Your last first editor, signing off

When UPC ex-prez Brian No ’10 offered me the title of The Ink‘s “Editorial Director” a little more than a year ago, this here site was but a couple of awkward posts, written by the members of a rather obscure club, that also happens to be really, really old. So I figured, Taking an ancient institution into the 21st century should be fun and not big a deal. And then apparently people started reading us. A lot of ’em. Which, I mean — What? Really? We like it though, so thanks.

I should say that The Ink started as an effort to expand the Press Club’s presence online in the midst of a changing media landscape, but it quickly became something more than just an extension of our work with publications. Yeah, I guess we became “bloggers,” but even more than that, I think we became a voice. Over the past year or so UPC has emerged as a campus institution students can count on for news, commentary, and the occasional laugh. I’m glad to have had a part in shaping that and UPC history.

But my time’s up now. Yes, after writing north of a hundred posts of varying wit and quality, editing countless others, and losing a bit of my sanity the whole time, I’m hanging up the ol’ keyboard and getting kicked out. Good riddance, right?

At any rate, a round of thanks are in order for making The Ink what it is today. So, I want to acknowledge the newsmakers, the personalities, and the ridiculous that make Princeton great: Sabra hummus, Four Loko, Jane Randall, Connor Diemand-Yauman, freshmen, alumni who make bad decisions, Bros Icing Bros, campus printers, Firestone, PrincetonFML (and The Mod), The Economy, Princeton Reunions, USG, long walks to Forbes, Chatroulette, senior theses, Cannon Club, Dean’s Date, Shirley Tilghman, Nancy Malkiel, Yale, the Prince, the cold, IvyGate, the U-Store, Small World, Rap Music, and of course, the Princeton Masturbator.

And of course, we’re thankful for you — our readers. A lot of times people come up to me and say they’ve been reading The Ink and love it, or that something we posted was kind of insulting, or that it was spot on, or that your blog isn’t funny bro, or that it’s really just pretty asinine, et cetera. And honestly, we take that to heart and try to make our site better for you guys since, well, we’re not writing it for ourselves. Please keep the (constructive?) criticism coming; we really do listen.

So before I overstay my welcome (and before, honestly, I lose any more time remaining to scrounge up a thesis), I’ll hand the mic over to Giri Nathan ’13, your new Editorial Director. He’s a fine individual. Address any and all hatred/criticism/concern to him now; I’ll still be accepting praise.

And with that, I’ll be taking my leave. It’s been fun, and I’m glad to have been along for the ride. Here’s to another 100 years of crazy things happening at Princeton, to the imminent repeal of grade deflation, and our enjoying it all together in some gaudy orange and black. See you at Reunions.

B.S.E. majors, it’s not just you: everyone hates the course you’re in

If the weeklong break wasn’t enough to ease the pain of the last exam period, it might be worth taking another look at your course schedule for the coming semester. Shopping period starts tomorrow, which means it’s time to make good on that resolution to pick classes that will be just as interesting in May as they sound right now.

Easier said than done, but with the help of the registrar’s course evaluation results, you just might unearth a few of the intellectually fulfilling courses you imagined finding here – or at least avoid the universally despised.

[caption id="attachment_8970" align="aligncenter" width="434" caption="graph by Nathan Serota '14"]Course satisfaction by department[/caption]

Humanities students had the highest overall satisfaction with the quality of their courses, rating them 4.1/5, while engineering and natural sciences students tied for the lowest course satisfaction at 3.7.

Among the departments, humanistic studies and East Asian studies grabbed top ratings at 4.5 and 4.4, respectively.  Neuroscience and linguistics students were the least happy with their classes, at 3.1 and 3.2, which goes to show that the outlook for the engineers and natural science students, whose departments rank solidly in the middle of the pack, isn’t so bleak after all.

If you do find your department trailing behind the happy-go-lucky humanities division, you can still avoid the lowest-rated classes.  ORF 245: Fundamentals of Engineering Statistics, and ORF 311: Optimization under Uncertainty tied for the dubious honor of least satisfying course, at 2.3.  WWS 300: Democracy was close behind at 2.4, followed by LIN 201: Introduction to Language & Linguistics with 2.5.

At the other end of the spectrum, there were several classes scoring a perfect 5 (including quite a few Woody Woo seminars, perhaps to make up for the required Democracy class).

Happy shopping! (?)

IN PRINT: You Will Pay “Less More” To Go Here Next Year!

