Monthly Archives: August 2013

27 Aug 2013

What your IPod says about your SAT scores.

Famous (or infamous) hacker and WikiScanner creator, Virgil Griffith, completed an interesting project mapping out a correlation between SAT scores and Music preference.  Albeit not the most scientific of studies, Virgil creatively aggregated students’ self-reported music preferences on Facebook, and plotted them against their schools’ average SAT scores.

Even more interesting than his methodology, are his results.  Virgil scientifically (well, sort of) established a link between Lil Wayne and Pitbull’s mind numbing music and actual mind numbing.  According to his data, students who listed Lil Wayne as a favorite musician score the worst on the SAT – roughly in the 30th percentile (that’s below 900 using only Critical Reading & Math scores).  Soca and Nickleback listeners don’t perform much better with average scores hovering around 900 and 996 respectively.  I guess Nickleback’s lead vocalist, Chad Kroeger, wasn’t kidding when he whined “I never made it as a wise man”. Musicians that top the list are Counting Crows, Radiohead, and Sufjan Stevens (no huge surprise considering his tendency to pepper lyrics with words like eminent and futile).

Of course these findings may be completely correlative and not causative, but it probably doesn’t hurt to occasionally forego the Lil Wayne in favor of some Sufjan Stephens or Counting Crows to get those synapses firing before test day.  Plus a cool chart is a cool chart, as my grandmother always used to say.

Check out where your musical preferences place your SAT scores after the break!

23 Aug 2013

Success in Small Envelopes: The Silver Lining of College Rejection

With colleges accepting fewer and fewer students and application pools overflowing, the possibility of receiving the coveted “big envelope” of admission is becoming as slim as the dreaded rejection envelope.  Although the goal is and always will be to receive an offer of admission from your “dream school” the consequences of rejection are not nearly as life ending as one may fear.  As highschoolers across the country begin the arduous process of brainstorming, drafting, redrafting, scrapping, and rehashing college applications, it is important to keep perspective on what its all for.  The college application process is not simply a game to be won, but a journey to find a school that matches the interests, talents, convictions and goals of an applicant.  In several cases, initial rejection has been the springboard that has launched the most famously successful into careers with big payouts.


Steven Spielberg

Billionaire Director of our most iconic movies of the last two decades tops our list with a grand total of three rejections… from the same school.  Steven Spielberg was so convinced that the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts was the first and most essential stop on his way to silver screen success that he applied and was rejected on three separate occasions.  Obviously, the Jurassic Park, Terminator, E.T., Saving Private Ryan and Shindler’s List Director found an alternative road to success, capturing five Oscars and countless imaginations along the way.  Today, Spielberg holds an honorary degree from USC and sits on the schools Board of Trustees – who’s laughing now?


Meredith Viera

Beloved anchor of the Today Show, and one time host of hit television series “Who Wants To Be a Millionaire”, Viera was turned away from Harvard’s doors hat in hand.  Viera later enrolled at  nearby Tufts University where she met her mentor who offered her an internship that inspired her to pursue a very successful career in broadcast journalism.  Had she not been initially been rejected from Harvard, she “doubts [she] would have pursued a career in journalism.”


John Kerry

Former Democratic nominee for President of the United States, long sitting senator, and current Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry has not always been the lauded leader of the more liberal party we know today.  In 1962, he was one of many gangly teenagers to have a dream crushed by the Harvard University admissions committee.  When asked about his rejection, Kerry stated, “I never would have fit in at a total jock school.”   But, the lure of Harvard held strong – in 1973, Kerry tried and failed again to attend Harvard, this time, as a law student. Sec. Kerry took his talents first to Yale University and then to Boston College Law School, going on to become one of the most respected and long serving legislators of the last few decades.  Of course, marrying someone with the last name Heinz didn’t hurt.


Warren Buffet

The Oracle of Oklahoma, the CEO of value inventing, and the world’s most well known and oft imitated investor, Warren Buffet joins our list of “rejects”.  Similarly Crimson-ly challenged, Buffet was rejected from Harvard Business School at the age of 19.  Looking back, he say’s “Harvard wouldn’t have been a good fit. But at the time, I had this feeling of dread”.  Ultimately, Buffet landed at the prestigious Columbia Business School where legendary investors, Benjamin Graham and David Dodd, mentored and influenced the young tycoon’s investing approach.  By 2008, Buffet’s schooling and intellect had resulted in $62 billion in investments and he is considered one of the pre-eminent market movers… in the world.  Take that Harvard!


Tom Brokaw

Nightly news legendary anchor, Tom Brokaw has reported and recorded his fair share of failures.  Brokaw, who self describes himself as majoring in “partying and co-eds” while completing his undergraduate degree at the University of Iowa was shocked when he received his rejection letter from Harvard’s Journalism school.  The former anchor and managing editor of NBC Nightly News called his rejection from Harvard “the initial stumble” that was “critical in getting me launched.” According to the Wall Street Journal, the denial was instrumental in inspiring the revered newsman to commit to journalism… and to stop partying so much!


Ted Turner

Finally, Ted Turner, the most famous undereducated success story of… hmmm, maybe ever.  Mr. Turner, who attended Brown University for 3 years, never earned a collegiate degree of any kind (though he was awarded an honorary B.A. from Brown 1989).  After his Junior year, Turner was forced to move back home to manage his late father’s billboard business, and managed to grow it into the multinational multi billion dollar cable news conglomerate, CNN.  The rest as they say is history.

16 Aug 2013

Social Media Privacy Guide

Hello Seniors!

As you begin to apply to colleges, it is important to be sure that your online social media presence is squeaky clean. While you may think that you can fly under the radar as just one of thousands of applicants, keep in mind that application readers are often recent grads and will utilize social media to learn more about an interesting applicant.

