Do You Have the Smarts to Pass Harvard’s Entrance Exam—From 1869?

smolaw11/iStock via Getty Images
smolaw11/iStock via Getty Images

Back in the 19th century, when higher education wasn’t yet the norm for the majority of Americans, even top-notch universities placed newspaper ads to attract applicants with promises like free tuition, prime room and board, and more.

According to The New York Times, they also held entrance exams right up to the very weekend before classes started to ensure that every possible high school graduate had the chance to make a last-minute, life-changing decision to pursue a college degree.

If you’re thinking back to your own harrowing, drawn-out college admissions process and fantasizing about Harvard University begging you to go there in the 1860s, pause your daydream long enough to read the rest of this article—because you might think Harvard’s entrance exam from that era was more of a nightmare than anything else.

In addition to subjects like geometry and algebra that you might have known at some point but have since forgotten, the 1869 test includes subjects that you very likely never learned at all.

Do you have enough background in ancient geography, for example, to name the chief rivers of Ancient Gaul, or explain who Jugurtha was?

And even if you have a few years of Latin under your belt, you might still find it difficult to translate this sentence:

“In the first of the spring the consul came to Ephesus, and having received the troops from Scipio he held a speech in-presence-of the soldiers, in which, after extolling their bravery, he exhorted them to undertake a new war with the Gauls, who had [as he said] helped Antiochus with auxiliaries.”

Compared to those sections, most of the arithmetic questions seem relatively manageable, but only if you can whip out your handy pocket calculator—a device that wasn’t popularized until the mid-20th century.

Hopefully, the future faces of Harvard were at least allowed to use slide rules to divide 33,368,949.63 by 0.007253, or find the cube root of 0.0093 to five decimal places.

While the curriculum has evolved enough in the last 150 years to make this exam seem like quite a doozy to us, prospective students apparently fared well. According to IFLScience, Harvard boasted in a newspaper ad that 185 out of 210 candidates passed the test.

Check out the full exam [PDF] to see just how many answers you know (or don’t know), and find out 11 other ways school was different in the 1800s here.

[h/t IFLScience]

Yale Is Offering Its 'Science of Well-Being' Course for Free Online

Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock via Getty Images
Chainarong Prasertthai/iStock via Getty Images

Even if you’ve heard that money or career success won’t necessarily make you happier, it’s still hard to resist the impulse to correlate your own well-being to external factors like those. Why are we so bad at predicting what will make us happy, and how can we figure out what actually does the trick?

These are just a couple questions you’ll be able to answer after completing “The Science of Well-Being,” a Yale University course currently being offered for free on Coursera. According to Lifehacker, the 10-week course consists of about two to three hours of reading and videos per week, and you can work at your own pace—so you can definitely take advantage of a free weekend to fly through a few weeks’ worth of material at a time, or postpone a lesson if you’re swamped with other work.

The class is taught by Yale psychology professor Laurie Santos, who will lead students through relevant research on how we’re wired to think about our own well-being and teach you how to implement that knowledge to increase happiness in your life. Since the coursework is task-oriented and the course itself is aimed at helping you build more productive habits, it’s an especially good opportunity for anyone who feels a little overwhelmed at how vague a goal to “be happier” can seem.

As for proof that this is definitely an undertaking worth 20 hours of your time, we’ll let the previous students speak for themselves: From 3731 ratings, the course averages 4.9 out of 5 stars.

Though the course is free, an official certificate to mark your completion—which you can then add to your LinkedIn profile—will cost you $50. Enroll on the Coursera website, and check out 23 other science-backed ways to feel happier here.

Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a small percentage of any sale. But we choose all products independently and only get commission on items you buy and don't return, so we're only happy if you're happy. Thanks for helping us pay the bills!

[h/t Lifehacker]

The University of Texas at San Antonio Is Offering Free Tuition to Thousands of Students

Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a resident of Texas with college ambitions but face some financial hardship, there’s good news coming out of the University of Texas at San Antonio. This week, the school announced a program called Bold Promise, which will cover tuition for thousands of students annually.

To be eligible, enrollees must be first-time freshmen living in the state, ranked in the top 25 percent of their high school class, and have graduated less than 16 months prior. Once enrolled, they must maintain a 2.5 grade point average each semester. The adjusted gross income of their family cannot exceed $50,500.

UTSA is currently ranked 293 to 381 by U.S. News and World Report in national universities. The school hosts roughly 32,264 students, with an average annual tuition of $9722 for Texans and $24,722 for out-of-state attendees. The acceptance rate is roughly 79 percent.

Incoming students have until January 15 to submit an application, but no separate Bold Promise form is required. The program officially begins with the fall 2020 semester and will cover four years of education. UTSA says the cost will be covered by scholarships, grants, and other exemptions on the state and federal levels. Students will also have the chance to apply for financial aid to cover boarding expenses. UTSA estimates 4000 students will be eligible for the program.

The University of Texas-Austin instituted a similar offer earlier this year, with free tuition for a four-year program offered to students with household incomes of $65,000 or less. Colleges in Michigan and New York have also implemented tuition programs.

[h/t KSAT]

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