Ivy League Student
Cataloged in Self-Improvement / College

How To Be An Ivy League Student

Scream and hyperventilate when you rip open the suspiciously small yet life changing envelope from [insert dream Ivy League school]. You fucking made it, the sweetest revenge of nerds – all those volunteer hours, independent research projects, school government elections, concert recitals, team practices and late SAT studying sessions finally paid off. Say HASTA LA VISTA BABY to homogeneous white suburban Nowheresville and run towards the pearly white Ivy gates. Never look back.

Lug in misshapen shapes of cardboard from your overflowing minivan and move in. Look around campus and realize the breadth of notable alumnus: a slew of former U.S. Presidents, ambassadors, authors, artists, and CEOs. Jump at the thought that some of said luminaries may have lived in your room, down the hall, or sat in your chair in your classroom. Realize you’re dorming with princes, published authors, national chess champions, political dynastic darlings, computer whizzes, and Julliard violin virtuosos. Mentally backtrack to your curriculum vitae and cringe at the thought of their resumes eating your Salutatorian/captain of the tennis team/volunteer work-resume for breakfast.

Realize a month in that you’re also surrounded by a smorgasbord of coke heads, slutty sorority girls with daddy issues, brawny bros and the general stereotypical douchebaggery that exists at any college. Wonder why these bros can never win in any real sports except for country club recreational activities such as fencing, archery, or tennis. Don’t believe your roommate when she mentions that the Ivy League was originally formed for athletics. Never understand why this one elitist brotherhood bond is the one area all Ivy Leagues communally suck at.

Look forward to your classes, which range from “Nazism in Performance,” “Algebraic Topology,” to “Cultural History of Japanese Monsters.” Try to take them all not only because you wrote in your college application that you’re so “well rounded” but because you want to fuck with your future job employer who will scan your transcript, see said classes, and have multiple WTF moments. Realize your Nobel prize winning professor can’t actually teach (since when is mumbling to the chalkboard an effective method?). Be exasperated by how many professors can’t actually speak English and blend their words into indistinguishable slurs. Wonder how you’re going to pass any of your classes. Be surprised that the TA leading class discussion on Friday mornings is surprisingly more competent.

Write a paper in class that you actually care about. Stare at the unmistakably legible B- in red ink on your paper three weeks later. That’s right, that B- just bitchslapped your two all-nighters and the borderline toxic amount of pills of Adderall. Be unable to comprehend because you’ve never maintained lower than a 4.03 in high school. Stress out. Wonder if you have what it takes to even pass this intro course. Stress out. Proceed to the dining hall to unlimited self-serve ice cream line to add on multiple pounds that you pray will disappear after going to the gym. Go online and sign up for a guaranteed-A class (i.e. Physics for Poets, Intro to Spanish). Realize you’re going to need to fill up half your schedule with these. End up never going to the gym because the Ivy League life is soo demanding. Wait, have you always been this stressed? Realize next semester that these classes aren’t actually easy. Realize in the future that it doesn’t matter because your Ivy League college inflates grades more than the annual hot air balloon fiesta in Albuquerque.

Revolve your schedule around a parade of student activities meetings, events with free food (thank God for cultural clubs), and study dates with that cute babe from your “really hard” class (it doesn’t matter if he understands the concepts either). Organize a fashion show for a cultural club, start and complete your 50 page thesis on the influence of Internet censorship and social networking in post-modern China, give a 30-minute class presentation on the the tyranny of the majority in Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, get wasted on cheap beer and expensive wine at a JPMorgan info session all in one week – and somehow do this all with elite-ordained aplomb. If the Ivy League taught you one thing, it’s that you can have it all and then some, RIGHT? Right.

