Category Archive 'Ivy League'
12 Sep 2018

Getting Into the Top Ivies These Days

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Harvard.

I once answered a question on Quora about Yale, so pretty much every day I receive a email asking to answer the question “How do I get into Yale?” from some exotic resident of the remote Third World.

Clearly, the mysteries of elite Ivy League admissions are an intriguing topic these days all over the world.

I ran into a Quora posting this morning from a U. Chicago guy named Hasnat, quoting an anonymous Harvard 2006 graduate who had worked in the Harvard Admissions Office.

I thought it pretty accurately captured a home truth applicable to Yale as well, that, beyond grades and test scores (which had better be high), they are looking for a certain kind of exceptionality and competitiveness. They want people out of the ordinary.

I think you need to join Quora and all that to open a link, so I cut-and-pasted the whole bloody thing to make life easier for NYM readers.

[A] little bit of advice.

“First of all, there are a number of small factors that can move the admissions needle in small amounts: location, economic background, race. You can just accept that these exist and don’t really count for much—a slight counterbalance to the general advantages that wealthier folks tend to enjoy as a rule. Or you can spend millions of dollars on lawyers and consultants, and hundreds of hours fighting in court in order to claw back this tiny little potential advantage from those in the lower half of the socioeconomic spectrum.

“Either way, these are things beyond your control, and I’d recommend not worrying about them. Frankly, it’s the cheaper and quicker option.

“Otherwise, the official party line, as taken verbatim from Harvard’s longtime Dean of Admissions, William Fitzsimmons (class of 1963, dean since 1986) is that Harvard selects for “academic excellence, extracurricular distinction, and personal qualities.” And that sounds good—who doesn’t love excellence?—until you think about it.

“What Dean Fitzsimmons really means is that he isn’t going to tell you anything substantial (that’s why he’s lasted for so long in his job). So I will tell you that in this context, measuring “academic excellence” really boils down to two things: Will this applicant graduate on time and happy?

“Pure intelligence is one part, hence the focus on scores and GPAs. Harvard is difficult, and someone who has never seen a differential equation will probably struggle in the basic required math courses; isomeone who has never read a Steinbeck novel or a Shakespeare play will probably feel excluded from general English Lit.

“But so is extracurricular activity. You might be smart, but do you have the discipline to keep going for four years? How do you respond to setbacks, challenges, opposition? Do you show signs of life in the wider world? In short: are you of sound mind?

“The 4.0 student who just works the ball-washing station at the country club does not necessarily demonstrate great time-management skills. On the other hand, we’ll take the person who has an A-minus GPA but spends most of her free time in a research lab breeding generations of flies for genetic tests, thank you very much. This is why admissions officers will say “well-rounded” until they’re blue in the face. There’s nothing wrong with plain old eggheads—but let’s try and get out there once in a while, too.

“And when the committee selects for the mysterious and ephemeral “personal qualities,” well, we want to know how much of a jerk the candidate is, and how well they’ll respond to a campus full of jerks.

“Let’s be honest: Harvard and its affiliates will inflict some kind of damage (academic, emotional, occasionally physical) on everyone who lingers there. It is a place where everyone is out to get everyone else. In a place where no one can be the best at everything, everyone takes any chance they can get to measure up to their peers. It is a mob of ruthless young overachievers with a taste for blood.

“Ayn Rand, eat your heart out. Your Objectivist paradise is alive and well, and its name is Harvard. Here, people believe that each of them is a “heroic being,” that their individual happiness is a moral absolute, that their own reason is ironclad and incorruptible. Just look at what four years of that does to a person. Never mind the outliers like Mark Zuckerberg and Ted Kaczynski. You just need to look at the offices of Wall Street investment banks (where half of the graduating class of Harvard ends up every year). Or the op-ed pages of New York newspapers. Or the halls of Congress (one shudders at the thought).
Read the rest of this entry »

21 Nov 2017

“Look What Yale Made Me Do”

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Harvard-made video insulting Yale which was released just before last Saturday’s The Game. Poor Harvard, for the record, got slaughtered 24-3.

I was surprised by all the inaccurate boasting about Harvard’s alleged academic & test-score superiority. I fear these young people are deluded and misinformed. I’m not up on current stats, but I know my own Yale Class beat the same entering Harvard Class’s SAT scores.

