Why Are Harvard People So Awkwardly Elitist?

“One of the more embarrassing and socially awkward things a human being can do is admit he went to Harvard” according to Business Insider:

That’s right, it’s probably among the worst #FirstWorldProblems a person can have, because once you drop the “H-Bomb” people look at you differently, treat you differently, and think of you differently. Yup, Harvard alumni are truly embarrassed about fessing up to their alma mater, The Boston Globe revealed

The Globe interviewed dozens of alumni who all admit when asked some derivative of “Where did you go to college?” they answer, “Oh, near Boston.”

Harvard, for its part, is taking steps to prevent the social indiscretion of taking about Harvard publicly with the unwashed masses. This week, in fact, the university is holding the following event:

Home from Harvard for the Holidays: Revisiting Relationships with Family and Friends

Wednesday, December 5, 1:00-2:30pm5 Linden StreetHow do I talk about Harvard at home? Will my friends and family think I’ve changed? Will I still fit in? This workshop provides an opportunity to describe and explore your experiences and questions as you anticipate going home. To register, email slshin@bsc.harvard.edu or cshindler@bsc.harvard.edu.

Is Harvard acknowledging that its students, upon being admitted into the hallowed crimson kingdom, become so socially inept that they require workshop assistance to socialize with their non-Harvard friends and family? Or is this event a tacit endorsement of the assumption, which embarrasses Harvard students and alumni so, that they really are better than and different from the rest of us? Either way, the elitism that underlies this event is just hilarious, given its stilted effort to be empathic to what the University probably considers the unannointed hoi polloi.

  1. Mollie Hemingway
    C

    That’s hilarious. It also reminds me of the line about the Texan who went to Harvard and is flustered about which to mention first.

  2. Trace

    Far be it from me to pass by an opportunity to mock Harvard students, but I actually sympathize. Though I only went to Yale, I suffered from this same affliction. Its only in old age that I have gotten over this peccadillo  People make a big deal out of it when you tell them where you go/went to school and it is a way of trying to signal that you are not a stuck up snob or that you don’t want them to make a big deal out of it. Of course it invariably makes you look more stuck up when you act coy. Its a Catch-22 but a relatively minor price to pay for the privilege.

    This You Tube video from a a couple of years ago does a pretty good send up of the dilemma:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhf9qwiA34

  3. Barkha Herman

    They are #1 in the world.  They deserve it.

    In Indian families, friends and families ARE embarrassing when it comes to a kid going to Harvard.  It’s unbearable.

    I for one sympathize.

  4. Guruforhire

    I expect there is a certain amount of sociological differences.  I expect getting accepted to Harvard is like being accepted into the priesthood during the middle ages.  There is an amount of awe and envy knowing that the poor farming serf will now lead a life better and radically different than you will ever know.  Sure the 3rd son of nobility go into the priesthood but nobody worries about them, its the normal peasant kid that ALSO goes into the priesthood that needs worrying about.  Think about their experiences a moment.

    Then I remember socialization training on how not to beat your wife when I returned from a deployment in the US Army…… So….. make of it what you will.

    I don’t for a second believe that if I had gotten into MIT instead of RIT that I would be sitting here writing boring project documentation for a middle class systems engineering job.  (I do actually like doing this but still, my boring project documentation would be entirely different I say, entirely different.  Shoosh I said different)

  5. Barkha Herman
    Trace: Far be it from me to pass by an opportunity to mock Harvard students, but I actually sympathize. Though I only went to Yale, I suffered from this same affliction. Its only in old age that I have gotten over this peccadillo  People make a big deal out of it when you tell them where you go/went to school and it is a way of trying to signal that you are not a stuck up snob or that you don’t want them to make a big deal out of it. Of course it invariably makes you look more stuck up when you act coy. Its a Catch-22 but a relatively minor price to pay for the privilege.

    This You Tube video from a a couple of years ago does a pretty good send up of the dilemma:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YDhf9qwiA34 · 3 minutes ago

    Edited 1 minute ago

    I love it!

    Since when did Ricochet become the crowd that apologizes for our successes?

  6. Nathaniel Wright

    The Harvard alum I’ve met seem to try to drop it in the first paragraph of our conversations.  They can’t get the phrase out fast enough.

    Those from Yale, on the other hand, often say something vague like “I went to a small school in New Haven” as if they went to Gateway Community College.

  7. Austin Murrey

    Personally I’ve rolled my eyes whenever I’ve met someone who says they went to Harvard because it’s usually been one of the first things I’ve heard from that person.

    Most professionals I know who’ve had to interract with Harvard grads feel the same way.

  8. DrewInWisconsin

    Oh, how they must suffer. Can you imagine how awkward those family gatherings would be if they had to admit they were attending UW-River Falls?

  9. Britanicus

    Meanwhile… in Ricochet’s advertising…

    Capture.png

  10. Mollie Hemingway
    C
    Barkha Herman

    Since when did Ricochet become the crowd that apologizes for our successes? · 15 minutes ago

    I don’t think that has anything to do with this post. Some wonderful and brilliant people go to Harvard. Some really awful or boring people go to Harvard. While Harvard has a deserved reputation, some of its alumni seem to think their presence at Harvard puts them in rarefied air territory — no longer just human but something altogether more special. I think it’s this attitude that is being gently ribbed.

