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Date Posted: 10:14:42 06/11/17 Sun
THH, I agree with you. Many people who attend elite colleges and enter intense occupations do so with the express objective of winding up in a beautiful wealthy town where the schools are great, the town facilities are extensive and, not least, other successful people can be found to further one's career.
But the cost of living in these towns, besides financial, can sometimes be psychological. A good friend of mine sold his beautiful house in one of these exclusive Fairfield County towns and moved to a suburb further afield. When I asked him why he would extend his commute so drastically, he replied simply, "Too many douche bags."
I don't know what can be done about this feature of the stereotypical American rat race. People aspire to attend an elite college in part because their fellow students will be ambitious, high achieving and in many cases aggressive. That can indeed correlate with being a douche bag.
I think you characterize the difference between Yale and Columbia fairly. Many talented students select Columbia in some part so that they can go to college in an exciting, stimulating city which also offers anonymity. In contrast, very few people pick Yale because they think it offers anonymity.
This critical difference is both a strength and a weakness for Columbia. Almost all Yalies go to Yale to be a part of Yale, for better and as you point out also for worse. Many kids select Columbia so that they can blend into the city around them. That's one of the reasons why the alumni giving rate at Columbia is so low. Students identify with New York City more than they identify with Columbia.
Years later, I'll bet that the percentage of Yale graduates who end up in these exclusive suburbs probably is higher than the percentage of Columbia graduates. The same kids who self-select for Columbia are less likely to say, "You know, I want to live in Darien so my kid can start playing competitive lacrosse in second grade and I can shovel thousands of dollars a year to further his or her lacrosse career so that, when he or she is in high school, there is a chance he or she will be on the top lax team in the country."
This is absolutely a difference between attending Columbia and winding up years later in a place like Darien. This may or may not be sad, but I think more high school kids will instinctively opt for the more intense rat race, not necessarily recognizing the choice that they are making until they arrive on campus in New Haven.
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