The bit at the end, mocking all the other Ivy League schools, was amusing.

28 Jul 2017

How Many Discreet Ways Can You Imply “Rich” & “Thin”?

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Harvard Magazine is their equivalent of the Yale Alumni Magazine. All the Ivy Alumni Mags are actually currently in cahoots and they run the same Personal Ads.

Mallory Ortberg has also noticed just how incredibly pretentious these Personal Ads can be.

Every time I visit Nicole’s house I get to read the personals section of Harvard Magazine, a feature that an anonymous Washington Post commenter called “vulgar” in 1987. It is the highlight of my year, in no small part because every single advertiser feels like it is VERY URGENT to stress exactly how rich and thin they are. …

And the further you get into the weeds of the personals, the more frenzied the synonyms get, because everyone is concerned with making ABSOLUTELY SURE that you are picking up what they are putting down, but they are also (belatedly and barely) concerned about seeming judgmental or close-minded, so they try to speak in the world’s most breakable code.

“Trim widow – fit, energetic, health-conscious, Grace-Kelly-like, sylvan, sylphlike, Hepburnesque (Audrey), could probably fit through two fence slats, svelte, as heavy as fifteen Vogues stacked together, could be cast as a tree nymph in a play about Greek mythology, I’m hiking right now actually, could fit into Julian Casablancas’ from the Strokes’ jeans circa 2002 – seeks Harvard grad who has been on an airplane with a staircase and was allowed to climb that staircase, never has to wear the loaner jacket they keep behind the hostess podium at Per Se, has the same last name as someone from the 1600s, wouldn’t look out of place if for some reason the Reagan Administration took over tomorrow due to a rift in the space-time continuum, has had reason to correct someone’s pronunciation of the word “veldt,” has completed at least two lecture tours outside of Continental Europe, can see the ocean right now from his office, has had bottles of wine opened with a sword for him more than three times, could be cast as a background character in an Agatha Christie adaptation without needing to make significant wardrobe alterations.”

“yacht-adjacent”

“You: Could get up to use the business-class lavatory without being questioned by a flight attendant.”

“Tired of being on symphony committee boards”

“You: have been recently aghast”

“Excellent at dressage on a regular-sized horse but could easily compete riding a much smaller animal, like a sheep, if the situation called for it”

“You enjoy long walks from cars to helicopters, or from helicopters to shipyards”

“The number of pages in my last prenuptial agreement were greater than my current bodyweight in imperial pounds”

“You: Could easily hike to the elevation above sea level, in feet, that corresponds to your checking account’s daily limit.”

“gamine” …

“Me: finds the seats in first class are too wide and have taken to traveling with a life-sized porcelain doll to fill the space”

“has strong opinions about rainscald”

“You: are often shown advertisements for Patek Philippe watches without having to go out of your way to see them”

“don’t have gout but could probably get it in a week if you wanted to”

“You recently executive produced a documentary about berries or manatees or watersheds”

“Your grandfather: The number of research libraries that share his last name is greater than zero.”

“recently remodeled something”

“I could be cast as a proficient martial artist in a Joss Whedon franchise, if I were familiar with the work of Joss Whedon, which I am not”

“You: Have never been inside of a Tommy Bahamas”

HT: Glenn Reynolds.

17 Jan 2017

Application Essay That Won Entry to Five Ivy League Schools and Stanford

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Last Spring, Business Insider shared the application essay from young Brittany Stinson which got her admitted to Yale, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Dartmouth, Cornell, and Stanford.

Prompt 1: Some students have a background, identity, interest, or talent that is so meaningful they believe their application would be incomplete without it. If this sounds like you, then please share your story.

Managing to break free from my mother’s grasp, I charged. With arms flailing and chubby legs fluttering beneath me, I was the ferocious two­ year old rampaging through Costco on a Saturday morning. My mother’s eyes widened in horror as I jettisoned my churro; the cinnamon­sugar rocket gracefully sliced its way through the air while I continued my spree. I sprinted through the aisles, looking up in awe at the massive bulk products that towered over me. Overcome with wonder, I wanted to touch and taste, to stick my head into industrial­sized freezers, to explore every crevice. I was a conquistador, but rather than searching the land for El Dorado, I scoured aisles for free samples. Before inevitably being whisked away into a shopping cart, I scaled a mountain of plush toys and surveyed the expanse that lay before me: the kingdom of Costco.

