Admissions Deans: Pray for Rain!

More

>Times (London) Higher Education reports research showing that bad weather influences student decisions -- positively!

Uri Simonsohn, assistant professor at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, wanted to examine whether the same "deviations from rationality" apply to high-stakes decisions such as selecting a university.

He analyzed weather patterns and the enrollment decisions of 1,284 prospective students who visited an institution known for its academic strength. He found that an increase in cloud cover of one standard deviation on the day of the visit was associated with an increase in the probability of enrollment of 9 percentage points.

Weather influences thinking in the other direction, too. Simonsohn's work also suggests that jocks should try to schedule interviews on sunny days, while nerds are rated more highly after interviews. (That gives a whole new meaning to cloud computing!)

I wonder if this effect is really universal. When California was building its university system in the 1950s and 1960s, many prominent East Coast professors, and gifted students, were lured partly by the sunshine. On the other hand, the studies suggest why some excellent schools in the Sunbelt, despite high-quality faculties and often lower tuition, have not been as competitive in admissions as one would expect with the often-overcast Northeast. And while the attraction of Silicon Valley climate is evident, perhaps the year-round drizzle of the Pacific Northwest was also part of the success in recruiting talented programmers to Microsoft, Intel, and Amazon.com.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Edward Tenner is a historian of technology and culture, and an affiliate of the Center for Arts and Cultural Policy at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School. He was a founding advisor of Smithsonian's Lemelson Center.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus

Video

Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.

Video

What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.

Video

Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.

Video

Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.

Video

Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.

Video

The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air

Writers

Up
Down

More in National

From This Author

Just In