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  • Writer's pictureLeah Jones

Well Done April tom foolery.

I have never had such an active April Fool’s Day. I always forget it and nobody is ever terribly concerned. But today was well done.

We get to work and the entire Enrollment management department has called in sick, late, etc. Half of the office was empty. April Fool! They met for breakfast and all arrived at 9:30AM. Well done.

On SECUSSA (a list serve for those of us in International Education) the following data was sent out:

I thought you might be interested in the results of some collaborative research carried out at my instigation by academic researchers (one a sociologist, one a physiologist) at one of the colleges in my region. Based on data from our campus files which I was able to share with them, covering study abroad students from 1995-1996 to 2000-2002, ‘preliminary findings’ released today, reveal some interesting correlations which (at least I for one had never imagined hitherto) between gender, duration abroad, and student height. While the report is lengthy and contains many graphs and an amplitude of statistical analysis (which I confess I cannot always follow), I though you might appreciate having a brief overview of the conclusions of this ground-breaking reseach:

1) Among female students, it appears that there is a positive correlation between height and duration of study abroad. That is, 68% of women students over 5’10” tend to study abroad in programs that last a full academic year; while 77% of women students under 5’ tend to study abroad in programs which last less than 8-weeks and 88% of students with heights between 5’ and 5’10” end up in semester programs.

2) On the male side, interestingly, the correlation is negative. That is, the findings show that the taller the men are, the more likely it is that they will end up in short-term programs. More precisely, the evidence I have been shown, states that 78% of students over 6’2” end up doing programs with a duration of 8-weeks or less, while 86% of men students under 5’5” favor year-long programs, and 69% of men students between 5’5” and 6’2” do semester programs.

Needless to say, if true, these findings might be of great value to campus advisors in steering students into programs that are most suitable to them. It might also explain why some students in some programs never seem quite to ‘fit.’ In my own advising, I intend to make sure to keep students standing at the beginning of at appointments, long enough anyway that I can ‘take their measure, ‘ as it were. My colleagues have advised me that it is not imperative to know a given students height precisely; being off by +/- 2” might not lead to anything disastrous. The key, otherwise, they suggest, is to be aware of these correlations, positive and negative, as they relate to gender and program length, and to use this information as a tool in the always tricky advising process.

As noted, these are preliminary findings, based on empirical data alone, and of course do not begin to answer the many questions one might have about what precisely explains these correlations. When I pushed my colleagues about what might explain these correlations and especially why men and women differ so completely, they suggested that of course much more research needed to be done. They also said, in their defense, that no one had yet fully explained in fully scientific terms why aspirins stop headaches, they just do. Which is worth remembering, I suppose.

Anyway, as we have all agreed on the need for more and better research in our field, it seemed my duty to bring these findings to your attention as soon as possible, on the day when they have been made public.

Later, and probably not funny to people outside of my company, our dean Bruce dropped a bomb that literally made people nearly faint. He announced a program scheduled for one year away was going to be bumped up one year to accomadat Large Research University. People visibly stiffened as they had not had any discussion about the change. It was so funny, we (the academic department) were crying.

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