Imagine there are two bloggers.  One went to a fancy expensive Ivy League college.  The other went to Podunk University.   Could you tell which one is writing a blog about international affairs and which one is writing about pandas and panties?

I don’t think the college you attended years ago tells much about who you are other than how much of a geek you were in high school.  High School!  You were 16!   And people still talk about their college as a way to impress you!

I studied ALL THE TIME in high school, mostly as a rebellion against my father, who was always telling me it didn’t matter what school I went to, as long as I was “a good person.”  (he attended classes at the University of Hawaii during military service).  I’m serious.  Can you believe that someone in the modern era still said things like “be a good person?”  I used to think he was nuts!  Luckily, I had my mother to take me aside and tell me “not to listen to him” and do my homework. 

My father used to push me to do more social activities rather than my homework.  I thought he was trying to sabotoge my life.  The irony is that he was the squarest 1950’s guy you would ever meet — one who would want you to sit home and do your homework. I think he just wanted me to enjoy life more.  I’m not sure where he got these “hippy” values from.  In retrospect, he might have been right.   If I had spent as much time going out and learning what it was like to feel up a girl as I did on AP Calculus, I would be a lot more normal today.

The big advantage to going to a private elite college is supposedly the networking — the so-called old-boy network (not that I’ve been smart enough to know how to join it).   I was talking to Sophia on the phone about this because I’ve been interested in this new book “The Price of Admission:  How America’s Ruling Class Buys Its Way into Elite Colleges – and Who Gets Left Outside the Gates” by the Pulitzer-prize winning Wall Street journalist Daniel Golden  (You know he went to some elite college just by seeing how long that title is!).

The books focuses on all the admissions advantages gives to children of alumni and to the offspring of big donors and celebrities.   I needled Sophia because so many Republicans talk about personal responsibility and moral values, then use the back door to get their family members into college.  Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist’s dopey son Harrison was admitted into Princeton.  Do you think the $25 million dollars for Princeton’s Frist Campus Center helped?  Five generations of Bushes have gone to Yale, including our current President.  Does he seem like Yale material to you?

I always thought it was bad for America to have these old-boy networks that keep the power out of the reach of so many others who don’t have an “in.”   Why should so many of our business leaders and Senators have gone to the same colleges?  Wouldn’t it be better to get some new points of view?  I know for a fact that there are those who attend city colleges who are as bright as anyone at Princeton, yet don’t have the ability to pay for it, or don’t want to take out loans for the rest of their lives.

Sophia agreed with me, but didn’t take my insulting of Republicans lightly.  Within the hour, she called back and told me to look at Truthdig, the web magazine of Robert Scheer, one of the most prominent progressive journalists on the left.

Sophia:  “Look on the About Page of this very liberal web magazine.  Talk about insular.  The entire staff went to expensive private colleges.  Why do they even bring it up?  What does this have to do with their progressive credentials?  I’d rather see that they worked with the unions or something rather than had parents pay for their education!  Is it because liberals don’t trust anyone unless they go to some elite school like Columbia, Princeton, or USC…?”


Neil:  “Well, USC is not exactly an “elite” school.”

Sophia:  “Well, it is certainly more fancy than where the publisher got her bachelor’s — UC Santa Cruz.  Do you notice that information missing from the About Page — as if a graduate of that school isn’t something to be proud of.  Why are only the private schools listed for everyone to ooh and ahh over?  They’re a bunch of elitists, with an old-boy network as bad as the old fogies on Wall Street!”

Neil:  “That’s ridiculous.  What is this a conspiracy theory?  Maybe the web designer just forgot to add where she went to college.   If you look, they don’t include the college of Robert Scheer either, and he is the main reason for the whole website.”

Sophia:  “OK, let’s see what school he went to.”

We clicked on his link.  Robert Scheer went to City College of New York, which was also somehow missing from the About Page, too. 

Sophia:  “Well now, care to dismount your high horse?”

Uh… maybe Sophia had a point.  Maybe it didn’t matter what side of the political spectrum you are on.   People will always promote themselves and make themselves look better to others…

So, dear readers, have I told you that I went to a prestigious private college… and did very well in Calculus in high school.  And despite a late start, I now know how to feel a woman up.  My father would be proud.

(thanks Dad for paying for college)


A Year Ago on Citizen of the Month:  Sophia Made Me Gay