Opinion | Op-eds

The sun rises without Columbia

I left Columbia.

My time here was the emotional equivalent of making sweet love to a cactus and pretending to enjoy it. This cactus looked like Brad Pitt to the rest of society, and everyone kept congratulating me on my happy union and all the wonderful things that were going to come of it.

But excuse me: Cactus sex is unrighteous. Get me the hell out of here.

Like all of you, I am an exceptional human being because I won the approval of the most qualified judges of personal value: Ivy League admissions officers. I’m pretty much a very, very big deal: The SATs are my bitch, my extracurricular engagements rival Oprah Winfrey’s, and I am one eloquent motherfucker. You know the drill—you’re in this boat. Either that or you’re awesome at sports and/or your parents could eat most people’s parents for breakfast as far as societal importance goes. Regardless, you have what it takes to win in the game of life, so what are you doing puttering around Morningside Heights?

Unless your answer is “because I genuinely enjoy being a student at Columbia” (and if that is the case you have no reason to be offended by a word of this, truly), stop wasting your time. You could die tomorrow, so ditch those finals and do something less lame. Trust me when I say that you are exceptional enough to set the world on fire without that hefty receipt that comes in scroll-format. Don’t believe me? That’s fine, stay miserable. This is your trip, not mine.

Let me put this in the big Columbia University Community picture: Columbia is a business enterprise, not a community—stop fooling yourself.

Yes, there are communities within that enterprise like Sorority Sisters and the Chinese Dragon Dancing People and the Butler Chain Smoker Union, but Columbia is you. You aren’t Columbia. Dig? You are the only thing that makes Columbia anything remotely substantial. It’s not Mother Theresa’s house of the sick and dying, it’s a corporation. If it’s not making you happy, you’re not a terrible person.

Society can go fornicate itself for stamping your forehead with the seal of approval if and only if you follow its path. For better or for worse, this mysterious nonentity that we call Columbia University caters to societal approval.

That’s not necessarily bad, but it is limiting. If, like me, you once thought self-validation might come from a GPA or a diploma or a customized Vineyard Vines Columbia lion-print tie, think about what you really want out of this life. Columbia doesn’t give that to you—only you can. If you feel like Columbia doesn’t care about you, that it would be no different if you left, you are right. Anyone who thinks otherwise, please send me a sample of what you are smoking.

But in all seriousness, the moments that augmented my experience with hope and beauty came from you. You, the individuals—not you, Columbia. To THAT you, I say thank you. You are everything. You should come set the world on fire with me, if you so desire.

You, Columbia? Get out of here. You don’t exist.

The author was a Columbia College student in the class of 2015 until October this fall semester. She currently runs the blog “Tales of an Ivy League Dropout.”

To respond to this op-ed, or to submit an op-ed, contact opinion@columbiaspectator.com.

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Anonymous posted on

Article of the year. Marry me Hannah! I may not be Brad Pitt, but I'm still better than a cactus.

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Anonymous posted on

Columbia sucks! I am never donating a dime to this shithole, and it's 120% due to the horrible, horrible student life here.

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Anonymous posted on

Does anyone else see the irony in this comment?

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

sounds like a plan.

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Anonymous posted on

Awesome! Meet me by the Alma statue at 11 AM on Tuesday. Oh wait.. you don't live here anymore. Damnit.

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Anonymous posted on

You are either (1) so rich and spoiled that you don't have to worry about your future--which seems quite possible, since you are white, your dad is a patent lawyer, and you went to an Eight Schools boarding school--or (2) extremely dumb and shortsighted.

In the first case, you are a terrible person for lording your privilege over your classmates.

In the second case, have fun with life.

Also, your blog is terrible and your videos are especially terrible.

What do your parents think about you living, apparently, at home? Do you feel no obligation to your family?

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

awwww shit you just mad googled me! you are a sleuth of life and have me all figured out! p.s. i think we might have a little bit of a hate crush...hm? hmmmmm??

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Anonymous posted on

My comments were actually serious. I don't have a hate crush--instead, I worry about your ability to succeed in the world.

Your replies to my comments, and to those of others, have made me like you so much less. At first, I thought you were misguided and privileged. Now, I'm just glad you left.

