"Change Your Shoes...
Change Your Life" - June 6
So is everyone ready for a
piece of feel good television? Enter the Scholar.
Premise: 10 students from disadvantaged background
compete for a scholarship valued up to $240,000. Of
course, because this is a reality show, this won't be
strictly an academic competition. As "The Scholar" says,
learning is also about social awakening. For those of
you in TV land, that means hook-ups and smack downs.
Well, maybe not smack downs, as they would probably get
somebody disqualified, but drama nonetheless.
Let's meet the competitors, our scholars to be.
Melissa, a sweet girl who recovered from
scoliosis and now produces charity events.
Milana, a 4.6 GPA bilingual student who doubles
as a Stem Cell assistant.
Davis, a cocky yet confident pretty boy poised to
Liz, a happy go lucky math prodigy with a 4.0
Scot, a home schooled but socially adept scholar
with a 1580 SAT.
Max, a calm natured valedictorian, looking to
escape the mean streets of Oakland.
Amari, a vibrant girl with a 1550 SAT to back up
her quick wit.
Jeremy, hard working, noble guy who has mastered
the academic decathlon.
Alyssa, a sharp tongued smarty pants who is a
silver cup poet.
Gerald, an under the radar guy who lights up
crowds as a varsity mascot
As for first impressions, everyone seems to be
buddy-buddy, but many of the students are getting a bad
vibe from Davis. This is fine with Davis though as he
says he's the kind of guy people love or hate and
whichever it is that's not his problem.
Walking into the library of the Sprawling USC campus the
students are greeted by host Rob Nelson and the
Marquesa Lawrence - UC Berkeley admissions
Shawn Abbott - Ivy League admissions
Peter Johnson - Ivy League admissions
Now that the students know who will decide their fate
it's time to learn how to play the game. Just because
this is meant to be educational, let's keep this as easy
Round 1, The Captain's Quiz:
All of the students will take a timed test with the two
students with the best scores becoming team captains for
the second challenge. Ties will be broken by fastest
Round 2, The Team Challenge
After teams are picked schoolyard style, the teams will
compete in challenge where the winning team's captain
will get an automatic bid into round 3.
Round 3, The Admissions Showdown
The winning captain from the Team Challenge will face
two other students selected by the Admissions Committee
(based on overall performance and interviews) in a final
challenge where the winner will be guaranteed a spot in
the Final 5. Not to mention, every student in the Final
5 gets a guaranteed $50,000 scholarship, so now that we
have our motivation
Round 1: The Captain's Quiz
For the first captain's quiz the focus in Astronomy. The
students were given 8 events and 16 years and asked to
put the in order, hitting their buzzer to stop the clock
While we weren't given the full scores, the questions
were quite fair ranging from Mir reentering the
atmosphere to Man landing on the moon.
While Amari was over come with nerves, Davis was very
confident as he had just finished reading a number of
books on JFK. Of course confidence means nothing when
there is a three way tie, except for the fact that Davis
is in the tie.
Alyssa 2 min 14.3 sec
Jeremy 1 min 34.5 sec
Davis 1 min 34.1 sec
With Davis and Jeremy as our captains, it time to pick
teams. Here are the picks in order...
Poor Gerald was worried that this would be third grade
dodgeball all over again and that he would be picked
last. See, second to last isn't so bad (but then again,
he was picked last on his team, sniff)
Round 2: Team Challenge
For the challenge, there are brain teasers and puzzles
scattered throughout the USC campus. Given a map and
laptop, the teams must solve as many puzzles as
possible, email their answer in and return to the start
at campus center. The team back with the most correct
answers wins with the first team back winning a tie. And
Puzzle 1: Move two pieces in a stick puzzle to make the
cow look to the right rather than to the left.
Both teams take some time on this puzzle. The gold team
struggle until Melissa suggest an abstract solution
which Davis quickly backs saying that even if it isn't
right eh can defend it. With the Gold emails their
answer and moves on. The red team also struggles until
Jeremy comes up with a different solution from the gold
team. Well, we know at least on team is going to be
Puzzle 2: There are 3 light switches connected to 3
light bulbs on the opposite side of the wall, given only
one look at the bulb side of the wall, determine which
switches control which bulbs.
