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Students and faculty at Plymouth State University in New Hampshire enjoy some of the least restrictive speech rights in the country, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The school was recently awarded a "green light" free-speech rating from the FIRE, an organization that monitors individual rights on college campuses. 

The news from campuses around the nation is clear: as a concentration for study, the humanities have seen better days. That's what makes a two-year-old project at Boston College so interesting. At the Heights, it's the English Department that's pioneering technological change.

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As community colleges assume a more central role in the nation's higher education landscape, the question of how prepared graduating high school students are is increasingly important. Some states are trying to improve the quality of, and change the way students think about, remedial education.

You may not be in college anymore, but that doesn’t mean you have to be done learning. MOOCs, or massive open online courses, are free online versions of collegiate classes, from some of the best universities and professors in the world.

On Emerson College's first day of classes, the corner of Boylston and Tremont streets swarm with students; students drinking coffee, students smoking cigarettes, students wearing skinny jeans and plaid. In short, a small corner of Boston chock-full of hipsters.

And while "hipster" may not seem like an apt description of Boston's population as a whole, it does describe the students at Emerson College, at least according to College Magazine, an online and in-print publication written by college students.

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Three years ago, sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa found that college students learn little while in school. Their book, Academically Adrift, shocked the academy and provoked angry responses. 

Now, the two provocateurs are back. Their sequel is called Aspiring Adults AdriftIt follows the same students after graduation and concludes that schools focus on social life rather than academics, and that levies a high tariff on young adults. WGBH's On Campus recently sat down with Arum, and asked him why he wanted to track these young adults as they attempt to enter the working world.

Massive open online courses, or MOOCs, are classes that anyone can take anywhere in the world -- for free. They've grown increasingly popular, but does that popularity threaten traditional higher education? 

College for America is an online degree program with no classes, no professors, and no credit hours. Offered through Southern New Hampshire University, the $10,000 degree program relies on students' skills to award credit. The program was recently featured as part of PBS NewsHour's Rethinking College series.

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School is almost back in session, and high school juniors and seniors are looking at colleges, trying to find the best fit. Families often turn to rankings, like U.S. News & World Report. But this year, Washington Monthly magazine is out with a different kind of college ranking, one where neither Harvard nor Stanford come out on top. Editor Paul Glastris calls it the "Bang for the Buck" list. 

As families pack the 18-year-olds off for college right about now, they've hopefully confronted the cost of tuition, room and board, and health care. Then there's the cost of textbooks. One estimate figures the average is $600 for books and materials per year, another estimate runs twice that. Some students save money by renting or buying used textbooks. Others, given the cost, don't get the books at all.

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