Columbia Dropout Hates Columbia, Cactus Sex

Presumably because all current students are too busy being severely depressed or dealing with soul-crushing workloads to think of column ideas, the Columbia Spectator recently published a guest article by self-proclaimed “Ivy League Dropout” Hannah Shaper, formerly CC ’15. In her rambling, I-might-be-high manifesto—titled “The sun rises without Columbia”—she tells everyone why Columbia sucks and she dropped out and they should too. We think!

Yes, there are communities within that enterprise like Sorority Sisters and the Chinese Dragon Dancing People and the Butler Chain Smoker Union, but Columbia is you. You aren’t Columbia. Dig? You are the only thing that makes Columbia anything remotely substantial. It’s not Mother Theresa’s house of the sick and dying, it’s a corporation. If it’s not making you happy, you’re not a terrible person.

Society can go fornicate itself for stamping your forehead with the seal of approval if and only if you follow its path. For better or for worse, this mysterious nonentity that we call Columbia University caters to societal approval.

As best as we can tell, Shaper picked up a bunch of scraps of paper from the remnants of the OWS camp and pasted them together to make an article. It’s kind of impossible to follow her argument, but at least this explanation would account for the large number of contradictions. Like how she lavishes praise on her fellow students for being awesome and totally special and making her Columbia experience totally worth it — “But in all seriousness, the moments that augmented my experience with hope and beauty came from you” — but also tells them that Columbia is not a society and if they dropped out and disappeared off the face of the planet no one would care less:

If you feel like Columbia doesn’t care about you, that it would be no different if you left, you are right. Anyone who thinks otherwise, please send me a sample of what you are smoking.

Or, how she rants against society and institutions and the man/cactus, but assumes it’s totally cool for everyone to skip out of school and forget about that $100,000 they dropped in tuition. An oversight which quickly got called out by the commenters:

Really? Your [sic] allowed to drop out because your economic situation allows you to, but not everybody gets that luxury. Many people have to stay and fight the good fight because their standard of living in the future depends on it. They don’t have time to go and work minimum jobs for the ‘experience’ as you have stated in your blog, but work them because their life depends on it.

That’s actually a pretty legit comment, but apparently Shaper isn’t so laid back when it comes to people questioning her ideas instead of the man’s. She hit back with her own comment, in which she told people who have “suspicions” to contact her on Facebook to have a “civilized, non-anonymous, non-cowardly troll conversation” and to “step up to the plate and state your views with some fucking authority.” Yeah, we don’t really know what some of that means either.

The real question, though, is why Shaper is ranting against diplomas and admissions officers and every “customized Vineyard Vines Columbia lion-print tie,” and society itself for encouraging and validating the Ivy League brand, and then turning around and capitalizing on the Ivy League name. Her blog, which consists of semi-incomprehensible video entries of her in a Communist tee talking about playing guitar and working minimum wage jobs and how Republicans don’t get laid and then pretending to take various drugs, is called Tales of an Ivy League Dropout.

  • MayberryMachiavellian

    I think she’s awesome

  • Columbia College

    awesome work, ivygate

  • http://www.facebook.com/Atwells55 John Mack

    Point of fact: studies have shown that Republicans enjoy better and more sex than Democrats. Aside from that, perhaps she would be happier if she became a Republican and gleefully accepted the commercial value of a Columbia degree.

    • ’10

      Your “points” are as cute as they are retarded.

  • go away

    ironic that your first post on ivygate comes on the same day of Prince elections.

    • H.

      Not ironic–no one gives a shit about Prince elections.

  • willhaguewigwam

    She moans about people who value wealth and ‘poor Africans’. Yet she went a $50k a year prep school! LOL

  • rick131

    She needs to go help real poor people before she is allowed back in society.

  • lloyd shapely

    Columbia’s a crappy school. Very much a second tier university. They waitlist tons of applicant, discard stats from Barnard and the school of general studies, and then claim to have a 7% acceptance rate. Bunch of jokers.

    • Michael Winthrop

      And where might you go that is SO much better?

