Saturday, August 25, 2012

Guest Post by "Sartre": The New Ivies?

Miller Library at Colby College (pictures taken by guest post author "Sartre")
By "Sartre"

Fall is here and we’re starting to gear up for a few more college visits.

It’s probably fitting that the front page of the New York Times Book Review features two new books casting aspersions on the current Ivy League and the decline of the liberal education at those institutions. The idea is that the Ivies have ceded their historical role as keepers of the flame of liberal education to become massive research centers focused around grants, in some ways more comparable to the great state universities than anything else.

Consequently, there’s been a good deal written on the so-called “new Ivies” or “hidden Ivies,” that category of NESCAC type schools that emphasize community and connectedness with professors. (This is not entirely new. As far back as the '80s, The Preppy Handbook made the point that the smaller liberal arts colleges were often the preppiest.)

These “new Ivies” have taken up the mantle of teaching-oriented purveyors of the kind of traditional liberal education that, in the words of Andrew Delbanco quoting Allan Bloom, “helped students to pose the question…’What is man?’ in relation to his higher aspirations by guiding them to and through ‘the alternative answers’ to be found in great works of art and thought.”

It is on many of these small , northeastern colleges that my daughter has been focusing. During these tours, I let a little bit of my consciousness – the part not wrestling with strategies for fulfilling one’s individual potential - enjoy the atmosphere.

Trinity is the "preppiest" we've visited hands down. Girl in yellow cords, tan cable sweater, blue oxford with collar popped, aviators. Another with bright red short shorts, blue oxford, loafers, blonde hair in a headband. Our tour guide was a lacrosse player – pearl studs, little sundress under a jean jacket, and thighs that made Serena Williams look like a 98-pound weakling. More Top-Siders than you could shake a stick at. Top men's squash team in the country 13 straight years. And the statistics: 50% from private and independent schools.

Colby has one of the prettiest campuses I’ve seen. It also had more than a few guys in Nantucket Reds.

I was surprised by how much I liked Bates, although my daughter didn't. She caught that artsy-lefty vibe (for lack of a better expression) that I had heard about Bates but didn't see at all and that was evident in spades at Skidmore. (Given that my daughter’s essay will be about the finer points of communicating with her favorite horse, we had to visit there also.)

Hamilton was gorgeous – perched high atop a hill, as so many colleges are, with a series of adjoining quads and tall, stately, rectilinear stone buildings. We got a few late spring snowflakes there, big and wet and just enough to create a touch of moisture on the sidewalks and create an impossibly romantic effect for a 17-year-old girl (or her 50-year-old father).

Lafayette’s another one perched high on a hill, with a campus of more varied but no less interesting architecture and an absolutely stunning modern library. Despite its small size Lafayette has Division 1 football, and the Lafayette-Lehigh game is the small college version of Harvard vs. Yale.

This fall we’ll be seeing Kenyon, Colgate, and Union. I’ll keep you posted.  - "Sartre"

Sartre's Daughter Visiting Trinity College
Also by the author: Guest Post: Cornell and Alpha Delta Phi, 1978

57 comments:

Parnassus said...

The intense focus on research may possibly be shifting the Ivy schools' values, but there is still so much at these schools that they remain an ideal place to get a liberal education. The scope of the courses, faculty and other resources is breathtaking.

I find something invidious in phrases like "new Ivies". The schools you mention are all exciting ones, but they should be evaluated on their own merits. They have so many features and opportunities that should attract your daughter and other students.
--Road to Parnassus

HipWaldorf said...

Make sure you ask if the school runs on generators when they lose power. I began asking this question when one tour guide told us a neighboring college spent 10 days living in their athletic center after our ice storm last October.

I remember interviewing at a few boarding schools while they were running on generators. It is a plus.

See you out on the tour!


Anonymous said...

Indeed, the "old" Ivies may be larger, more diverse institutions that some may deem to be deviating from "authentic" prep. Don't worry though, there are still small pockets of "prep" that continue on. None other is the old Phi. As a recent graduate of an "out of the league" school, as well as an avid follower of both Muffy and Christian, I'd love to meet "the author" at the upcoming homecoming banquet at the Phi lodge at 777 Stewart. Hopefully you will find it, as well as the dress of those who inhabit it, very much the same as when you left it so many years ago.

