Author Sean-Michael Green is currently living the dream of thousands of high school seniors — he is spending a year at not one, but all eight Ivy League schools.
Green is researching the Ivies for his new book, tentatively titled “What I Learned in College: A Year with the Ivy League.” He has already visited Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth, and he will be at Yale from Nov. 15 until the end of the semester. During these visits Green said he is interviewing students and following them in their daily activities.
One of the reasons Green chose to write about Ivy League schools is the abundance of myths and stereotypes surrounding them, he said.
“I want to, if not dispel, at least acknowledge the stereotypes that all students come from wealthy families that paid to get them in, that they would never have any kind of party, and that they’re all arrogant and full of themselves,” Green said.
Green plans to see as many aspects of Yale student life as possible. He said he hopes to live with students in their dorm rooms or off-campus apartments, go to parties with them and attend some classes.
“It’s always been hard because the book relies on the help of students,” Green said. “If someone says, ‘there’s a party tonight,’ I would never just show up. The only way I’ll do things is if someone takes me by the hand and brings me somewhere.”
Yale is the first of the “heavyweight” Ivies that Green has visited, he said. Green said he predicts that Yale students will reflect the higher level of prestige.
“I expect the students here to be different somehow, more accomplished, smarter, something,” he said.
But Green is not only interested in student life. He said he also hopes to learn more about New Haven because most of the stereotypes he has heard about Yale are not about the college itself but about its city.
“The first thing I saw when I got out of my car today was two homeless people fighting over who would ask me for money,” Green said.
Reactions from students at Cornell, Brown and Dartmouth have been mixed, Green said, but students were mostly warm. Green said Brown students were the least helpful and that he enjoyed his experience at Dartmouth so much that after his tour he is considering moving to Hanover.
While Green’s experiences at the three Ivies have varied, he said that so far, the stereotypes he expected to prove wrong were often correct.
“At Brown, for example, I expected everyone to be really liberal and crunchy,” he said. “Walking across campus, that’s exactly what I saw. It was like a caricature of itself.”
Green said he is a “fan” of Ivy League schools even though when he was a teenager he chose to drop out of high school and join the Marine Corps. After leaving active duty, he went to community college before transferring to the University of Pittsburgh. Green went on to earn graduate degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, Cornell and Columbia.
The book is aimed at a variety of audiences, Green said, but he hopes that overall the book will elicit laughs.
“It’s meant for people who went to these schools, to give them a sense of nostalgia,” he said. “But it’s also for people who want to go, to add some color to the college guides, and for people with no connection at all to the Ivies. If nothing else, I want the book to be funny.”
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