Today in academia: $100 for a decent AP score, the ban on toasty dorm fires, rethinking the school calendar in Japan and an anthropological look at stereotypical college signs.

  • University of Virginia students will no longer be able to have toasty fires in their dorm rooms. There's some very sensible safety reasoning behind the university's decision to ban fireplaces in dorm facilities. But, as The Washington Post reminds, what about tradition? You know, the long-ago envisioned "place where learning was not limited to the classroom, where students and faculty lived side by side, where people would gather for philosophical debates over dinner or discuss books by the fireside"? Sure. But it's still probably for the best the to ban the fireplace fires. [The Washington Post]
  • Paying students who get good grades in AP courses can help students get good grades in AP courses. A bit of cash goes a long way for students enrolled in high school Advanced Placement courses that actually pay for decent grades. And while The New York Times overview article on a student paying initiative cites research that cautions that paying students isn't a cure-all, a $100 bonus for a student who gets a passing grade on an Advanced Placement course exam probably won't hurt performance. For teachers either: "Because 43 of his students passed the exam this year, far above his target, Mr. Nystrom will add a $7,300 check to his $72,000 salary." [The New York Times]
  • The University of Tokyo wants to sync up its academic calendar with the West. The long-debated idea is revived by a new Chronicle of Higher Education report which says that the University of Tokyo wants to synchronize its schedule with a Western calendar year in order to attract more foreign students (currently less than 3 percent of students at Japan's institutions are from out of the country). "An in­ter­nal pan­el is ex­pect­ed to re­port by the end the year" on the potential move at the University of Tokyo. "Sources in­side the uni­ver­si­ty say the pan­el dis­cus­sion is currently bal­anced 50-50 for and against the change." [Chronicle of Higher Education]
  • This is a cartoon version of what an Ivy League student looks like.  Without the bloggers at Ivygate, we would've missed this weekend's James Atlas New York Times op-ed about the celebration of the smart Ivy League applicant of which he deems the "Super Person." Super People (who he later clarifies aren't as Super as he first says) are flooding the elite schools and seem to possess every single skill (Ivygate has curated a full list) known to man. But some of his praises ring hollow: "REMEMBER the Dumb Kid in your math class who couldn't understand what a square root was? Gone. Vanished from the earth like the stegosaurus. If your child is at an elite school, there are no dumb kids in his or her math class--only smart and smarter."  Every Ivy Leaguer is amazing at math? [The New York Times, Ivygate blog]
  • An anthropological investigation into stereotypical college signs.  Ever want to know where signs like "Hangover Here," "Stagger Inn," and "TK∆: Tappa Kegga Day" originated? Well, one Hamilton College anthropology professor and his students found such signs so interesting at Ohio's Miami University that they began to investigate them, which ended up turning into a book. In a Q&A with Inside Higher Ed, the professor, Chaise LaDousa, recounts what it was like questioning the undergrads at such houses: "We started to interview residents and were shocked. When we mentioned the categories we had identified, residents claimed that we were taking matters too seriously." [Inside Higher Ed]