Tom said...

My late grandfather was a Trinity grad, class of '35. I have many fond memories of attending football games with him on a cool, crisp autumn day. He would always tell me I could attend an Ivy, but the best education you can receive is at the NESCACS. With that advice, I attended Hamilton. His wisdom, of course, proved true.

Oxford Cloth Button Down said...

I have heard from others that small liberal art's universities in the NE and Midwest are still very preppy in comparison with most universities, even those in the Ivy League. In my limited experience with these type of schools I would say that it is very likely to be true.

NCJack said...

I'd have to say don'st stress out (too much anyway). My experience is that almost every grad I've known in the 40 years since I graduated was pleased with their own school (and quick to pigeonhole all others), no matter who they picked

WRJ said...

I had been under the impression that the "new Ivies" were not necessarily small liberal arts schools, but rather just highly competitive colleges and universities that are in the running with or superior to the Ivies. (My alma mater was listed in the Newsweek article that coined, or at least popularized, the term, and it's certainly not small or particularly teaching-oriented.) I have heard the term "little Ivies" used to describe NESCAC schools over the years, however.

I too read the Times's reviews last Sunday, but thought that the authors' complaints were primarily with liberalized campus culture, not weakened commitment to classical education. It's my understanding that a significant majority of students at Ivies continue to major in the humanities--though I also keep hearing that schools are cutting the humanities because they lose money, so who knows. To my eyes the shift in Ivy culture has simply (and expectedly) followed those in the other repositories of power, money, and influence in our society. It also probably has quite a bit to do with the popularization of published rankings--whatever the creators of those rankings care about, top schools care about.

I agree that Trinity is very preppy, both in the way that students dress and the number hailing from good prep schools. Connecticut College is probably up there, too, at least for style if not substance. Bowdoin also comes to mind, as does Skidmore, though it's not in the Northeast. It's my understanding that the women's colleges are particularly keen on small classes and accessible professors, but I'm pretty sure they all give off the "artsy-lefty vibe" at this point.

Good luck college-hunting. It's such an important and difficult decision, and an exciting time.

Anonymous said...

8 years ago my daughter and I did a similar route, during spring break to Colby, Wesleyan, Mt Holyoke and Haverford and then June to Carleton, Macalester, Earlham and Kenyon. Busy but interesting times and useful.

jrandyv
Portland Oregon

cpd said...

Don't forget Middlebury as well!

Ann said...

I second Parnassus, per usual. I do think that blind worship of these institutions is over-rated. I'm thankful for my education and the professors I met but I do believe the student makes the experience, not the institution. And these other schools are wonderful in their own right. Truthfully, you can be a very bright young person anywhere with a library.

Anonymous said...

If she is horse oriented she should definitely check out Mt Holyoke. There are plenty of guys around if she feels that an all women's school isn't what she thinks she wants.

Anonymous said...

Muffy -- I live in Middlebury, but unaffiliated with the college. My wife and I moved here because it is a great place to raise our children. Middlebury is a lovely town, and the individual attention that the students receive at the college is a definite plus. However, your readers many not know that the costs for these small colleges has skyrocketed -- in some cases in excess of $50K per year in tuition, fees, etc. Our local newspaper has noted the disappointment of some students who did not prepare for a vocation during their four years of liberal arts study and are now unemployed (or employed at low wage jobs) with crushing student debt. My other observation as a 'townie' is that some of the 'preppiest' students on campus display some of the most obnoxious behavior. I wish your daughter good luck in finding the right college for her. She is fortunate to have such caring parents.

Anonymous said...

I had quite a few "superstar" grant-chasing professors. While initially charismatic, they totally ignored all but the very few students who could "help" them get more money (and even these students they burned through quite quickly), including taking over their teaching duties. They spent all of their energy schmoozing and pandering to corporate and government deep pockets while taking credit for anything and everything. The universities loved these coin-operated people, favoring them over much better role-models. My image of a "research" university is not one of advancing science with students, but of advancing careers at the expense of students.

