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.


(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!

Behind the Scenes at the World’s Dumbest Feud



In the tradition of the Hatfields vs. the McCoys, the Montagues vs. the Capulets, and Hamilton vs. Burr, we now have the website “College Confidential” vs. me, aka “@hyppymom.”  The only difference is that this feud is nonlethal and way, way dumber.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with “College Confidential,” it’s a website and forums for students and parents who are involved in the college admissions process.  There is some useful information there.  And a lot of dreck.  For instance, on the Harvard forum, one of the current topics is “How impressive is getting a 36 on the ACT and also perfect grades?”  The answer?  Very impressive.  Also, you’re a jerk.  So you’re perfect for Harvard.

Anyway, over Labor Day weekend, I was looking for a distraction, so I posted a link to my Hippie College Guide on College Confidential.  It stayed up for a few hours, and I got some positive feedback.  Then, without notice or explanation, I was locked out.  At that point, I figured out I must have violated some rule, so I looked at the rules.  They did say no links to blogs.  Ok.  My bad.

So I created a new account, @hyppymom (showing just how easy it is to get around their bans), and posted an excerpt of the blog.  No links.  I was overwhelmed with positive feedback — on the College Confidential forum and through private messages.  Days passed, I posted more content and got more great feedback.  Then suddenly, and without notice or explanation, I was unable to post any content.  I contacted the site.  No response.  I managed to sneak back on the site (again, so easy to bypass their ban) to explain to my by-then sizable audience that I wouldn’t be posting anymore because I had apparently been banned by the moderators.

There was a minor uproar among my readers — accompanied by a couple of “you know, she was kind of annoying” comments.  (So very true.  Boo will confirm that I can be quite annoying.)  But at that point, College Confidential relented, sending me a message that I had been “unbanned” — a message that would only make sense if I had, in fact, been banned.

Meanwhile, there was a hilarious and nearly incomprehensible message posted on the forum by the CC moderator  as follows:

As a reminder, discussion of a moderator’s actions is not allowed on the forums. You want to ask a mod about his/her actions, send him/her a PM. I have deleted several posts bemoaning a user that someone assumed was banned; she was not. So not only were a moderator’s theoretical actions discussed, the underlying assumption was incorrect.”

Okey dokey.  That’s some fine writing there.  No discussions of a moderator’s actual or theoretical actions that did not occur (even though they did, in fact, occur).  Got it.

Whatever.  I publicly thanked the moderator and decided to play nice on the forum — which I scrupulously did.  My following posts included such controversial topics as the setting of the play, “Our Town” and my unfamiliarity with Antioch College.  Scandalous!

I’ll admit that I wasn’t quite as nice on my Facebook page.  It was at that point that things got weird(er).  I received my one and only substantive message from the CC moderator who was upset by something snarky I had said on my Facebook page.  The CC moderator warned me that I better behave on the CC forum — which I was doing.

In other words, the CC moderator had tracked down my Facebook page and then complained about what s/he saw there.  That message was the only substantive contact I got from College Confidential about the “objectionable” content of my writing.  Really?  Don’t they have something better to do than worry about what’s on my Facebook page?  (I clearly don’t, but it’s my Facebook page.)

At that point, we began an insane series of bans and releases.  Every time I posted something on the forum — no matter how innocuous — I was locked out.  I would contact CC privately asking politely to be released.  Hours later, I would get a message saying that I was  “unbanned.”  Rinse and repeat.

After this had happened about a half a dozen times, I posted a snarky comment on my Facebook page comparing CC to Dean Wormer from “Animal House” and questioning whether I was on “double secret probation” because the CC moderator was banning and unbanning me constantly and without explanation.

It must have been my “double secret probation” post on Facebook that sent the CC moderator over the edge.  I was banned again.  This time, however, my repeated polite requests to be unbanned have been ignored.  So it looks like @hyppymom is history at College Confidential because of what I posted on my Facebook page.  Sorry they didn’t like my free content.

So that’s where we are now.  See?  I told you it was dumb.  Stay tuned.

UPDATE: I posted the last two segments of the Ohio trip and a farewell on CC.  It was immediately removed and I was banned again.  Surprise!

And so ends the feud between CC and me.  It was fun while it lasted.  Getting under their skin may have been the most fun of all.  But I’m a grownup (Hate that!) and like to use my powers for good and not evil.  So I’m calling it a day.

RIP hyppymom.

AND ANOTHER UPDATE:  The World’s Dumbest Feud got even dumber!