Laura Donovan
February 18, 2014 5:00 pm

I graduated from a well-known university out West, and so did my significant other, who also has a J.D. and Master’s degree. But this means nothing to Susan Patton, the Princeton alum who believes women are screwed if they don’t meet a guy at their college. By this logic, Michelle Obama is a total failure. She may have ended up with a future president (and wonderful father figure, which is more important), but she and Barack Obama weren’t acquainted during their student days, so they shouldn’t have wasted their time on each other.

As some of you already know, Susan Patton, aka Princeton Mom, made headlines last spring for publishing an op-ed in the Daily Princetonian about why she regretted not marrying someone from her celebrated alma mater. Patton is divorced, and the guy she tied the knot with “went to a school of almost no name recognition” and was therefore a terrible spouse choice. Never mind that this is the father of her children she publicly shamed. She should have known better than to procreate with him in the first place. She admitted she wasn’t thinking of her ex when she wrote her piece on Princeton men, but was instead considering the advice she’d give to daughters if she’d had any. She would have told them to cling to Princeton fellows, as “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. And not just the men you marry, but the friends you keep. My husband was not a Princetonian, but my best friend is.”

Though many were outraged by Patton’s article last year, the hype surrounding her backwards arguments had died until February 13, when she wrote about “A Little Valentine’s Day Straight Talk” for the Wall Street Journal reiterating her standards for picking a life partner:

If Patton thinks college men are the best prospects out there, she clearly hasn’t set foot on a campus in a while. Though she urges us to “[s]tart looking early and stop wasting time dating men who aren’t good for [them]: bad boys, crazy guys and married men,” she doesn’t realize how immature university-aged dudes can be. This is one of the reasons I’m glad I never dated anyone seriously in college. Guys in college aren’t encouraged to be their highest selves or find ladies with whom to settle down. They’re pushed to “live it up” and embrace youth because graduation means full-time slavery to The Man or something like that.

The reality is most men ages 18-23 just don’t have marriage on the mind, and that’s OK. In case Patton hasn’t noticed, we don’t live in a culture that forces marriage on young twenty-somethings anymore. What’s not OK is Patton mocking college girls for spending Valentine’s Day alone and daring to think about how they’re going to pay their bills more than how they’re going to get someone to marry them.

I don’t believe in Twitter harassment, but I do think it’s worth noting that Patton had no answer for me when I asked why my relationship is less valuable than that of two college sweethearts. We’re well-educated, career-minded folks, yet Patton only cares about couples that met in overpriced dorms, cafeterias that nurse dozens of hangovers a week and overcrowded classrooms many students don’t even care to be in. Patton can’t explain why the man you met at work, on a dating site or anywhere besides your college campus is unworthy, but she will tell you that you settled for the wrong person just like she did.

When I read Patton’s Daily Princetonian article last year, my big takeaway was that her life was full of regret, and this was sad to me. She’d just ended her marriage and perhaps felt her life would have turned out much differently had she given someone at Princeton a shot. Patton has more than a few years on me, but even I know it’s not that simple. Marrying the “right guy” doesn’t guarantee a good life for anyone, and who is to say he is a fellow classmate anyway? It’s heartbreaking that Patton feels things didn’t come together for her, but that’s no reason to pressure today’s young women to think about marriage in their late teens and early twenties.

Besides, many women finish school without rings on their fingers or relationships to brag about. Patton says this isn’t the end of the world, as “there’s always graduate school.” Yeah, but there’s also the real world, the workforce, online dating, mutual friends, the occasionally positive bar scene, etc. You’re not in trouble if The One isn’t on your college campus. You’re in trouble if, like Patton, you have narrow expectations on how to meet the right person, and you’re more likely to wind up alone like her if you stick to them.

What are your thoughts on the Princeton Mom buzz? Share in the comments section.

Feature image via ShutterStock.

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