Notorious for its oversized portions and dollar­fifty hot dog combo, Costco is the apex of consumerism. From the days spent being toted around in a shopping cart to when I was finally tall enough to reach lofty sample trays, Costco has endured a steady presence throughout my life. As a veteran Costco shopper, I navigate the aisles of foodstuffs, thrusting the majority of my weight upon a generously filled shopping cart whose enormity juxtaposes my small frame. Over time, I’ve developed a habit of observing fellow patrons tote their carts piled with frozen burritos, cheese puffs, tubs of ice cream, and weight­loss supplements. Perusing the aisles gave me time to ponder. Who needs three pounds of sour cream? Was cultured yogurt any more well­mannered than its uncultured counterpart? Costco gave birth to my unfettered curiosity.

Whole thing.

It’s easy to see why it worked. Her essay is glib, facile, flashy, and self-confident, hot stuff for a high school senior. Yes, it’s kind of weak on substance, but glib, facile, and flashy is what our elite schools are all about.

She decided to go to Stanford.

Hat tip to Matt MacLean.

23 Mar 2015

WASPs and Jews

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LoomisGuys
A typical group of WASP preppies in olden times.

Robert Laird (a WASP Harvard guy) discusses the vexed relations between the two most influential American tribes.

I was raised to be prejudiced against the Jews. Not because they were inferior or evil or un-Christian, but because they were the only serious rivals of the real Chosen People, people of Anglo-Saxon and celtic descent. For my father it was that simple. If we were the New York Yankees, they were the Boston Red Sox, which meant that almost everything about them was wrong or at least unacceptable. Everything different was a line of demarcation. They were Democrats (many of them Communists). They were ostentatious in their wealth. They had bad taste in cars and houses and clothes. They were loud and obnoxious. They had bad manners and didn’t even know it. Everything similar was the field of competition. They were smart, they were devoted to education, they were fiercely competitive, they took care of their own, they had a way of enduring storm after storm after catastrophe and still rising almost unbelievably at the top of whatever hierarchy they were in. They were so much like us in every important way that they were completely intolerable because they sent food back in restaurants and made dirty jokes in mixed company. It was absolutely unacceptable to let them beat you in what mattered most: school. …

Always a romantic in the Sir Walter Scott mode, I thought Judaism itself was boring and creepily emasculating. Those yarmulkes and shawls. The dumb hats and curls of the orthodox. I thought Jewish accents and inflections were jarring, nasal, Hebrew a language of throat-clearing coughs that sounded gross compared to the music of English. Their synagogues looked like community centers, not holy places. Their young women wore ugly shoes and their older women wore too much makeup and nagged in public. They offended my esthetic senses, all of them. Although I did fall in love with Rebecca when I read Ivanhoe. If only I could meet one like her… which I did only much much later.

Read the whole thing.

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I attended a Lithuanian parochial elementary school, so I never actually had Jewish schoolmates before high school. In high school, I had a whopping two, count ’em, Jewish classmates. One of them was academically hopeless. The other was the best male student in our class, after me. He followed the stereotype accurately. He wanted to succeed. He worked furiously. And he always came in second. I did essentially no work in high school. I just pursued my own personal program of self education through extensive reading. I never did homework. I could always churn out the obligatory Latin exercises and math problems in school before the relevant classes.

Relations between Lithuanians and Jews in Shenandoah were very amicable. We bought our furniture and appliances from Jewish merchants who treated our parents like distant relatives. When my parents wanted a new range or a new sofa, they would go see Benny Schoor, who would make a big fuss over them, express enthusiasm over their selection and arrange to deliver it the next day. My parents never asked what Benny proposed to charge and they never paid in cash. A month or two after their purchase was delivered, a bill for some small sum from Benny would appear in the mail. My parents would make whatever monthly payment it was, and eventually the bills would stop coming. Everybody had perfect confidence in the honesty and reliability of everybody else.

