What, Me Privileged? Diverse Prep-Schoolers Face Same Elitist Stigma

al castiel

Political Correctness Week continues with this essay from a college student who addresses the changing notion of privilege, and the same old stigma of a private education.

* * *

These days a prep-school education is something that is met with hostility by the general public — especially one’s fellow college students. Even though I currently attend a private university in New England with rowing, sailing, and squash teams, my friends and I that were privately educated often have to dance around the question or give a vague answer when asked, “Where did you go to high school?” We are often made to feel guilty of where we went to school, as if a private education was akin to wearing a sign on your back proclaiming you are an elitist. Furthermore, it seems as though whenever people hear that you went to a prep school, they automatically deduce that you were born with a silver spoon in your mouth, an “entitled WASP,” so to speak.

This is false, however, as several of my friends attended prep school on scholarship, are of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds.

For example, my Choate-educated friend who wears Lacoste shirts and khakis every day like he was born in them, is Indian. Another friend of mine who attended New York’s prestigious Regis High School is an African-American from South Brooklyn, while another, who attended St. Paul’s, is of Filipino descent. Additionally, my father’s Jesuit preparatory education was financed by my immigrant grandparents, who had to work overtime in factories and New York City subway terminals in order to afford it.

In an era where people tend to lash out at others over the slightest disagreement, and are quick to call others a slew of insults (at least for my generation), I would say that specifically PC culture’s concept of privilege needs to change. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard the term “white privilege” thrown around, when in fact privilege has no color: it’s simply a matter of socioeconomic status. Many impoverished, uneducated whites in rural areas can attest to that.

For example, I attended prep school with the daughter of a Yale-educated African-American physician who drove an Alfa Romeo, was a member of a country club, and was in a social circle of traditional WASPs and other well-to-do African-Americans. Similarly, every day at school I see Chinese and Saudi Arabian students driving to campus in Maseratis, Porsches, Audi R8s, and even Bentleys.

I would also argue that privilege manifests in different ways. Yet if one were to ask, “Would someone who received a scholarship to a college preparatory institution or was a minority still receive judgment?” the answer is yes. Regardless of being a less-fortunate minority or not, the stigma of elite schools still exists among the general public. And yes, the students would still be labeled pretentious or elitist, regardless of their socioeconomic status or racial background.

In today’s world, it appears that academic merit — and good fortune — isn’t politically correct. — ALBERTO CASTIEL III

Al Castiel previously appeared on Ivy Style with his school paper on The Andover Shop and J. Press. He runs the site Regattas & Repp Ties. He is half-Cuban and half-Dominican, via Spanish Jews on his father’s side. 

48 Comments on "What, Me Privileged? Diverse Prep-Schoolers Face Same Elitist Stigma"

  1. So I can’t say that there’s anything disagreeable or inherently wrong in this essay: our friend here is telling us about his own experiences, and I have no reason not to believe him.

    Methinks, however, he doth protest too much in places: many who complain of being made to feel guilty about their “prep school” background are the ones who really, really want you to know, subtly or less so, that they went to a “prep school”. (as a Jesuit-educated person myself, I challenge anyone to find an alum who thinks of his school as a “prep school”, and that includes those that even have ‘Prep’ in the title.)

    I do appreciate his comments on race vs socioeconomics, however. And I think there’s a generational issue here: I’d guess that many of the old heads like myself on this blog didn’t have too many Indian guys, or Cuban guys, etc. in our classes.

    Which may be why I’ve felt dissatisfaction with myself (shame?) when I looked at our old buddy Fred Castleberry and thought, “this guy looks awfully ethnic to be trying to explain to me what ‘preppy’ is or isn’t.”

  2. PS: i) the author’s jacket, shirt & tie are both stylish and (refreshingly) subtle; and ii) the shot looks like it was taken in the NYU library – can he confirm?

  3. Look for a video called: “‘Mad Men’ Creator Matthew Weiner: WASP Is Aspiration for Most Americans.”

    He posits that you don’t have to be white to be or aspire to be a “WASP.” And everybody, no matter how much they may try and hide it, aspires to that lifestyle to some extent.

