Friday, April 5, 2013

Locking Down That Man in College

Have you guys heard about some Princeton Alumna named Susan Patton advising current students to "Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate"?    Basically Patton is arguing that when you are in an elite college, you're surrounded by people who are as smart and ambitious (and rich?) as you and so this is the best time to lock down a man.  Not a husband OR wife...just a husband. Because this was directed towards straight girls.

There has been a huge response to this, with many people saying "What the F" and then a number of others saying that she may actually have a point.

First and foremost I have no problem with the prioritization of relationships at any point in someone's life.  If someone really wants to find a mate at any point in their life, more power to them and best of luck in finding what they are looking for.   So that's not my issue with this.  Here are my issues:

Snottiest attitude ever!!  It seems that Patton is assuming that people at Princeton are the most desirable...period.   Forget things that student may really be looking for the most like sense of humor, being generous, humble, loving, etc. which are not exclusive to the school.   Or even wanting intelligence and ambition which believe it or not, exists outside of the Ivy league.  

Why was this just presented as an argument for girls?  Studies show that men who get married are happier and make more money than those who stay single  (I couldn't find the happiness study, but it exists..).   In the case of earnings women tend to earn more when they delay marriage or do not marry at all.   So if we're just focusing on shallow stuff like status already, why not focus on this earnings stat and encourage the men to find themselves a Princeton woman?

Is every girl at Princeton both straight, and wanting to get married?'d think after all this press about gay marriage, Patton would have remembered to include groups that won't be needed or wanting to lock down a man.

Friends and Networking: I 100% agree that college is more than about just classes.  And I would encourage any girl or guy going to college to make friends that are smart, ambitious, friendly, caring, loving, etc....that way they'll have a wonderful network of friends to have as a personal and professional support as they go through life.  And if one of those friends happens to be one they want to marry, wonderful.   If not, that's fine.

Do what you want, but if marriage is your only goal, don't take the spot of someone who actually cares about the education.  If someone is really coming to an Ivy league school with the main purpose of finding a spouse, I would argue that they should GTFO and give the spot to someone who cares about the education.  If you really just want to meet Princeton boys, live by the campus, hang out at the coffee house while wearing a cute sundress, and go to their frat parties.  I'm sure something will work out.

If you're not ready you're not ready.  When I was in college, I had a really wonderful boyfriend for about 2 years.  There was absolutely nothing wrong with him, he had a ton going for him and I am sure we could have gotten married afterwards.  But I wasn't ready.  I don't know why and I can't explain it, but it's true.  I know it's a jungle out there if you are dating the real world, but you can't rush feelings, and the ability to commit.

Become an engineer!  Ok this one is kind of a joke.  But if you want to be surrounded by a bunch of smart dudes in college, get in the engineering program.   The closer you get to completely male dominated disciplines like Electrical Engineering, the better.  I guarantee, at least 20% of the class will have a crush on you.   If you're lucky, you'll find your man in college.  If not, rest assured, you have the rest of your working life to be a minority surrounded by intelligent (although potentially nerdy) boys.  Hooray!

So.  Thoughts on the article?  Should I be sad I didn't lock down a Rice University man?


  1. If you really want to find rich (douchey) guys I would argue a girl should apply to a top MBA program. This is totally stereotypical. I am sure there must be some nice guys getting an MBA but if the only thing you care about is money and prestige...

    I certainly was not ready to get married in college and totally agree that if all you want is a Princeton man you are taking up a spot of someone more deserving. I did know some of those types another institution and actually at Princeton from my high school.

    Now if I want to find a smart, good looking fast runner guy where can I find him? They should be at races right? I hang out at enough races...why am I not meeting him? Wahhh! :P

  2. My undergrad work-study job was in the office of the Graduate Students Association (student government, but for grad students). The people I worked with were cool and easygoing and I liked my job. I don't remember many conversations there, but one that sticks out 10+ years later was Charles -- a gay man -- telling me and a couple of other work-study students (all women) that you should find a husband in college. I think the line was something like "if you don't find a husband in college, you won't find one." I hadn't thought of that until I heard about Susan Patton.

