learners in the College Public Speaking Course,” focused on methods for teaching college public speaking classes that contain both native English speakers (L1 learners) and English as a Second Language students (L2 learners). Edelstein drew on her own teaching experiences to discuss challenges, benefits, and ideas on how to teach public speaking courses that cater to the needs of both types of English-speaking students.
Examining linguistic elements such as inflection—the varied use of pitch when speaking—Edelstein discussed the differences and similarities between international and domestic English-speaking students.
“L2 learners often speak English with the inflection of their native language,” said Edelstein. “When speaking English, the ‘music’ or intonation pattern of their first language may be heard. However, many L1 learners speak in a monotone, or rise in inflection at the end of phrases.”
Edelstein stressed the significance of inclusion in the classroom and offered her audience a method for teaching effective inflection patterns that all students could embrace.
“No one feels singled out,” Edelstein noted. “This is the way to create an inclusive classroom.”
Edelstein also focused on the importance of providing students with clear instructions to both support English as a Second Language students who struggle with grammar and fluency as well as to underscore the point that “clear pronunciation is important for all speakers.”
Finally, Edelstein touched on how to address cultural differences in communication and participation in a classroom. In a course combining both international and domestic students from differing backgrounds and cultures, Edelstein said that native English-speaking students may not understand why English as a Second Language students communicate or participate differently than they do; she suggested it is beneficial to address this in the classroom.
“This last point is especially important,” Edelstein said. “Once the class has a shared understanding, the students are able to work more effectively in groups and support each other.”
The annual two-day conference will take place next fall at Iowa State University and focus on the theme of “Pronunciation in the Language Teaching Curriculum.”

Edelstein's book Excuse Me, Can You Repeat That? How to Communicate as an International Student in the U.S. - A Reference Guide is being published by Five Star Publications and will be available next month