Have a good life.

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Anonymous posted on

you are clearly crazy

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dushinco posted on

She's a terrorist!

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Anonymous posted on

Really? Your allowed to drop out because your economic situation allows you to, but not everybody gets that luxury. Many people have to stay and fight the good fight because their standard of living in the future depends on it. They don't have time to go and work minimum jobs for the "experience" as you have stated in your blog, but work them because their life depends on it. I'm not trying to shade your game, but you should really think before pushing your views to the forefront like this.

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Anonymous posted on

you're*

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Anonymous posted on

I don't think she wants to have a high standard of living. Most people in this city don't have college degrees, let alone Ivy League ones. Its not like they're all starving to death.

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Anonymous posted on

Only people who have never not had a high standard of living think they don't want to have a high standard of living.

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Anonymous posted on

Nail on the head, GUP.

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Anonymous posted on

1) Columbia is a world-class institution This is not the only city in the United States, much less the world.
2) A college degree has become almost become a necessity in securing any sort of employment in this economy.

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Anonymous posted on

Ok. Most people in the United States don't have college degrees. I don't think most people in the world even have the equivalent of high school diplomas. And there are plenty of people with jobs who don't have college degrees. I'm sure most of the union workers here at Columbia don't have degrees. There are people our age making six figures out in North Dakota who don't have degrees. I'm not saying college is all bad, but its hardly a necessity for survival.

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Anonymous posted on

See, I respect your opinion, but seriously you have based your entire argument on the assumption that people finding work without a degree is common.

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Anonymous posted on

An interesting argument. However, based on my personal experience. I know far to many cab drivers in my hometown with engineering and other degrees from universities in their home countries.

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

ok ok ok. guys. i'm very down to talk about this. if you want to have a civilized, non-anonymous, non-cowardly troll conversation, hit up my facebook and I would be more than happy to hear your suspicions/disagreements/etc. really. i'm all about it and would love to talk to you. so instead of sitting there and either making snap judgments about my life (which, sorry guys, you know absolutely nothing about, nor do you know my economic status whatsoever) why don't you actually step up to the plate and state your views with some fucking authority? but if trolling is you thang, don't let the haterz stop you from doing your thang!

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Anonymous posted on

If you can sincerely state that your economic situation is not one of affluence that allows you to suddenly drop out of college because you were "unfulfilled" after wasting one year of tuition then I will happily eat my words. A simple Facebook search turns up your education (private boarding school), which further points to good economic standing. Further Googling shows that you come from a distinguished family in an affluent (whitewashed) Vermont town. There's nothing cowardly about me commenting in this manner, my words represent all those who question your motives and reasons behind dropping out. I've seen your blog, you come across as someone of privilege living out a strange fantasy in which you're able to work minimum wage jobs because they're great learning lessons as opposed to needing them to make a living. I'm not trying to be an asshole, but let that serve as a wake-up call to how you present yourself.

That being said, I see nothing wrong with you dropping out of school because you were unhappy. It's the fact that you're attempting to spread the anti-Columbia gospel when in reality you seem to be standing at a very privileged place.

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Anonymous posted on

Whether or not she's affluent is irrelevant, imho. Poor people should be allowed to enjoy their lives too, even if a choice like spending a year at Columbia can indeed come with a hefty price tag. It's a sunk cost, and if you'r e not happy with it, well, then, why should you pay even MORE for something that will emotionally destroy you?

I personally have enjoyed my Columbia experience thoroughly, but I understand why someone should leave if it's that noxious to their emotional health.

Why don't we stop attacking her for her relative position and instead address her argument? Ad hominem comments are unnecessary.

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Anonymous posted on

It's just not a feasible position unless you come from affluence. There is nothing more to it.

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Anonymous posted on

Poor people (legitimately poor) usually get significant financial aid/full ride, from Columbia, unless they are internationals or messed up the application process.

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Anonymous posted on

i want to know why you wasted the time and efforts of the institution? why bother applying here at all. don't come to such a place after stealing the spot of others and then go and criticize it for all the world to see. keep your rough and vilifying comments to yourself.

