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We’ve covered college rivalries centered around sports, location, tradition, gender (and many other factors), but what about academics? Besides endless keggers and lack of parental supervision social stimulation, isn’t an education the reason we came to school in the first place? That’s the way students at California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) look at things. The two schools boast impressive faculty rosters, tirelessly motivated students, dozens of highly decorated alumni, and a fond affinity for pranks. Which school will most likely produce the discovery of a cure for cancer? Let’s assess the variables.
1. Provocative Pranks
Caltech – Though certainly not an athletics powerhouse, Caltech once made an appearance at the Rose Bowl. In what’s known as The Great Rose Bowl Hoax, in 1961 Caltech students designed a series of cards to be held up by spectators at the Rose Bowl (contested between Washington and Minnesota) to read “CALTECH.” And in the last decade, several Caltech students appeared at MIT’s campus preview weekend to hand out t-shirts reading “MIT” on the front…that when unwrapped were found to read “Because not everyone can go to Caltech” on the back.
MIT –Excuse us – at MIT, they’re called “hacks,” not “pranks.” A popular one is finding another place to hide MIT’s unofficial acronymous slogan, IHTFP (“I Hate This Fucking Place”), which has been delicately placed everywhere from class rings to assemblies of giant letter cubes in campus lobbies. The most epic Caltech hack occurred when a bunch of MIT students disguised as movers removed a 1.7 ton cannon from the Pasadena campus and drove it all the way back to Cambridge.
Three credits to: Looks like Caltech is tops in this category, for originality and humor.
2. Nobel Prize Tally
Caltech – Boasts 31 Nobel Prizes among 30 winners; chemist Linus Pauling won in 1954 for chemistry (natch), and the 1962 Peace Prize for preventing the testing of nuclear weapons.
MIT – Affiliates have brought home 63 Nobel prizes, including 27 for physics alone!
Three Credits to: MIT hits one out of the park!
3. Terrific Traditions
Caltech – Ditch Day is an annual tradition in which seniors design a handful of tasks for underclassmen to perform to gain entry into their dormitories, which are trapped. Professors cancel classes and students consider it the highlight of the year.
MIT – Designing each year’s class ring, known as the Brass Rat, is a storied tradition carried on by students in Cambridge. It forms a bond between all students and alumni, and it’s a campus pastime to try to find the letters IHTFP somewhere in the design (see Provocative Pranks, above).
Three credits to: Caltech, since trapping doors usually results in arrest elsewhere.
4. Ass-kicking Alumni
Caltech – Frank Oppenheimer (physicist on the Manhattan Project), William Shockley (invented the transistor radio), Sabeer Bhatia (co-founder of Hotmail)
MIT – Buzz Aldrin, George Eastman (founder of Eastman-Kodak), Benjamin Netanyahu (PM of Israel), (Honorable mention, from the MIT Admissions website: “Steve Altes ’84, Brad Pitt body double and model on the box of “Just For Men” Sandy Blond hair color”)
Three credits to: MIT, for alumni who span, erm, all trades.
5. Acceptance Rate Agony
Three credits to: MIT, though both schools tied for 4th place in US News & World Report’s Best College Rankings 2010
And the diploma goes to: The score is MIT 3-2! Can’t argue with math, folks!