Neither team really figures out this one nor does it
help the Gold team that Gerald is trying to stay away
from the fray. Regardless, both teams give it the old
college try and might just luck out.
[Solution: Turn on two switches but just before you go
to the other side of the wall turn on switch off. One
bulb will be on, the bulb connected to the switch you
turned on then off will be warm, and the remaining bulb
will be off and cool.]
Each number stands for a different letter of the
alphabet. Crack the code to decipher the phrase.
Have fun with that one. The answer is at the bottom of
the recap. Both teams got this one rather easily, no
While both teams solved the cryptogram easily, the red
team solved it a little faster allowing them to arrive
back at start first.
However, it didn't matter as they missed the cow puzzle
while the gold team swept all the puzzles. That means
Davis has a guaranteed spot in the Admissions Showdown.
In an immediate post challenge Q&A, Davis gave credit to
Melissa as being the strongest member of the team for
pulling off the cow puzzle. As for the losing captain,
Jeremy was asked who the weakest link was. Jeremy,
either genuinely or strategically pointed the finger at
himself absorbing the blame.
For now though, let's let the kids get some rest and a
meal in their bellies. After all, their RA, Francine,
told them to. She also told them that she will be the
one posting the names of Davis' opponents for tomorrow.
Out at a fancy L.A. restaurant we get some insight into
the competitors. Basically, most everyone can't stand
Davis except for Liz who thinks he's dreamy. Fortunately
for Liz, Davis seems to feel the same way. In fact,
after a little couch tickling, I'm sure of it.
The only things left before the showdown are the
interviews. Gerald stumbles heavily and is convinced the
committee hates him. Jeremy however, is praised for
"falling on the sword." Ironically, the admissions
committee highly regards nearly everyone on the losing
team, but only after giving a guaranteed nod to Melissa,
who broke down in her interview, shocked at what
aptitude was coming out of her. After deliberations were
finished, Francine posted the names in the Scholar
housing, letting Davis, Melissa and Jeremy know that
they were competing for $50,000. The posting also told
them that they would be quizzed on 19th and 20th century
Jeremy and Melissa ran to the bookshelf to cram, while
Alyssa noticed that Davis went to the kitchen to do some
push-ups and work out his arms. Davis, in a phone call
to his parents, said that he felt he was as full of
literature as he could get. In fact, as far as studying
goes, the closest Davis came to a book was asking, just
before leaving for the showdown, if anyone wanted to
read "Gone With the Wind" really quick.
Round 3: Admissions Showdown
At the showdown, we learn that it will be held spelling
bee style with each student being answered questions
individually in order with a wrong answer eliminating
them from the competition. After one round of sophomoric
Jeopardy questions, Jeremy gets confused between "White
Fang" and "Call of the Wild" when asked which Jack
London book features a dog named Buck. Worried that this
may be his only chance at the scholarship, he goes with
White Fang, and makes this his last chance for now.
With only Davis and Melissa remaining, it is Davis' turn
and he is asked who wrote the novel, "Gone With the
Wind?" Laughing at his previous comment, Davis blanks
(Correct Answer: Margaret Mitchell) giving Melissa a
chance to take the money with a correct answer.
The question: In what Ernest Hemingway novella does
Santiago say "I have never seen or heard of such a fish,
but I must kill him, I am glad we do not have to try to
kill the stars." Fortunately for Melissa, this is
something that we saw her study and after a thoughtful
pause, she gave the $50,000 answer, "The Old Man and the
In the postmortem, Melissa is ecstatic and Gerald is
ecstatic that the money didn't go to Davis. Jeremy is
saddened to have to call his parents and tell them that
he was so close but missed out and Davis called his Mom
only to find out she knew Margaret Mitchell and that she
thought it was an easy one.
That's it for the premiere of The Scholar.
Congratulations to Melissa on her $50,000 and making the
final 5, and to the rest, there are still 4 spots left.
So until next week, study hard, I'm sure Davis will.
Solution to Cryptogram: "Knowledge Comes, but Wisdom
Note: Davis isn't a bad
kid; his competitive streak may just be more suited to
Survivor than The Scholar.