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Anonymous posted on

anon, it's been a while since I pointed out how dumb you are, but you've given me another opportunity. Someone who applies to and attends a school for any amount of time isn't "stealing the spot" from anyone. That person is living their life; a life that is almost certainly beyond your comprehension, in this case. Hannah's understanding the Columbia is a business enterprise, as capable as any investment bank of engaging in cut-throat business tactics (care for a discussion on eminent domain, anyone?) proves that she is far more evolved than you are.

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Anonymous posted on

how was this comment even trolling? i think this person brought up a genuine issue with the framework in which you presented this argument and tackled it respectfully and thoughtfully. It seems like you're just having second thoughts about putting yourself on blast and getting unexpected fireback because of it, and don't like being called self-righteous.

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Anonymous posted on

i respect your right to express your opinion -- but if you are asking for a civilized conversation, did you think that this was a civilized way to begin it?

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NamePicker posted on

You have some dirty language for someone who is trying to sound civilized... maybe you should've stayed in school

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Anonymous posted on

Why wouldn't someone poor drop out if they disliked their university experience so much that they believed that the insane material sacrifice involved in going to college isn't worth emotional damage as well?

I just don't see how dropping out from the most expensive university in the world is something only an affluent person would do, regardless of the author's position.

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Anonymous posted on

When you say poor how poor do you mean? Despite public schools having a cheaper tuition, someone who is really poor (whose family income is less than 60k/year) gets a full ride at Columbia and once everything is factored in (room, board) the two are almost the same or Columbia will even cost less. In addition the value of a Columbia degree is viewed by society to be worth more than a public school degree, which tips the balance in Columbia's favor even if it costs a few thousand more. There is much more incentive to stay and tough it out rather than to drop out for someone who is poor (since although they may end up paying a few thousand more, in the end Columbia provides connections and opportunities they wouldn't have otherwise).

My point is that very very few poor students will believe that the insane material sacrifice involved in going to college isn't worth the emotional damage because for those who are very poor Columbia is the better option. Families making more than $60k/year are technically classified as middle class and therefore are not poor by definition. So if we go by the strict definitions of what it means to be poor, it is in a poor student's benefit to stay in Columbia and not drop out.

I personally don't agree with the author but I think it's nice how it's prompting a discussion on social class. This is something that wouldn't happen offline due to how taboo it is to talk to others about money what which social class one belongs to (and the privileges or challenges it brings).

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Anonymous posted on

I am curious as to what you want to do with the rest of your life. I am not criticizing, but I am curious. I know now you want to live in the moment, but do you ever intend to finish college, or do you plan on having a career that doesn't require a degree?

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Anonymous posted on

What does that mean, anyway, "require" a [liberal arts] degree? I have no idea what Hannah Shaper's intentions were about making that point, but I hope this article prompts people to question the expectation of a liberal arts degree in white-collar jobs (outside of the professions and academia), from PR to social media, which probably require any sort of higher education the least.

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Anonymous posted on

"require" means you won't get hired if you don't have one.

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Anonymous posted on

yeeah, you're missing my question. i'm asking whether there is any substance to such a requirement. you know, since we're talking about critical thinking.

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

ah yes, yes. pardon me. indeed, this question has been one of my main life themes. my basic thought is that if you can get into columbia, you are smart/awesome/original enough to make your way without a degree if college isn't your cup of tea. i think it's narrow-minded to think the only way to success, happiness, and making your family proud is to get a degree. come on. let's be real here.

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Anonymous posted on

You've never lived the life of one who is not privileged. For us, Columbia is a gateway to success in our future careers, it does open doors that wouldn't have been open for us otherwise because we do not have the connections or the money to open them. Yes, it is still possible to be successful but it would be much harder.

When your entire family is willing to sacrifice to help put you through college, try and tell me you don't feel any sort of familial obligation. You would have to have a heart made of stone not to feel guilty for just upping and leaving because you couldn't find your own niche in Columbia (in one of those "communities within enterprises") and be happy for 4 measly little years (and reap the benefits for the rest of your life).

