Wednesday, February 28, 2007

What we know

1. Decisions will come out before April 1.

2. They will be both mailed and emailed. This is new information to me, so it must be new to you! Before, we were just going to mail, but since we want you to have your decisions sooner rather than later, we will email as well.

We don't have a website that can accommodate posting decisions online.

That's all we know! You're welcome to your questions and wild speculations, but we can't provide any more information.

Something we can all do before decisions come out is read War and Peace. We have just enough time. I have a little head start -- I'm on page 800 on the Penguin edition, which is the one we use in the War and Peace class here, so it's the one I'm recommending. Maybe if we're all reading War and Peace, we won't keep refreshing the credentials page, which only updates once a day.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Midyears and incomplete applications

Besides participating in Olympic events, here's what we've been doing in the office.

We have many (many, many) paper midyears that we have scanned, but still have to link. The assistant directors have been deployed to do a lot of that this afternoon, so if you have sent a paper midyear, or you think your school did, those should be appearing in the next few days. After we are sure we have linked every single paper midyear, we will send another email to tardy midyear grade reporters.

If you have not yet reported your midyear grades for some reason, please log in and do so! Everyone needs to fill out this form, even if you have graduated, are in Timbuktu, etc. It takes five minutes!

Here is a tour of the midyear report.

If you reported provisional midyear grades and now have a corrected midyear grade report (that is different from the provisional grades you reported), you were not supposed to do that! But it's okay -- email me at and ask for your midyear report to be unlocked so that you can submit it again. Be sure to provide your full name.

And now, credentials... many people got an email last week telling them to check their credentials online and see what was missing. We sent this to all students who do not have one of the required elements: most often an application fee, but also test scores, at least one teacher recommendation, transcript, counselor recommendation, an essay, etc.

Of course, this has caused a little surge in the amount of mail, email, and faxes we get. We are hard at work scanning and linking the documents we've received. Many of you who have faxed something in may notice that it takes a few days for it to show up on the website. Human eyes check each piece that comes in to make sure it goes to the right file, and that it's the right thing. Patience and non-panic are both virtues that are utterly necessary in the college admissions process.

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Friday, February 16, 2007

Winter Wonderland

Last week, a large cargo plane carrying billions of styrofoam peanuts blew up over Chicago, and this was the result. It resembles snow, but the truth is that the average temperature in Chicago during January and February is nearly 70 degrees F...

That little sign on the right says "Thin Ice -- Do not stand on it" or something, but we can plainly see that that is a bridge over absolutely nothing. No ice here!

Students from our award-winning Engineering School began to construct the large buildings we use for housing during winter quarter exam period so that students who live in the Shoreland and Broadview don't have to leave the quads between exams.

Obviously we lagged a bit with this post... it's funnier because it actually is around 50 degrees in Chicago right now, and all the snow has melted. Ah, memories.

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Wednesday, February 07, 2007

College Admissions Marathon

Dear Friends,

This morning our computer systems were being upgraded, so we decided to compete in another heroic athletic competition which we would document in photographs and bring to you via this blog. Today, due to an abundance of warm weather and an imminent invasion by the Persians under Darius I, we decided that a marathon would be uniquely appropriate. For various reasons, several of our usual competitors could not participate (due to injuries, meetings, and other obligations) so the marathon today involved only Libby and Austin. Nevertheless, it was filled with peril and adventure, which we will recount for you below. This week we decided to visit most (though not all) of the most important campus coffee shops and three of the main libraries. As always, all participants were gold medalists, because there are no losers in the College Admissions Game (and this includes the College Admissions Marathon).

We started, as usual, in Rosenwald Hall. Leaving our offices for the first time in a few days (we have been very busy reading), we note that it is cold and has snowed recently. We immediately regret not bringing our skis, because on this day a real biathlon would have been possible. There was nothing to be done, however, so we laced up our sandals (remember - this is a Greek marathon) and got under way.

Our first stop was Swift Hall, which is the home of the Divinity School. The Divinity School Coffee Shop is located in the basement.

Having noticed a series of (very strange) requests for views of the insides of bathrooms from our loyal blog readers, we paused briefly at this sign. Libby was in favor of taking pictures of the bathroom, I was in favor of continuing on to the coffee shop, so Pheidippides cast the deciding vote, which was with me, so we headed left to the coffee shop. Libby wants to reassure all of our readers that our bathrooms are very nice, though we are very unlikely to feature them in any future blog post:

Inside the Divinity School Coffee Shop, we found reasonably priced mochas, lattes, coffees and hot chocolates. We might normally have been amazed, but we visit the Div School (as it is known around here) almost every day before (or during) work. I had a medium hot chocolate. Anyone who has ever run on a track or cross-country team will tell you that there is nothing like hot chocolate to keep you going during a marathon:

Libby had some coffee.