    • student

      And Harvard includes stats from the Extension School? Your comment is pretty far off. In fact, look at all the student newspapers from the Ivies and you will see that only Harvard and Columbia have truely independent reporting. Not just PR machines with some student opinion pieces.

    • eb

      And, we should mention that the President of the United States is a Columbia graduate along with our Attorney General, and a member of our Supreme Court is a graduate of CLS. Yeah, Columbia is a “crappy school”.

      Furthermore, Barnard is a totally independent school. The students at Barnard can take courses at Columbia just like students at Wellesley can take courses at Harvard. Should Harvard include Wellesley stats?

    • jack

      The POTUS went to Columbia along with The AG. Ruth Ginsberg went to Columbia Law, Yeah, Columbia is a “crappy school”. Fact is, Columbia is right up there with the Big Three.

      Furthermore, Barnard is a totally independent school where students may take classes at Columbia, burt has its own faculty and administration and admissions. Should Harvard include the stats of Wellesly students who are allowed to take courses at Harvard?

      • Simmer Down

        I agree that Columbia is good, but I have to correct your last point.
        Wellesley students don’t get diplomas with “Harvard” on them; Barnard students get diplomas with “Columbia” on them…so your analogy is faulty.

    • rick131

      Sounds like sour grapes, obviously you did not get in. Barnard is a completely separate independent school. Does Harvard count Wellsley? The US News actually does include General studies in Columbia’s stats, that is why they are only four, otherwise they would be even higher. Harvard and Brown (and all the others) do not report the stats on their extension and continuing ed schools either. Get your facts straight.

      • Cornellian

        But Cornell counts the stats of its 3 state schools :(
        We need to be sneakier and learn from Harvard

      • Fact Checker

        In the statistics used to compile its annual ranking of best colleges, US News does *NOT* include data from Columbia’s School of General Studies, only that of Columbia College and the Fu School of Engineering.

        Get *YOUR* facts straight, Rick131.

        • rick131

          Wrong. According to Columbia’s own admissions office, the stats and scores of the school of general studies is used for the US news ranking. Columbia is the only Ivy League school to include the stats of their adult extention school and returning military students. No other school does.

          • Fact Checker

            Rick131, you should take everything you read with a grain of salt when it is “according to Columbia’s own admissions office.”

            Throughout the decade of the 1990s, every April Columbia University publicly announced admit rates for only Columbia College without disclosing that the application and admit numbers for the Fu School were covertly excluded. People in the education business soon objected to this blatant attempt to overstate Columbia’s selectivity and, around the turn of the century, the admissions office quietly began to include the data from Fu.

            Every university wants to present itself in the most favorable light but Columbia is the only one that I can think of which literally announced false numbers intended to deceive. The other pioneers in this field, Penn and Chicago, just play aggressively with ED and their wait list. Columbia actually lied.

            By the way, please attach a link for the statement from Columbia that US News includes School of General Studies data in its calculations. I would like to read this lie.

          • rick131

            Wrong. Do you just say anything? Columbia’s engineering school has always been counted in its stats and has never been a separately rated school ever. When I applied to colleges in the 70′s they were combined. ” Columbia” refers to both schools. Columbia would be foolish not to include its engineering school as it has one of the highest SAT scores in the nation and is the highest ranked engineering school on US News. It has actually been Cornell that only reported stats from its Arts and Sciences school ( and not the other six schools including four state schools) for the last forty years, and Penn that only reports the stats of Wharton and Arts and Science and not its other colleges like nursing. Harvard and Brown do not include their adult or extension schools and never have. And further Harvard and Princeton never even reported or revealed their SAT scores or GPAs until about a decade ago because they were forced to because of their huge legacy populations with generally lower stats that are not included. If you ever picked up a college handbook from the 70′s 80′s or 90′s Harvard and Princeton did not report scores. And Yes, Chicago and Yale have done massive recruiting in Asia to artificially increase applications and selectivity. Further, the stats of those “accepted” to a college are much different than those that actually “enroll.” Also Harvard, Princeton, and Penn do not include the stats of their athletes, the other five schools do.