Also, reality check, Columbia is a microcosm of the world. You don't like enterprises that don't give a shit about you? Well, that's every company you are and will ever work for, that's the US government. At Columbia what are you but a number, and what are you but a number to the government? Companies don't care about you, they care about your productivity, what monetary value you can bring to the company. You just left Columbia for another enterprise. Congrats.

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Anonymous posted on

I never do this, but because of the vitriol towards the author, I feel obliged to comment. First, I am poor, and just as I am sure you are not patronizingly trying to speak for the entire underclass, I am sure Hannah is not patronizingly trying to speak for you. I am averse to leave Columbia myself, but this is an op-ed, for which I appreciate her candor, as this kind of discussion is, frankly, refreshing.

What scares me about your comment is that Columbia is one of the few colleges in the world, whose Core Curriculum is truly humanistic; yet, The Poor, you are advocating for your classmates to saddle up to "companies [that] don't care about you." In that regard, my friend, I think you are at the wrong enterprise. IN LUMINE TUO VIDEBIMUS LUMEN.

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Anonymous posted on

Your thoughts are idealistically correct: "if you can get into Columbia..." However, you have a quitter's mentality of excusing your behavior and/or choices. No matter how "smart/awesome/original" you may think you are, you are only "original" amongst your peers because you quit and then sought sympathy and public redemption by posting your vitriol on the Spectator. You then proceeded to unabashed sarcasm in your replies to posters. Your writing is what I would expect of someone who once was part of a great institution but your content is immature and just plain sucks.

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

oh don't you worry about me, man. i'm a mad good farmer. no white collar needed.

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Anonymous posted on

......

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

hey paulie! send me a facebook message or email at hannah.shaper@gmail.com
because um you know. these conversation boards are pretty unrighteous/trolly/anonymous. plus if you went to sps i'd love to know who you are!

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Anonymous posted on

yo guys it's LION DANCE
they aren't DRAGONS
why does this mistake happen every time lion dance is mentioned

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Anonymous posted on

must be her lack of columbia spirit

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HANNAHSHAPER posted on

dude, dude. i lived in Furnald. i have nothing but mad respect for you since you made my sundays colorful and ridiculous. i think it is the snakeyness of the lion creature that leads most people to believe it is a dragon.

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Anonymous posted on

"Chinese Dragon Dancing People" doesn't really sound a lot like respect. Also if you understood the point of the lion dancers I had hoped it meant you appreciated that the "lion creature" isn't really snakey seeing as it's got the head, body and feet of a lion

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Anonymous posted on

Ok. But to be fair, the Vineyard Vines tie is really nice.

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Anonymous posted on

I don't think she's saying that we should all drop out of Columbia, she's just saying it's okay to be unhappy with this place and to want to live by your own standards. You go girl.

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Anonymous posted on

Do we need somebody else to tell us we're allowed to be unhappy? When did we stop thinking for ourselves? This article comes across as self-aggrandizing given the context of her situation.

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Anonymous posted on

"self-aggrandizing"... that's the word i was looking for. articles like this make me suspect that most columbia students have inflated views of themselves

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CC13 posted on

*rolls eyes*

Privilege for DAYS. Keep digging your hole deeper in the comments... There's nothing wrong with not pursuing a university education (especially at an institution that's not the right fit for you), but you really need to check your perspective. Come on.

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rick131 posted on

Sounds like one very disturbed very immature girl who couldn't handle it. This is not high school. Yes, you have to work hard and make something of yourself. Columbia won't do it for you. I think she thought she was going to get for free once here.

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Anonymous posted on

Right, that's what I was thinking. High school is an institution which nurtures you, cares for, gives you a shoulder to cry on when you're sick. It was a hard adjustment to college for me too. But i doubt any college is much better.

Find your club to make a difference in. Find your class to shine in, your professor whose office hours you'll go to--maybe turning into an hour long conversation over tea--, and your suite of friends who you'll love forever. Heck, find love.

College can be amazing if you put in the effort. hannah, sorry you never found that out.

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Anonymous posted on

there was no substantive argument in this piece. it was just angry. i feel sad for the author.

