In the new “Thinking Big” blog on The Atlantic Online, blog writer Conor Friedersdorf wrote a post about his thoughts on New York and the East Coast–having grown up in California before moving east for graduate school. Before relocating to New York, most of the East Coast existed only as an idea to Friedersdorf, with one major eastern presence being more theoretical than even peppermint unicorns.
My own final abstraction was the Ivy League, a group of institutions I knew nothing about for most of my life save the fact that Harvard and Yale were among them. As late as age 26, when I began looking at Columbia University for graduate school, I never thought of it as being in the Ivy League, nor did I put Brown, Princeton or the University of Pennsylvania in those categories. I’d scarcely heard of Cornell or Dartmouth until I moved to the East Coast.
Before all you Ivy League alums start writing hate mail to Conor Friedersdorf–and in the case of Princeton grads, order an air strike on his house for grouping your alma mater with “the other five”–be aware that it is not a singular notion. In fact, there’s an entire state that doesn’t grasp the concept of obsessing over elitism.
As seniors in high school, my sense is that although most of my classmates were probably aware of Harvard as the biggest name school in America, a peer admitted to Stanford University would’ve commanded congratulations as hearty. Asked to name the most prestigious school among UC Berkeley, Brown, Cornell and UPenn, Berkeley would’ve won the day, except that one never would’ve been asked to make that judgment, let alone to internalize it.
It is mind-boggling to think that prestige wouldn’t be a factor in someone’s college decision. That’s the main reason most Ivy Leaguers eliminated Berkeley as an option, because its academics are too good for it to be ruled out that way. Berkeley also fails to compare to the Ivies in Hogwarts transfers and surprise Dark Angel visits.
But despite his relatively short time in New York, Conor Friedersdorf has already learned about how the Ivy League works. Before retelling a story about an especially pompous statement made by an Ivy League-educated acquaintance, Friedersdorf provides the following disclaimer regarding the acquaintance’s alma mater.
[N]ote to East Coast readers: it wasn’t Harvard, Yale or Princeton[.]
Ah, that means whatever was said must have been ridiculously self-important. Good, Mr. Friedersdorf. Use your knowledge of prestige. Let the elitism flow through you. Strike the obnoxious Ivy Leaguer down with all your sense of superiority and your journey towards the east side will be complete!