THE BLOG
03/10/2013 12:15 pm ET Updated May 10, 2013

How to (Not) Be a Harvard Prick

My roommate and I went to club, and, since she is a beautiful girl, a guy approached her. The first thing he asked? "Is that your natural hair color?" (She has blond hair). When she answered yes and asked what he did in life, he simply said, "I go to Harvard Law School; is that good enough for you?" A quick note to the guy: with that idiotic statement, you lost my roommate's interest in conversing with you. (An aside: she is interested in another guy who is probably a million times more humble, more well-rounded and more interesting than you.)

I have been at Harvard for over six years, and while I have met a number of inspiring and humble individuals, I have also come across too many conceited students who use the Harvard name as if it embodied their entire identity. They use Harvard as if it were their public relations agent.

A quick note to Harvard students and to those from other prestigious universities -- first, do not let your alma matter speak for you. When you do, you run the risk of coming across as a pompous individual who thinks going to school X is the ultimate indicator of success. You also run the risk of being labeled as an uninterested person who does not have anything to him/her other than the affiliation with the university. Sure, many of us who go or have gone to prestigious universities have also accomplished much, but we are also so much more than that. Don't reduce our identities to our affiliations to the universities we attend.

Second, when you make statements such as, "I go to Harvard; is that good enough for you?" you perpetuate the stereotype of the Ivy Prick and make the rest of us and our school look bad. Harvard -- and the other Ivy's -- are so much more than a stamp on your resume. Please do not degrade the experience of attending Harvard by using it as a tool to get a girlfriend (or boyfriend) or a one-night stand.

Finally, when you use the Harvard or School X name as an indicator of success, you are assuming everyone measures success by the university you attended or by the things you have achieved. My roommate measures success differently. In fact, she later said, "How insulting to have someone ask you whether going to Harvard is good enough! How shallow does he think I am?!" In other words, by making such statements, you are not only making yourself look bad, but you are insulting your potential date.

Suggestions on alternative ways to approach someone:

• Hey, sorry to be so random, but I really like your hair. Do you do anything with it?
• You're a really good dancer. Would you mind dancing with me?
• I'm not sure whether you are with someone, but if you are not, may I buy you a drink?

This seems like common sense, no? Yet, the art of getting someone else's attention escapes so many students who let themselves be defined by their work or by their universities. Please start defining yourselves by something more interesting.

As an aside, if someone tells me, "I go to X Law School; is that good enough for you?" my response would be the following: "Actually, I think the criminal justice system is inherently racist, LGBT-phobic, and misogynistic. You just lost ten points. Tell me why you chose to go to law school." Depending on the answer, I might regain interest in the person.

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