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Anonymous posted on

The only novelty from your blog is that you happen to come from a privileged background, having attended St. Paul's and made the seemingly uncharacteristic decision to drop-out when by all statistical measures, you have all the material means necessary to succeed. Don't you get that if "Tales of an Ivy League Dropout" were written by a black or inner-city minority student the fact that they dropped out wouldn't be seen as a novelty? Instead, of "Why???" it'd be "Oh, thats right. I told you so."

Also, do people not have work to do?

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Anonymous posted on

*Sniff Sniff* do I smell someone trying to reduce dissonance?

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The Dark Hand posted on

edgy as fuck. typical speccie attitude.

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Anonymous posted on

Hannah isn't the only one with these attitudes – Columbia often feels isolating, and often lacks a sense of community. Is dropping out the best solution? For Hannah and for some others, maybe it is. But for those of us who are still here and are unhappy with the environment – regardless of our individual socioeconomic backgrounds/privilege/etc. – we can either continue to whine about the things we don't like (the price tag, the stress, the higher-ups, this article) OR we can do something about it.

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Anonymous posted on

columbia is just like every other college - it is what you make of it. isolate yourself and you will feel isolated. dont blame a tremendous institution for what you make of the college experience

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Anonymous posted on

I find it interesting that we at Columbia, who spend countless hours poring over the thought experiments of everyone from Plato to Locke, can't see and respect the decision that Hannah made to leave the institution whose values, she discovered, were not aligned with her own, in a sort of "thought experiment in action."

It's bothersome especially because we applaud people who are able to buck the system and be "successful" (monetarily) in a way that jives with the Columbia mentality: namely, starting a company and making a bunch of money or challenging educational norms in a way that gleans positive attention. (Consider this NY Times piece on "Saying No to College," for example: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12....

I understand the privilege argument, and it pains me to recognize how true it is. It's certainly not in everyone's cards to be able to leave a University they have come to hate, or to extract themselves from an institution/enterprise that they have come to recognize cares nothing about them, when it is the one visible path to tangible, material benefits. But I think I find it more troubling that this argument is delivered with such bitterness -- it sounds to me like quite a few of the people who say, "Hannah, you're a terrible person because you don't tough it out with those of us who don't have the option to leave" aren't saying they like Columbia any better than Hannah did. And that sucks.

I think Hannah is asking us to think about what it means to be students within the bureaucratic animal that is Columbia University. And I think these comments reflect our very potent fear to do that, considering what ugly things we may find.

I don't presume to judge Hannah simply because her decision is not one I have made or plan to make. She calls on the individuals of this university as the one bright spot in Columbia student life, and I have found that they are enough to keep me here. I am lucky to be part of the Residential Programs community as an RA, and lucky to have a staff at Columbia Spectator's The Eye that keeps me laughing even when I'm at my darkest.

But my experience as an RA has certainly demonstrated to me that Columbia can be a toxic environment. And it's a bummer that we can't look at Hannah's argument and recognize that she's not saying everyone who goes to Columbia is fooling themselves and that everyone should drop out. Far from it. I think she's trying to understand what happens to a person here, the inexplicable changes that living in such a stressful and competitive environment, for which many Columbia students were "born and bred," can cause, and the powerful disillusionment that results.

Plus, the fact that she bothered to write an article for The Spectator should demonstrate her continuing investment in Columbia. She has friends here that she doesn't want to be miserable. I count myself among them.

In any case, if we can't all laugh at the Columbia to cactus sex comparison, especially in the shadow of impending finals, who the fuck do we think we are, anyways?

Much love, Hannah. I miss you, I respect what you're doing, and I hope others here will learn to, as well!

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Anonymous posted on

i think a public forum is no way to express how you feel. this is an attention seeking person who is trying to justifying their decision to leave columbia by criticizing the institution. many people love it here. she does not have to waste her words lambasting an institution that helps so many people.

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Anonymous posted on

I think she has the right to feel the way that she does and she has the right to speak out about it as do you. Maybe you missed the whole freedom of speech thing....

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Anonymous posted on

True 'dat.

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Anonymous posted on

when you bring up "free speech" to defend what someone says, then you've lost the argument in the same way when you criticize something by comparing it to the nazis. yes, she exercised her free speech to ramble some half-brained, attention-whoring dribble on her own blog, but I don't think this should've been published on Spec. there should be standards, even for op-ed pieces. some comments are more coherent and has more depth than what she wrote.

