Just who is the audience for Princeton Mom’s college-girl advice?

“Princeton Mom’s” advice for college women
Nassau Hall at Princeton University; alum Susan Patton, the “Princeton Mom,” advises marriage-minded women students to spend 75% of their time on campus looking for a suitable spouse.
(Mel Evans / Associated Press)

Ladies, gals, chicks, dames -- don’t get too worked up over the advice being dispensed by the “Princeton Mom.”

Susan Patton’s latest finger-wagging message to her fellow ladies of the Ivy League is in a book -- of course there’s a book -- called “Marry Smart.”

You will never, she tells you, be as young, attractive or fertile as you are in college. In fact, before you even get to college, consider cosmetic surgery, because “you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.… Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”

Women students, she argues (at least she doesn’t call them coeds) should spend 75% of their time looking for a husband, which is silly on the face of it, because if they spend 75% of their time trolling for spousal material, they’ll flunk out of the choice Hubby Hunting Grounds.

She claims to be offering advice that “nobody is telling you,” but of course women have heard variants of this for centuries: act ladylike, take an interest in what interests him, stay youthful looking so he won’t go wandering off.

Blogger Charlotte Allen endorsed the point in her blog post here.

College women are, as “Princeton Mom” says, smart -- smart enough to know when to shrug off suggestions that don’t help them to lead the lives they want.

“Princeton Mom’s” advice itself shrugs off many realities of college women’s lives now.

  • Unlike some of their grandmamas, marriage is not why they’re going to college -- even colleges like Princeton, that didn’t even admit women until those crazy 1960s ruined everything that was fine and orderly about American society.
  • The kind of networking that Princeton Mom extols doesn’t end at graduation. It’s part of the appeal of such colleges that the “Princeton Man” and his alumni ilk, male and female, are Princetonians forever.
  • Equal education doesn’t guarantee a desirable marriage. In 2012, almost 40% of women with college degrees married men without one. That number’s probably lower for Ivy League women, but it bespeaks a liberation from women’s mandate to marry equal or marry up.
  • Women don’t have to marry at all. They can have children without marriage, professional status without marriage, income without marriage.

The English writer and critic Samuel Johnson minted that phrase, “Marry in haste, repent at leisure.”  He married at 25, to a widow of 46, and mourned her passionately when she died 16 years later.
I’ll give Princeton Mom the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she just wants you to hurry up and get your first divorce out of the way, before it’s too late.


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