I thought of Jewish kids, like Italians, as hopeless incompetent non-combatants, who needed to be looked after and protected by tough Lithuanians like myself from the predatory juvenile gangs of Poles, Irish, Slovaks, and Lithuanian scum who roamed our town’s streets looking for victims.

Where I grew up, pretty much everyone was some kind of Roman Catholic ethnic immigrant type with names like Kowalonek and Wodjehowski, so I got a real kick out of being at Yale and getting to meet people with English-language names, just like the people I’d read about in books.

WASPs struck me as a lot like Lithuanians who had simply been in the country longer and had more money, and who had consequently successfully cultivated better manners and tastes. Like Lithuanians, WASPs, I found, placed a high value on emotional restraint, revered tradition, cared strongly about morality and respectability, and typically possessed a love of order and a recognition of the necessity of making a practice of doing things correctly.

I think there is a general recognition, in the larger world, of a lot of similarities between the New England WASP tribe and the Jewish tribe. Both have traditionally been clannish, moralistic, hectoring and intolerant, intensely ambitious and keen on acquiring wealth and worldly success.

What seems odd to an outside spectator like myself has been the incredibly dramatic and downright astonishing retreat of the WASP from the center of the America Establishment, and his precipitous surrender of control and operation of the culture and institutions to others, most frequently to Jews. The American WASP was traditionally distinguished by his firm grip on common sense and his Yankee shrewdness and skepticism. All those admirable qualities have not been much in evidence in recent decades. Faced with the rise of a left-wing culture of accusation and complaint, the gentlemanly WASP has simply hung his head in shame over the alleged crimes of his ancestors and slunk quietly off the stage.

I think myself that the vanishing of the old-fashioned WASP from the culture and the establishment is really a pity. The old gentlemen who used to run things were more than adequately well-meaning, but they also had good sense. You couldn’t panic or stampede those people. If Eric Holder’s Justice Department had come along and demanded that Yale create a new Star Chamber system to adjudicate sexual harassment complaints or lose federal aid, old President Seymour, I suspect, would have felt bad at losing all that money, but would still have told Eric Holder that Yale would not comply. No one would ever expect the current president of Yale to resist the tide of fashion in any form.

13 Mar 2015

Nationwide Levelling Policies Made Harvard Unbeatable at Sports

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HarvardSucks
At The Game in 2004, Yalies tricked Harvard fans into holding up signs creating this message.”

Fred Schwarz explains why SAT compression resulted in Harvard becoming an athletic powerhouse.

Harvard has won or shared the Ivy men’s basketball championship every year since 2010–11. And it isn’t just basketball: Harvard football has won or shared five of the last eight Ivy championships, up from a modest one or two per decade over the league’s first half-century (since 1956). In 1977, during oral argument before the Supreme Court on the momentous Bakke affirmative-action case, the distinguished lawyer Archibald Cox found time to joke about how bad Harvard’s football team was. But now the Crimson dominate the league in the only two sports that most people care about. What happened? The explanation lies in … policies imposed in the 1980s and 1990s, which … give Harvard a significant advantage over the rest of the league in recruiting athletes — and provide a lesson in unintended consequences. …

[The key cause was] the College Board’s decision in 1995 to “recenter” its SAT scoring. This meant that instead of the average score for all SAT takers being somewhere around 400, the board arbitrarily set it at 500 (midway between 200 and 800). Cynics suggested that this was done for political reasons, so the discrepancy between white/Asian SAT takers and others would be less dramatic; in any case, the effect was to crunch together all the good students near the very top of the scale. For example, any SAT Verbal score of 730 or higher from before the recentering would be an 800 today. This means that double 800s are “not that great a distinction any more”; over a decade ago, Harvard was already getting 500 double-800 applicants a year, and rejecting half of them. That’s part of the reason for the insane gauntlet today’s high-school students have to run, with activities, music, volunteer work, and all the rest, trying desperately to distinguish themselves from the herd. When applying to elite colleges today, it’s difficult to make yourself stand out from other very smart kids with your test scores or grades, since everyone has high SATs and straight A’s. More important, though, this compression means that the AI standard that Harvard athletes have to meet is not much higher than that of the rest of the league, whereas before the recentering, there was a significant gap, which gave the less selective schools much more latitude. So: Harvard has the best reputation among American universities and the most money to give out for scholarships, and when another member of the league goes after a talented athletic prospect, regulations prohibit it from sweetening the deal by offering extra money or relaxing its admission standards. That’s why the Crimson have been tearing up the league lately, and will probably continue as long as they want to. Letting colleges compete for students is all to the good, and there’s nothing wrong with a group of educational institutions’ agreeing to put education first. But in this case, as so often happens, when strict regulation meets vigorous competition (with a bit of statistical manipulation thrown in), the result is that the rich only get richer.

