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David Letterman brought his distinctive touch to "top 10" lists on his "Late Show." Now, they are universal crowd-pleasers--even in education policy.

The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, for instance, recently surveyed a group of higher education experts on what they considered the most pressing issues in their field this year. The resulting paper, titled "Ten Public Policy Issues for Higher Education," will not likely create competition for Mr. Letterman, but is nonetheless revealing about higher education concerns.

The report, in no particular numerical order, lists the following 10 concerns: federal and state regulations and accountability; campus climate for race and gender relations; distance learning and technology; federal research funding; higher education's role in stimulating economic development; debate on alternative proposals for federal taxes; the role of governing boards and privatization; student financial-aid programs; affirmative action; and cost containment and productivity.

A copy of the paper is available by calling the Washington-based association's publications department at (202) 296-8400.

Similarly, the Independent Educational Consultants Association has listed the top 10 qualities colleges look for in a high school student. Members of the Fairfax, Va.-based group are consultants who help students choose schools and colleges.

Starting from number 10, the group says colleges look for anything special that makes the student stand out; supplementary recommendations from adults who have had significant contact with the student; teacher recommendations that describe special character traits; a well-written essay; and work or out-of-school experiences. Fifth on the list is high-quality community-service activities; then "passionate involvement" in a few selected activities; solid scores on standardized tests; grades that represent strong effort and an upward trend; and, as the number-one draw, mastering a challenging curriculum.

Computers have become almost a necessity for students comparing colleges, a Careers & Colleges magazine poll of high school students has found.

The New York City-based magazine, distributed to high school upperclassmen through guidance offices and classrooms, reported in its spring issue that 97 percent of teens have access to a computer. It also found that 72 percent have used or will use technology such as software, CD-ROM, on-line services, or the Internet in their college searches.

--Jeanne Ponessa
[email protected]

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