Cornell Alumni Magazine

A League of His Own
Guidebook author Marc Zawel ’04 takes the Ivies to school
March/April 2006
by Jill Weiskopf

The summer before Marc Zawel’s senior year, the guidebook company College Prowler approached him with an offer. College Prowler produces a line of books written and compiled by undergraduate contributors, and Zawel ’04, then a Daily Sun editor, jumped at the opportunity to helm Untangling the Ivy League 2006, an in-depth guide to the Ancient Eight. He even convinced Vice Provost Isaac Kramnick to support a semester of independent study researching Ivy lore. “Besides offering guidance and ideas,” Zawel says, “he provided me with a lot of statistics on admissions and demographics across the Ivy League, and Cornell in particular.”

The resulting book offers Ivy hopefuls a look at college life that “goes beyond the typical regurgitation-of-information sessions that you attend at these schools,” says Zawel. A student correspondent created each entry, blending facts and tips with quotes that offer blunt assessments of academics, housing and social life. (Cornell gets a B+ for academics but a C- for girls: “I hope you like books, snow and alcohol because the girls offer very little at Cornell,” one student declares.)

The project not only gave Zawel a crash course in publishing and marketing, it offered some perspective on the limits of the Ivy mystique. “The Ivy League to a lot of people means academics, prestige and competitiveness,” he says. “But if you say ‘Ivy League’ in Utah or Texas or Florida, if they don’t know it’s an athletic conference, then they don’t know anything about it.”

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