Go apeshit before every spring break, not because of midterms, but because all your fellow classmates received summer offers to either intern at the White House alongside Kal Penn, research in Eritrea for their thesis called something along the lines of “The Role of Sustainable Development in the Aggregate Spatial Strategies of Confluence,” crunch numbers at Goldman Sachs (Bateman-esque i-bankers or traders need only apply), or intern at W Magazine as an editorial slave to Stefano Tonchi. If you’re not curing AIDS or climbing Mount Everest (or both), you’re obviously not fully utilizing your Ivy pedigree. Furiously scroll through your college’s career site desperately applying for admin/assistant/ANY position to obscure “startup” companies. Smile and shrug nonchalantly when asked about said internship. Curse and watch your self-worth plummet to a similar level when you did the walk of shame in 4 inch heels across campus and saw your really hot urban & politics professor. Mentally note to never sit in front of that class again.

Remember the days you smoked hookah (amongst other substances) with your friends during that sunny afternoon on the quad despite having two looming papers due the next day. Remember listening to famous activists/musicians/political heavyweights at the staggering amount of alumnus speaker series (OMG wasn’t Jeffrey Sachs amazing? Bill Clinton was only just okay. Al Gore was better last year). Remember your dexterous ability to debate the epistemological underpinnings of Kant and Nietzsche in class in the morning and at a drunken yoga party later at night. Remember packing your pillow, chugging your Starbucks venti coffee double shot of espresso, carrying three cans of Redbull (you don’t enter the library without backup, duh) and dragging what’s left of your soul to the library for a 72-hour finals marathon of word vomiting and anxiety attacks. Remember looking around and seeing everyone doing the same.

Remember the way your parents cheered you on when they saw you walking down with cap and gown. Remember that they couldn’t go to college and came to a strange new country so YOU could achieve the American dream. You did this for them, remember? Turn around, catch a glimpse, give an insanely big grin shedding some tears. Look around at all of the relieved and shining faces at Class Day and scream inside, I went to an Ivy League, bitch! TC mark

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  • http://www.seventh8th.net MM

    yeah, as much as it is for myself, i want to make this happen for my mom and dad
    so they can snub my relatives noses in it
    look at my kid! 
    i want to be that kid

    • a person

      It's a fleeting enjoyment. After all, obvious bragging is frowned upon.

  • http://twitter.com/garrettmccarthy Garrett McCarthy

    Recent grad memoir? Great. I suppose.

  • Wat


  • Rachel Butters Scotch

    Kind of jealous.

  • Ac2718


  • mm

    this is hilarious!

  • Papaya432

    So what're you gonna do with the Ivy League degree?

  • greg

    My parents also came from abroad(Haiti) so that i could “make it”…didn't quite work out the way they planned…congrats, i guess

  • :)

    I love the tags :P

  • CC

    Send this to Bwog so they have something to publish besides more terrible senior wisdoms.

    I didn't technically just graduate from the Ivy League but I did take all the same classes as people who did (Barnard pride bitches) and I honestly didn't find it all that stressful? Columbia studying library camping adderol culture is pretty bullshit in my opinion, especially since the grade inflation is insane. Anyway, if your only reason for taking Cultural History of Japanese Monsters (one of the best classes I took) is as some bizarre resume stuffer (employers don't really look at transcripts, you know that right?), there's no way you're getting past Pflug's seminar application.

    • quecosa

      u dumb tho

  • Teukros

    There are a hell of a lot of spelling and grammar mistakes in this article.  “[T]he breadth of notable alumnus” (just one?) and “Julliard” just in the second paragraph — to say nothing of “misshapen shapes” — and a healthy Oxford comma inconsistency to boot.

    Sorry to be such a pedant, but I think it's relevant in a piece about getting accepted to an Ivy.

    • Tim

      Or maybe you could just take them off that pedestal?

      • Teukros

        Considering the strategically placed all-caps words in this piece, it's not my pedestal problems I'm worried about.

    • Jordan

      Who gives a fuck about an Oxford comma?

  • http://dzine-studios.com Dan

    A great ending line would be “And then I got my student loan bill. Ouch.”

