screenshot120Harvard. Brown. Princeton. Yale. Mention these institutions of higher learning, and most people think “The Ivies…”  They are only some of the schools comprising the Ivy League.  If you’re like me, you didn’t attend one of these schools. Your image of them is what you’ve read or seen on screen.  You might think they’re full of very smart, very wealthy kids looking like ads for Tommy Hilfiger and Lily Pulitzer.    You might be right. They do have a reputation, after all. But how accurate is it?  Sean-Michael Green wanted to know what makes the Ivies so unique.  As a life-long lover of learning, it was a natural curiosity for him. So he spent an academic year visiting each of the eight Ivy League schools for several weeks to learn more about them.  The Things I Learned in College is his recollection of  that adventure.

I loved college.  I still like wandering through campuses. If it weren’t for tests and papers- and no salary- I’d be a professional student.  So this book was naturally intriguing to me.  I found it to be a fun read. Green gives us glimpses into the students he meets, events he attends, and the atmosphere of the schools themselves.  In other “I went under cover to college” books, the authors have had to be less than forthcoming about their identity (think The Unlikely Disciple) in order for them to get the experience they needed.  Green was not constrained by this need and was able to be upfront about his project. And because he was trying to write authentically about these schools, those he met had nothing to lose about being honest with him.

Green calls out what lives up to the stereotypes at these schools, and debunks those things that are just legend. He reminds us that regardless of the intellect and privilege that are indeed present in these institutions, these are still students.  I loved being able to see these little glimpses into these schools. Some feel like I would love them. Others clearly are not right for my personality.

The book made me want to tour the colleges myself. My biggest complaint about the book is that it doesn’t go quite deep enough.  I’d like to know a little more about the students Green met.  I’d like to see a bit more of the inner life of the schools.  Still, if you’re like me and love school,  love learning, then I think you’ll enjoy The Things I Learned In College. 

The Things I Learned In College will be released on 12 April 2016, and is available for pre-order now.