    She ignores the fact that a lot of prestigious universities have alumni groups for networking and social events in most large cities. College isn't the only time you can meet an alum from your university if that's what you're really interested in.

    I do think it's tougher to develop strong, meaningful friendships outside of college.

  3. IMO, most people do a whole lot of growing up once they leave college. You learn a lot about yourself, including what you want and what you don't want in a partner, once you're out in the "real world," paying for your own stuff and holding down a job and making friends of all ages and backgrounds. And if you get married before you (and your partner) go through that process, it's doomed.

    But I didn't go to Princeton. Maybe everyone there is light years more mature than I was at lowly old Syracuse.

  4. By now I've discussed this so much so I'll just say that this is just one more instance of the annoying trend of highly rational/practical dating and career advice for women (see: "Marry Him," "Lean In," etc.) Patton is touching on some real fears that women have about work and marriage, especially with the state of the economy in past 5 years. Because of this you would think that radical feminism would see some kind of comeback. But the only ladyarticles that are getting any mainstream attention are things like these, and the debates that crop up around them ("Ladies! You can marry a rich man ANY TIME! Not just in college!") give me such an omgheadache.

    (PS - your entries haven't shown up in my Reader since Feb 6!)

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  6. She actually wrote a follow-up article in response to the many questions she received regarding whether her initial article was a total joke (it wasn't). If you haven't seen it, I read it on the Huffington Post.

    I understand where she's coming from - there's no doubt that college is a great opportunity to meet tons of people. It's just unfortunate how narrow-minded her message came across. She almost came across as though she only assumed Princeton grads would be reading her piece (although she mentions she never expected it to go viral!).

  7. Aren't you dating someone from grad school? ;)

    It is an interesting article. There are some plusses to dating in college. Wasn't it so easy back then? So convenient, too. So many fish in a very close sea. But, everyone has got to do what is right for them. Education first!

    Yes, be an engineer, or geoscientist! Not to meet a man, but bc it is awesome. I took a couple grad level electrical engineering classes and I assure you I was not interested. hahaha.

  8. Well, I "snagged" a Rice guy (and an engineer/computer/physicist), so yay me! (Ha.) But a) I met him six years after I graduated and b) at the wedding of some of those friends who (as you say) were a rightly higher priority for me at the time. Also, c) he's nice and funny and very very kind, and you're right: while those qualities don't grow on trees, they aren't limited to one campus of people who are good at standardized tests, college essays and high school grades.

    I wasn't ready to get married in college either--I was there to learn something. I do like what your friend above says about business school guys. Except have to go to business school. Yawn.

  9. I'm pretty sure she points the message at women because she thinks women have a "shelf-life". Our goods spoil earlier than men's (or men's goods never spoil). As for the heteronormativity... I dunno. She's probably a DOMA nut.

    I live in Princeton (current grad student) and one thing that is surprising and interesting to me is that no one is talking about it. Ha. Everything I know about it has come from the internetz. I asked a few of my colleagues if they'd heard about it... nope.

    Anyway, there is a way to see a positive in it... it started a dialogue! Now a whole bunch of women have been invited into a discourse about what values are appropriate. I think it's great. (And I totally agree with your position on it.)

  10. Can I join the club??? I didn't snag a Cambridge guy either...but my sis did marry her Oxonian. LOL! Ok, jokes aside, I agree with your point on "being ready" and it doesn't have to be just during your college days.

  11. My boyfriend and I actually attended the same college, had the same friends (his college girlfriend was friends with my best friend) and went to a lot of the same functions but actually never met until four years after graduation. Thank GOD. There's no way we would have been together in college, we would have hated each other! We met at the right time.

    18-22 year olds are still figuring their stuff out, in my opinion. I would've been very unhappy had I gotten married that young. Plus, in college I was hyper-focused on my career, not a guy.