    • JB

      I find it ironic that there's no mention of that part, when it's such a huge and determining factor in college and post-college life.

    • Yale13

      Almost all of the Ivy Leagues now give debt-free financial aid. ie, I know nobody in my graduating class that has to take out loans to attend.

      • Eric CU'15

        It's funny because my finaid director at Columbia just called me today to basically explain that they're going to offer me $5500 in institutional loans, $5500 in federal loans, and still leave me to get $12000 in private loans, every year, to go there (minus student contribution and the few grand my parents can actually give me). AFAIK “No loans” just means they have to meet what your family's FAFSA says since your family theoretically shouldn't have to take out loans to pay for FAFSA (which is a joke for everyone above the poverty line, basically). Still way cheaper per year than any of the state schools I got into, but you don't get to graduate early from AP credits, so it works out about the same. But hey, fuck it, I decided that I'm worth my own debt.

  • Ss

    I'm curious – are there a lot of careers that are reeeally really truly a lot more impressed with an Ivy League undergrad degree? I honestly don't know how much that factors into some careers; for the fields I'm interested in, where you go for undergrad isn't such a big deal… I'm either going to teach at the secondary level or go into academia and either way, undergrad isn't super important compared to where you go to grad school.

    I'm just wondering. I've chosen a cheaper school with a good reputation because I need to save money for grad school/life in general, but I'm curious as to whether an Ivy League degree is really as valuable as it perhaps used to be.

    • LJ

      I attended an Ivy League school and graduated fifteen years ago and even though I mostly hated it, that name has done wonders on my resumé and alumni connections are also pretty excellent. I am loathe to admit this.

      • SS

        But – I'm just curious – I'd imagine this is for something like business, or law, or politics or something? I don't mean to make assumptions but when you say “connections,” that's what I think of.

        I mean, if I decided to teach high school, which I might, I would definitely think it would be unwise to attend an Ivy League, because it's not exactly necessary, and my salary would be so low that I'd be in debt forever.

        I guess I'm really just trying to validate my decision NOT to attend an Ivy League. :P

      • JB

        I considered going into some serious debt for a master's degree at Columbia — to the tune of $60,000 even with a sizable scholarship — but when I looked up previous graduates on LinkedIn and saw they were working in retail or two low-paid jobs, etc., I decided Ivy wasn't necessarily the way to go for my field!

  • Victoria


    All of this is still true for aforementioned school however.

  • Uhnonnymus

    Is this website only for rich white people now?

    • lollerskates

      lolz author's name is tiffany chen

      • angela chen

        Maybe Tiffany intended this for rich white people?

    • ivyballer

      i went to an ivy where 30% of the kids did not call themselves white. and i would hardly say that ivies are the only schools full of rich people.  liberal arts colleges offer far less financial aid and attract a far more homogenous student body, statistically speaking.
      that being said the ivy league resentment has got to chill the fuck out.  don't hate us cuz you aint us.

  • JStone

    Going to go ahead and bestow a big FUCK YOU on this. Second anyone? I'm disappointed that Ryan would allow for such a narcissistic piece to be published.

    • xra

      really? have you realized that TC is now like 75%  vanity pieces by 20-something girls?

  • derp


  • Boom

    I'm jealous of this guy too because I would have liked to gone to Ivy league but I couldn't for whatever reason. I don't like him much because of that.
    But what the hell, Emke? This “shouldn't be allowed?” Ivy league students don't have emotions, or are not allowed to typr them up and tell it to anybody? Dislike anybody you want, but covering up their personal expressions because of that is…uh, problematic.

    I have a feeling that if he stopped writing at the turning point of the article, he'd have any negative comments. Is he not allowed to have positive emotions because we're all too jealous of what he was permitted to do financially and achieved personally though hard work? We're all poor and lazy in our own minds (and many are poor and lazy in reality as well). We don't want anybody else to have an advantage, it's only human.
    But please, people, a bit more rationality for the sake of a real discussion, not a fucking 4 chan slanderfest.

