Cornell Alumni Magazine Mentions Jeff

October 2, 2007

This blog has reached a new level. It finally received coverage in a printed publication. And not just any publication, but Cornell Alumni Magazine (you may find the full story on page 33 of the September/October 2007 issue). The article by Michael Morisy ’07 mentions:

The creator of a fake Facebook profile purporting to represent former President Jeffrey Lehman ’77 writes a widely read blog where he comments on the intersections of social networking and higher education, often with a Cornell twist.

Cornell Alumni Magazine happens to be the most widely circulated Cornell-related publication out there, at least based on data easily found online. Thus, I think it is fair to say that I am now officially Cornell’s version of Fake Steve Jobs (covered by NY Times, BusinessWeek, Reuters, CNBC, etc.). Note to publishers: unlike Steve, I have not signed a book deal yet.


Facebook Used by College Admissions Offices

September 10, 2007

Companies have been using Facebook when making hiring decisions. As Facebook spreads beyond just college students, so are its uses.

The Brown Daily Herald reports:

“We don’t use Facebook unless someone says there’s something we should look at,” said Dean of Admission James Miller ’73. But Miller conceded that admission officers take outside tips seriously. “Anything we get, we follow up on,” he said. Associate Director of College Admission Elisha Anderson ’98 agreed with Miller. There is a “limit to what we can appropriately judge people on,” he said, but added, “You have to remember (Facebook) is a public place.” He said there was “maybe one case” in which Facebook yielded information that affected an admission decision.

It should be noted, though, that certain applicants are actually trying to show off their profiles:

Sometimes admission officers receive friend requests on Facebook from applicants, Anderson said, noting that accepting the requests “would appear weird.”

Sending those requests in the first place is probably more weird.

Cornell Named Hottest Ivy by Newsweek

August 13, 2007

Cornell must be doing something right to be labeled one of 25 hottest schools in the nation.


Unlike the other Ivies, Cornell is a land-grant college emphasizing problem solving as well as scholarly debate. The university boasts a world-class engineering college and top-flight liberal arts, science and fine arts. The hotel school is considered the world’s best. Cornellians, proud of the variety on campus, point to the president, David Skorton, a cardiologist, jazz musician and computer scientist who is the first in his family to have a college education.

Via IvyGate.

NY Times Profiles Cornell Residential Colleges

July 29, 2007

The New York Times published a piece today on the growing popularity of residential colleges around the country. It was given a clever title – The Residential Collage. Taking the center stage is none other than Cornell University’s own West Campus Residential Initiative.

It presented an interesting history of the project:

The West Campus Initiative at Cornell is emblematic of how residential life shapes a campus. It began under Hunter R. Rawlings III, the university’s president from 1995 to 2003. Mr. Rawlings arrived to find what he called “a divided campus.” The dorms then on West Campus, undistinguished buildings popularly known as U-halls, were located near many fraternity houses, and tended to attract white suburban students interested in a “pre-fraternity experience,” Mr. Rawlings says. Most minority students gravitated to the dorms on North Campus. Seeing an opportunity both to cross-pollinate the campus and to provide incoming students with greater supervision during their first year, Mr. Rawlings herded all the freshmen to North Campus. Then he embarked on the West Campus project, which he saw as a way of combating another tradition at Cornell — very hard work offset by very hard partying.

Missing from the article completely are Lehman and Skorton, but let’s not get distracted. It gets better:

“It had become clear that there was a 4:30 p.m. cutoff at the university, after which many students entered an intellect-free zone,” says Mr. Kramnick, who was named the first vice provost for undergraduate education in 2001. Cornell, he adds, prided itself on giving students independence in their choice of housing, “but for some students, better students who were looking for more intellectually oriented living arrangements, we didn’t have it.”

Also missing from the story are any real student opinions:

Indeed, interviews with a dozen students at Cornell would indicate that in loco amicus is thriving. They don’t think the West Campus houses have changed campus life – not yet – and most students see them not so much as a new learning philosophy as a snazzy new place to live.

Out of that dozen, only two make it into the article. Both were West Campus residents last semester.

Class of 2011 Acceptance Rates Released

April 5, 2007

Class of 2011 acceptance rates are making headlines. Seems like it has been a good year for many schools.

