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Students at the most competitive colleges and universities receive less financial aid based on merit than those at less selective schools, according to a new report from the Consortium for Policy Research.

"Merit Aid: Students, Institutions, and Society" examines why various types of colleges offer non-need-based scholarships, and which students are likely to benefit.

In recent years, all but the most selective private colleges have tended to spend more on merit aid. The report attributes the shift in part to the smaller applicant pools that are the result of the shrinking number of college-aged students.

Copies of the report are available for $10 each from CPRE, Carriage House at the Eagleton Institute of Politics, Rutgers University, 86 Clifton Ave., New Brunswick, N.J. 08901-1568; (908) 932-1331.

The College Board has published a guide for parents of elementary and middle school students to help them prepare their their children for college.

"Planning for Your Child's Future" emphasizes the importance of high school coursework. It urges parents to help their children select classes that will improve their writing skills, critical-thinking ability, and vocabulary, as well as enhance problem-solving and math reasoning skills.

The 34-page booklet also offers suggestions for establishing good study and reading habits and preparing for college admissions tests. Other sections seek to demystify the admissions and financial-aid process.

Copies of the booklet are available in sets of 40 for $20 from College Board Publications, Box 886, New York, N.Y. 10101-0886. Specify item number 239390 and include a check or purchase order.

New accreditation standards for colleges and universities would focus more on student outcomes, under a proposal approved recently by the National Policy Board on Higher Education Institutional Accreditation.

Colleges would have to demonstrate that graduates are competent in oral and written communication, scientific and quantitative reasoning, critical analysis and logical thinking, and technological literacy.

The 15-member panel is made up of the directors of seven national higher education associations and eight regional accrediting bodies.

Education Week

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