Today in academia: not drug-testing everyone, a graduation guarantee, on campus smoking bans and, sure, the best way to tell people you go to Harvard.

  • Ways to graduate on-time, in four years, guaranteed: 1) Go to class. 2) Don't decide to take a detour from your political science major just because you like screenwriting classes. 3) Meet with an advisor semi-regularly to navigate the labyrinth of required classes. The New York Times reports that a trend-making amount of universities are coming up with a signed document "guaranteeing" that you'll graduate if you do those (loosely paraphrased) above things. If a student who has done everything right doesn't graduate in four years, "the college promises to cover the cost of additional tuition until the degree is completed," the paper writes. Which seems sensible. [The New York Times]
  • It turns out you just can't drug test an entire student body, without some legal obstacles. Linn State Technical College, wanted to mandate all students to be drug tested (in its defense, school officials mentioned that it had a lot of machinery-heavy coursework). It turns out the ACLU has other plans: "The American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Eastern Missouri filed a lawsuit in federal court today accusing the college of violating students’ Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches and seizures," wrote the Chronicle. [Chronicle of Higher Education]
  • Harvard student decides it's OK to mention Harvard. Really, it's tacky when a well-meaning undergrad dodges the question about where he/she goes to school, goes a Crimson op-ed writer who paints this scenario: "If you are speaking to anyone but the most disinterested conversation partner, you will be questioned further until the truth finally comes out: 'I go to Harvard.' This is when it gets really awkward." Yes, it does. [Harvard Crimson via The Awl]
  • Would banning smoking at your college help you kick a cigarette habit? Lets take two Indiana universities as examples: Indiana University instituted a campus-wide ban on cigarettes and says it's effective, at least according to a study touted in a university press release. University of Southern Indiana also has a similar ban and one student grumbled to a local paper: "I feel like I'm smoking a lot more now that I can't smoke on campus." [University of Indiana, Evansville Courier & Press]
  • High home prices = higher college attendance. Unsurprisingly, the opposite seems true also. A Cornell economist's study finds bleaker post-housing bust prospects: "Now that the boom is over and families have less equity in their homes, it could mean fewer students heading to college, especially kids from middle and lower income households," according to a news release. Nothing revelatory in the link between the two, but still discouraging to hear. [Eurekalert]
  • Carnegie Mellon heads to Rwanda: the university will launch a new graduate engineering program in partnership with the government of Rwanda that will start off small (40 students in Fall 2012 class) but grow. The head of the engineering program  told The Journal that the goal was to "educate people who will have influence." And he noted to the paper that the chances of political unrest disrupting the campus there would be "extremely low." [The Wall Street Journal]