    Even though we all know you don’t necessarily need to be “white” to have white privilege, and not all Caucasians have said privilege, the archetype is still that image of a Don Draper/Patrick Bateman with the pockets of Kenneth Chenault; no matter the country.

    Thomas Sowell once claimed that Ivy League schools are less diverse than they ever were, because they are admitting more and more minorities who have “privileged” backgrounds and on the inside, think and act like “WASPs” (he didn’t use that specific terminology), and ignoring “real” minorities (black AND whites) from less privileged backgrounds.

    Fact remains: even if you think you come from a less-privileged background, going to a school like Horace Mann or Choate can really shape your mind in a clandestine way, and you will act/behave very differently afterwards than you would if you never went to those schools in the first place. It doesn’t matter that you needed a scholarship to attend in the first place. Why do you think your parents worked overtime to send you to private school? To mold your mind to think/act (and hopefully sound) like William F. Buckley and accrue the social benefits that come with that “facade.”

  4. I don’t really get your point. If folks associate prep school with WASPS, then why would you need to hide the fact that you, as a Latino Jew, went to a prep school. Surely, you would delight in challenging their assumptions with your background.

    If, on the other hand, you’re arguing that a prep school education should not be viewed as a signifier of economic privilege, you’re only fooling yourself. Prep schools (like Choate, not run of the mill Catholic schools), are notoriously expensive. If you are, in fact, of modest economic means and went to a high profile prep school on scholarship, just say that. Otherwise, it is reasonable for others to assume that going to a school that costs $54,450 a year implies you come from an economically privileged background.

  5. The author makes three central claims:
    1. Not all those who attend prep schools are rich WASPS.
    2. Attending a prep school doesn’t necessarily make one an elitist.
    3. The privilege and stigma of prep-school education extends beyond race.

    I’m not sure what there is to disagree with.

  6. I have been reading along this week and I will admit, I am struggling with how I feel about whether the way I dress portrays some level of political incorrectness. PC came about (I thought) because sensitivity towards groups of people that had been persecuted, oppressed, forgotten, or marginalized became something we cared about. What group is offended by trad/preppy clothes? I feel like we are more worried about offending the individual, as opposed to a group, and because you never know who that individual might be, we have to worry about whether we are offending anyone or everyone. Are individuals offended by prep school backgrounds because they don’t feel the same opportunities were given to them? I went to public high school but was in youth orchestras in Cambridge/Boston with so many students in area private/boarding schools I could probably write a guide. I would NEVER make any of them feel bad about that, that’s not how I was raised to treat people. My friendships with them helped me learn about them, their backgrounds, and their schools. Some of them would have traded with me in an instant. Friends from different backgrounds help you become a better person…that’s something we all hear, but do we only mean when their backgrounds make you feel humbled/guilty about your own? Honestly, maybe its just easier for disgruntled individuals to give the prep school/elitist community a hard time because if we look too closely at them as individuals, we might realize that the privilege we are condemning isn’t really even there and it doesn’t necessarily guarantee success or happiness. Maybe you’re born with it, maybe it’s Maybelline. I have learned and am still learning that being offended by other people’s perceived privilege doesn’t get you closer to success, unless you can sue, and last time I checked, you can’t sue someone for dressing well 😉

  7. How about this for a bit of subrosa. “Where did you go to high school?” Answer insert name of town school is located.

    Follow Nick’s example “I graduated from New Haven in 1915….”

  8. William Richardson | October 15, 2015 at 1:10 pm |


    I think I love you.


  9. @JDD

    It’s not so much that I disagree with any of those points. I just don’t see the point of this article. Going to a prep school doesn’t make you an elitist, but it does signify economic privilege. I guess my question is, why are people trying to hide a signifier of economic privilege? And what’s wrong with being an elitist? And what do you even mean by elitist? Do you mean rich? Do you mean white? Do you mean PC, government-loving liberal (as right wing “populists” use the term “elitist”).

  10. @L-feld

    Quote: “Going to a prep school doesn’t make you an elitist, but it does signify economic privilege.”