12 Dec 2014

Cayuga’s Waiters: “We Didn’t Go to Harvard”

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Cayuga’s Waiters is clearly a Cornell a capella singing group.

Hat tip to Frank Dobbs.

29 Jul 2014

“Not an Entitled Little Sh*t”

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YaleYarnsPrint

Andrew Giambrone (Y ’14) retorts to William Deresiewicz: “I’m a Laborer’s Son. I Went to Yale. I Am Not “Trapped in a Bubble of Privilege.

As a financial-aid kid whose life-prospects were significantly bolstered by attending an elite school, this subject is very personal for me, too. I come from a family of construction workers and laundry-owners in Brooklyn, the descendants of Italian and Chinese immigrants, respectively. My father is a laborer and my mother a human resources worker; they’ve both changed jobs across the years, owing to the recession and family circumstances. We don’t occupy an enviable financial situation by any means, and I’d hate to think our unsteady progress from working- to middle-class somehow makes me, as Deresiewicz puts it, “an entitled little shit.” He may have sleepwalked into college, but it’s wrong to assume we all did

Read the whole thing.

23 Jul 2014

Deresiewicz Attacks the Ivy League

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Commons
Yale’s University Commons, the freshman dining hall

William Deresiewicz criticizes American elite education from what might almost be a conservative perspective, but in the end he thinks the answer has to be a Utopia in which “you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education.” Good luck with that, Bill.

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning.

The irony is that elite students are told that they can be whatever they want, but most of them end up choosing to be one of a few very similar things. As of 2010, about a third of graduates went into financing or consulting at a number of top schools, including Harvard, Princeton, and Cornell. Whole fields have disappeared from view: the clergy, the military, electoral politics, even academia itself, for the most part, including basic science. It’s considered glamorous to drop out of a selective college if you want to become the next Mark Zuckerberg, but ludicrous to stay in to become a social worker. “What Wall Street figured out,” as Ezra Klein has put it, “is that colleges are producing a large number of very smart, completely confused graduates. Kids who have ample mental horsepower, an incredible work ethic and no idea what to do next.” …

Let’s not kid ourselves: The college admissions game is not primarily about the lower and middle classes seeking to rise, or even about the upper-middle class attempting to maintain its position. It is about determining the exact hierarchy of status within the upper-middle class itself. In the affluent suburbs and well-heeled urban enclaves where this game is principally played, it is not about whether you go to an elite school. It’s about which one you go to. It is Penn versus Tufts, not Penn versus Penn State. It doesn’t matter that a bright young person can go to Ohio State, become a doctor, settle in Dayton, and make a very good living. Such an outcome is simply too horrible to contemplate.

Deresiewicz is right and he is also wrong.

Elite culture in America always worshipped money and success. What is different today is that elite culture no longer respects its past or feels any meaningful connection to the rest of the country or the rest of society, except for recognized victims groups, patronage of which is useful for credentialing of the elite.

He’s right that race-based affirmative action is silly, and efforts at egalitarianism ought to be based on family finances and geographic representation. But, he fails to recognize that the education of national elites is not, in the end, about leveling. It is about building a leadership class, and our problem today is that American society has lost touch with its own identity and has replaced everything including conservation and transmssion of culture and paideia itself with left-wing power games based upon ressentiment.

31 May 2014

Stop Doing That!

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BerkeleyDiningHall
The dining hall where I used to eat dinner in New Haven.

L.V. Anderson (who did not go to school in New Haven. I looked it up.) finds the way in which alumni of certain Ivy League colleges (and, who knew? apparently even Stanford) commonly respond to inquiries about where they attended school with modest evasion decidedly annoying.

