Susan A. Patton, a 1977 Princeton alumna and one of the first women to attend the university, created a media firestorm last week by urging Princeton girls to lock down a husband while in college. She wrote in the Daily Princetonian,
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. And, you could choose to marry a man who has other things to recommend him besides a soaring intellect. But ultimately, it will frustrate you to be with a man who just isn’t as smart as you.
I sincerely feel that too much focus has been placed on encouraging young women only to achieve professionally. I understand that this can be seen as retrogressive, but for those women who aspire to what used to be thought of as a traditional life with home and family, there is almost no ink addressing personal fulfillment outside of the workplace.
On this point we couldn’t agree more. For both women and men—even the over-achievers among them—happiness is about more than professional fulfillment. Education, especially at a liberal arts college, should prepare students for life as a whole, not simply provide a narrow vocational training program. Universities today offer courses on “How to Watch TV,” or “Zombies in Popular Media,” yet very few provide real guidance on those areas crucial to a meaningful and healthy life. Courses like “How to Become an Outstanding Parent,” or “How to Select an Appropriate Mate” would be unthinkable in the academy today.
Patton’s piece is peppered with a number of bold, potentially offensive assertions, but she deserves some credit for offering advice on an important subject that’s all too often neglected.