    I think missed the point of this piece. Attending a prep school — and then a fancy college — when you’re smart but poor and went on scholarship is hardly economic privilege. But it’s still privilege, in the sense of being blessed, fortunate or just plain lucky.

    Think of the movie “School Ties.”

  11. @Christian –
    Then why not just say “I went on scholarship.” It’s a reasonable, but rebuttable, presumption that someone who went to a prep school costing $54,450 comes from a economic privilege. The vast majority of St. Grottlesex students are paying customers, are they not?

    But my central question was beyond that. What is the author trying to get at by complaining about his perception at BU as a prep school alum? Why is he embarrassed to tell people that he went to a prep school? What assumptions does he think people make about him? Simply that his parents were rich? That he’s an “elitist?” (a term which we still haven’t defined) That he got into BU by way of his parents wallet rather than his own merit?

    The author appears to be railing against some sort of element he feels is oppressing him, but I don’t really understand what he is complaining about. What harm does he suffer by having other students think he’s rich? When he tells them he went on scholarship, do they not believe him? Are some students accusing him of secretly being white?

  12. Peter Lista | October 15, 2015 at 2:16 pm |

    There is something to be said for being reflexive, an area in which Ivy-Style’s “PC Week” is severely lacking. Institutional racism, sexism, and, to a large extent, an embedded, immobile socio-economic class system are all realities in American society. Fashion is no exception.

    Over the past decade of New York Fashion Week shows, people of color (POC) made up less than 10% of runway models. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) Award for Menswear was last won by a POC in 2014 (Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne), and that was a decade after the first POC, Sean Combs, won the award in 2004. And among fashion industry retail companies in the Fortune 500, only 1.7% have female CEOs (half of the already dismal 3.4% average). All of this in addition to the systematic devaluing of POC culture, and fashions, in America for decades. The 1943 Zoot Suit Riots, for example, were the direct result of a legacy of discrimination against Hispanic and black youth and the devaluing of Hispanic and black fashions.

    And still, Ivy-Style decided it needed to have a “PC Week” to remind us that not all white people are racist (or sexist, or classist). Completely unnecessary. No one is scoffing at our repp ties or Brooks Brothers sack suits because they represent upper-class white culture. And, to critique an earlier post, no one is suggesting that wearing “moc toed” shoes subjugates Native Americans. POC are too busy worrying about being unfairly targeted by police or being subject to discriminatory labor practices.

    To “check your privilege” is simply a call to be reflexive and to pay attention to the structured inequalities in American society. Let’s not pretend this weeks posts are anything more than the whines of a privileged few.

  13. @L-feld

    I went to a college with a lot of prep school kids, and from my experience absolutely none of them were ashamed of it. The sort of person that says “I go to school at Cambridge” is the sort of humble braggart that wants you to spend more than a few seconds of mental effort really absorbing the fact that he attends Harvard.

    I think Paul (above) put it right when he said those sort of people are the ones who really really want you to know they are “better than you.”

    The point I was trying to make was one about “overall privilege,” because, despite what you choose to believe, not everyone who matriculated, attends, or will enroll at [insert privileged school] is a millionaire. Most of them are in fact broke/aspiring artists after the fact. I was trying to draw on “privilege” in general. The privilege of being taught at one of the most selective prep schools, colleges, masters programs, etc. Even if you won the lottery and get to attend Columbia Prep for free, or Harvard, free, don’t you think you are “lucky” (or dare I say, “privileged?”) to absorb that sub-culture? The kind of privilege that means: 60% of your graduating class goes to the Ivy League. The sort of privilege that means: you learn economics from Nobel Laureates. The sort of privilege that means: you study English in the same halls Faulkner taught, or you attend 200 yr old social events, or even learn how to tie a bow tie while you are there (most Americans don’t know how to tie one). THAT is privilege. Get in the program, anyway you can.

    But I admit I am being slightly vague about my definition of privilege. Most people associate the stereotype of privilege with New England WASPs (rich, but aren’t necessarily millionaires) as opposed to West Coast surfer-dudes (who might actually be millionaires).