The Divinity School Coffee Shop is known as "the place where God drinks coffee," probably because they sell these shirts. We don't know if they mean that this is the place where God does drink his coffee, or where God would drink his coffee, if he went to the Divinity School (or the University of Chicago). Anyway, these are great shirts. You get discounts on coffee at the Div School if you wear your shirt:

Emerging from the subterranean warren which is the Div School Coffee Shop, we headed for Cobb Hall. If you are admitted and decide to enroll, you will become intimately familiar with Cobb Hall, because it is one of our main classroom buildings. Cobb Hall is named for Silas B. Cobb, who invented the cobweb. You can clearly see several elements of the building which reflect the design of cobwebs. We promise:

Here I am in the basement of Cobb, admiring a sign on the entrance to Cobb Coffee Shop:

What does the sign say? We have taken a picture of it, which we reproduce below. Now we know what it says, though we still don't know what it means. You might be asking yourself what a 'neo-synthetic culture space' is supposed to be. If you are, you are asking the same question which we asked ourselves upon entering the shop. Fortunately, we quickly discovered the truth:

This is a neo-synthetic culture space in all its glory! Behold! Neo-synthetic culture! Wherever you see scenes like this one, you are seeing a neo-synthetic culture space. Note that Cobb Coffee Shop was not crowded, because we visited at about 9:30 in the morning:

The baristas at Cobb frequently play movies at lunch on this TV set, and records on the turntable which is below and to the right. Last week they were playing The Empire Strikes Back, today it was Clerks.

If you are a regular at Cobb Coffee Shop, you can hang your mug on the wall. We know there are more regulars at Cobb than this would indicate, but there are a limited number of hooks for mugs. Therefore, new regulars are appointed only when old regulars die, retire or graduate (in a process very much like the process of appointing new Supreme Court Justices) or when a current regular is challenged to gladiatorial combat by a hopeful (potential) 'regular'. What we are really saying is that we have no idea how one would get to hang one's mug on one of these hooks. What we do know is that those who are so lucky get bottomless cups of coffee for only one dollar per day:

Leaving Cobb Coffee Shop, we turned left and headed to the Classics Quad to find the Classics Coffee Shop, which is in the Classics Building:

And here we are, on the second floor of the building:

The Classics Coffee Shop is a well-known hangout for classicists, philosophy professors, and other Greeks and Romans. The three busts over the counter are of famous former University of Chicago professors - Voltaire, Hegel and Ted Cohen. (Please note that two of these men died before the University of Chicago was founded and never worked here, but one of them still teaches here and, we might add, is very popular - we leave it to you to decide who is who.) Of the three coffee shops we have visited so far, the Classics Cafe has the best ambience and is best suited to studying, philosophizing, and thinking:

Here is the other half of the Classics Coffee Shop:

We left Classics and headed to Harper Memorial Library. We will note that we did not need to go outside at all during this leg of our journey. Some of you have asked whether there is a system of tunnels under our campus. The answer is no, but it is possible to cover a lot of ground inside. We will also note that we could have walked from Cobb to Classics without setting foot outside, but we enjoy the snow and the cold. Harper Library is one of the most beautiful spaces on campus:

If you have been following along on a map, you will notice that we have gone a total of three and a half blocks by this point in our marathon. We have a long way to go. Upon leaving Harper, we headed for the Social Sciences Quad, and towards the Reynolds Club:

Arriving at the Reynolds Club, we warmed our tired hands and feet at this fireplace:

From there, we attempted to take some pictures of the Second Floor Coffee Shop. The name of this establishment changes regularly. We think that it is called "Hallowed Grounds" this year. Last year it was "Uncle Joes." When we arrived, we found that it was not going to open for another 10 minutes. We decided that since our goal was to break the world record time of 2:04:55, we could not spare ten minutes. We continued to the C-Shop, which is on the first floor of the Reynolds Club:

After the C-Shop, which is most notable for $1-Shake Wednesdays (yes, a whole milkshake for $1, or n whole milkshakes for $n) we stopped briefly at Hutchinson Commons, which is a beautiful space (and a cafeteria too):


Upon leaving the Reynolds Club, Pheidippides dropped out of the race from exhaustion, and Libby and I continued on through the snow alone, sorely regretting our decision to leave our skis at home. Our next stop was the Regenstein, the main library on our campus. This view is from the other side. The sculpture in the center commemorates the spot where Enrico Fermi and his colleagues initiated the first (artificial) self-sustaining nuclear reaction on December 2, 1942:

Inside the Reg, we stopped on the third floor to take this picture of the study spaces on the second and third floors:

To give you some idea of the size of the Reg, Libby stood at one end of this section of the stacks and took pictures while I walked to the other. This is the first picture in a series of three:


Third. You might not be able to see me, but I am there. We meant to count the number of shelves I passed, but unfortunately forgot:

From the third floor, we headed to the A Level (which is the first level underground) to Ex Libris, which is the Reg's Coffee Shop. It is pictured here. Remember, it's pretty early in the morning, so the shop is not as crowded as it otherwise would be:

One of the employees of the shop has a cat, which is pictured here. When the cat turned thirteen-and-one-day old, its owner held a bar mitzvah. The staff at Ex Libris assured us that there was a Torah reading. The cat's name, for those of you who are curious, is Mr. Gingersnaps:

We also came upon this drawing on a blackboard in Ex Libris. The two combatants pictured here are 'Aristotron' and 'Platobot'. Platobot is shooting forms at Aristotron. Aristotron is responding with a blast from his praxis cannon. (Please note - the Admissions Office is not necessarily endorsing the assignment of Aristotron to the Decepticons and Platobot to the Autobots.)

From the Reg, we headed north to the Smart Museum, wherein we found the Smart Museum Cafe. The smart kids around here all know that most standard coffee shop fare is a bit cheaper at the Smart Museum Cafe, because it is off the beaten path for most students. Lines tend to be shorter too, as they were when we visited:

What's that? That's a T-1000. Just another wonderful thing invented at the University of Chicago, this time in our famous School of Engineering. (As you probably know, we do not have an engineering school. What you may not know is that this bit of metal is real art from the Smart Museum.)

On the final leg of our journey, we headed to Crerar, which is our science library:

In the entry way there is an exhibit about the 'Super Croc' (= Sarchosuchus Imperator), the most complete specimen of which was discovered recently by the University's own Paul Sereno:

On the second floor of Crerar, I stayed put while Libby walked to the end of the bookstacks. This is the first in a series of three photographs:



Finally, Libby stopped to sit in the chair where I read most of my applications, which is on the second floor of Crerar, near the Journal of Microscopy and the Journal of Biological Chemistry:

At this point, exhausted but triumphant, we headed down the last mile from Crerar to Rosenwald, past the cheering throngs, and returned to our offices to begin reading more applications. We also want to let you know that there are several other libraries (the D'Angelo Law Library, the Eckhart Math Library, etc) and several coffee shops (the Second Floor Coffee Shop, the Stuart Coffee Shop, the New Graduate School of Business Coffee Shop, etc.) which we were not able to visit, but they are there. You will have to see them for yourselves should you visit the campus in April.

Thank you, as usual, for reading our blog.


Austin and Libby

PS. Next week the assistants who were on the disabled list this week (Jon, Jeff, Isabel, Kate, and more!) promise that they will be healthy and ready to go with us. If there are things you would like us to photograph, please make suggestions here!

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Magical Mystery Biathlon

Dear Friends,

Libby and I read your comments on our proposal last week with great interest. We recognized quickly that most people seemed to want to see dorms (which is what we would want to see, if we were in your shoes), so concluded we had two options. We could either spend many weeks taking pictures of one dorm per week, or do all the dorms close to campus in a single lunch break and move on to other things! We knew which one of those two options excited us, so we set off this afternoon on the College Admissions Winter Biathlon of 2007, aiming to see four dormitories and all three dining halls in one hour.

The biathlon seemed to be a uniquely appropriate event, because it involves skiing and shooting (in this case shooting pictures, not rifles). The participants were Jeff Hreben (representing Norway), Libby Pearson (representing Andorra), Jon Quinn (representing The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland) and me (representing the Motherland - the Russian Federation). All participants won gold medals. There are no losers in the College Admissions Game, so there certainly would not be any losers in the College Admissions Biathlon.

We set out from the main quad towards Burton Judson. It was at this point that we abandoned our skis for lack of snow to ski on. All participants agreed to this, so no one was penalized or disqualified. We continued with only our wits and our cameras:

As we approached Burton Judson, I called Caroline, the student who had agreed to show us her room. She lives in Dodd-Mead House on the first floor of Burton Judson:

Here is a view of Burton Judson from where Jon and I were standing. Notice - not enough snow for a real biathlon on skis:

Here are Jon and Austin approaching the entrance to Burton Judson. The portcullis is raised except when the building is under siege by the Ostrogoths, who tend to appear yearly during the Spring Quarter:

Caroline and her roommate live in a 'walk-through' double. Most rooms in Burton Judson are singles. Caroline and her roommate have singles too, but Caroline must walk through her roommate's room to get in and out. This is her roommate's room:

And this is half of Caroline's room. She didn't want us to take a picture of her desk on the other side of the room because it was messy. We interrupted Caroline while she was doing her physics homework:

We left Caroline's room and headed for the Burton Judson dining hall, which is in the rear corner of the building. As you can see, Burton Judson was built in the Gothic style. What you cannot see in this picture is that the architects took this so seriously that they included battlements with spaces for archers and cauldrons to be used to pour hot oil on invading enemies (like the Ostrogoths, for example).