The total cost of attending Princeton — tuition, food, housing — will go up by 1% next year, which is the smallest increase in 45 years. So although you will be paying more, it’ll be by the smallest margin in a looooong time.

The decision was made in light of the rough economy and the university’s relative stability. Read the full story at the Times of Trenton.

Here are the official numbers from the Report of the Priorities Committee (you can read that whole document here):

[caption id="attachment_8966" align="aligncenter" width="515" caption="A fee package comparison between this year and next year"]A fee package comparison between this year and next year[/caption]

New report: College students only spend 16% of time studying or in class

If the new semester has you thinking about your upcoming workload, consider this. A new study shows that college students today spend only 16 percent of their time studying or in class and lab, far less than students in previous decades. Nine percent of their time is spent on working, volunteering or club activities, and the rest (75%) is on sleeping and socializing.

As a result, almost half of all undergraduates in the country show no academic gains in their first two years of college, and student performance gains are “disturbingly low,” according to the report. Thirty-six percent of students left college without any “significant improvement in learning,” as measured by performance on the Collegiate Learning Assessment.

The CLA is a test that “gauges critical thinking and analytic reasoning,” according to The Week. That means that the authors of the study didn’t measure learning in any specific field, but rather critical thinking ability, which critics say isn’t the best measure of a college education.

The average GPA of the students surveyed might surprise you: 3.2.

From ABC News:

“These are really kind of shocking, disturbing numbers,” says New York University professor Richard Arum, lead author of the book, published by the University of Chicago Press.

He noted that students in the study, on average, earned a 3.2 grade-point average. “Students are able to navigate through the system quite well with little effort,” Arum said.

The report is based on a book called Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses. It surveyed 3,000 students at 29 unnamed universities.

IN PRINT: One Table Café offers free community dinners

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="281" caption="Mediterra sponsored the evening's multi-course dinner"][/caption]

Last Friday, nearly 170 people gathered at Princeton’s Trinity Church for the inaugural dinner of its new restaurant, One Table Café.

The One Table Café is a once-a-month fine dining experience for working class individuals who cannot afford to frequent fancy restaurants.

The dinner is completely free– sponsored by local restaurants who volunteer their chefs to provide guests with a high-quality, healthy meal. The January 21 dinner was sponsored by Mediterra.

The event also featured speaker Dr. Cornel West, Princeton professor of religion, who commemorated the Café’s outreach and community-building goals.

Registration for upcoming meals can be found here.

Read more about the unique efforts of the One Table Café on

Timothy Ferriss ’00 Releases How-To-Be-Godlike Self-Help Book

"I am quite muscular and am standing in a room that is lit in such a way so as to maximize the splendor of my muscles!"

Timothy Ferriss ’00 has written a book that will transform you into a hypermuscled, knife-sharp sex god. That is, if you trust his methods. Ferriss plies a special brand of hand-waving alternative-medicine voodoo magic, prescribing dubious fixes like ginger and sauerkraut (if you want to put on muscle) or protein and lemon juice (if you want to lose fat). Or, alternatively, if you seek “wolverine sex,” try his carefully calibrated diet of 4 Brazil nuts, 20 raw almonds, 2 cod-liver oil capsules, and butterfat. (And seriously don’t even think of eating that 5th Brazil nut, if you or your partner hope to get out alive.)

But apparently people believe this stuff: his book, “The 4-Hour Body: An Uncommon Guide to Rapid Fat-Loss, Incredible Sex, and Becoming Superhuman,” debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times hard-cover advice list.

Ferriss, who majored in East Asian Studies, has since veered more into the field of Bat**** Insane. After graduating, he started up a nutritional supplement company called BrainQuicken — even his thesis (“Acquisition of Japanese Kanji: Conventional Practice and Mnemonic Supplementation”) seems to have something to do with that. He is all about self-improvement though vague alchemical means.

Continue reading…

JFK’s Princeton College App: It’s Okay To Copy/Paste

Recently, bloggers have gotten ahold of President John F. Kennedy’s old college application essays, and boy, were standards different back then.

EDIT: JFK’s Harvard essay reads like this: (Source)

“The reasons that I have for wishing to go to Harvard are several. I felt that Harvard can give me a better background and a better liberal education than any other university. I have always wanted to go there, as I have felt that it is not just another college but is a university with something definite to offer. Then too, I would like to go to the same college as my father. To be a “Harvard man” is an enviable distinction, and one that I sincerely hope I shall attain.”

