Ragtime January 30, 2008

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How to Stay in an Ivy League School: Breezing Through, Crazying Out, and Everything in Between

IvyGate’s Guide to Admissions: Part IV

n9809_34863839_2765Somewhere between F. Scott Fitzgerald’s untimely death and that Tom Green movie about Harvard, some misconceptions of the awesome Ivy League education have spiraled out of control. First of all, the classes are not that difficult—seriously. And if you don’t like just plain easy classes, there are stupid easy ones too! Beware, though, it’s actually pretty easy to get (sort of) kicked out for a million things besides getting a C. Wait, you didn’t know that grades are being phased out in the Ivies? Welcome to the high graduation-rate heaven of the still very profitable elite universities.

So if you’re one of the happy few, be prepared to abandon all those bright-eyed ideals of your presumably successful high school career. Time to get greedy, lazy, jaded, and depressed.

1. Shine your shoes and practice that shit eating grin. A good grade is not hard to find at any Ivy if you know the right way to slut it up. First of all, we’re all familiar with this grade inflation myth, right? Without even getting into the whole argument, it exists. According to the Boston Globe, over half of the grades given out at Harvard in 2007 were in the A-range. The real question, then, is how to make sure you’re in the lucky half rather than the poor bastards who have to settle for B’s, a sure fire dive into a life of destitution and, consequently, fewer orgasms. The answers…

  • BORROW a learning disability. No kidding. Just make it up, go to health services, and enjoy with the fun medication or exemptions from required credits. One anonymous source told us about an anonymous freshman from an anonymous school who convinced doctors that he had an inability to learn foreign languages and thus avoided the language requirement. Too bad he wanted to be a comp lit major.
  • BEG your professors for extensions, exemptions, and excellent grades you don’t deserve. It’s an art in its own way, but little things like attending office hours (with lots of cleavage) and chatting with your TA (with lots of cleavage) really do translate into better results.
  • STEAL someone’s identity! A couple years ago, a con artist got into and attended Columbia–though that’s no big deal. Or you could just steal somebody else’s work. If Kaavya Viswanathan (among others) can  bullshit her way up, so can you!

After the jump: skipping class, going nuts, and graduating happy! Plus, hating the Ivy League, leaving, and coming back by novelist Andrea Seigel.

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Princeton’s Whitman College Selling Weight Loss Drugs—Google Says So

whitman-collegeGoogling Princeton’s still spanking new, eBay-funded Whitman College now yields a misleading (but telling?) opportunity to buy the heart attack inducing weight-loss drug Phentermine. Common side effects include: change in sexual desire, psychosis, and hostility with urge to attack. The drug is also one half of Fen-Phen, reaper of the late-90s, pre-WebMD death spree.  Sound like any Whitman students?

While searching for “Whitman College Princeton” brings up the offer to buy the drug for impressively low and prescription free prices, the link clicks through to Princeton’s site. Whether it’s a pointed prank or a likely hack on some careless IvyGate editor’s laptop remains to be seen. But we can only hope Princeton’s not headed for some controlled substance induced attack from some skinny, sex-starved, palpitating nutter. Those poor Tigers had enough trauma with that awful run in with deadly laptop stealers from MS-13 a couple years back.

Inauguration Crash: Observations from Our Man in DC

mireles-11I know what you’re thinking: Why doesn’t IvyGate have inauguration coverage? Is it because IvyGate’s a college gossip blog? Oh, but we do have coverage of the inauguration. Matt Mireles, Columbia ’08, made the trip down to DC and was kind enough to share his thoughts and pictures. With no further ado:

Witnessing history really feels like attending a rock concert. In the cold. In the very, very cold. With sarcastic people. There was song (For Bush: “Nah Nah Nah. Nah Nah Nah. Hey Hey, Goodbye!”). There was pushing (“You’re crushing the people at the front!”). There were people perched atop trees and port-a-potties (“Dude, I was there and I pooped.”). One Columbia alum and Georgetown grad student who doesn’t want this quote associated with his name on Google said:

It was so goddamn cold that if someone’s dog was out there I would’ve killed it and worn it

A guy next to me turned his back on Rick Warren. Yo-Yo Ma and his ensemble were a downer.

My favorite part was the O-conomy: Obama earrings. Obama sock puppets. Obama condoms. Think about it. Barack’s mug emblazoned on your manhood. ‘”Yes We Can” inscribed on your wang. There could be a whole product line.