  11. TheSophist
    Nathaniel Wright: The Harvard alum I’ve met seem to try to drop it in the first paragraph of our conversations.  They can’t get the phrase out fast enough.

    Those from Yale, on the other hand, often say something vague like “I went to a small school in New Haven” as if they went to Gateway Community College. · 22 minutes ago

    Trace can probably identify with this, but I have met fellow Yalies who would say crap like, “Oh, I went to a school in New Haven”. I’d always follow that up with, “Oh, Albertus Magnus? Great little school! I went to Yale just down the street from there.”

    Harvard douchebags saying “Boston” is one thing, since there are a lot of schools in Boston, but Yalies, Brownies, Darmouth-ites, and Princetonians doing the same is pitiful indeed.

  12. Barkha Herman
    Mollie Hemingway, Ed.

    I don’t think that has anything to do with this post. Some wonderful and brilliant people go to Harvard. Some really awful or boring people go to Harvard. While Harvard has a deserved reputation, some of its alumni seem to think their presence at Harvard puts them in rarefied air territory — no longer just human but something altogether more special. I think it’s this attitude that is being gently ribbed. · 10 minutes ag o

    Fair enough.

    But if you ever came to our house with extended family visiting, you would sympathize.  

    Growing up, I knew two girls that committed suicide.  One because she did not get into medical school (hung herself), and another who wanted to be a journalist, was the youngest of four, got into medical school while none of the elder siblings did, and so thought it her duty to attend, could not hack it and jumped off the roof of her school – head first into a car.

    I have a different perspective than yours.  Not all tiger moms are created equal.

  13. Trace

    Barkha — Apologies in advance for what might be a stupid question, but do you know the Bollywood movie 3 Idiots? Your comment made me think of it right away. 

    Barkha Herman

    o

    Fair enough.

    But if you ever came to our house with extended family visiting, you would sympathize.  

    Growing up, I knew two girls that committed suicide.  One because she did not get into medical school (hung herself), and another who wanted to be a journalist, was the youngest of four, got into medical school while none of the elder siblings did, and so thought it her duty to attend, could not hack it and jumped off the roof of her school – head first into a car.

    I have a different perspective than yours.  Not all tiger moms are created equal. · 0 minutes ago

  14. Barkha Herman

    @Trace – Yes, I have seen it – it was a good.  Based on a novel. 

  15. DocJay
    Barkha Herman: They are #1 in the world.  They deserve it.

    In Indian families, friends and families ARE embarrassing when it comes to a kid going to Harvard.  It’s unbearable.

    I for one sympathize. · 1 hour ago

    Their doctors better prove themselves to me.  Your pedigree don’t mean crap to this cowboy.  We don’t tolerate all hat and no cattle here so push that diploma to the side, do some doctoring, and maybe then I’ll respect you. 

    In addition, prove to me you’re not a liberal moron. 

  16. Skyler

    Most of the people I’ve met from Harvard are the worst kind of snobs I’ve ever met.  I think they are misinterpreting the reaction people get.

    I remember meeting one Harvard grad who joined my reserve Marine infantry battalion solely for the purpose of going to Ghana with us for three weeks.  He wanted pictures of himself with the natives for when he ran for office.  He was quite insufferable with his Harvard attitude.  

    At one point he exclaimed, “If these people didn’t have such disadvantages living here in Doboya, Ghana one of them might belong in Harvard.”  In his mind, there is only one school and one way to be a world leader, and that is to be from Harvard, which comes from a birth right, a fraternity that lesser minds cannot aspire to and that all of the best minds belong to.  Choosing to go to a lesser school is a sign that you didn’t belong anyway.  

    I despise that almost all of our Supreme Court justices are from Yale and Harvard.  I despise that some people think that great minds are not suitable to be cultivated anywhere else.   

  17. Group Captain Mandrake
    Barkha Herman: They are #1 in the world.  They deserve it.

    Ahem, they are actually #4 according to this survey in the Grauniad.  My alma mater is #2, so take that Hahvahd.

  18. Percival

    Awkwardly elistist?  It always seemed to be effortless to me.

  19. Jojo
    TheSophist

     

    Harvard douchebags saying “Boston” is one thing, since there are a lot of schools in Boston, but Yalies, Brownies, Darmouth-ites, and Princetonians doing the same is pitiful indeed. · 24 minutes ago

    You can tell  Ivy League-ers by the way they can spell their trash talk.

  20. Anna M.

    All hat and no cattle indeed (cheers, DocJay). 

    In the field of history/general humanities, almost every Harvard PhD I’ve ever met (or heard delivering a conference paper) has been over-the-top arrogant yet intellectually mediocre at best. 

    I’ve known some individuals from the other Ivies who fit that description, but they’re more than balanced out by people who are genuinely talented and intellectually adept (once you correct for a certain level of leftist bias, of course).  Harvard seems to squash the life out of any genuine talent that arrives on its doorstep–at least in my field (can’t speak to the hard sciences/medicine). 

    It’s turned me into a reverse snob–as soon as I hear one of these clowns trumpet “I’m from Hahhhhhvahd” I’m incapable of taking anything they say seriously. 

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