Princeton Alum Writes Letter to Student Paper Advising Women ‘Find a Husband on Campus Before You Graduate’

It is fast becoming the letter to end all letters to the editor, provoking such impassioned, outsized interest it may have literally crashed the student newspaper website on which it is housed.

The Daily Princetonian published a letter yesterday from Susan Patton, a Princeton University alumnae who is also the mother of a current Princeton student and a young Princeton alum– both men. Patton’s earnest missive, aimed at Princeton women, presents “what you really need to know that nobody is telling you.”

In the letter, she urges female Princeton students to quickly find a suitable husband from among the university’s undergraduate male population.  Noting “If I had daughters, this is what I would be telling them,” she writes, “For most of you, the cornerstone of your future and happiness will be inextricably linked to the man you marry, and you will never again have this concentration of men who are worthy of you.  Here’s what nobody is telling you: Find a husband on campus before you graduate.”

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Why is she advising Princeton women to grab a hubby with such haste?  Because beyond the school’s Ivy-covered walls, it seems the world is lacking in brainy gentlemen.

“Smart women can’t (shouldn’t) marry men who aren’t at least their intellectual equal,” Patton contends.  “As Princeton women, we have almost priced ourselves out of the market. Simply put, there is a very limited population of men who are as smart or smarter than we are.  And I say again– you will never again be surrounded by this concentration of men who are worthy of you.  Of course, once you graduate, you will meet men who are your intellectual equal– just not that many of them.”

One other nugget for Princeton Tigresses: Don’t date younger.  In Patton’s words: “As freshman women, you have four classes of men to choose from. Every year, you lose the men in the senior class, and you become older than the class of incoming freshman men. So, by the time you are a senior, you basically have only the men in your own class to choose from, and frankly, they now have four classes of women to choose from. Maybe you should have been a little nicer to these guys when you were freshmen?”

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The letter has inspired a bevy of snarky and intense putdowns in the press and oodles of online comments.  The entire Princetonian website is currently down (a temporary site has been started in its stead)– a result of a Patton-inspired traffic surge?

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As Nina Bahadur asks in a Huffington Post piece, “Do you really think Ivy Leaguers are the only smart people out there? . . . Princeton students are smart, but they’re not the smartest people in the world. Not everyone in the world applied to Princeton, and admissions criteria is definitely not just about your ‘smarts’ (I hope).  And let’s not belittle the intelligence of people who, for whatever reason, didn’t make it to college, or maybe even through any formal schooling at all.  It’s a big world.”

For her part, in a follow-up interview, Patton expressed surprise at the letter’s virility, while sticking to her guns about the advice it contains: “I’m astounded by the extreme reaction.  Honestly, I just thought this was some good advice from a Jewish mother. It’s not that I’m anti-feminist. . . . I’m just saying, if as a young [Princeton] woman, you are thinking that you would like to have not just professional success but personal success as part of your life happiness, keep an open mind to the men that you’re surrounded with now.  Because these are the best guys.  You’ll meet wonderful men outside of Princeton, but you’ll never have the numbers in your favor the way you do now.”

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  1. […] Princeton alum wrote to women at the university, urging them to find a husband while they’re there. Oh […]

  2. […] to be found on the Daily Princetonian’s website. Gawker put together a good dissection and College Media Matters did an equally impressive job. Jim Romenesko pointed out what immediately came to my mind — […]



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