An Open Letter to My 18-Year-Old Self

The following was sent to us from a recent graduate . . . 

Listen up, 18-year-old-me, I’m about to save you a lot of time and confusion, so pay attention. Georgetown is a great university, but you should know what you’re getting yourself into for the next four years.  

1.  You will hear endless statistics during your years on the Hilltop. Some of them are true, and some are manipulated to serve pre-existing agendas (learn to tell the difference). The only stat you really need to know, though, can be found in a book called Excellent Sheep by Yale professor William Deresiewicz. 

He writes . . . 

In 1971, 73 percent of incoming freshmen said that it is essential or very important to develop a ‘meaningful philosophy of life’ [and] 37 percent to be ‘very well-off financially.’ By 2011, the numbers were almost reversed, 47 percent and 80 percent, respectively. For well over thirty years we’ve been loudly announcing that happiness is money, with a side order of fame. [1]

This development is hugely important and has fundamentally changed the American university experience. More on the shift to vocational campuses later…

2.  At first you will be receptive to feminism. Get away from that victim-worshipping ideology as fast as possible. Keep in mind that women make up 55% of Georgetown’s student body. These people claim to be an oppressed majority while walking around an elite school in the capital of the richest nation on earth. 

Ironically, feminists are often openly racist and sexist. Just like the bigots they claim to abhor, social justice warriors project their insecurities onto others and make hateful blanket statements about how all “straight-white-males” act. Behind the smoke screen of progressivism and ‘equality’ is a nasty and close-minded ideology that craves control over campus culture and dialogue. Hang out with people who are actually happy and don’t use sexual hang-ups as an excuse to grab power and stifle legitimate debate.

3.  Clubs. You are in for a surprise here. Remember that convenience store you bought a Cliff bar at before your campus tour? The girl who rung you up is quite literally one of the most elite cashiers in the world. That girl was one of the 16.4% of applicants who got into Georgetown, and THEN was one of the (less than 10%) who made it into the Corp. [2]

She must be truly excellent at bagging groceries. 

Look, clubs are great for people who legitimately are passionate about certain extracurricular activities, and you will find some very fulfilling activities outside of the classroom at Georgetown. HOWEVER, the role that clubs play in the Georgetown social scene is over the top. Clubs are co-ed fraternities that carry all the same drama, exclusivity, and nonsense that Georgetown sought to avoid when it banned frats in the first place. 

4.  Back to Excellent Sheep. Deresiewicz decries the death of the ‘passionate weirdo’ on American campuses. Students bow to their parents and the institution’s demands to obsess over resumes and careers.

He writes, “Students simply don’t have time for headlong immersion [into individual enrichment.] The frenzy of extracurricular activities has expanded to fill the available space, displacing intellectual pursuits as the focus of student energy.” [3]

You will have a highly regarded professor tell you Senior year that clubs are a waste of time and are ruining the University. This woman went to Princeton in the 1970s and spent her time there studying physics at a very high level. If you’re curious, Georgetown alumni Carroll Quigley also has a lot to say about the decline of true intellectualism on campus. 

5.  Imposing rat-race values on kids before they are finished with puberty is producing a shallow and materialistic generation that has anxiety problems. I am not Holden Caulfield calling everyone “phony” by the way. I had good friends in college and got a great job, but the numbers speak for themselves. The American Freshman Survey polled 153,000 (!) students in 2014. It found that emotional health on campus is at “the lowest rate since the survey began measuring self-ratings of emotional health in 1985.” [4] 

Indeed, “more than half of college students said they have experienced ‘overwhelming anxiety’ in the last year . . . and 32 percent say they have felt so depressed ‘that it was difficult to function.’” [5]

People often told me that CAPS was overwhelmed, and I now understand why. The mental health crisis, by the way, is a national embarrassment. It means the system is totally failing at its job to educate kids and give them a solid foundation for the future. I say to DeGoia: less building and hobnobbing with Washington’s elite, and more time making sure you are turning out good human beings. 

6.  We live at a time of increased income disparity (the 1% vs 99%, etc.). People predicted this would happen as far back as the 1960s. Technology and outsourcing jobs overseas has wiped out millions of middle-class jobs. The division in this country is not men versus women, white versus black, or cis-gendered versus trans. It is between the 1% (really, .01%) ownership class and everyone else. 

Study history: there is friction between elites and the masses in every society. Georgetown, by the way, is the 1%. Half of its graduates go straight into finance (especially investment banking and consulting.) Many others go into government or the intelligence services. The irony of seeing kids go to an elite school and then straight to working for big banks/the government, all the while claiming to stand up for the oppressed is endlessly amusing. 

7.  This doesn’t specifically concern Georgetown, but the idea of college as the "best and freest time of your life" is misleading. Nationally, you have a 70% chance of graduating in debt.

At Georgetown, you are told where to live for the first three years while they have minions patrol the dorm hallways. Your movement around the city is also severely limited – you aren’t allowed to have a car and access to the metro is limited.

Face it: you’re under strict control until you get your own place. 

Sure 18-year olds should have some restrictions on their freedom in exchange for a safe environment where they can make mistakes and grow. However, just understand that having time to party and socialize (to pursue the mythic "classic college experience" we grew up watching in the movies) does not a free man make.

Freedom actually comes from taking on responsibility and working hard. It comes from owning your own stuff, supporting yourself, and making your own schedule. Then you develop a solid sense of self-esteem and the knowledge that you are a person who contributes to society and can make things happen. 

8.  Macklemore’s music will significantly decline by the end of your college experience. He is preachy and not actually very good. 



[1] Excellent Sheep, 79
[3] Excellent Sheep, 14