    New money vs. Old money. New money does not mean you are “privileged.” Old money does not mean you are a millionaire.

  14. Precisely, Peter: PC trivializes the real struggles.

  15. Peter Lista | October 15, 2015 at 2:35 pm |


    And yet this “PC Week” series misses the very point that the PC crowd is trying to accomplish. To quote a NYT article from 2010, “Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit.” In effect, the clothing choices we make, the fashions we embody, are methods of differentiation — ways of creating difference between “us” and “them.” So, whether we intend to or not, we are constantly recreating social inequalities and reifying the social structures that allow those “real struggles” persist. You simply cannot disconnect discriminatory institutions from a discriminatory culture, they are two sides of the same proverbial coin.

  16. “So, whether we intend to or not, we are constantly recreating social inequalities and reifying the social structures that allow those “real struggles” persist.”

    I think you give yourself too much credit here.

  17. Peter Lista | October 15, 2015 at 2:43 pm |


    Perhaps, but my comments are in dialogue with a large literature within the social sciences and economics.

  18. @Chewco –

    I’m not arguing that there is something inherently bad about going to a prep school. It sounds like a great experience to be taught by Nobel Laureates.

    My point is that you seem to be arguing against a straw man. I find it hard to believe that students at a school like BU attach any stigma to having been taught by Nobel Laureates. (On the other hand, I find it easy to believe that students at, for example, Liberty University might). It doesn’t sounds like the author is challenging any anti-intellectual stigmas and we’ve already established that he is not coming under attack for being rich.

    Once again we’re left with this nebulous idea that prep school students are stigmatized as “elitists,” a word which nobody can even define and, in my experience, is used by people like Glenn Beck, not liberal students at Northeastern colleges.

    I am still not seeing any sort of concrete harm done to prep school students by virtue of their backgrounds. Is there some form of academic affirmative action happening these days whereby public school students gain priority in college admissions?

    Does anyone want to argue that there is discrimination against prep school alum? Are certain employers refusing to hire them? Are there restaurants in which they cannot eat?

  19. @L-feld

    Oh I see the strawman, and I agree with your point. Ok, perhaps I should describe “elite.” I may have some bona fides in establishing a definition here because someone once described the collegiate sport I was affiliated with as “elite” (I am only half joking, unfortunately).

    (1) The establishment/activity has to be somewhat obscure.
    (2) It has to be hard to gain acceptance to or in, or at least perceived as being difficult to attain.
    (3) There must be a sense of fraternity [naturally… after all, look at (1) and (2)].
    (4) Most importantly: there must be an overall sense of awe, respect, admiration, or controversy surrounding its affiliation by non-affiliates but not necessarily by affiliates themselves.

    IMHO, you have to satisfy all (4) criteria to be regarded as “elite.”

    So, to answer your questions (I hope this does): why would anyone discriminate against a perceived elitist group? Why… the same reason we discriminate against anything exclusionary, alien, or hard to understand, that’s why.

    Plainly: “How come you get to […], and I can’t?”

    If the article purports that prep schoolers are being ostracized for that fact alone – then it is completely false. There is no harm being done to prep school students by virtue of their background; I don’t think so… Although I have been called “pretentious” because I shop at J. Press and not Ex-Press (Express), and it honestly hurt my feelings a liiiittle bit.

  20. I’m usually able to spin my clothing choices as such: I buy small amounts of expensive clothing produced in non-sweatshop factories (many of which are unionized). They are produced in environmentally responsible countries. I buy long-lasting, conservatively styled clothing so that I don’t need to replenish my wardrobe every year, thus reducing waste and environmental harm. I buy clothing from thrift stores to supplement, which supports charities and further reduces waste.

    This isn’t exclusive to the preppy way of dressing and might not be true if your wardrobe consists entirely of PRL, but there is a sense in which shopping at J. Press can be a lot more PC than shopping at Express. Even better if you shop at a locally owned store like O’Connell’s, Andover Shop or Eddie Jacobs.