    • inflammatorywrit

      He's a she.

  • Stfu

    this is so poorly written… the kind of faux-intellectual, stilted, ineloquent pap i'd expect from an author dense enough to this topic is relevant anywhere outside of their lisa frank diary. ugh.

  • http://twitter.com/SophieZhao sophie zhao

    Yawn. The above applies to my non-Ivy League school.

    • JB

      Ditto.  There was nothing in this piece I didn't recognize.

  • chelseafagan

    Aside from confirming what every non-Ivy Leaguer thinks about those who did attend these schools (that they sit around all day thinking about how awesome their school is and how wonderful a person they are for having gone there), I doubt it reflects well on any institute of higher learning to have a student who publicly writes “future job employer.”

  • Jordan

    If you're gonna write another stupid How To…at least stick to the formula.  It's not supposed to be glaring praise of what you're instructing How To be.  Or maybe you weren't doing that, in which case you need to work on being more sarcastic.

    Granted, I actually am a fan of the Ivy League, if only for the pomp and circumstance, history, campus architecture, and prestige.  But still, this piece is weird.

    I ask again…no more How To's.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

    Theres really only one way to be an Ivy league student. 

    #1: Have rich parents.

    • Tigerrr

      SO false.  Ivies have amazing need-based financial aid.  I was able to attend Princeton for less than what it would have cost me to go to a public school in my home state.

      • tigertigertiger

        I completely agree – the above comment is completely incorrect.  I also graduated from Princeton (as an international student)  and I would not have been able to attend the university were it not for its more than generous financial aid package.  Do some research before making such judgmental remarks, please.

      • Tiger'13

        Princeton financial aid student here — I am able to attend an Ivy for less than the cost of UC Berkeley, the state school I would have gone to if I didn't get in.

      • http://www.facebook.com/gregpphoto Greg Petliski

        I think all three of you are the same person, which is really pathetic. Its like you didnt even try, all three user names start with Tiger cuz its the Princeton Tigers? Regardless, you listed one of the seven Ivy League schools, and at that, only three students (which again, I think is just one) at that one school. I'm sure there are more, but I'm sure there are even more kids there on free rides from mom and dad.

      • Stefan

        I mean, how many examples do there need to be in order to override your “really only one way” theory? Speaking as a not-rich person who attends an Ivy other than Princeton (NJ? ew) I do not have rich parents and receive really good financial aid.

        On the other hand, there's a lot of classist forces that can also prevent poor (or just poorer) students from getting into Ivies (other than “oh dear the pricetag of private colleges!”): less recruitment efforts (maybe?) at poorer schools, less (aggressive/time allotted for) college guidance at poorer schools, the connections that private schools can develop with “top” universities, the fact that early decision/action policies favor wealthier students, etc.

        Though finally, on the other other hand, the myth that the Ivies are only for “rich kids” can work to perpetuate itself through a lack of knowledge of generous financial aid offers.

        So to put it in a hashtag, #yesbutno

      • Jacqueline2194

        The thing is that even though Ivies do give good financial aid and scholarships, getting into an Ivy generally takes thousands and thousands of dollars in SAT prep, cool volunteer programs in South America, science camp, and piano lessons.  I'm not trying to insult anyone who got into an Ivy based on hard work and discipline or say that the only way to get in is to have money, but having money helps A LOT.

      • Brown'13

        I'm a junior at Brown and I got in with average extracurricular activities, top grades, average test scores, and NO MONEY whatsoever. Single-parent household making just enough money to pay the bills.

        I'm also going for free.

        No rich parents needed.

      • a person

        Speaking as a Harvard student on generous financial aid, I completely agree with this comment. When I was a camp counselor the summer before freshman year, one of the kids, who's from the same town as me, asked me how I could afford to go to this school. I told him honestly that the financial aid and outside scholarships made it happen.