          • Fact Checker

            Rick131, every time that you post a message in this thread, you decrease your already diminished credibility further. You should really stop while you’re behind.

            Yes, way back in the pre-historic age when you applied to college, Columbia did announce combined admissions statistics for both the College and SEAS together. But then, beginning in 1983, a now defunct weekly newsmagazine began publishing an annual ranking of America’s best colleges. Perhaps you’ve heard of it. Well, this annual ranking disrupted the comfortable ivory tower by explicitly stating that some universities were better than others, whereas previously American higher education existed in its own version of Lake Wobegon, where all children are above average.

            Soon college administrators saw that the number of their applications and the quality of their matriculating students were impacted by where their college ranked. Consequently, these administrators become obsessed with improving their ranking. A number of admissions officers around the country came up with different ideas to game the statistics that US News crunched in their model. Many clever ideas were implemented to mislead US News and the public. Columbia’s innovation, beginning in the early 1990′s, was to announce annual admit rates using only applications and acceptances to Columbia College.

            SEAS, as you say, is and has always been a fine engineering school. I think you’re way off base in stating that it’s “the highest ranked engineering school on US News” as it’s not even in the Top 10 which are listed on the website. You really ought to take a moment before stating bald assertions easily contradicted by the website of the source that you cite.

            Anyway, SEAS is a fine school but the problem was that, engineering in general being a less popular major than arts and sciences, the admit rates of the Fu School were significantly higher than those of the College. Higher admit rates being perceived as a bad thing made this problematic for the Columbia admissions officers. So they simply ignored the offending data. Every April, they issued the standard press release containing that year’s admit rates for Columbia College only. This was done for about decade, roughly corresponding to the 1990s. Naturally, this was a lie and lying is generally discouraged in our society so eventually Columbia caved into the criticism that it was receiving in the higher education community. Today, as in your pre-historic days, the admit rates announced every April are for both the College and SEAS combined.

            As far as the rest of your rambling diatribe about Cornell, Penn, Harvard, Brown, Princeton, Chicago and Yale — I really don’t know what to say. You’ve certainly covered the waterfront. I especially like your statement that “Harvard, Princeton and Penn do not include the stats of their athletes, the other five schools do.” That’s a good one. Did you get that information from the same source which told you that Columbia includes the School of General Studies in its US News statistics?

          • rick131

            Wrong. Columbia actually did not even separate or reveal the two schools admit rates separately until the last ten years or so, maybe that is what you are thinking. Columbia College alone is a hair behind only Harvard (6.2 vs 6.4). You are correct that engineering schools obviously do not appeal to the masses and have a lower number of applicants. Cornell and Penn do not reveal the admit rates of each individual college and give mass statistics. Check out their web sites. According to you, when Columbia was “cheating ” in the 90′s they were ranked 8th, now that they are forced to reveal their true scores, they are ranked 4th. Good thing they were caught cheating.

          • Fact Checker

            Rick131, over the past two decades, Columbia has consistently tried to encourage and/or mislead observers into comparing the lower admit rate at the College with the higher combined liberal arts/engineering rate at other selective universities. You have done exactly the same thing in your previous post when you compare CC’s 6.4% liberal arts admit rate with Harvard’s 6.2% combined rate.

            You do realize that #1 Princeton, #1 Harvard, #3 Yale and #5
            Stanford all have engineering schools, right? In fact, the engineering schools at Princeton and Stanford are both ranked above your supposedly “highest ranked engineering school on US News.” (Nice fact checking on your part.) I think that #5 MIT might have an engineering school as well.

            HYP, Stanford, MIT and all the other Ivies annually announce an aggregate admit rate, each of which includes both their school of liberal arts and school of engineering. Columbia alone takes pains to break out the two figures, naturally drawing attention to the lower number.

            For a period of about ten years, from the early 1990s to the early 2000s, even this small sleight of hand was apparently not aggressive enough for the admissions office. They went so far as to announce one number only, that for “Columbia College,” knowing that many observers would not be knowledgeable enough to draw the distinction between “Columbia College” and “Columbia University” with its larger undergraduate student body.