  21. @L-feld:

    Oh I completely agree. Tweeds spun from live lamb is a technically a lot more sustainable than polyester jackets made in factories from via some chemical process. The material on some of my sweaters literally needed to be gently combed and not sheared in order to obtain. You can’t get any more PC than combing a goat! But alas, the perception is that buying “perishable” clothes every season is the more PC thing to do because it doesn’t fall into my four-pronged definition of elitism (which you are yet to endorse or gainsay).

  22. Isn’t using the term “persons of color” offensive not only to whites as somehow “colorless”, but also non-whites by reinforcing the notion that white is the default in this country? Do you not see the irony that you as a white male feel entitled to speak on behalf of “POCs”? Do you really not see how short a skip it is from the New York Times article to “scoffing at repp ties and sack suits”?

    Funny how some subjective pieces are picked apart and scrutinized for their factual basis, while others stand unexamined, accepted as fact without the merest peep of questioning. Whatever happened to validating others’ experiences, gang? Why are you turning this into an unsafe space for this college student to share his feelings?

    Forget privilege, check your hypocrisy.

  23. I will accept your definition of “elite” but I think there is a difference between that and the stigma of “elitism.” I’m still not seeing much in this article that amounts to much more than a humble brag.

    If the author’s point really is as simple as “not every elite prep school student is wealthy or white,” then it’s not much of a point. It’s easy for him to dispel those myths by saying “I’m not white and I went to school on scholarship.”

    Is he is implying that his colleagues assume he has access to some extra prestige or better education because he went to prep school, well didn’t he?

    Alternately, is he implying that his colleagues assume that he thinks he is better than them because he went to a prep school? If he is trying to dispel that myth, this article isn’t helping.

  24. Peter, with all due respect,culture isn’t as coordinated or structures as your suggesting. All the layers and levels are interrelated in some sinister complex designed to replicated various ‘inequalities’: culture has a big element of chaos, chance, and creativity. The social sciences your referencing make a huge ‘leap of faith’ (intellectual aggression is a better term) in claiming all these concurrences of economic structures and cultural structures (fashion, race, taste) in some almost seamless web. Sometimes people get so caught up in academic jargon and the literature of a field that they mistake it for reality. Society is a lot more complex, open, and rich than your suggesting. It’s a question of balance and certain subcultures in the subculture of the ‘social sciences’ have long since lost touch with that. Of course ‘taste’ (every cultural obviously) reflects ‘strategy and competition’ (tho not in the straight jacketed deterministic way your implying) but that’s just part: a small part tho certain biases amplify it. It’s also about individual choice, creativity, history,ideals, a lot of things: not all determined in a strong way by ‘structured inequality’. Honestly, the social sciences your espousing are like Nietzsche without the humor, insight, or subtlety. It’s like a reflection of the caricature of society found in some of the ‘halls’ of academia today. And to all: sorry for my verbosity.
    I wish I could follow this debate more carefully but I will away from the internet for the remainder of the month.

  25. @L-feld:


    I think he wants to have all the benefits of going to an “elite” institution and not accrue any of the stigmata that comes with it. I guess no matter how privileged one gets, it seldom comes to mind that one simply cannot possess a cake after haven just eaten it.


    I too am vehemently opposed to the phraseology “people of color.” What color?

  26. @DCG –
    I think a lot of folks on here would love for there to be “scoffing at repp ties and sack suits.” The truth is, though, most people don’t care.

    I get the impression that some people are trying to assign more meaning to these clothes than they have in the contemporary context in order to live out some fantasy of being a member of an elite that no longer exists. If they can dig up some imagined resentment, all the better, as it somehow proves to them that others are jealous of their “class.” Reminds me somewhat of the Little Lord Fauntleroy trend of the 1880’s.

  27. Sorry for all the typing mistakes in my post. I’m only uncomfortable with one. The second sentence should read ‘are not interrelated’ not ‘are interrelated’. Anyway, I enjoyed reading everyone’s contributions and ideas on this post.