Until recently, I was of the naïve belief that no Harvard graduates actually responded to inquiries about their alma mater with “I went to college in Boston,” nor Yalies with “New Haven,” Princetonians with “New Jersey,” or Stanford alumni with “the Bay area.” I assumed this conversational maneuver was such an embarrassing cliché that it had become obsolete, the province of fictional characters who were either historical (like The Great Gatsby’s Nick Carraway, who informs readers, “I graduated from New Haven in 1915”) or cartooonish (like 30 Rock’s Toofer, who bellows, “I went to college in Boston. Well, not in Boston, but nearby. No, not Tufts”).*

Then I solicited the opinions of my Slate colleagues, many of whom have degrees from universities that rank highly on U.S. News and World Report’s annual list. I discovered that many of them had personally heard this wink of a noncommittal response, and, more alarmingly, some of them had uttered some version of it themselves. (“I’m not proud of it, but I have once or twice said Connecticut instead of Yale,” admitted one Eli.)

Having thus learned that this is still a thing, I must, at this moment when many undergraduates are headed home for the summer, urge all Yale, Princeton, and Harvard students and alumni—and anyone else tempted to use a geographical euphemism to describe their august alma mater—to please stop doing this. Cease and desist. Cut it out. I’m sure you are a kind and smart person, but this verbal habit makes you look like a patronizing, self-serious jerk. …

lite alumni’s main justification for this habit is that some people act weird and make uncomfortable or hostile comments when they learn you went to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. Indeed, Harvardians frequently refer to telling people you went to Harvard as “dropping the H-bomb,” which is perhaps the most cringeworthily hyperbolic expression in the English language. The unwieldy conversational power of the H-bomb is a recurring topic of analysis in the Harvard Crimson. See, for instance, this 2002 piece by MSNBC reporter Irin Carmon with the excellent subtitle “Does it help or hinder the mack?” (The gender politics of the H-bomb are complicated.) Princetonians, similarly, talk about the “P-bomb,” a term that implies that the two syllables in “Princeton” can derail small talk and obliterate nascent social connections in one fell swoop.

Certainly, some small number of people—insecure people who perhaps have not yet learned that Ivy League schools confer degrees on plenty of idiots every year—may react inelegantly upon hearing that you went to Harvard, Yale, or Princeton. But it is not your job to anticipate and preemptively manage another person’s emotional response to your biography. If you tell people you went to Harvard and they respond by freaking out, that reflects poorly on them.

If, on the other hand, you refuse to tell someone you went to Harvard, that reflects poorly on you—it implies that, on some level, you buy into the overblown mythos of Harvard and the presumption of Ivy League superiority. To fear the effects of the word “Harvard” is to take Harvard way too seriously. Once you understand that Harvard is just a college, and that getting into Harvard probably had more to do with your socioeconomic background and the luck of the draw than with your merits vis-à-vis people who didn’t get into (or, more likely, just didn’t apply to) Harvard, the cagey “college in Boston” response starts to sound very, very silly.

Or look at it this way: Saying you “went to college in Boston” or “went to college in New Haven” functions as an elitist dog whistle. There are people who pick up on the hint, people who, like you perhaps, spend a lot of time around snotty people who went to prestigious schools. But if your interlocutor understands the dog whistle, he will probably be offended that you have judged him incapable of gracefully handling the news about where you went to school. And if your interlocutor doesn’t understand the dog whistle, he will simply wonder why you are being so evasive and weird—and then, if he does eventually find out you went to Yale, he will be offended that you have judged him incapable of gracefully handling that fact. Either way, you’ll look like a shmuck.

Actually, people do this all the time. If your interlocutor did not go to Yale (or some near equivalent in New Jersey or Massachusetts), one simply naturally feels that he may find it pretentious, or even intimidating, for you to respond with Yale.

If he did himself go to Yale (or some close simulacrum), he will understand perfectly well what you mean, when you say “New Haven” or “Davenport College.” If he didn’t, he will presumably be contentedly put off and assume that you attended New Haven University or some sort of Calhoun, Saybrook, D-port, or Jonathan Edwards sort of college he’s never heard of.