Skiddie 1988 said...

Hi Muffy,
Skidmore has a fabulous equestrian program and Saratoga is a great town. I am an alum and an old fashioned preppy. We need more students who believe in the old fashion Preppy ideals, as opposed to the way out lefty extremes.

Main Line Sportsman said...

The Lehigh v. Lafayette football game is college football's most played rivalry...played more times than Harvard/Yale or Army/navy....it is NOT a small college version of HArvard/Yale...

Paul Connors said...

What about BOWDOIN?

Paul Connors said...

For women in VA, there are Mary-Baldwin College, and Randolph Macon

Paul Connors said...

In VA and for men: Hampden-Sydney is very preppy.

Sartre said...

@Anon Aug 25 10:05 -- indeed! I am traveling abroad this year but maybe next.

@Ann -- I agree that the student in large measure makes the experience, but there's a whole lot more to it than a "bright young person with a library." This statement diminishes the effect that professors can have on learning; it does not recognize that learning is not a purely cognitive but a social process, or, as the old adage says, "education is a drawing out, not a putting in"; and it does not account for what many people find to be the most rewarding aspect of college life, learning to live independently and as a community.

@Anon Aug 26 9:16 -- well, in hindsight we certainly were insufferable, but in all honesty aren't most college kids? Something to do with the separation and individuation process perhaps.

@Skiddie 1988 -- I hear you, but my daughter just didn't connect with Skidmore. And I think she'll choose to ride at the club level; she's met the coaches at a few varsity programs and they are way, way too serious.

@MLS -- thanks for the correction -- makes the rivalry even more interesting!

Pete said...

Is Mount Holyoke College in picture?

binker said...

anonymous 8/26/12 ...how sad that those who appear to live the preppy style at Middlebury would be those whom you perceive as the most obnoxious. This speaks volumes as to what Skiddie 1988 says.."We need more students who believe in the old fashion Preppy ideals...". Maybe there should be a new term, 'nouveau preppy' for those who dress in preppy clothes but do not adhere to old-fashioned preppy values.

I hear what the author is saying about Ivy League schools, however, my experiences with "superstar" professors have always been fantastic. If one is truly interested in the subject matter, I find that almost any professor will go above-and-beyond to enhance a student's learning experience in their area of expertise. While some Ivy League Schools may have changed, Brown remains the same as it was back in the 60's. While I have had experience with several Ivy League Schools, I truly believe that Brown is in a "league" all of it's own.

I know many who have gone to the schools such as Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, Hamilton, Trinity, Carleton, Skidmore, Oberlin, etc., who have received excellent educations. Also, I have known students who have gone to state schools who have received excellent educations as well. In my experience, it doesn't matter what school you go to...if you truly want to get an excellent education, you WILL get one. My only word of advice to parents looking at schools with their children is to make sure that the schools you are looking at have enough course offerings and extracurricular activities in the areas that your child is most interested in.

Anonymous said...

I went to Union. Great, great school. Have fun on the tour.

Anonymous said...

Have you considered William and Mary? Great traditions, beautiful campus, a mid size school. My daughter had a wonderful experience there.

Anonymous said...

The Ivy League is an athletic conference comprising eight private institutions of higher education in the Northeastern United States. The conference name is also commonly used to refer to those eight schools as a group.[2] The eight institutions are Brown University, Columbia University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, Harvard University, Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Yale University. The term Ivy League also has connotations of academic excellence, selectivity in admissions, and social elitism.

So, while the colleges you mentioned might be considered "preppy", they would not be considered "Ivies". There is a term called, "Public Ivy" and these are the colleges which are considered to be Ivy League, but are public. Being from Virginia, I will name our two power houses; The University of Virginia, and The College of William and Mary. While Hampden Sydney is indeed preppy, it is not in the same acedemic calibur as William and Mary or UVA. Neither is Randolph Macon or Mary Baldwin. So it is fair to say that Preppy Collges and Ivy's are not always one and the same. ;o)

Sartre said...

@Pete -- The first picture is Colby, the second is Trinity.