Let’s start with the basics..

1) Google yourself! Hopefully, the only search results that pop up are your many accolades across sports, clubs or other school sanctioned activities. If you find something unexpected, do your best to contact the web administrator of whichever page you find (Tumblr? Pinterest? Foursquare? Facebook? Youtube?) and ask if it can be taken down.

2) Google your email address – this is an easy way for colleges to check on whether their initial Internet snoop links the right student to the right page.

3) Google your cell phone number. Think of this as an extension of your email address.

4) Google your “username” – if you’re like most social media users, you likely have a username that you use across multiple platforms. Check and see what this search yields. While colleges will not specifically know about your commonly used usernames, it’s still valuable to know what information exists online that is linked to your identity.

5) Don’t forget to Google image yourself too!

So, now that you’ve thoroughly scrounged the Internet for any identifying information and expunged anything remotely illicit, let’s move on to……


1) CHANGE your name: Last AND first name, no exceptions and no middle names as last names – this is a code easily cracked.  

2) CHANGE your username if it contains any identifying information OR if it is one of your “common usernames”.

3) MAKE SURE your profile picture displays you at your most wholesome. Your profile picture is ALWAYS included in any search so it must be something 100% innocuous.

4) DON’T FORGET your cover photo. Same rules apply as your profile picture.

You may want to consider…..

Custom Friends Lists: Are you Facebook friends with anyone connected to your school? Teachers, coaches, administrators etc? If so, create a Custom list for them. This will allow you to block them specifically from seeing any of your content. Here’s how: On the left hand side of your Facebook homepage, expand the “Friends” tab. If you swipe your mouse over any of the words, you’ll be able to click “More”. From here, you’ll be able to click “Create list”.

Time to move on to PRIVACY SETTINGS! 

Click the gear at the top right and select Privacy Settings

Who can see my stuff?: This refers to who is able to see status updates, shared photos, shared links, shared videos and basically anything that YOU put on Facebook or were tagged in.

You should not be sharing ANYTHING on Facebook with ANYONE that is not “age-appropriate” or alludes to an activity that you wouldn’t want your grandmother or admissions counselor to see. This includes, but is not limited to:

Smoking (anything, duh.)

Drinking – no beer cans, no wine bottles, no liquor bottles – NOTHING

Anything possibly construed as drug related

Plastic cups – even if that red solo cup only contained juice…..

Party – you may not be doing anything wrong, but party pictures can project an image that may conflict with how you would like an admissions officer to view you

Complaints about your teachers, school, or boss – just don’t do it, you never know who may see it or how it could negatively affect a recommendation or the support for your candidacy by your school.

Complaints about your friends or family – even if they’re meant in a non-serious way, you never know whether a mildly offensive inside joke will strike the wrong chord.

Excessive PDA pictures – if you’d feel awkward showing your grandmother, keep it off Facebook.

“Fun” pictures of you doing anything remotely illegal – did you hop a fence and pose in front of a “private property” sign? Keep it off Facebook!

Who can see your future posts?: Make sure that you have this setting on either “Only Me” or “Friends”. If you made a friend list for school contacts, click ‘Custom’ and enter the name of your friend list in the “Don’t share with” box.

Review all your posts and things you’re tagged in: This is a very good setting to keep on, just in case one of your less cautious friends decides to tag you in something that should stay private. If you click “Review Activity Log” you will be able to see who was able to view any of your Facebook activity, such as Likes, shares, wallposts,  etc. You can change the audience for each post using the pencil edit graphic.

Limit the audience for posts you’ve shared with friend of friends or Public: If, in the past, you have any posts that are set to be viewable by “Friends of Friends” or the Public, you can use this option to limit all of them to Friends Only.

Who can look you up using the email address or phone number?: Put this setting on “Friends only”, or if you can’t bear to do that, at least “Friends of friends”

Do you want other search engines to link to your time?: NO, no you do not. Unclick the box that says, “Let other search engines link to your timeline”


Who can post on your timeline?: Make sure this setting is on “Friends” only.

Review posts friends tag you in before they appear on your timeline: Turn this setting ON – you may be able to catch something unsavory before it goes public.

Review what other people can see on your timeline: Here’s a great opportunity to use the “View as” setting to see what strangers (aka, the “public”) can see about you if they are able to break through your many clever security measures to stay hidden. Ideally, strangers should be able to garner ZERO information about you and NOT see any pictures apart from your happy, smiling, wholesome profile picture and cover photo, both of which will project you as the ideal candidate to your school of choice.

Who can see posts you’ve been tagged in on your timeline?: Select Custom and select the option to share only with Friends, and do not share with your custom list of school related Facebook friends.

Who can see what others post on your timeline?: Same setting as above, friends only and don’t share with your custom list of school related contacts.

Now let’s talk about YOUR PROFILE.

About section: Go to your profile and click the ‘About’ tab.  This is where your work & education, family, location, ‘basic information’, and contact information are stored. Each section has an edit box. When you click it, you’ll have the option to hide each piece of information from your timeline, or make it accessible to only friends. For whatever you wish to keep on your timeline, make sure it’s accessible ONLY to friends.

If you scroll down, you’ll probably see several other sections like “Places”, “Likes” “Events”, “Groups”. All of these should be set to private using the pencil edit icon on the top right hand side.

Friends: Click the Friends tab. At the top left, you should see a pencil edit box, click it and select edit privacy. Now, adjust the setting so that only your friends can see your friends list and “following” lists.

Once you’ve gone through all of these settings, go back to the “View as” setting and do a double and triple check that ALL of your information is private and secure. Remember that Facebook tends to take 24 hours to put changes into effect, so be sure to do your final triple check 24 hours after making adjustments.