The Ivy League Doesn’t Teach Everything

A common complaint about the Ivy League gang is that we lead very sheltered lives. People on the outside imagine our lives to be one long champagne-soaked yacht ride, a life where all of our wants and needs are taken care of and mummy and daddy’s charge card is always on hand.
In reality, though, more than half of Princeton’s student body is on financial aid, and a very large percentage of that is on nearly 100% financial aid. In addition to that, students spend a lot of time in the summer traveling to developing countries, doing community service in struggling neighborhoods, and generally getting their hands dirty. And yet, the myth persists…and for good reason.
There are a lot of different ways people can be “sheltered.” Ivy Leaguers may not all be rolling in wealth, but they still have an embarrassing lack of practical knowledge across the board. Because most of us spent our young lives with our noses stuck in books or playing some sport obsessively, we don’t really know how to, well, get along in the real world.
Most of us can’t change a tire, balance a checkbook, buy health insurance, or even iron a shirt properly. We take our laundry home for the parents to do whenever possible, and we hold off getting our hair cut until we can get home too. We’re good at buying the stuff we need online, but don’t ask us to pick out the right screws from a hardware store or a good cut of meat from the butcher. We’re learned and ridiculously mature in some ways, and yet so unaware in many others.
I know the Ivy League is all about giving students a top-notch liberal arts education, but it would be great if they could give us a little practical knowledge as well; the stuff we didn’t have time to learn from our parents because we were too busy studying for the SAT’s. I say, if we’re going to be the leaders of tomorrow, we ought to know how the world really works on the micro level.
We should be able to take a class on real world knowledge, whether it’s fixing a leaky faucet, cooking, or tying a full Windsor knot in a tie. Because the college life may involve memorizing the events that led up to the Civil War, or surfing the internet for some answers, but one day we’ll suddenly be expected to know about Grown-Up Stuff, and who’s going to teach us that?

Oversharing, Feminism, and the New American Twenty-Something
Oversharing, Feminism, and the New American Twenty-Something
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