Susan Patton’s letter to The Daily Princetonian attracted nationwide attention for advocating husband-hunting in college. Patton wrote to Princeton undergraduate females because she felt college women dismiss the opportunity to find their intellectual equals.
Though Patton speaks to a Princeton audience, the “Mrs. Degree” is not limited to one school. Whether or not Boston College undergrad females are looking for husbands, the Alumni Association says 14,960 of 170,000, or 8.8%, BC alumni reported marrying other BC students.
As a recent BC graduate, Molly McCarthy (LSOE ’12) has started dating outside of the community and thinks Susan Patton raises a good point about intellectual matches.
McCarthy said, “I have started dating non-Eagles for the first time since my high school days. I have noticed that Susan Patton may be onto something. I’m not trying to suggest that I am going to become a ‘crazy cat lady’ because I didn’t find my Prince Charming at Boston College, but there is definitely an appeal to the intelligence [at BC]. I think Susan Patton had some good points, being surrounded by over 4,000 eligible bachelors is an opportunity to meet someone great, and maybe even your Prince Charming.”
While McCarthy agrees with Patton, Theology Professor John McDargh pointed out the haughtiness in Patton’s intelligence argument.
“The first thing that struck me was the tone of privilege, and class superiority that permeated this ‘advice.’ It seems to boil down to ‘You will never find a more dense population of males that are as ‘smart’ as you, so you better grab one now because those poor suckers out there who you may run into in your next job or professional situation will clearly be inferior men from inferior colleges.”
McDargh pointed out that Patton never acknowledged other types of intelligence.
“Smart is too undifferentiated and imprecise a term. In the author’s usage it actually means nothing more than ‘able to get admitted to Princeton.’ That could mean anything from his daddy was an alumnus wealthy enough to compensate for your mediocre grades at Choate to he got perfect scores on all his SAT tests.
Perhaps the young man you will meet a year after graduation at your entry level position on Wall Street who went to U. Mass Amherst has more emotional intelligence, is more imaginative, creative and resourceful than the handsome eating club Princeton man you will try to seduce at the next mixer because this well-intended but misguided alumna convinced you to desperately grab for the goodies before you were exiled to the world beyond the golden gates of Princeton.”
English Professor Thomas Kaplan-Maxfield added that there is too much pressure on finding 'the one.' He said, “First, don't go looking for a mate; that puts too much pressure on the process. It's fine to want to find someone to love, but if you're always focused on finding a mate, every connection you make you'll be cynically wondering if this is 'the one,' putting your time spent with another person in terms of investments, etc.”
Kaplan-Maxfield continued by saying people need to look for their equals, but not in an academic sense. “Do look for your equal, and look for someone who helps you get educated in love. The mother is not wrong to connect love with academia, as we know. Her problem is that she literalizes it: in fact, you can get your education anywhere in love--even in something as mundane as the use of language. We need, for example, to learn that when we say the term 'deal breaker' that we are using the language of business, and so should expect the results that ensue--love as an investment that we are looking to profit from.”
Professor Kerry Cronin, known for her talks about dating and the hookup culture, thought students should be concerned more with development than finding a husband.
Cronin said, “You have a lot of opportunities now, but you're not taking those opportunities. The reason you're not taking those opportunities is not because you don't want them. It's because you're not ready for a husband. That's what I always say: you're not ready for a husband, you just need a date. You just need to go get some coffee. What would be really great to do in college, because you have all these great people around you, is to learn how to be courageous.
“I think colleges and universities should do things to help especially at a university where we talk about well-rounded education. I always say to students, "I think as far as the helping people become men and women for others we've got the 'for others' part down pretty well. It's the becoming a man or a woman thing we're not quite helpful with yet."