@binker -- The observation that "It doesn't matter what school you go to...if you truly want to get an excellent education, you WILL get one" is true but at the same time is not especially helpful to the practical problem of selecting a college.

@Anon Aug 26 7:56 pm -- I went to Cornell. I agree with your first two points (academic excellence and selectivity in admissions) but disagree that the Ivies any longer carry connotations of social elitism. And BTW the term "hidden Ivies" is not my own, it comes from a number of studies, as does the term "little Ivies," as a previous commenter noted.

Matt said...

What a great guest posting! Thanks to both guest and host. I went to Trinity and also attended the summer language school at Middlebury. Both places are wonderful. But I agree "New Ivy" is not the right term.

The NESCAC schools have always been called the "Little Ivies" and I think this is a better name: Ivy League quality faculty but classes of 10 students rather than 500. I'm partial to Trinity as my alma mater, but you could hardly go wrong at Williams, Middlebury, Bowdoin, Amherst, etc. (or at Wellesley, Mt. Holyoke, etc. for that matter) if the student feels that the particular school is a good fit.

I think that a Little Ivy for undergrad and a research university for grad is the best route for many people. If the student is not intending to attend grad school at an Ivy, however, then it might be best to go as an undergrad simply because the connections gained (as undergrad or grad) are invaluable.

If there are "New Ivies" they would be institutions such as Stanford, UChicago, and CalTech which have equaled and surpassed the research excellence of the "Old Ivies."

Bantam in Chicago said...

As a recent graduate of Trinity, I have come to realize that the "little Ivy" focus on community and the availability of professors were incredibly important aspects of my education. Preppiness aside, Trinity and the schools like Trinity offer a high-quality, authentic liberal arts education that will pay off for the rest of graduates' lives. I learned to express my thoughts and ideas clearly during afternoons spent in one-on-one office hours held by a professor who was also a Trinity alumnus. I have only just begun to realize how a diverse academic experience at the undergraduate level will open doors in one's professional life, not just in terms of where one works, but also in terms of what responsibilities one's employer feels comfortable giving him/her.

Quality of the academic experience aside, Trinity is an incredibly preppy school. Nobody leaves the school without at least a mediocre squash game, and somebody wandering the campus in October could not be blamed for assuming that a green Barbour Bedale is handed out to every female student upon matriculation. The first discussion topic on the Facebook page for accepted students in my year was to arrange a bonfire for all of the accepted students who happened to be on Martha's Vineyard that summer.

Many NESCAC students have a complicated relationship with their school's culture. Students at Trinity, perhaps more than students at other NESCAC schools, must learn to deal with being surrounded by the trappings of wealth. At times students can mistakenly equate material success and physical beauty directly with self worth. But students learn to become critical thinkers, and many are capable of assigning a healthy level of importance to money and material.

An important part of becoming an adult is developing a value system, based solely on your own experience and not on how others tell you to live. This value system will guide you through all of the life choices that you must make (and young adults must make these choices on a surprisingly regular basis). As a student at Trinity, I learned that I do value material success, and its trappings. Since matriculation, I've bought my first Barbour jacket, and my first suit. Internships arranged through the Trinity alumni network necessitated the purchase of my first set of office appropriate dress shirts, and shortly after graduation, I bought my first pair of bit loafers. But while at Trinity I discovered that I value other things more than material success: time spent with friends (all of my closest friends are also Trinity alumni), time spent with family, time spent eating and drinking well, and time spent focusing on my physical health. My experience as a Trinity student is what's caused me to be the person I am today.

Pete said...

The environments at many college and universities have radically changed in the last 15-20 years. As parents we may have thoughts/ideas/memoires of how college was – the memories maybe cherished but, the reality is, your child will attended a very different school from the one you attended. As Economic, Ethnic, Social and Geographic diversity has changed the world we lived in, so has it changed the world of higher education.

binker said...