  28. Also, just to throw in my own anecdotal experience, I’m a lawyer at a large organization. There are about 100 lawyers in my particular office, plus who knows how many additional support staff. To the extent that I get harassed about the way I dress, it’s usually along the lines of “why do you wear a sport jacket every day?” It’s usually from people who wear shorts to the office and are probably afraid that I will somehow cause management to institute a dress code. It’s not “why do you wear sack jackets, or oxford shirts” or whatever. The guy I get the most flak from wears Nantucket red shorts with a Vineyard Vines OCBD nearly every day. He’s also extremely right wing and definitely not part of the PC crowd.

  29. L-field You’re spot on, victimhood is a hot commodity these days, Left Right and otherwise.

  30. Oops *Feld not Field…there’s a religious joke in their somewhere but I ain’t touchin’ it with a ten foot pole.

  31. @DCG – My name is basically one gigantic religious joke. Despite being Jewish and coming from a fully Jewish family, my surname derives from a famous church, itself named in reference to the section of the Sermon on the Mount which asks “Why are you anxious about clothing?”

  32. Vern Trotter | October 15, 2015 at 6:28 pm |

    Any elitist knows to conceal your drink when you are on camera. Hide it behind you if nothing else.

  33. Wright Hall | October 15, 2015 at 7:37 pm |

    “every day at school I see Chinese and Saudi Arabian students driving to campus in Maseratis, Porsches, Audi R8s, and even Bentleys.”

    That’s funny not because of the students’ ethnicities but because it’s so clueless … expensive cars were frowned upon if only because it would have been so rude to one’s teachers who couldn’t necessarily afford cars like that. How would they be feeling about that when you asked them to write you recommendations?

    There were negative feelings about ostentation which may have been part of the reason everybody was driving old Volvos that could not accelerate and left us stranded, and mortifying station wagons, and a huge number of Jeeps, and an ancient green MG my friend had that we’d zoom around in. I do remember an old friend’s silver Spyder, maybe I’d better scratch this post. No, those old sports cars were not egregious, they were cool as hell, but a teen in a Porsche would make anybody hurl invectives. People still talk about one that used to roar down Elm Street and the laughingstock who drove it, although he couldn’t care less, he’s still laughing his way to the bank, actually. The girls were discouraged from wearing any large jewelry, that was one thing that was spelled out in the handbook sent out at the end of the summer. Anyway, in my experience, people of all kinds were always accepted and helped in school, if they were nice, cool people, I think most people really liked their minority classmates, friends and teammates, and people realized it’s pathetic to pick on people for their race or religion, and when people had attitude problems it would come out in class discussions and people would laugh them down, it was great, now we realize it was those kids’ parents who’d fed them a little bigotry toward this or that group. For better or worse I’m stuck with preppies, always have been, most turn out at least as good as the average guy, many better, some worse, I love it when I hang with my old friends and they’ve kept up with their reading and their kids go to the same school and then the same good colleges because everybody’s still a bookworm when it comes down to it, that’s what it was all about, either liking to read or being encouraged to like to read, that and being on a team and competing against the other schools. Which was key, riding the bus to a game and back after a win. If you won because of outstanding play from a gifted minority athlete you were psyched because that raised everybody up, and that minority athlete, say from Jamaica, became a school legend, not a persecuted victim. Some know that the most money-conscious people of all are old-money people who really don’t care that much about new money people and their money but go berserk if old-money people they know get fresh infusions of cash and become richer than them out of nowhere!

  34. @Vern

    What? That sounds prudishly middle class. You know, like keeping the liquor hidden in the kitchen cabinet rather than on full display at the bar. It’s pretty hard to imagine William F. Buckley — or, say, Cary Grant — putting their drink behind their back when someone pulls out a camera!

  35. The thicket of grammatical errors in this “essay” makes for difficult reading and diminishes whatever point the young man is trying to make. Please don’t tell me he is majoring in English.