No offense intended. L.V. Anderson’s problem is simply the result of hanging around Slate and becoming too clever by half. She has learned the code words, but does not understand the perspective of those who use them.

23 Jul 2013

Tail at Yale Situation Not Really Different Today

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Harkness Tower at Yale

Weekend before last, the Times Magazine published one of those heavy-breathing, “We’ve got trouble right here in River City” sorts of articles about Ivy League hook-up culture, which maintained that today’s coeds at elite universities are too busy with grade-grubbing for serious relationships and are therefore settling for brief, meaningless encounters.

All this didn’t really ring true to me, so I was not surprised to find some skeptical pushback in Time from recent Yale graduate Eliana Docktermann.

I’m straight, white, female, and just graduated from an Ivy League school, so these trend pieces are supposedly about me. But they don’t ring true, and after a year of reading them, I am exhausted by the media’s obsession with the “hookup culture.” Why, besides the obvious reasons, is this topic so irresistible? Dr. Lisa Wade, an associate professor of sociology at Occidental College who has done extensive research on the subject, explains, “The media is talking about it because we love moral panic.”

As it turns out, there’s not all that much to panic about. If you look at the data, this Ivy League “hookup culture” exists for only a tiny percentage of college kids. What’s more, the sex lives of most of today’s college students may not be all that different from those of their parents or grandparents at the same age.

So let’s look at the … biggest misconceptions about college kids and sex:

1. College students are having random hookups rather than meaningful relationships.

Well, it depends on how you define a hookup, but in general rampant casual sex is not the norm, despite what the media is saying. …

[A]ccording to the survey quoted in that same Times article, 20% of female students and 25% of male students have “hooked up” with 10 or more people. That sounds like a lot. But wait—10 or more people over the course of four years in college? That’s only two to three partners per year. Moreover, the definition of “hookup” spanned from kissing to intercourse. Of those women and men who had hooked up with 10 or more people, only 40% of those instances were sex.

Crunching the numbers, that means that only 8% of college women who responded to this survey had sex with 10 or more men who they were not dating over the course of four years. …

Most Ivy League girls too busy and ambitious for relationships.

[T]he demands of the modern world have left women at these elite institutions with no time for boyfriends, so they are opting out of relationships and into hookups.

Raisa Bruner …, who graduated from Yale with me in May, was dissatisfied with the conclusions of [an Atlantic] piece and decided to find out if Yalies were really dismissing relationships for hookups. She wrote in the Yale Daily News:

    In a survey I conducted of over 100 Yale students, almost all of the single respondents, ambition be damned, said they were currently seeking a relationship involving dating, commitment or, at the very least, monogamous sex.

I know a number of very successful women—women who are now students at top med schools, analysts at the State Department and Rhodes scholars—who found the time while at Yale to maintain serious relationships with equally-as-busy boys (or girls). I know many other women who left Yale wishing they had had a relationship in college.

And while I can’t say that the sex lives of Yalies represents all college students or even those in the Ivy League, the data from the school about sex is a good reality check. In 2010, the Yale Daily News conducted a sex survey on campus and found that only 64.3% of students had had sexual intercourse over the course of their Yale career. The median Yale student had had only two sexual partners by the time he or she graduated. Promiscuity is not the norm. Not even for men (whom we never hear from in these articles for some reason). 30.5% of Yale men had never had intercourse. Plenty of students are forgoing sex entirely, limiting their sexual partners or engaging in exclusive relationships.

Read the whole thing.

19 Jul 2013

39 Supposed Effects Of An Ivy League Education (Some of Which, At Least, Are True)

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23. Despite your best efforts, you still think throwing on a blazer can solve all your problems.

Buzzfeed.

I wouldn’t put it quite that way, but there is no doubt that nothing is more useful men’s-wardrobe-wise than one’s J. Press or Brooks Brothers three-button blue blazer. On the other hand, I’ve never actually seen anyone wear a blue blazer with a pocket patch crest.

I basically agree with 1 (“Where did you go to school?” “New Haven”), 2, 6, 8, 10 (definitely true), 12 (I’d think that if I had heard of him.), 14, 15, 16 (really!), 17, 20, 25, 27, 33, and 39. But, personally, I do not experience guilt over privilege at all.

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