After the jump, Matt’s reflections on the man of the hour. And more pictures. Read the rest of this entry »

Ragtime January 20, 2008

From the Annals of Unusual Parenting: Getting Your Child Into Harvard

Admissions “how-to” books ( a genre dominated stateside by Dartmouth school officials) are growing increasingly popular in China, where an emerging middle class is anxious to send its children to Harvard, Yale, Princeton and maybe some of the others too. In books like, “Harvard Girl,” “How We Got Our Child Into Yale” and “Stanford’s Silver Bullet,” parents explain how they prepared their children for admission. Since less than 2% of Chinese (international) applicants are accepted to Harvard (and the statistics at the other Ivies are not much more encouraging), there is a lot of interest in this subject.

How did they do it? Writing about “Harvard Girl,” the International Herald-Tribune states:

Liu’s parents challenged the young girl to hold ice in her hands for as long as she could bear it to improve her endurance and made her jump rope every day for increasingly longer periods until she won a school contest.

They put toys out of her grasp when she was a baby to make her work harder for them, timed the girl’s studies to the minute as soon as she entered elementary school and made her do school work in the noisiest part of the house to develop her ability to concentrate.

But how does it feel to be trained to Drago-like perfection? After the jump, Zhongrui Yin, a Harvard history major, tells us why he doesn’t want his mom writing a bestseller about him. Read the rest of this entry »

How To Sneak Into The Ivy League, Or Why Columbia Is Not As Selective As You Think It Is

IvyGate’s Guide to Admissions: Part III

butlerlibraryYour dream school is Columbia, but your intuition (or that flaccid rejection letter) tells you that you’re not Columbia material. What is one to do, aside from attending NYU? In this five-point guide, we explain how to gain that coveted admissions letter from this neoclassical jewel on the hill. But be forewarned: Columbia is known to induce extreme feelings of academic inadequacy, general sleep-deprivation, and a social life (and for some a sex life) that revolves around the Butler library.

1. Do well at another school (read: get straight A’s and suck up to profs who will write your recommendation letters) and re-apply as a transfer. This is the obvious choice, and the choice that has the least stigma. Transfers, especially those to CC, make other CC students feel good about themselves. Every time they see a transfer they think to themselves, “See some people do want to be here.” And if you’ve transferred from Yale, say, or Harvard, it helps prove to them that hey, so what if I got rejected to them in high school, I live in New York City and it’s omfgawesome. But it doesn’t really qualify as a backdoor since it’s also the hardest way of getting in. For this year’s freshmen, Columbia College’s acceptance rate was 8.68% and SEAS’s acceptance rate was 17.6%, for an overall admit rate of 10.04%. The acceptance rate for transfers is even lower. Out of 1,401 applicants to the College and SEAS, only 112 students were admitted, or 7.99%.  It’s a shot in the dark, but maybe, if you really hate the school you landed at and you act like annoying grade-obsessed gunner in all your classes you might as well give it a try.

2. Apply as a freshman or transfer to Columbia-affiliated Barnard College. The women’s college has been a source of endless debate and angst ever since Columbia College went coeducational in the early eighties, after years of failed discussions to integrate with the University at large. No one, not even the president of Barnard, seems to really understand the school’s tangled relationship with Columbia. On one hand the Barnard website touts the fact that “Barnard has its own campus, faculty, administration, trustees, operating budget, and endowment.” On the other hand, Barnard students receive Columbia email addresses, have full access to Columbia classes and student organizations, and earn degrees signed by both Barnard and Columbia presidents. Most gripes around Barnard center around the fact that its students get in easier but are de facto Columbia students. (The acceptance rates for this year’s freshmen and transfers were 28.5% and 29.1%, respectively). Angsty prestige-driven Columbians should be more concerned about recruited athletes, don’t you think?

More backdoors after the jump.

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Harvard Grad Recruiting Only Harvard Grads…To Work For Britney Spears

nejThere are certain things you’d expect of a Harvard lax recruit who went on to work at a hedge fund and boast of his penchant for Sarah Palin on Facebook.  Co-founding a restaurant with Britney Spears’ dad and then using his Harvard connections to find Brit Brit the perfect Online Media Manager (the rest of the Ivy League–and all other plebians–need not apply) is not one of them.

Good job, Joe Nejman (H’ 03).  You’ve suprised me, and not in that “oh, wow, it’s soooo much bigger than I’d thought” way.  Joe, I’ve got a present for you: the Epic Elitist D-Bag of the Week award.  Congrats.

