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Should we feel a little sympathy for Harvard students and their families?

socaldad2002socaldad2002 1731 replies33 threads Senior Member
Hear me out....

Close friend’s kid attends Harvard. The student and family seem obligated to down play the college the student attends, almost as an unwritten rule.

For example, many times when someone asks where the daughter goes to college, they say things like “she goes to college in Boston” etc. as if saying she goes to Harvard will be frowned upon as bragging by the student/parents.

Same goes with college swag. I don’t see the college sweatshirts, license plate frames, FB posts etc as families having kids attending other top colleges such as Stanford, UPenn, Duke, Vanderbilt...

Is attending Harvard in some small way a “burden” when it comes to being excited about your college choice and having to downplay which college you attend?

Thoughts?
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Replies to: Should we feel a little sympathy for Harvard students and their families?

  • izrk02izrk02 411 replies16 threads Member
    I think it's ridiculous. They chose to go there, they should accept it. There's obviously a level of prestige when attending an ivy, especially Harvard, and they knew that before enrolling.
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  • cinnamon1212cinnamon1212 664 replies8 threads Member
    I have a relative that attended Harvard. It is true that at times there is a little social discomfort, a tiny amount, that is heavily outweighed by the massive social benefit attached!
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  • Data10Data10 3241 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited January 4
    Close friend’s kid attends Harvard. The student and family seem obligated to down play the college the student attends, almost as an unwritten rule.

    For example, many times when someone asks where the daughter goes to college, they say things like “she goes to college in Boston” etc. as if saying she goes to Harvard will be frowned upon as bragging by the student/parents.
    I'd expect one of the key reasons that many choose Harvard over other alternatives is a belief that the college name is especially impressive. Some believe Harvard is the top college in the world, which most/many students want to attend, so they are floored when people mention attending the school and expect others to have a similar reaction. As such, I'd expect Harvard students/alumni are far more likely to casually bring up their college name than the generally population. This certainly fits my experience with Harvard alumni postings on social media.

    The what I expect is a small minority that says "a school in Boston" instead of Harvard likely stems from similar beliefs. They believe many will have an extreme reaction to hearing they attended Harvard, which may include negative components , so they need to being courteous and avoid mentioning the name.

    I expect the reality is that the vast majority of the population is not especially concerned about where you went to college. For most people, where you attended college rarely naturally comes up in conversation once you have been out of a college for a few years, so avoiding saying the name of the college is a non-issue. If a student/parent/alumni does "drop the H bomb", I expect most people won't be floored or jealous, and will instead have a mild "that's nice" or "that's a good school" type reaction, then continue the conversation without issue.

    I attended Stanford. There is a small minority of people I've met who seem to have a strong reaction to the school name, but most people do not. Instead most people do not seem especially familiar beyond knowing Stanford is generally a good school and/or knowing something about their football team.
    edited January 4
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  • Groundwork2022Groundwork2022 2649 replies55 threads Senior Member
    "For example, many times when someone asks where the daughter goes to college, they say things like “she goes to college in Boston” "

    I honestly didn't know people still did this! Very quaint. Shouldn't one then ask, "Which house?" I agree that, in this day and age, a straightforward answer is fine, though.
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  • lookingforwardlookingforward 35100 replies398 threads Senior Member
    edited January 4
    It's not our business to worry about something we've heard, but know little about. All it does is spread word around that there is some big, awful issue or embarassmet about going to a tippy top. Those kids need to be smarter than that- and it behooves us to be, as well.

    You truly believe that it's rampant?

    It happens. And it doesn't happen.
    edited January 4
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  • HarrietMWelschHarrietMWelsch 2576 replies31 threads Senior Member
    edited January 4
    Of course it still happens, and of course there's no reason to automatically feel the least bit sorry for someone who attends/attended Harvard. I'd feel sorry for someone who thought it was the only school to aspire to, attended, and then realized that it was somebody else's idea of perfect - but that's not what the OP is talking about.

    People of the parent-generation may still occasionally do the "Boston" thing reflexively, and that's not something anybody should be bothered by. (There are also people who do deliberately, as an inside joke, and if you get it, why would it bother you? Watch "30 Rock" for some of the best changes ever rung on the whole trope.)

    A kid who does it now might benefit from a private reminder that unless you know for a fact that you're talking to someone who desperately wanted to go and could not or did not, it's a little affected (at best) to signal that way, because it suggests you think everybody will envy you. And they won't.

    And frankly, that applies to any school at all. It's a rude and ignorant assumption to believe that what you have is what everybody else wants, and that your having it will upset them.

    PS, I'm married to one. :smiley:

    edited January 4
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  • OhiBroOhiBro 463 replies6 threads Member
    No, I don’t feel bad for them.

    Sometimes, they may overthink their words, while other people overthink what they say.

    Many years ago, Bruce Springsteen was criticized for choosing to live in a very expensive and exclusive area while being a champion for the working man.

    (Paraphrasing from memory) He made no apologies and wasn’t running away from anyone, saying he had lived everywhere, and knew the truth that there were nice guys and <blank>’s everywhere.

    Since seeing that interview, it has proven itself over and over to me that people are mostly good, but there is always a mix of bad. Everywhere.

    To OP’s point, what matters is if his friend is a good person and respectful of others, their abilities, and choices. Mincing words just makes something complicated that is not.
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  • TiggerDadTiggerDad 2040 replies73 threads Senior Member
    Oh, that reminds me of the OP's question in the title.....

    No, sympathy isn't needed. :smile:
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  • Data10Data10 3241 replies11 threads Senior Member
    edited January 4
    TiggerDad wrote: »
    For those folks who haven't been to Harvard or around anyone who's been to Harvard, the name takes on almost a mythical aura irregardless of real.
    I expect the opposite is true. The less familiar a group is with Harvard, the less likely they are to have a strong impression of the college -- either positive or negative. Only a very small portion of the population is obsessed with getting in to Harvard or spends a lot of time thinking about what Harvard grads are like. If you divide the number of domestic applications by number of domestic HSs, it suggests an average of only 1-2 students per HS even applies to Harvard. I expect among HSs where there is little exposure to anyone attending Harvard-like colleges, in most cases, nobody applies to Harvard, including none of the high achieving, val/sal types.

    In areas where hardly anyone applies, attends, or is an alumni; Harvard does not suddenly take on a "mythical aura.". Instead it's quite common for students and community at large to actually not be interested in the school and not be especially concerned about their alumni. If they hear someone is an alumni, they certainly don't suddenly change their option and expectation to "super wealthy when they graduate, if they aren't already. Bounteous in fame. Future senators or even presidents in the making." I'd expect the far more common reaction is to not be particularly concerned about college name.
    edited January 4
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  • rphcfbrphcfb 252 replies0 threads Junior Member
    Not feeling sorry for this family but I can understand that they may have a good reason for it.

    My D attended an 8 week summer course last year in WI. The course attracted students from various colleges across the country. During those weeks, everyone was often asked which college they were attending. She said a Yale student stopping telling people he was from Yale. He said often, other students seemed to be more interest in knowing about Yale than about him as a person.

    After a while, when asked, he told them he went to school in Connecticut.
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  • CountingDownCountingDown 13528 replies110 threads Senior Member
    A long-time friend of my husband went to Harvard. He has had to take jobs that barely pay minimum wage to support his family when the high-tech companies where he worked hit hard times and he was laid off.

    He's unapologetically a Harvard fan and uses his harvard.edu email address.

    There is no golden ticket.

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