@Sartre - I believe you are misunderstanding what I am trying to convey. While I don't believe that an Ivy or small Ivy is a necessity to a good education, I am by no means implying that the search for the right college is not imperative to find the best fit. Many people make up a bucket list based on name alone. Prior to researching any college, one should assess budget constraints, location (getting to and from a location can become a major expense), interests of the student (both academically and extracurricular), and whether the student is even ready for college. I believe a significant percentage of students are not ready to understand what they want to get out of college. Personally, I believe that travel in the US and/or abroad, internships, a year at sea, volunteer work, etc. are all viable options to give a student a better sense of what they want to do BEFORE they set off to colleges that cost over $50,000 a year...without any sense of direction or purpose. Once they are truly ready for a course of study, then, I don't believe that a big name school is a necessity. A family member went to U of Penn for undergrad and Brown for grad school. Previously, he had lived in a small town and gone to a boarding school in a remote area. Philly, at the time, was a shock to him. He later stated that he would have preferred to go to Brown for undergrad and Penn for grad school. Which brings me back to Brown. It's curriculum is dramatically different than other Ivy League schools. You can take everything pass/fail. The only requirements are the ones that involve the major you have chosen...though many take/risk courses they might never have taken otherwise...primarily because they have the pass/fail option and it won't ruin their GPA. Also, students from Brown can take courses at RISD and visa versa. It is a unique school and I think anyone who lumps it in with the other Ivy League schools is mistaken. In order to believe the way that I do, one must have faith that students have been exposed to the basics in high school and they are ready to focus on whatever might lead them to a fulfilling career. Having said all of this, I don't believe that college is for everyone. Some can learn far more from internships/apprenticeships than they can by paying $200,000+ in tuition.

Nick M said...

As an Englishman who was once tasked for 14 years with recruiting from US campuses, I have had the good fortune to visit almost all the schools you mention, many times.

They are all lovely locations, with pleasant and intelligent student populations.

If you care to venture even further South, I would recommend Davidson College in North Carolina -- a beatiful spot with a great faculty, and preppy as you like.

Sartre said...

Thanks for all the comments. I really appreciate the dialogue.

However, a clarification: For all of those who insist that what I "really" meant was not Hidden Ivies but Little Ivies, rest assured I meant what I said. While the term Little Ivies could certainly apply to many of the schools I listed, the term Hidden Ivies was used by Greene & Greene in their book of the same name and that more specifically was what I meant to say.

Anonymous said...

I recently finished Russ Douthat's book on his years as an undergrad at Harvard. . . and came away feeling extremely satisfied that I'd received a better education at my small private liberal arts college in the midwest.

Times change. So do focuses.

Anonymous said...

Hampshire and Bard are worthy contenders as well.

Squeeze said...

Hobart-William Smith should be included. First class.

Bethany Hissong said...

Sartre, thank you so much for this post. My daughter is turning 16 in a few months so we have a year before we will be visiting colleges. (She is already researching!). I have learned so much from the comments on this post... more than can be gleaned by reading their websites. My daughter also rides so that would be a bonus for her at school!

Anonymous said...

Love that picture, my freshman year Jarvis dormroom window is in the background although I believe it is a senior dorm now. The NESCAC schools are wonderful places to go to college. Nice small schools and great people. I wouldn't discount Ivies in such a way though. I went to Trin and my brother went to Princeton so I know them pretty well. The Ivies are bigger but you end up in certain colleges and social scenes that make them feel smaller. Ivy students will be in small classes with about the same frequency as NESCAC schools and get to know their professors, if they choose to, and all that good stuff. Also NESCAC schools have plenty of 101 classes with over 100 people. You get the small class sizes as you move up in your major.

pve design said...

One of my sons is at Union and loves it. He is entering his sophomore year.
pve

Anonymous said...

Carleton, Beloit, Knox, Lake Forest, Grinnell, Kenyon, Oberlin, DePauw.

Anonymous said...

The Noble family loves Trinity!

Richard Brown Noble 38'
-Football Captain, Crow Brother

Herbert Noble 41'

Richard Brown Noble Jr. 58'
-Football Captain, St. A's Brother

Kim Elizabeth Noble 87' Crew Team

Good luck with your search and please contact us if your daughter has any questions. Kim Noble, Surfzuma@Yahoo.com

binker said...

