Today in academia: how many American students study abroad, McMansions for dorms, a no-email yurt community, and why Ivy Leaguers flock to consulting and banking jobs.

  • Good thing about the housing bust: students can afford to live cheaply in McMansions. In a trend-story that we'd guess plenty of freelance writers are kicking themselves for having not pitched, The New York Times heads to dry, desolate Merced, California (a city that's "one of the country’s hardest hit by home foreclosures") and finds that the college students there are kind of living well in under-used McMansions. "This is 'Animal House' 2011," The Times deems. For $200 to $350 a month, some students get "the three-car garages, wall-to-wall carpeting, whirlpool baths, granite kitchen countertops, walk-in closets and inviting gas fireplaces" and pretty much every other amenity you can think of. While the students are happy at the cheap prices, a neighbor interviewed who bought his house and saw its value plummet, remarked "'I think they’re the luckiest students I’ve ever come across,' he said somewhat bitterly." [The New York Times]
  • Meanwhile, the Adirondack yurt village created by St. Lawrence University is doing well. Just in case the McMansion dorm life isn't for you, USA Today's College site takes a look at the other ways a few students are enjoying their college days--in a little yurt community nestled in the Adirondack mountains for a semester. The curriculum seems very relaxing: The "standard activities include roughly three hours of class, free time for canoeing or woodworking, homework and journal writing, as well as cooking and sharing a nightly meal." Although all forms of communication, other than snail mail, is cut off for the whole semester: "The students cannot stay up-to-date on current events or social happenings by logging onto the Internet, or call family when feeling homesick." So, Mcmansions or yurts: or you could just live in a normal dorm on campus. [USA Today College]
  • Why Ivy Leaguers flock to the consulting and banking industries: because they're the ones recruiting them. And some students aren't really sure how to go about getting a job anyway, writes a Yale student, Marina Keegan, in Dealbook today about the recruiting practices at college: "What I found was somewhat surprising: the clichéd pull of high salaries is only part of the problem. Few college seniors have any idea how to 'get a job,' let alone what that job would be. Representatives from the consulting and finance industries come to schools early and often – providing us with application timelines and inviting us to information sessions in individualized e-mails. We're made to feel special and desired and important." And, for those that aren't lucky enough to get those jobs: Aflac is on the look-out for Ivy League applicants. [The New York Times Dealbook]
  • Even though it seems like everybody is studying abroad: they aren't. The number of American students who are studying abroad increased this year, but it's still a really small percentage of the overall enrollment of those in college, Inside Higher Ed reports from the "Open Doors" annual report: "while 270,604 did so in 2009-10, the report notes, that's still less than 1 percent of the student population." The top five places that American students studied abroad during 2009-2010 were 1.) Britain 2.) Italy 3.) Spain 4.) France 5.) China.  Those top four European destinations together "host about 38 percent of all study abroad participants."  [Inside Higher Ed]
  • Professor walks out of class because student forgot to bring snacks to snack-mandatory class. Some rules aren't meant to be broken, it seems: "Sacramento State professor George Parrott walked out of his Psychology 101 lab class Thursday morning because his students didn't bring any snacks," the Sacramento Bee reported. That snack-bringing edict (healthy snacks only) has been a long-standing rule in this professors class, and the oversight couldn't be tolerated, according to a handout he gave students: "Not having a snack = no Dr. Parrott or TAs. Now you are responsible for your own lab assignment." [Sacramento Bee via Gawker]