Wise Beyond Their Years

Elizabeth Green finds that the Class of 2010 dispenses poorly punctuated, badly spelled pearls of wisdom

“it’s just the feeling on campus that you’re among people who are on average smarter, more involved and cooler than anywhere else.”

—Member of the class of 2010, on what it was like to visit Harvard



A popular thing to do at the end of one’s senior year is to dispense advice. The pastime becomes particularly fashionable pre-frosh weekend, but seems to gather momentum every day after. The basic principle as far as I can tell: having endured the most years of college, seniors are in a unique position to be wise, and they should distribute their wisdom accordingly. If they do this, then the next generation of students will not repeat their mistakes, and the world will be a better place.

Sometimes this principle works. For instance, exactly three years ago, Jacob A. Rubin ’03 published his wisdom under the headline “How to Get Play at Harvard College,” and I profited. “Be direct,” he wrote, and so I was. “Always be willing to pull the trigger,” he wrote, and so I was. “Start every sentence with, ‘My penis feels so...’” he wrote, and soon I was the most popular girl in school.

Of course, my case is exceptional. Senior spring does not always bring the wisdom Rubin demonstrated. To the contrary, it has been known to bring things like medical school rejections, botched job interviews, and Tuesday morning hangovers. I can tell you from personal experience: the last person you want giving you advice is someone who has spent 30 of the past 40 nights shuttling a small laminated index card to senior bar.

I am not the first person to realize this. According to my junior tutorial, the writer Randolph Bourne, who was extremely ugly and died young, totally beat me to the punch. No one has been around longer than old people, Bourne argued; consequently no one has been more systematically indoctrinated. When searching for wisdom, unless you want to become a total tool, there is only one reliable source: youth.

In the last month, as I have struggled not to think about the impending life crisis called Commencement, this realization has taken me closer than I ever thought I would get to the Class of 2010. Which is to say: I have been reading their electronic posts on an online message board for accepted students. The board, provided by the admissions office, is password-protected. Luckily, I have an inside source.

All the following 10 pieces of advice are direct quotes. Read them and grow in wisdom:

1. Enthusiasm Is Attractive.

oh my goodness there are other people out there who love pride and prejudice as much as i do?! i am so excited to meet you guys!!

2. Spend More Time At

The Admissions Office.

Yo, i dont know ‘bout y’all, but all the times i been @ harv, its been DOPE!!!..i’ve been to three parties and Gaaaaaahhhhh Llleeeeeee, i had NO clue crimson peoples got down like that...I even met this hott gurl @ da Admissions Office @ 1 of da parties, so @ first i was like oh snap, but then she pulled me to the dance floor (boyyy she cud boogie) n was like “this is y u shud come here”...i said “Say No More”....n if it eva gets dull, hit me up on the 2way, I’ll get it popping lol

3. Be Assertive.

http://harvard.facebook.com/profile.php?id=[redacted]

Feel free to friend me.

4. Holy Shit!! Kaavya Is

Not The Only One!

On a thread about good books:

i really like Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings by Megan McCafferty...the main character is this smart, cynical, and completely Holden Caulfield-esque girl who is stuck in the suburbs of New Jersey. not so literary, but really entertaining.

5. Know Your Audience.

On the thread “Summary of your prefrosh weekend”:

Here’s the part you’ll be interested in: the A Cappella jam was amazing.

6. Spell Check.

Here’s a list of what I have read recently

1. Invisibly Man by Ralph Ellison

7. Don’t Leave.

If, for any reason, you feel the need to escape Harvard for a few hours (why would you want to do that? I have no idea--this is just hypothetical...:P)…

8. Aim High.

On the thread, “Where do you see yourself in ten years?”:

In ten years time I hope to be doing something to change the world. By that I mean eliminating poverty.

9. But Not Too High.

On the same thread:

Prison.

10. No, But Really: Aim High.

Same thread:

I hope in 10 years to be very, very angry. And by that I mean to still possess the anger I have now- the passion for social justice...Maybe it’s just a youthful dream, but we are all one world. There is no point in winning the whole world at the cost of your soul. Our only legacy is the good we end up doing, an idea I truly believe and hope will motivate me for the rest of my life.

–Elizabeth W. Green was a Social Studies conentrator in Leverett House. She now concentrates on pre-frosh.