My younger son (Brown ’16) is just an eighth grader, but thanks to me, he is already anxious about the college process.  Last night he asked, "Mom, how does a school become prestigious?" 

Good question. He sees his older brother getting mail every day from fabulous-sounding colleges that nobody has ever heard of.  Some of these fine schools even say they have scholarship money available for CJ, although they found him by purchasing a mailing list.

"Unfortunately," I told Brown,  " although there are more than 2300 colleges in the country, there are only seventeen that people want to attend." 

"How does a college get on that list?"  he asked.  "Strong academics?"

I explained that college prestige does not just come from strong academics; in fact, there are hundreds of schools where you can get a good education.  And, as commonly believed, not even the U.S. News and World Reports rankings are the real measure of a school’s status.

So I told my son the truth: It is "Vows", the New York Times Wedding Section, that determines the desirability of a college. Thousands of Times readers have graduated from college and gone on to get married.  But if you want the Times to report your wedding and you haven’t attended a school like Wellesley or Williams, good luck.  Occasionaly a Purdue grad manages to sneak in, but only if he or she is a member of the House of Representatives or the general manager of the American Ballet Theater. (See last week’s Sunday Times; even the circus clown who was featured went to Penn.)

I have sent the New York Times the Neurotic Parent Institute’s list of new Vow-worthy universities.  But for the time being, most college grads will have to send their wedding announcements to the Sacramento Bee.


Vows — 2 Comments

  1. Ha! As an avid reader of Vows, I realize you are absolutely correct.
    Yet another reason to push my son into AP classes, feeding the poor, housing the homeless, saving the planet: someday he may have his wedding featured in the NYT. And they say which college you attend isn’t important!

  2. Shouldn’t Brown16 be called Wesleyan16, according to the prior post? Next year we’ll all visit the GD and Brown16 and the ES can visit both schools (as precocious NPI 9th grade subjects), and heighten their anxiety accordingly.