            All this discussion about admit rates misses the larger picture. On a macro level, a low admit rate is useful shorthand to differentiate between two dissimilar institutions, say, Columbia and Penn State. But once you get down to the low numbers seen at the top ranked schools, small differences lose their meaning.

            As you point out, any college can drive down its admit rate by recruiting aggressively in China and other new geographies. All that does is increase the size of the denominator. What really matters is increasing the quality of the numerator, specifically not the applicants you admit in April but the matriculants who show up on your campus in September.

            When comparing the uniformly low numbers at selective universities such as Columbia and HYP, one or two or five percentage points has no importance at all. What counts is getting the best students to turn down other opportunities for your school. While Columbia may have an admit rate in the same zip code as Harvard does (including its engineering school of course), virtually every applicant cross admitted at both schools chooses Harvard. The same is true at Yale and Princeton, though to a lesser degree.

            So while comparable admit rates may offer a feel-good headline, the underlying reality is that these are still very different schools with very different student bodies. Which is exactly why both Columbia and you try to draw attention to the admit rate instead.

          • Anon

            I think your data is old. First Harvard, Princeton, Stanford do not have separate undergraduate engineering schools that one applies to. Second, check out the SAT scores, class rank, and GPA of Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Columbia, and even Chicago. They are all pretty darn close. Columbia actually has the highest class rank, and Yale has the highest SAT scores.

          • Fact Checker

            Anon, I presume that you are a Columbia student who was not admitted to Harvard, Princeton or Stanford. If you had been admitted to any of the three, you would know that, while a prospective engineering student does not go through a different application process than a prospective liberal arts student, a successful applicant is asked to indicate their interest in engineering. More to the point, all three do in fact have “separate undergraduate engineering schools” which, parenthetically, are ranked on the US News website.

            Secondly, the fact that you were not admitted to Harvard, Princeton or Stanford speaks directly to the point of my prior post. The SAT scores, class ranks and GPAs of matriculants at HYP, Columbia and Chicago may be similar but the similarity ends there. Almost no cross-admits choose Columbia or Chicago over HYP. So while quantitatively the numbers may be in the same ball park, qualitatively, HYP gets first pick of the students who they want. Columbia and Chicago are fishing in a different pond.

            Columbia of course is a great university and a great college. But a lot of students choose to attend primarlly because it’s in New York City. That’s a legitimate reason to select one’s school but, by contrast, the matriculants at HYP are in general seeking the “best” college to which they can gain admission. They are comparing HYP to each other, whereas Columbia is — for not all its students but a significant majority — being evaluated against an additional criterion, that of its very unique location which is highly attractive to a certain demographic. Let’s put it this way, nobody’s attending Yale because they want to be in New Haven.

            Getting back to my main point, quantitative comparisons between HYP, Columbia and Chicago are misleading because they mask the overwhelming bias for HYP among cross-admits. But as long as you bring up the numbers, you should know that class rank in particular has over the years become meaningless because so few high schools report class rank today.

            Finally, while the numbers are indeed “pretty darn close,” Princeton, Yale and Harvard, in that order, still do have higher SAT scores than Columbia and Chicago. When you are dealing with uniformly excellents students whose SAT scores are bounded at 2400 (or at 1600 in terms of how US News reports them), it’s only natural that HYP cannot outperform Columbia by a significant margin. They’re all bumping up against the top of the scale.

            To summarize, the top schools may have similar student bodies numerically, but they are in fact quite different in very important ways.

          • wtf?

            ” Cornell and Penn do not reveal the admit rates of each individual college and give mass statistics. Check out their web sites. ”

            what have you been smoking? have you even tried to find the info? Cornell reports the stats of each of the 7 colleges it has every year. They in fact go into far more detail than most colleges…jeez you’re losing credibility with every post.

          • Undergraduate Engineering

            In the current 2013 US News rankings, Columbia’s undergraduate engineering program, the Fu School, is ranked 20th in the country, tied with Duke and UCLA.

