April 2nd, 2013
10:17 AM ET

Princeton mom's advice for young women: Find a husband in college

By Emily Jane Fox, CNNMoney

New York (CNNMoney) - Susan Patton isn't about "leaning in" or "leaning back." She seems to be leading the discussion about women in a whole different direction.

In a letter titled "Advice for the young women of Princeton" published in the Daily Princetonian last week, the Ivy League alum said the path to happiness lies in their ability to land a husband during their four years at school.

"Find a husband on campus before you graduate," she wrote. The letter went viral, causing the college newspaper's site to crash.

Patton said that men have a broader time frame in which to build a home and a family. Women, on the other hand, have what she called a "shelf life."

"Unlike the men on campus, these women have a time clock," she said in an interview with CNNMoney. That's why she said she wouldn't give the same advice to her two sons, both of whom are Princetonians.

"Women who spend the first 10 years after college... career planning find themselves in their thirties a little panicked,' she said. "From a sheer numbers perspective, the odds will never be as good to be surrounded by all of these extraordinary men."

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soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. miker

    Now I aint sayin she a gold digga...

    April 7, 2013 at 1:14 pm |
  2. Meg Brookman

    The best marriages I know are where the man and woman met in college and married shortly after graduating, if not before. Very often the marriages lasted for decades and the couple and their extended family prospered. I wish I'd been smart enough to do this and I applaud Susan Patton for passing on an excellent tip.

    April 4, 2013 at 9:10 pm |
  3. Bee

    Gracious me. What presumptuous, elitist, busy-bodying tripe. I am shocked that this kind of drivel makes the news, and that CNN decided to give this woman a minute of their time.

    1) An Ivy League university is not the only breeding ground for intelligent, driven people.
    2) My "biological clock" may indeed be ticking, but as a young woman, why on earth should I be given any less of an opportunity to develop my interests and build a career path than a male colleague?
    3) I am baffled by the limited interest group in this argument. CNN is reporting on single, STRAIGHT women at a top American university.
    4) While I agree with her rhetoric that a woman should find a partner who will intellectually challenge her, she undermines this argument by essentially suggesting that a woman should leave University and start having kids rather than focus on pursuing any number of interesting paths.

    Perhaps this idiot should read Susan Sontag's early diaries to get a better idea of what she is rattling on about.

    April 4, 2013 at 11:33 am |
  4. Dee

    People who are beating up on this woman, have you seriously not met anybody approaching 30 (female) with no intelligent prospects in site and panicking at the timeline?

    April 4, 2013 at 8:32 am |
  5. Sarah Santos

    I'm a woman who got a husband at university but it wasn't when I was a college student and in my early 20s. It was in graduate school in my late 20s. I dated in college and had some boyfriends in college but it wasn't that serious and I wasn't ready for marriage and those experiences, in retrospect, were a "practice" and "training" for getting married. At age 28 I went back to school to get a master's degree and a husband and I successfully got both. Dating in grad school was to get married whereas dating in college was just for the sake of dating. At age 28 I knew what I wanted and went out and got it. In college I didn't know what I wanted in a husband and it was a time of exploration and learning about guys and relationships with them. At age 28 I was ready for and wanted the real thing - marriage - and things worked out and I got my master's degree and a husband. My husband was a fellow grad student and we met in class.

    April 3, 2013 at 5:55 am |
  6. HF

    I have a few issues with her opinion. The first part is that if you're an Ivy league female student, then only an Ivy league male student can qualify as being smart enough to be intellectually equal for marriage suggesting that simply because a person didn't attend an Ivy league school they are not smart.

    The second part implies that women should use college to find a partner (which is an antiquated ideal), but then both people are supposed to go on a normal career path until it is time to have a family 10 years down the road. More than likely they wouldn't be married by this point if one of them begins to feel their career is being limited by being tied to the other without having a family.

    The last part I have an issue with is that maybe it points to her poor attempt to find a mate that is intellectually challenging to her that also shares the same interests as she does (which she can only come from an Ivy league alumnus). The whole time clock thing is just another way of objectifying women which is either derived from the aspect that they aren't attractive to men that are equals past a certain age or that they don't have much time to reproduce, both of which are poor views.

    April 3, 2013 at 12:54 am |
  7. Mari

    Whoa, No one's concerned with the actual application of this theoretical advice? What if the men at school are all of the non-marrying type? What if you don't like any of them? And really, choose a man in 4 years when you've just received the privilege to drink legally? That doesn't sound like a recipe for disaster. I think the point about women having a shelf life is a reverse way of infusing us with the old 1950's ideals that we have to get married as soon as possible. Please Ms. Patton, did you take your own advice? How did it turn out? And if the odds really are best in college, I can't imagine what your every day life is like! I've met so many people outside of college who were so much smarter and interesting than the people I met in college. Please.

    April 2, 2013 at 10:26 pm |
  8. Gary Z

    Tom Leykis brought me here.

    April 2, 2013 at 6:56 pm |
  9. anon

    People are beating on this lady – but she makes a very good point for females who want to have a family.
    Sincerely – single, successful, 33 and panicked.

    April 2, 2013 at 5:15 pm |
  10. Atlanta6678

    SHE'S ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!!!! I wish someone had given me such practical advice, because I've experienced exactly what she's talking about in my own marriage, career and the 'oh, so delicate' shelf-life.

    April 2, 2013 at 4:49 pm |
  11. ibklutzy1

    Think this ignoramus has a case on herself and is looking for self glorification.

    April 2, 2013 at 12:26 pm |
  12. Sherry

    She's right. Perhaps not politically correct, but true. The shelf life of a woman is far less than that of a man. However, I think that grad school is probably better than undergrad.

    April 2, 2013 at 11:35 am |