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Scott, CC '15 for now posted on

It's nice to see a fellow Columbia student actually taking away some meaningful thoughts from CC. Bob would be proud.

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Anonymous posted on

I think the point of this article is that although Columbia is awesome it's not for everyone. Dropping out or transferring is a choice we all have regardless of where we come from. Yes, Columbia is a great opportunity but it's not the only one out there. What we do with our lives is our choice and Columbia alone does not determine our happiness or success. Success and opportunity is what we make from it whether or not we have an "ivy league" education, whatever that means anymore. Some of the most successful people in my family never went to college, they just had a dream and they decided to follow it.... just a thought :)

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Anonymous posted on

preach it, sister. i don't think anyone is actually happy here at columbia -- if they are, then they probably aren't working hard enough. most people strive for just contentment. the experience we were sold in the advertising pitch in the application materials doesn't exist, and we must have to settle for far less than we'd hoped.
i'm glad you made the bold decision to part ways. i feel like i'm in the same boat as you were and i'd love to do the same. i lack the guts and still have some pride to just stick it through here. i worry. what will my parents, who have put in considerable investment, think? or my teachers who have nurtured a student who once upon a time enjoyed learning? or all the people in the world that i know have expectations for me? i know i'm not happy now and i know i will be miserable the next few years, but i feel being at columbia for the "ivy league" sticker is the only thing i have going for myself, so i'm going to stick it through. this is my decision (for now) but i wish you the best of luck on your future endeavors.

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Anonymous posted on

i'm happy here! i work plenty hard. i also love really hard - i love my friends, i love my clubs, i love the steps, i love [some of] my professors, i love 1020, i love impromptu west side runs, i love this paper i'm writing because it's challenging me to be a better writer and a better student. i'm really sorry to hear that you feel trapped here, and i'm really sorry that hannah felt that she could not continue here, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't always be finding ways to make yourself happy and be happy, whether you're at columbia or like hannah somewhere else. be who you want to be and do the things you want to do.

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Anonymous posted on

you're mediocre

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Anonymous posted on

being happy does NOT make your mediocre. it's okay to be the radical who likes things. so happy to hear from another one of us here :)

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Anonymous posted on

Perhaps I speak too soon (still a freshman), but I'm very happy here.

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Anonymous posted on

I love it here and I work pretty damn hard. I love the challenges, growth, and (yes) community gave me. I love the opportunities it provides, whether professional or personal. I might hate on Columbia when I pull a Butler all-nighter but loving something isn't the same as loving every minute of it.

And for a lot of us, Columbia is the gateway to our dreams and goals. Could I do good things without a degree? Maybe. But I can do more, change the world more, help more, learn more by being here than by dropping out and having a minimum wage job. What's good for the author notwithstanding, let's not make any assumptions about whether or not anyone is happy - and especially not what that means about their work ethic.Some of us can handle stress and hard work and still be happy.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm a junior, have a 3.7 GPA, am in a long-term relationship, had a killer internship last summer, LOVE Columbia and am extremely happy here. So you're wrong. Time to review some life choices?

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Anonymous posted on

i'm commenting on spec for the first time in my life just to point out that i'm really really really happy here, i work moderately hard but never to the point of being stressed, and have been awarded opportunities there's no way i'd ever have without going to a university.
guys
if you've never been to another country even if you're poor and on full financial aid there are departments that just pay for you to go

guys
i can't even afford to go home and i went to another country for free
guys
free

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Anonymous posted on

Dubious,

Not all students that attended private boarding schools are affluent. In fact, many of the students at SPS are there due to a very large scholarship. Let's not be so quick to judge someone from where they went to school.

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Anonymous posted on

I am well aware of this fact. However, this specific situation involves a girl who is affluent, therefore my argument stands. It wasn't a judgment call, it was based on a string of factual check-ups.

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$26202089 posted on

Thanks for stating the obvious, but this 'anti-consumerist' girl is affluent.

