Your Mom’s Guide to the Ivy League

There’s an old saying that writers should write what they know.

So what do I know?  I know the Ivy League.  I went to Brown.  I come from a long line of Dartmouth men. (No women back in those days.)  I have friends who have attended each of the Ivies.  And I’ve visited all of them — except Cornell.  Because Cornell is convenient to absolutely nothing.

Of course, I know some of the Ivies better than others.  But according to me, I am well enough informed about all of the Ivies to share my wisdom about them with you.  So here are some important facts I think you should know.  I hope you find them useful in your college search.

Brown University

Famous for: Having no requirements.  At all!  You can graduate without ever going to class.   Or seeing Providence.  Really!  (Please don’t tell my parents.) Also, free tampons!

Little Known Fact: GQ named Brown “America’s Douchiest College.” Finally! Brown won something!   We’re #1!  We’re #1!

Notable Alumni: Me; Hermione Granger; a LOT of minor royals from small countries (bonus admission points to the scions of monarchies in exile); Daveed Diggs (the coolest possible combination of Brown and Oakland, CA.  Represent, Daveed!); JFK Jr. (Yes.  I was in a tiny seminar with him.  And yes.  He was that handsome in real life.)

Columbia University

Famous for: A safety violation that allowed Peter Parker to be bitten by a radioactive spider and turn into Spider-Man.

Little Known Fact: Columbia’s wiki includes a dress code which describes — in excrutiating detail — what to wear from “casual” to “white tie” and when to wear it.  In case you were wondering, “black tie preferred” may include an ascot. Occasion?  “Opening season at the opera.”  Sadly, they failed to suggest something that would be really useful — like an ensemble for going to the grocery store or cleaning my house.  So Columbia’s dress code only gets a C+.  I’m disappointed in you, Columbia.

Notable Alumni: Alexander Hamilton (Go ahead and sing it.  You know you want to.  “Alexander Hamilton.  My name is Alexander Hamilton. And there’s a million things I haven’t done.  But just you wait.  Just you wait.”); Barack Obama (I’m working on an interpretive dance about him.  I think it’s going to be a massive hit!); Meadow Soprano; Martha Stewart; a ridiculous number of spies.

Cornell University

Famous for: Cold, cold, cold, hotel management, cold, cold, Andy Bernard, cold, cold, cold, cold, the Gorges, cold, cold, f**king cold.

Little known fact: The chicken nugget was invented at Cornell.  Which makes Cornell the dream school of every 3 year old in America.

Notable Alumni: Bill Nye, the Science Guy; Citizen Kane (expelled); Sideshow Mel from The Simpsons; Triumph the Insult Comic Dog; the Wizard of Oz.

Dartmouth College

Famous for: Being the birthplace of beer pong.  And the ultra-conservative Dartmouth Review.  I’m sure these facts are completely unrelated.

Little Known Fact: An anthropomorphic beer keg known as “Keggy the Keg” is Dartmouth’s unofficial mascot.

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(Keggy the Keg on the Green.  Is that you, Rob?)

Notable Alumni: Dr. Seuss; Senator Bluto Blutarsky; Shonda Rimes (Call me, Shonda, I have a fabulous idea about an Obama interpretive dance.  I think it’s going to be a massive hit!); Mr. Rogers; Mindy Kaling.  Bonus alumni — my dad, my uncle, my grandfather and two cousins.  Which makes me the Brown sheep of the family.

Harvard University

Famous for: Being in Massachusetts.

Little Known Fact: Absolutely nothing.  Because it’s Harvard. They know everything.  Just ask them. Also, Harvard murdered its sister, Radcliffe.  (That’s for you @EastGrad!)

Notable Alumni: Fred Munster, the Unabomber, Gopher from “The Love Boat,” Bill O’Reilly (figures); Jason Bourne.

Princeton University

Famous for: Eating clubs and the world’s ugliest marching band jackets.

Princeton University football at Lehigh, Bethlehem, PA, September 26, 2009. Photo by Beverly Schaefer.

(This just in — the fashion police at Columbia think I should wear the Princeton band jacket while cleaning my house.)

Little Known Fact: Bob Dylan wrote a whole song about how much he hated getting an honorary degree from Princeton.  He analogized Princeton to a swarm of locusts.  Really.

Notable Alumni: Aaron Burr (aka the damn fool who shot Alexander Hamilton); Doogie Howser; Batman (dropped out)(WTF, Batman? Doogie Howser managed to graduate and he was only 12); Michelle Obama; Ted Cruz’s roommate, who managed not to strangle Ted Cruz in his sleep.  (Mad respect, Ted Cruz’s roommate!  You are a paragon of restraint.)

University of Pennsylvania

Wait . . . . Penn is in the Ivy League?  (Cheap joke.  I know.  But it works.  Every time.)

Yale University

Famous for: Being the venue for some great love stories — Bill and Hillary Clinton; Skull and Bones; Rory Gilmore and Logan Huntzberger; George W. Bush and Beer.  Upon further reflection, perhaps “great” is too strong a word.

Little Known Fact:  Yalies traditionally play a game called “Bladderball” which is a rule-less game involving much alcohol and a fight for a giant leather orb.  It also has, at various times, included a leaflet drop by helicopter and referees in top hats and tails.  What could possibly go wrong?

Notable Alumni: Montgomery Burns; Lupita Nyong’o (I love saying that name); Agent Fox Mulder; Anderson Cooper; Jodie Foster (who I hope will play me in the movie version of this blog).

Next — Your Mom’s Guide to the Personal Statement.

See my Guide to the Hippie Colleges here, and follow me on Facebook!

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