The Harvard Crimson

Zawel Untangles Ivy League
New guide aims to give students the straight, elite dope
December 8, 2005
by Erin A. May

Every year, high school students are faced with life-altering choices: the Kaplan guide to colleges or the Princeton Review’s version? Or the Barron’s book on the top universities? As if there aren’t already enough choices available, Marc B. Zawel, a recent Cornell graduate, has just published one more: “Untangling the Ivy League 2006.”

But Zawel says that his tome deserves notice.

“What really distinguishes this book is that it’s been written 100 percent by students who are currently attending the schools or who have just graduated from these schools,” he says.

Zawel’s work is an extensive survey of the country’s oldest, wealthiest, and most prestigious universities. The book analyzes various aspects of each of the eight Ivy Leagues, including night life, on-campus dining, and extracurricular activities.

The inspiration for “Untangling the Ivy League 2006” came after Zawel found that only four out of 100 people surveyed could actually name every college in the Ivy League. He believes that an aura of mystery surrounds Harvard, Yale, Princeton, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, and Columbia. He hopes his guide will help prospective students take an inside look at the Ivy League so that they might be able to dispel, or in some cases confirm, rumors that are constantly circulating about the eight colleges.

Yet Zawel insists his college guide is not only relevant to high school juniors and seniors, but also to students currently attending Ivy League universities. He says that many students like to flip to their own school’s section and read about the secret societies, athletics, and favorite places to eat off campus.

When asked if his Cornell education served as a conflict of interest when critiquing other Ivy League’s, he says, “I had to be careful because I love Cornell!”

Zawel assures, however, that he was not involved in ranking the schools in different categories—that was the job of the students themselves. Harvard’s statistics were compiled by Dominic Hood ’05.

He explains that each chapter of the book was sent to actual Ivy League college students who he labels “bounce-back teams.” The “bounce-back teams” reviewed each chapter, ensuring its validity. Then, Zawel compiled the data and put it into book form.

The youthfulness of his publishing company also adds to the book’s ability to appeal to high school and college students. Zawel explains that the staff of College Prowler is made up of recent college graduates in their twenties. Since they aren’t too far removed from college, they understand what information most prospective and current college students would like to know.

In the future, Zawel hopes to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, but he is not ruling out later editions of “Untangling the Ivy League.”

“I think this book has potential to definitely be republished,” he says.

In light of the book’s hefty size, he adds jokingly, “But I’m going to need a little bit of a break!”

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