  36. Thank you @Will Richardson! Wow this discussion has taken some turns!! What struck me as I was reading all of these comments is that our author is in college, not so far removed from high school. I hope that with time, he will not allow anyone to make him and his friends feel guilty about their educational background, because our educational pursuits at any level should be celebrated. Guilt comes from feeling like you have done something wrong, perhaps a family member said one too many “you better be grateful for that fancy school”, or a friend that went to public school didn’t want to hang out anymore. These students either worked hard for a scholarship OR have money by no fault of their own, and they shouldn’t feel like they don’t deserve their education. More than anything else, prep school students probably just encounter a lot of ignorance about who goes to prep schools these days. I understand getting to a point where you tire of educating people constantly about what your experiences actually were. I was in a sorority and have had to educate people about the differences between my experience and whatever movie they believe I acted out in college. Freshmen head off to high school at 14 years old. That is a young age to start having to explain their place in the socioeconomic ladder- especially for those scholarship students.

  37. If you are truly an elitist, you should not be ashamed of being one.. I say enjoy your status young man!!

  38. Roy R. Platt | October 16, 2015 at 12:13 am |


    Some people sometimes do not want to mention the name of the city where they went to high school, see for example this video (which is a segment from a 90 minute documentary) from around 3:30 to 5:00……


  39. PC: the strong conviction that ‘if only everyone lived according to my values and displayed emotional affect about the things I feel warrant it, the world would be acceptable.’

  40. #humblebrag
    A different sort of Ivy style
    (and I am a prep school and Ivy grad)

  41. I can empathize with Alberto. When I had just graduated from Andover I thought this was an issue as well. Talking about going to Andover immediately makes people think I was born with a silver spoon and daddy paid for me to get into whatever school, job, fraternity, activity I happen to be talking about. The fact those perceptions are untrue and an unfair put aside, it’s not the kind of first impression you want to give people (unless you are truly a pompous piece of work, which many commenters here are, to be sure).

    That being said, stigma is too strong a word and I realized after a few years this isn’t really an issue. Many Americans are very proud of and stuck in their anti-wealth and anti-intellectual rhetoric. In many ways, anti-intellectualism especially is politically mainstream or “correct”. This is just another expression of that. But all it is is rhetoric. There’s no real stigma–this isn’t affecting your job prospects or anything like that. It’s just making small talk a little bit awkward.

    By the time you go to graduate school (or enter the work force) people really don’t care about your high school (perhaps outside of the networking opportunities it can give you). I went to grad school in England and people there really could not have cared less. The school didn’t either–there wasn’t even a spot on the application to mention your secondary school.

  42. Today’s society is full of complainers who wish they could be part of the successful. The egalitarian PC culture is finally getting some backlash fortunately.

  43. Hmmm the photo background actually reminds me of the Liberty Hotel, one of my favorite spots 🙂

  44. Vern Trotter | October 16, 2015 at 2:31 pm |

    @ Christian

    Not the same at all. PR people have forever advised folks in the public eye to not pose holding a drink. It is my experience that liquor is mostly hidden in the kitchen cabinet if you have small children about. Witness the open bar at my house once the kids were old enough to know what it is. Nothing to do with class.

    I doubt that WFB or Archie often posed drink in hand. Different, of course, when photos are snapped at events beyond one’s control.


  45. I’m “WASP” went to Phillips and I don’t buy off the rack. So What? My parents were poor and now dead. I inherited no money. My business is not family connected. Married to a Cuban. Society needs to get a life. Meaningless chatter.

  46. Oh gawd, the nuerosis is at a fever pitch: becoming paranormal even. Middle class fastidiousness and aspirational paranoia abound mixed with a wind bag level of self importance. Accessibility by all to the internet’s obstreperous megaphone is undoubtedly a constitutionally inoculated right, but for so many to be frittering it away in such a pendanticly pointless manner….it boggles the mind.

  47. Going to a prep school doesn’t make you an elitist jerk, however, wearing a tie emblazoned with Pheasants (even though I guessing you have neither hunted one nor ever even seen one in the wild) and signing your name with a prominent “III” does.

  48. Hispanic people in this country try to blend in as white. You see this with middle class Hispanics adopting rebel flags and cowboy boots. They just try to align themselves with the whites from whatever class they are in.This guy seems to sort of revel in the idea of trying to convince actual WASPs that he is WASP-y as well. It’s just a language based form of jerking himself off.

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