Because, of course, when Britney Spears needs someone to manage her online persona, Princeton and Yale grads just won’t cut it–especially with such tough job requirements as being “a Social media expert with Googloe [sic] Analytics.” The job ad, taken off a Harvard-only private job board, after the jump:

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How To Get Into An Ivy League School: A Step-by-Step Guide Featuring Testimony From a Real, Live Silver-Spoon Legacy and a Racial Minority!

42-17432509IvyGate’s Guide to Admissions: Part II

Getting into an Ivy League school can be likened to winning the lottery: Pencil in a bunch of scantron bubbles, cross your fingers, pray to be struck by lightning. But instead of winning millions, you’re rolling the dice for the opportunity to impoverish your parents. (Or ruin your credit rating, or both!) Nevertheless, aspiring Ivy is a time-honored American pursuit, and no matter how improbable, impractical, and ultimately unpleasant the prize may be, thousands attempt it every year. Mostly, we do it for the free t-shirts.

What follows is IvyGate’s foolproof, guaranteed, 100%-success-or-your-money-back step-by-step guide to swindling your way into the school of your dreams.* Be warned: It isn’t always pretty, and a few of these steps (#3, section ii, second option) might make you go to hell.

1. Have perfect SAT scores, an off-the-chart GPA, amazing extracurriculars, leadership positions in everything, and the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. Duh. This one is a given, a prereq, if you will. Even the richest kid in the world won’t get in if he’s apt to flunk (or, more likely, drop) out.

2. Be from an insanely wealthy and/or well-connected family, preferably one with an Ivy League legacy. Apply early. While legacy admission standards aren’t as hilariously low as they used to be, a study by Princeton SOC professors Espenshade and Chung equates legacy status with a 160-point SAT boost (on a 1600-point scale) to the privileged few who definitely need it least. But that’s not what we’re talking about here. To guarantee admission, you need to be the child of a major donor, the kind who write seven-digit checks to their alma mater and have buildings named after them. One such Ivy Leaguer, the grandson of a prominent university trustee, told us about his admissions process, starting with an unconventional and star-studded campus tour:

my grandad flew to meet my dad & i [at the university], and i just figured that it was going to be a regular day of tours & walking around. however, when we got there we were met by a super friendly admissions guy. he took us on the regular tour, but then we ditched it because he said “it’s completely useless” (ironic, considering how much energy & money the university pumps into those tours) he took me around campus, and then brought me to meet a representative from the most popular department at the school, which i claimed to be interested in it. (later, i realized that he was one of the senior professors and chair of the undergraduate program) then they shuttled me over to the president’s office. i didn’t really GET that it was the president until they told me after we met. the meeting was brief, but looking back, it was quite an unbelievable opportunity. after lunch, we wandered around campus with another admissions rep, who told me all about undergraduate life.

After the jump: Anonymous Silver-Spooner (ASS) (Don’t be mad, ASS! We tease because we love/hate) continues his story and we offer five more tips for getting in. Read the rest of this entry »

The Birth, Death, and Soggy Afterlife of Ivy Soaps

ivysoapThe recent lathering of attention received by Ithaca College’s Cornell spoof, Ivy, puts the short, sordid history of Ivy League soap operas into perspective. For about a decade and a half, students inside the gates have been making soap opera-style parodies of their wild Ivy lifestyles. After most of the shows died off or went into Vimeo-shaped retirement homes, Ivy churns on and shows that non-Ivy students can not deal better insults but frankly better operate cameras.

The Ivy League soap fad started up with Harvard’s Ivory Tower in 1994 when Chrysler still made the LeBaron and students still watched TV. The show stuck around until about the Y2k scare and probably featured Zack Morris types with plaid shirts tied around their waists. Then word got beyond the Georgian brick walls and Northwestern started a show too, evidently scaring the Ivory Tower crowd back up Rapunzel’s braids. (Insert bad 90s Dave Matthews joke here. Actually, don’t.)

Since the Interweb was still pretty infantile then, it’s probably best to skip ahead to 2006—the golden year of Columbia’s The Gates, the sort of re-arrival of Ivory Tower, and the national media hit The B.C. (We’ll give you three guesses where that one’s from. Hint: It’s not an Ivy.) Basically, each show had one good episode that featured either (a) a lesbian sex scene, (b) Harvard kids, you know, hangin’ out and tryin’ not to act like they go to Harvard, or (c) getting a free trip to Hollywood to meet the real cast of The O.C. (Alright, we didn’t actually watch The B.C.—we just read the Times coverage of their dope junket in LA.)

Read more and watch clips from Ivy Soap purgatory after the jump.

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