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Anonymous posted on

Her writing reads like the script of Juno...trying way too hard to sound witty and sardonic. Don't quit your day job...oh, wait, you already did.

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Anonymous posted on

ALL I SEE ARE PORK SWORDS, JAY

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Anonymous posted on

No where in this article did I actually see anything supporting your point that, essentially, going to Columbia is a waste of time, apart from your personal opinion. Even then, you really didn't say why you left except that you wanted to, "set the world on fire". Honestly, i'm intrigued. I would like to know more. Please tell me how to set the world on fire, what business actually cares about your mile time or the awards you won in some robotics competition when you don't have a degree to back it up? When i apply for a job they ask for references and a resume. They don't ask me my ACT score. They don't ask how high i scored on the SAT. They don't care about my extracurriculars.

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Anonymous posted on

Not necessarily if you're someone like Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, but then, who is? I wonder if Hannah is, we'll have to wait and see.

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Anonymous posted on

then again, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs (and Mark Zuckerberg, for that matter) came from backgrounds of significant privilege. Hannah doesn't benefit from white privilege? Please.

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Anonymous posted on

wave your flag, hannah. also, you're an awesome writer.

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Anonymous posted on

Lawd, I do not understand why people are wasting time or energy on this article. It's an amusing read. She wasn't happy. She dropped out. It may come back to bite her in the ass, but this was her choice. Her insinuations about us being useless/boring cogs in a dysfunctional wheel is one I've heard many times before, and didn't bother me in the slightest (maybe because I go to Barnard and have heard far worse, or maybe because I really am happy here). Get a thicker skin, people.

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Anonymous posted on

Get a thicker skin? That's ironic considering this article is about a girl who couldn't handle the pressure and dropped out...

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Anonymous posted on

Exactly. In all sorts, I don't feel entirely sympathetic towards her, but it just comes off as a lot of meaningless tough talk from someone who seems to be struggling with issues of her own. I think you should be accustomed to that around this campus by now.

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Anonymous posted on

we don't dislike hannah because she said negative things about columbia. as you've said, the things she said are quite mundane. the university as business enterprise... how unoriginal and obvious. we dislike her because we suspect her to be a bratty, immature, attention-starved person.

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Anonymous posted on

Why is she judging those of us who like it here? Sure, it's tough, but we're thankful for the opportunity Columbia has given us to pursue our passions with the stamp of ivy league approval. You can talk about how that stamp is just part of a "business enterprise" all you want, but after you graduate, you're still going to benefit from it so why hate? It's only helping you.

And those of you who are trying to make the argument that her piece is not meant to be judgemental: read it again- the language is clearly denouncing anyone who enjoys the Columbia community.

Hannah has chosen to drop out and experience the life of minimum wage paying jobs because that is helping her deal with her existential crisis. She talks about these jobs as if they are opening her eyes to the reality of having to work to support yourself. That being the case, I'm happy Hannah has chosen to drop out leading her to see this reality. It would just be sad for anyone her age to not see it. Good for her for allowing herself to learn about the realities of life and living instead of just feeding off her parents. But she shouldn't judge those of us who already knew those realities and didn't have to drop out of school to see them.

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Anonymous posted on

"everywhere you go, there you are."

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Anonymous posted on

I guess the question is, can you enjoy life and find community at columbia and manhattan while also making an investment by obtaining a diploma. You say no. I think my time so far may prove different. I hope it does

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Anonymous posted on

I love the point you're making. I love the 'get-go' feeling you're trying to create, the passion you have to go out there and make an impression on the world. I just think it's absolutely unrealistic to the point of being ridiculous.

Just for a moment, please disregard this highly American (slash first-world slash western - whatever you want to call it) notion that "you should just go out there and do whatever the hell you want because you deserve to love what you do". It gets challenging after like, 5 seconds. Yes, it's a beautiful idea. I'd like to think that I can just discard my bordering-on-corporate career path and just kind of "go out there" into the world and do what I love. But let's get real for a minute and consider what that means. That means going out there and essentially making things up as you go along. It means working your freshly-dropped-out-of-college behind off to make something happen. The problem is that the potential to do that and the resources to achieve that are usually mutually exclusive.