            Among the top seven national universities, #1 Princeton’s engineering school is ranked 10th, tied with Purdue and Texas; #1 Harvard is ranked 23rd, tied with RPI, UC San Diego, U Maryland College Park, U Minnesota Twin Cities, USC and U Washington; #6 MIT is ranked first; and #6 Stanford is ranked second.

          • Anon

            As far as I know, Harvard, Princeton, Stanford do not have separate undergraduate engineering schools. Columbia and I think Cornell do. You must be looking at graduate schools.

          • Undergraduate Engineering
          • General Studies Excluded

            Undergraduate admissions data for the past 12 years from http://www.Columbia.edu. As you can see, it includes only CC and SEAS, not GS.

            http://www.columbia.edu/cu/opir/abstract/admissions_all.htm

          • General Studies Excluded

            Undergraduate admissions data for the past 12 years from http://www.Columbia.edu. As you can see, it includes only CC and SEAS, not GS.

            columbia.edu/cu/opir/abstract/admissions_all.htm

          • Anon

            Of course Columbia’s undergraduate web site is going to talk about its two undergraduate schools for high school applicants on the common app (GS is a school for returning adults at least 21 and not for high school applicants and not on common app), but the discussion was about the US News Ranking. The US News does pool all three undergraduate schools for its data on Columbia per the magazine. This is a no brainier. Graduating High school students cannot even apply to GS.

      • Rodney

        I wouldn’t assume that, even with a material change in the statistics of its student body, Columbia “would be even higher” in the US News rankings.

        First of all, US News only weights any college’s admission rate at 1.5% of its overall raw score. Secondly, while Columbia is indeed ranked fourth, it is a long way from overtaking Yale for third.

        Harvard and Princeton have raw scores of 100 and Yale gets a 99. Meanwhile, Columbia and Chicago are tied at 95. That difference of 4 points in raw score may or may not seem like a lot, but Columbia is no closer to passing or tying Yale than it is to being passed or tied by Northwestern University from its current position in 12th place. And of course, as any statistician will tell you, moving from 95 from 99 is much more difficult and unlikely than moving from 91 to 95. That’s how it is on the tail end of any normal distribution curve.

    • John Q

      I don’t hear Yalies boasting about George W. Also, transfer students shouldn’t really count. He only experienced the school culture for two years and those were junior/senior years as well.

    • Columbia College ’15

      Barnard is an entirely independent institution and therefore should not be included in Columbia’s stats. The School of General Studies is an official undergraduate liberal arts college of Columbia that is highly selective considering its very small and self-selective applicant pool. It has rolling admissions and different deadlines, so it’s kind of impossible to include their stats. (US News does mention the School in its description of Columbia.)

  • CU Grad Student

    Hannah is still listed as a Columbia College student in the directory. This likely means she is just taking time off. Thus, it is misleading to use the phrase “Ivy League Dropout.” Hannah strikes me as immature but also a good person trying to find her way. The unfortunate thing is that Columbia turns down thousands of applicants, many of whom would have benefitted from and appreciated a Columbia education in ways Hannah does not (at least not right now; once she grows up a bit, she will eventually recognize this little stunt as silly and as unappreciative of her vast privilege). Whatever the case, I am a Ph.D, student at Columbia. I teach and support undergraduates almost as much as I engage with my own work. I have very close relationships with several of the faculty and countless colleagues who are also completing their doctoral work. We all chose academia in large part because we enjoy seeing students thrive and develop. I do not intend my tone here to defensive; rather, I will just say that I agree with one thing Hannah said: Columbia is made up of remarkable people who do in fact make Columbia a very special place to be for so many people. My sincere hope is for Hannah to pick herself up off the floor before she really does become what she has already claimed: an Ivy League dropout. There’s still time for you, Hannah.

  • Ivie

    There’s something that’s both strangely endearing and pitiful about her (and I say those things in the most well meaning way possible).

    As incoherent as her rant was I do hope that she at least finds her way..