Filter Function: in Defense of “Sketchy” Grad Students

Posted by at 11:17PM

GSB admit weekend T-shirts? Too soon?

It’s summertime at Stanford, which means there are more people getting married at MemChu than you can shake a stick at.  The Quad’s colonnades and courtyards are positively bursting with bridesmaids in various pastel shades, and each procession of limos can hardly clear Palm Drive in time for the next nuptial motorcade.

Yes, Stanford students get married.  But most intrinsically to my point, Stanford students often get married to each other.  Not to beat the dead horse of the Contemplation or Action IHUM, but “ay, there’s the rub.”

You see, the Stanford Alumni Association is more than happy to point out to incoming students, current students, even prospective students (who promptly look around their Discover Stanford tour group in a mixture of excitement, apprehension, and horror), that about a fifth of Stanford students end up marrying other Stanford students.  Most of these folks meet their future mates by the end of sophomore year.  So juniors, you’re stuck.  Hope you like the pickings, ’cause that’s it.

Just kidding!  In all seriousness, though, it’s an interesting topic of discussion, one which is usually met with “oh-nos,” “oh-weirds,” or chortles and quick changes of topic.  Why the cold shoulder to intra-Stanford spousing?

So maybe I’ve been watching too much How I Met Your Mother, but the real world of dating outside college looks like it sucks.  From show to show and girl to girl, you suffer with hapless Ted who, despite being an attractive and successful architect, simply cannot seem to land a winner.  Accuse him, if you wish, of “searching for love in all the wrong places,” but quite frankly, what is the right place?  In college we’re blessed with a preponderance of extracurricular activities in which we can meet and enjoy the company of those who share our passions and interests.  When you’ve got a nine to five job, it’s a lot harder to pick up activities just for kicks and funzies.

So what’s the real-world alternative?  Bars.  Where the Barney Stinsons of the world trawl the seas of the single.  In a bar the first impression is appearance.  Boom: hot, not, or eh-why-not.  You’re instantly judged as a piece of meat, and the Barneys don’t care if you love sustainability or saving the pandas – they care if you look, shall we say, appetizing.

This, my friends, is why college serves as an excellent built-in filter function.  So yeah, there are a few folks that seem to have slipped through the cracks of our stringent admissions process, but you just as well as I can look up the stats online.  Even if you get someone in the bottom fifty of the SAT score rankings, you’re still doing just fine, and it’s quite possible Mr. or Miss Perfect is busy curing cancer, building the next generation of electric vehicles, or composing a symphony in  his or her spare time.  Everyone here possesses “intellectual vitality” in some way, shape, or form, and everyone has the shared experiences (or sufferings, depending on your take) of IHUM, PWR, and Stern Dining.  And if money is any object… well, let’s just say that with a Stanford grad you’ll probably be doing just fine.

So I kind of resent it when my friends and acquaintances mock “sketchy grad students looking for wives.”  Well, can you blame them?  This is their last shot at the Stanford filter function, and the approaches of the outside world leave much to be desired.  I think there’s a reason college sweethearts Marshall and Lily are the happiest characters on How I Met Your Mother.  And their love is legen – wait for it! – DARY.

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2 Responses to “Filter Function: in Defense of “Sketchy” Grad Students”

  1. Jill G. says:

    The figure they used to bandy about was 50%. I actually know 4 married couples who are Stanford alums who began dating after graduation. One couple had many mutual friends (myself included) but had never met until they met online (in about 1995 or so). Another friend (’91) met her husband at an alumni function and he was Class of ’79!

    I confess to meeting my husband in business school a few years later. Not a Stanford grad.

  2. JC says:

    Funny, I never had to experience IHUM, PWR, or Stern dining. Yet another SLE win!

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