      • Tigerrr

        That's cute.  I'm the first Tigerrr.  I did not graduate in 2013, nor am I an international student.   Based on my family's modest income, I was able to attend Princeton with a huge grant, and thus, to graduate debt-free.  I worked a campus job all four years and my parents helped however they could, but the University's contribution was [literally] invaluable to my ability to attend.  I can't speak to other Ivies' financial aid programs without doing more research, but I know that approximately 50% of my classmates received financial aid, and that at Yale (I'm pretty sure, maybe Harvard, too), a student whose parents earn less than $40,00 a year (and who DESERVES TO BE THERE because he or she is brilliant and hard-working) gets a full ride.

        While I am not seeking to defend Tiffany Chen's experience of the Ivy League, as it does not serve as any sort of universal metric (I know it doesn't describe my experience and am considering writing a companion piece), I will defend the need-blind admissions process at Princeton until I'm [orange] in the face.  Granted, there are kids who get in because their parents donated a residential college, or because they're incredible at lacrosse but sure as hell aren't going to cure cancer one day, but the vast majority are there because they've earned it.

      • Tigerrr

        P.S. There are eight Ivy League schools.

      • JB

        Berkeley financial aid student here — I went UC Berkeley and paid nothing.  That's obviously not the case for everyone.  Ditto Ivy league schools.

      • MissSmartypants

        Hey, I'm going to Dartmouth for free…soooo….#1 debunked.

    • inflammatorywrit

      There's only one way to be a private University student, and that is to have rich parents. I attended a private school for three semesters at 45,000 a year before I realized I was a fucking idiot. I got really good financial aid from Clark and even so, I still ended up paying-out of pocket- 3 times the cost of the in-state school I transferred to.

      • Quaker '14

        I’ll be graduating from Penn with no debt thanks to the generous financial aid. Are there tons of kids here who are super rich and elitist? Yeah. Are there also a LOT of first generation college students, minorities of every kind, socioeconomically disadvantaged students, and (insert non-ivy stereotype here) students? YEAH! Ivies are wonderful because they take kids from all over the world, in every part of society and allow them to coexist for four years in a competitive yet nurturing environment while surrounded by the most amazing resources available to scholars in the world. (The same goes for Stanford, Chicago, MIT and schools like them). Myths about the cost of the education and grade inflation are all just attempts by the uninformed to devalue what they couldn’t have for themselves. #hatersgonnahate

  • IvyLeagueVictim/LuckyB*tch

    I don't understand what the big deal is. This piece speaks a million truths about undergrad life at an Ivy. Not to say that we are not grateful for the opportunity we were given/earned because we all realize how fortunate we are to be able to say “Oh, Uribe is here? Eh, I'll just catch him next time he comes” all to work on a paper for a class we really care about (even though we know we'll be slapped in the face with a barely passing grade). We are grateful, but that doesn't take away from the fact that it is hard and depending on the concentration you go into, grade inflation is a concept no one has ever heard of (ask my life science 2.8 GPA). It's a bitch trying to balance school, grades, extracurriculars, (aka trying to stay sane and not give into using adderall like everyone else or the major depression episode that you've been warding off) while remember how much others envy you and that you're doing this because your parents sacrificed *everything* for you to be in this position.

    • Jordan

      You should have written this!  Maybe the author was trying to convey what you are here, but she left out all the unflattering, modest, or appreciative parts and stuck with “I went to an Ivy League, bitch!”

    • Ivy Mom

      I sacrificed nothing for my duaghter to go to an Ivy.  She did it all.

  • Stefan

    tired references thrown at readers in the second-person does not mean that your article is as good as you think it is.

    also, some of these recent “how to”s have been really grating, and it'd be great if they're satire! but I don't know whether that's how they're intended, and either way they haven't been particularly good. (unless they're actually meta-satires of the “how to” form, which would be both funny and tragic.)

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