Anonymous 8:06pm Small world. I think I know someone who may have rowed with you (Sally). She was class of '85 at Trinity. Trinity is a great school. Rowing is the best team sport ever..."all for one...one for all". Personal opinion, of course. :)

Anonymous said...

@binker
I loved rowing at Trinity, especially the Fall Head races. Watched rowers this morning on the Charles with fond memories.

Bantam in Chicago said...

@anon, yes, Jarvis has been converted into housing that is available to all classes at Trinity. The dorm underwent a $30MM restoration project that ended in 2008, and there are no longer long hallways that stretch the length of the building (except for in the tunnels underneath, but that's a different story).

The dorms inside are significantly nicer, and were redone as 6 or 8 person "suites" in according with William Burges's original design for the building. Each suite has 2 bathrooms, and a large common room equivalent in size to a double in the old Jarvis, 1 or 2 doubles, and the remainder of rooms are singles.

When you are inside, you are constantly reminded that you are in an old building; the steam-driven radiators shake, many warped original wood doors to dorm rooms were retained, and the original glass and iron windows were restored and re-installed after the renovation. But these days Jarvis is one of Trinity's more desirable dorms and is almost completely snatched up after incoming seniors and juniors have their pick in the housing lottery.

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

It's interesting that the comments lack reference to some amazing west coast colleges. Reed College (Portland, OR) is one of the most demanding and academically conservative institutions in the country. It's core curriculum is steeped in the humanities. It's not for the academically faint of heart, though--and does lean to the left, socially (although I think this reputation is a bit exaggerated). Then there's Whitman College in Washington State, as well as the Cleremont Colleges--including Pamona and Harvey Mudd. There IS academic life outside of the NE!

Elizabeth Rose Stanton said...

Oops...typing too fast... that's Claremont Colleges :)

Christina said...

One simply can't mention "horse" and "preppy" in the same breath and not think about Sweet Briar College. Our colors are pink and green you know!

Anonymous said...

Don't forget about Denison!

Anonymous said...

Sartre, I know you're a Cornell man, but you should get over to Hanover and check out Dartmouth College this fall. A small Ivy League liberal arts college - best of both worlds. Magnificent setting and the alumni involvement is extraordinary.

Sartre said...

@Christina: Too small, and all girls is not her thing, but thanks for the suggestion.

@Anon 1:41: She will likely visit Denison while she's out at Kenyon.

@Anon 5:49: Dartmouth is terrific. Probably a bit of a stretch though. I mean, 9% acceptance rate?

Carly said...

While you seem to be concentrating your search on the Northeast, I'd recommend my alma mater, Washington and Lee University. Beautiful campus, great weather, fabulous reputation, very fun and amazingly preppy!

Tina said...

At the end of our journey, across the country and back, in search of my daughter's Early Decision college choice, we visited tier 1 schools and the backups in the tier 2 category.

It wasn't until we went, after considerably strong urging by me, to visit Bryn Mawr College, only 45 min. away from home, that she found the perfect school!

She early-decisioned it and just began her freshman year at Bryn Mawr yesterday! Yes, all women's college, and, no, it wasn't her "cup of tea" before seeing the campus and talking to everyone there. She fell in love on that visit.

I couldn't be more proud! :)

Anonymous said...

I graduated from Amherst in the '90s and taught at Union in the '00s. I can tell you that Union is what Amherst would be, had it neither raised its academic standards nor abolished fraternities. Preppy indeed, but not a whole lot of fun for the students who didn't buy into the dominant culture. I think a place like Amherst, Swarthmore, or Brown offers a lot more social variety. I can't fault the Union faculty in any way, though -- they do high-quality work.

Anonymous said...