But wait… they found his application essay to Princeton was nearly identical.

Hey now, cut the late Mr. President some slack. It’s not like we all didn’t do a little tweaking on our Common App. (“Sure, Yale’s my top choice…”) On the other hand, he only spent 6 weeks at Princeton before going to Harvard.

Critics argue that if Kennedy applied today, he would not have been admitted to an Ivy League school with these essays. But honestly, if JFK could reapply knowing everything we do today, wouldn’t his essay be entitled “How I’m Going to Become a Pimpin’ Ladykiller/President of the United States Before My Untimely Assassination That Will Go Down in History as a Government Conspiracy”?

That’s what I called mine.

Moral of the story to Princeton students aspiring for elected office: guard your college apps.

IN PRINT: Brainstorming to Reduce School Spending

It’s pretty cool that Princeton is a historical town—I mean, just think about it.  Princeton townspeople of the 1700s in pilgrim hats and buckle shoes would gather and chat about what’s up with George Washington.

Fast forward two-and-a-half centuries and the Princeton Board of Education called such a town meeting (no pilgrim hats required, though) on January 18th to discuss ways to save money in the upcoming year.  See, New Jersey has been slowly decreasing the amount of money given to our lovely town’s school district, and the Board of Education projects that there will be a $2 million hole in next year’s budget.

Hence the town meeting.  Board members hoped that people would come forth with ideas to save money, and many did.  Somebody suggested that the board should install solar panels in the schools; somebody else recommended changing the bus schedule to maximize efficiency. Others just waxed poetic about the pure evil of charter schools.

Read more at AllPrinceton.

IN PRINT: Sustainable Princeton plans six-month Pilot Curbside Food Waste Composting project

[caption id="attachment_8900" align="alignleft" width="250" caption="Princeton resident Heidi Fichtenbaum shows off her backyard composting set-up."]Princeton resident Heidi Fichtenbaum shows off her backyard composting set-up.[/caption]

We’ve all been there – being kinder to our environment looks great on paper, but sometimes it just seems out of reach. It’s all too easy to get caught up in the daily grind and forget all about how much our planet needs our help. That’s why Sustainable Princeton has jumpstarted a Curbside Composting Pilot Program as a way to encourage Princeton community members to save their food scraps for the compost heap.

Beginning this month, participants in the program were given two garbage bins – one for food waste and one for solid waste – which are collected separately. All food waste is taken to an offsite composting plant so that participants who don’t have the time, space, or know-how to do backyard composting can still be involved in what has become a food waste management movement that’s taking the country by force.

Read more about the pilot program and existing composting programs in Princeton in this story in the Princeton Echo.

Class of 2015 sets new applications record, College Confidential is like, meh.

Princeton received a record 27,115 applications for the class of 2015, according to a statement from the university. The number is a 3.3 percent increase from last year’s 26,247 applications for the class of 2014, when applications jumped by almost 20 percent over the class of 2013.

The university intends to enroll 1,300 freshmen in the fall, which means that the admission rate will definitely be over at least 5 percent.

“The depth of the applicant pool is impressive, and, as in previous years, we will have extremely difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks because of the quality of this year’s applicants,” Dean of Admission Janet Rapelye said in the statement. “With the increase in applications, it’s clear that the University’s academic excellence, students’ unrivaled access to world-class faculty members and our generous financial aid policy continue to have tremendous appeal to prospective students.”

The biggest trend is online–only 1 percent of applicants submitted a paper version of the application (Why? Who are these 270 high school seniors?) and almost all of them applied with the Common Application.

The 27,115 applications have set a record for the seventh year in a row, though the jump in applicants is markedly smaller than the 20 percent last year.

College Confidential? Unimpressed.

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Other schools also set records…that were perhaps more impressive. (And that’s why we do these posts, to impress ourselves.) Harvard received 35,000 applications, a 15 percent increase from last year, according to Bloomberg. Dartmouth and Penn saw similar jumps, and Brown saw a 2.9 increase to 31,000 students. Columbia saw applications rise 32 percent, to 34,587.

One reason these schools are setting records year after year could be that it’s getting easier than ever to apply to colleges, thanks to the Common App. According to the Cooperative Institutional Research Program’s Freshman Survey, the percentage of students who applied to 7 or more colleges doubled to 23 percent from 1999 to 2009.