The New York Times:

It was the most selective spring in modern memory at America’s elite schools, according to college admissions officers. More applications poured into top schools this admissions cycle than in any previous year on record. Schools have been sending decision letters to student applicants in recent days, and rejection letters have overwhelmingly outnumbered the acceptances. … Harvard College received applications from 22,955 students, another record, and accepted 2,058 of them, for an acceptance rate of 9 percent. The university called that “the lowest admit rate in Harvard’s history.” … Applications to Columbia numbered 18,081, and the college accepted 1,618 of them, for what was certainly one of the lowest acceptance rates this spring at an American university: 8.9 percent.

Yale Daily News:

Excluding Yale, other Ivies and peer institutions broke admissions records for applications and admit rates this year. Harvard University accepted 9 percent of 22,955 applicants, down from 9.3 percent last year. Columbia College and the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Sciences accepted 10.4 percent of 21,343 total applicants. Brown University admitted 13.5 percent of a pool of 19,043 applications, while the 14,159 applications received by Dartmouth College resulted in a 15 percent acceptance rate. The University of Pennsylvania admitted 3,610 students, or 15.9 percent of its 22,634 applicants, and 20.5 percent of Cornell University’s 30,383 applicants received acceptance letters.


Princeton University rejected 90.5 percent of applicants for its next freshman class, the highest percentage since at least 1953, mirroring a trend among many of its Ivy League peers. … Cornell University, another Ivy, admitted 20.5 percent of 30,383 applicants, a record for the school, down from 24.7 percent a year earlier. The Ithaca, New York school has had a 24 percent increase in applications over the past two years.

Meanwhile, The Sun is focusing on other statistics:

High-risk drinking is marked by the consumption of five or more drinks consecutively, and, according to The Core Alcohol and Drug Survey conducted by Gannett in 2005, 31 percent of Cornell students reportedly consume, on average, five or more drinks in one night.

Admissions Offices Open Up Through Blogs

March 21, 2007

Last August, Cornell launched the Life on the Hill project to allow prospective students get a feel for campus life. While this initiative faced criticism from independent bloggers, it was an interesting move nonetheless.

It turns out colleges have been exploring other ways of using blogs to attract applicants. Admissions offices, traditionally shrouded in mystery, are beginning to open up. Yale Daily News sums it up:

In recent years, the increasingly intense college search process has given rise to online forums in which college-bound seniors swap advice, statistics, and stories in order to increase their chances of acceptance to top-tier schools. Now, some colleges are bringing information to the students in the form of behind-the-scenes blogs and message boards that offer a revealing look at what goes on inside America’s most selective admissions offices.

Yale does not have an admissions blog and has no plans for one. A quick search reveals that neither does any other Ivy League school. The only exception is Cornell’s College of Engineering.

Here is a small sample of schools jumping on the admissions blog bandwagon:
Bryn Mawr –
Case Western –
Chicago –
Connecticut College –
Cornell (Engineering) –
Johns Hopkins –
Olin College –
Oregon State –
SUNY Stony Brook –

It’s certainly refreshing to see schools make a legitimate attempt to connect with the potential future students during the stressful application process. I can only hope that more colleges follow their example.

Losing Facebook Is Worse Than Losing a Job

March 10, 2007

Charlie, a Goldman Sachs trader in London, was sent a warning by his employer for spending over 500 hours on Facebook over the course of six months:

It has come to our attention that you have been spending a considerable amount of time on a website known as ‘The Facebook’. This is unacceptable since firm regulations do not permit usage of social networking sites. Moreover, your combined total usage time over the past six months has now exceeded 500 hours (the equivalent of over four hours daily), which we feel would normally be sufficiently high to render us duty-bound to inform your manager. As a gesture of goodwill, we will not forward this email on this time, but would ask that you stop utilising this site, and in addition would advise you that this is your final warning and subsequent offences will be treated with more severity and through the appropriate official channels.

So what does he do? He posts it on his Facebook profile. Screenshot:

The fascinating part is his reaction:

It’s a measure of how warped I’ve become that, not only am I surprisingly proud of this, but in addition, the first thing I did was to post it here, and that losing my job worries me far less than losing facebook ever could.

Via TechCrunch.