I am currently a sophomore at columbia college, columbia university. The notion that ivy league schools are abandoning liberal education is entirely off base. Sure i can understand why they may seem like giant research centers from the outside but in actuality they are entirely the opposite. Consider columbia's core for example:
http://www.college.columbia.edu/core/

every student at columbia college is required to take literature humanities (from the illiad and the odyssey to jane austen and virgina woolf) contemporary western civilizations (from Aristotle to marx and freud), art humanities (from the parthenon and notre dame to andy warhol), music humanities (from gregorian chants to chopin to stravinsky and duke ellington), university writing and frontiers of science which span the vast realms of their respective fields, 2 years of a foreign language, additional science classes, a global core requirement (which could vary anywhere from an intensive class on budhism to native american history) and finally a physical education class.
The ivy league is known for both its quality of education and resources. To be blunt, people want to go to them. Just because ivy league schools aren't small like the "new ivies" you speak of, doesn't mean they lack anything. i went to a small boarding school in new england. It was great but, I needed a change. You are right your "new ivies" are hubs for preppy college kids but, that is because ivy league schools have shifted their focus to diversity. They all offer need based financial aid in an effort to accept students who deserve an impeccable education whether they can afford it or not. The atmosphere is still the same. The ivy league schools will always be preppy however, it used to be that anyone could get in to them with a mere phone call from an alum or prep school headmaster. The system isn't like that anymore and columbia and other ivies have acceptance rates at 6%. The difference between ivy league schools and the "new ivies" you speak of is that the ivy league now focuses on offering the essence of what is "preppy" ie. a second to none liberal education to accomplished students, whether or not they can afford a barbour.
There are the tangible things represent what it means to be preppy and then there is the actual act of being "preppy". I grew up in Palm Beach, Fl, I went to prep school, I have an obsession with vineyard vines, we summer in East Hampton and spend the winter's in our chalet in Megeve (oh and I own a barbour) but i have never felt as "preppy" as i have at columbia. My ivy league experience has embodied the essence of "preppy". I am surrounded by brilliant peers who will go on to do incredible things. What is more, I know everyone in my grade and most of the other years as well (columbia college is the undergraduate university you think of when you hear the word columbia and it has about as many students as the "new ivies" however, columbia also has an engineering school, a graduate school a business school etc. which make university seem large from the outside). I have received an education not singularly focused on any major but rather one that makes me knowledgeable in practically any facet of life.
Anyone can wear vineyard vines or j. crew. I, however, have hipster friends at columbia that are unquestionably "preppier" than anyone I met at boarding school solely because columbia has taught us how to answer the question "what is man" and so much more.

Anonymous said...

I'm reading these kudoz about how Trinity is so preppy. Too bad Trinity is the second-worst NESCAC school (only better than Conn College) per US News and World Report!
Hamilton alum

Anonymous said...

I attended Midd, my boyfriend attended Elon. (I graduated from Milton, he graduated from BB&N.) Elon may not have as high of an academic reputation as Midd does (yet!), it's a school I could see myself very happy at as well.

Anonymous said...

I have to disagree a little on the idea of "New Ivy", in the sense of the ivy league during and up until, say, the 1960's. The ideals of schooling were much more focused on character than any school offers today. Colleges then were much less "vocational" oriented than today, where a bachelor's degree is sine qua non. Upper class members of that generation would likely inherit, if not wealth, then their position. Schools, therefore, played a different role. As for Union College or Colby doing a better job of instilling a sense of noblesse oblige any better than, say, Yale (do we mention these in the same breath ?), I have my reservations. And, if the young student is not going to inherit a family fortune or business, then what is the point ?

Alex said...

Left Middlebury for Conn College which I loved. Good convenient location, top academics and not too remore. Middlebury is a good school but way too removed as are many of these schools. My first choice was Amherst but was waitlisted. Second Middlebury, third Conn College and fouth Hamilton which I ruled out after a 6 hour trip there in the middle of no where. Truth is these are all great schools. Just a matter of finding the right fit! Nothing like visitnig a small elite New England school in the fall....

JSL said...

While few will likely see this comment, I must correct Satre on a very important point: single-sex colleges are not "all-girls," nor are they "girls' schools." Wellesley or Bryn Mawr or Sweet Briar or Spellman are not where you send your 14 year old to study algebra, read Salinger, and bemoan her braces. They are Women's Colleges, populated by women (and men, and some wonderful people elsewhere on the spectrum) who will, in ways big or small, make a true difference in the world. They are where you send your 17 year old so that she may discuss, in a voice unquieted by the imbalances of history, the great question, "what is humanity?"