Before reaching the dining hall, we passed the entrance to Chamberlin House. Libby lived in Chamberlin as a first year student, many, many years ago (ok, maybe five and a half years ago) and as you can see, she really enjoyed the experience:

This is the interior of the Burton Judson dining hall, which resembles the dining hall from the Harry Potter movies (as does Burton Judson as a whole, and most of our campus). In fact, the same technology which is used to suspend the candles above the floor in the Hogwarts dining hall (i.e., magic) is employed at the Burton Judson dining hall to suspend the chandeliers. Magic was developed here in the early 20th century. We are not lying.

After stopping in Burton Judson, we decided to add an unscheduled stop to our course - the NEW dorm. If you are admitted, make the right choice and decide to enroll, and then live in the Shoreland during your first year, you will be moved to this new dorm when it is ready during your second year. The dorm has been nicknamed the Panopticon, because of the resemblance it bears to Jeremy Bentham's design for a prison. We think the new dorm is going to be quite amazing and any comparisons to a prison are without merit! In fact, Jon, Jeffrey, Austin, Libby, Isabel and Kate have all considered applying to be Resident Heads in the new dorm when it opens:

Right now the new dorm is not ready to accept any students:

We left the new dorm and headed up Ellis Avenue. This is a view of Harper from the south side of the Midway. The tower at the right of the photograph is Rockefeller Chapel:

We went through the Classics Quad, on to the Main Quad, and into the Snell-Hitchcock quad (for those of you following along on a map), to see the Snell-Hitchcock dormitory, which is pictured here:

We entered the building and stopped in Ayn Sauer's room. If any of you visited during the summer, you may have had Ayn as a tour guide, or seen her on a student panel. She has a really excellent room, which she shares with a friend of hers. She wants us to tell all of you that you will not be able to live there next year, because she is staying in her room forever! This is half of it. The other half is as cool as this half:

Here is the other half of Ayn's room. Again, it is every bit as cool as the first half. On the left, you can see Ayn. We think she would want you to know that she is not named after Ayn Rand:

We stopped on the way out to take pictures of Snell-Hitchcock's Green Room, which is often used for tea parties, masquerade balls, and frivolous frippery:

We next stopped in the Bartlett Dining Hall to try to find a student who would let us in to Max Palevsky East. Here is the stairway up to the dining area, which is on the second floor:

Once inside, I tried to convince a student from May House to take us in and show us around. Unfortunately, I had little success. This might be because I spent three years living in Alper House (which is on the third and fourth floors of Max East) and often made fun of May House and Hoover House, with which my house shared the building. In my humble and completely biased opinion, Alper House is the best house in the housing system:

Since we could not enter the building, I decided to show my feelings for it to all of you by hugging it. It's a wonderful dorm. I really enjoyed living there:

On our way from Max Palevsky to Pierce, we passed this sign in the window of the Hoover House, which I think every student at the University (and most of our applicants) could endorse with enthusiasm:

This is a picture from Pierce Hall from University Avenue near Henry Crown:

Before checking out a room, we decided to stop at the Pierce dining hall for lunch. I had some pizza, ravioli, a salad, and some ice cream which is not pictured here. We took a picture of Jon's lunch because everything he was eating was pink, which matched his tie, but unfortunately for you (and fortunately for him) it did not come out very well:

This is the first floor of the house lounge in Tufts House, from the second floor of the lounge. Tufts House is located on the second and third floors of Pierce:

Tufts House has about 10 video game consoles lying around. Here I am playing a Nintendo Wii. The last video game system I played was a Sega Genesis, which I am now realizing was released in the year most applicants this year were born. Here I am noticing that the cars in this game are steered by tilting the controller from side to side. I am really, really amazed. I was not able to try the Playstation 3, so I can't compare the two:

This is one half of a Pierce double:

Jeff and Jon both lived in Pierce during their first years, and here they are demonstrating how much they love the building:

On our way back to Rosenwald, we ran in to Ryland, who I admitted two years ago and who lives in Max Palevsky East. He agreed to show us his room, which he shares with the student I am pictured talking to earlier. Ryland said "everything cool in this room belongs to me, everything which is not cool belongs to [my roommate]!":

After leaving Max Palevsky we returned to our offices in Rosenwald, which is pictured here. If you visit in April, look for this building. We hope there will be more leaves on the trees and less snow on the ground by then:

Please tell us how you enjoyed this, what else we should include and what you would like us to photograph in the future. Thanks for reading!


Austin, Jeff, Jon and Libby

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