According to this recent article in the Boston Globe, past and present Harvard grads have always found it somewhat taxing to "say where they went." Dropping H-bombs on your moms, is apparently not the jam.
When confronted with questions about their education, many elect simply for a kind of dodge, the most famous being the Boston method. “I went to school in Boston.’’ Sometimes it’s “near Boston.’’ Or perhaps even “Cambridge.’’
Oh, woe is the hapless ivy leaguer who finds it devastatingly hard to say "Harvard" in polite conversation with the ivy league-less masses. What will these insipid fools think of me? they think. Because, so sayeth the Globe, "There is no question that saying the word, however it comes out, has an impact on people."
Now it's easy, nay almost necessary, to see the Harvard alum quoted in this story as, well, assholes. With the job market and economy as it is, you'd think the very last thing a recent graduate would and should complain about is the fact that they've got a flashing neon sign stamped across their resume. Thing is that's not always the case. The neon sign part I mean. Take it from an ivy leaguer whose best option after framing her six-figure diploma was an internship that paid minimum wage. Granted that internship was at Oprah Magazine and it sealed my fate as a alphabet addict, but still.
As an alumna of Columbia University in the City of New York (Class of '02, put your hands up!) I knew all too well the look folks sometime give you when you name drop your degree in polite conversation.
Granted I didn't go to "HAH-vahrd" but still. It was if anyone not in the seventh circle of hoity toity expected you to be different, smarter, wittier -- better in general. That's the curse of the private school educated (a group I've been a member of since the 5th grade -- Scholarships! What, what!) -- they aren't really anything special at all, just lucky. And that doesn't piss anyone off more than the expensively educated themselves.
We know we should have something to show for our exclusivity. We should be rubbing our upturned noses with the likes of Mark Zuckerburg (Harvard) or President Barack Obama (Columbia) or First Lady Michelle Obama (Princeton) in the secret Eskimo kiss of sweet success and not sneaking into our 10-year class reunion because we didn't have the scratch for registration.
So in the hopes of avoiding not the alleged judge-y eyes of others as the Globe article suggests, but the judge-y voice of our own subconscious, we use subterfuge. In essence the humble brag lets us off the hook for not being as awesome as Alexander Hamilton -- the founding father and Columbia grad for whom the academic building which housed the most classes I fell asleep in was named.
But, you know what? I say screw that. Screw the "code" that says mentioning your educational accomplishments (or lack thereof) should be "avoided at all costs." Because if we all wore the Scarlet Letters of our life report cards on our chests then maybe this whole elite university vs. all the other stuff (sorry) West Coast vs. East coast CV bullshit will cease. When you can walk down the street and know with a glance that this person went to DeVry and that person shining her shoes went to Dartmouth maybe then we can let go of our silly expectations- yours and mine.
These days I rarely know what school people went to, which is funny considering that that was allll anyone could talk about when we first lined up for the race to adulthood. Back then it was as if the college you went to pre-determined how fast you'd get to the finish line, which was what exactly? A job? A career? Being an actual functioning and non-murdering member of society?
So I say tell the world where you went. Whether it's Harvard, Clown College or the School of Hard Knocks. Hopefully you learned a few lessons there, not the least of which being, that a piece of paper can only get you so far.