FRESHMEN DIRTY THEIR HANDS
Some colleges this fall are welcoming freshmen by putting them to work outdoors on community-service projects. At Wabash College in Indiana, new students head off campus to work at such projects as painting local buildings. Newcomers to Colorado College clean up public parks and animals' habitats. Freshmen, pictured at right, at Amherst College in Massachusetts hoe fields for a farm run by a local food bank. Students find the work a valuable way to bond with one another and their new community.
THE PLACE TO TRAIN FOR DOT-COM JOBS
Community colleges are getting a breath of new life from the booming information economy. Enrollment in associate-degree programs has been flat for years, but postgraduates are flocking to the local colleges for technology training, which currently rivals health care-industry courses as the most popular.
WEB SITES OFFER FREE COACHING FOR THE SAT
President Clinton has pledged to provide poor children with the same test-prep materials that give their wealthier peers an edge on standardized tests such as the SAT. But two web sites launched last week have beaten him to it. Students who go to Number2.com or testu.com can read test-taking tips, practice on mock SAT questions and receive instant feedback on their strengths and weaknesses, all free.
YOUNGER KIDS CAN BUILD TOYS THAT MAKE NOISE
Two years ago, the Lego company's Mindstorms robotics kit was such a hit with preteens (and many dads) that the company last week launched a similar product for kids ages 4 to 6. With the MyBot (price: $50), kids use "smart bricks" to build and personalize airplanes, race cars or robots. These creations respond to movement by flashing lights and making the sounds of, say, tires squealing or a jet taking off. Educators say such toys make kids comfortable with technology from an early age and allow them to learn even as they think they're only playing.