I see other commenters accusing you of having an affluent background, and I urge you to think again about your privilege as a cause of your perspective in this article. This is NOT an unbiased article. You are talking solely from the standpoint of someone who has the resources to take some time off of school and think about where your interests lie. Not everyone has that privilege. Further, not everyone who has that privilege has the potential to do so. i'm not accusing you - you're obviously quite talented, but I'm not sure you exactly understand what you yourself mean by "lighting the world on fire". Bill Gates dropped out of school and lit the world on fire, but that's because he had a strong vision - not to mention the potential and the resources - to carry out his vision. I want to go so far as to say that you do NOT have said vision - why else would you be writing an article in a jab at college education if you really were, as you put it, trying to "win in the game of life"?

tl;dr : Your idea is beautiful and idealistic but it hardly takes into account the fact that our world is so fast-paced that those who drop out (no pun intended) really do lose out. I am not saying you are one of them - maybe you are doing great things right now - but your article uses a sample size of 1 and is too good to be true.

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Anonymous posted on

hahaha yeah let me just drop out let's just check on the ol' bank account first:

*taking out loans to be here*

whoops guess i quite literally can't unless they pay me in gold bars to push carts at wal-mart

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Anonymous posted on

I hate it here, too--seriously, most miserable two years of my life (I transferred in, which probably has something to do with it). But it's not just about me. My parents came to the US with literally two suitcases and rebuilt their lives from scratch, and yet do you know what they say is their proudest achievement? Me, ie, giving their kid the education and opportunities necessary to get to a place like Columbia. I can't betray their hard work or the work I've put in to get this far. Obviously, I believe strongly in the American dream (work hard, boot straps, all that). It sucks now, but it'll pay off: an Ivy League engineering degree and excellent job prospects. And once Columbia gives me what I need, I never need to have anything to do with it again.

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Anonymous posted on

Give it a few years, and when you look back on it all again, I think you'll find some of your time here pretty happy. No all-nighter at work beats getting a painful cramp sleeping on a piano bench in the music practice room of Broadway after cramming for Animal Behavior final exam.

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Anonymous posted on

I'm just curious, do you have a plan of any sort of what your future is going to be now that you're no longer attending college?

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Anonymous posted on

I wonder what brought Hannah to Columbia in the first place. Maybe the problem is that she came because of the wrong reasons. Indeed, if you come to Columbia or any other prestigious university in the world, you must have good reasons, not just because of the status that comes with it. If you do so you may end up hating your decision. As someone else wrote, your university experience is what you make out of it, and there are plenty of opportunities to make the Columbia experience wonderful, including the satisfaction that comes with the fruits of hard work. If you can't see it, I agree with Hannah, it's better to leave, and leave the spot to be filled by someone who does.

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Rev Hitler posted on

U mad, Hannah?

Ok, rather than glean some sense of identity by becoming/remaining part of the Columbia "community," Ms. Shaper has decided to create an alternative narrative: that of "the Ivy League drop out," which, as an identity contingent on opposition, still requires Columbia. You're using a COLUMBIA forum as your soapbox and as free advertising space for your awful little "blog" and you're engaging with Columbia students, If she is in fact "pretty much a very, very big deal" and "one eloquent motherfucker," why is you bothering with our unenlightened asses? Since she clearly "have what it takes to win in the game of life" without submitting to the rigors of a formal education what is she doing puttering around websites that revolve around Columbia life in Morningside Heights?

There's nothing terribly valiant about dropping out of college: thousands of people do it every year without re-imagining themselves as bohemians driven out by the shadow of business in the academy.

But anyway. We have finals to deal with. So, really, Hannah, since you've made your choice and packed up...

Get out of here.

You don't exist.

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Anonymous posted on

this should be expanded into an op-ed in reply to her op-ed.

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BoredMathTAisBored posted on

I respect the author's decision to leave the school. I guess the Columbia experience wasn't what she expected, and it didn't deliver what she wanted (happiness, I guess... whatever the hell that means). As such, I don't think it's reasonable for us to be so harsh.

That being said, the fact that she mocks the rest of us here at CU doesn't sit well with me. She assumes that we're all here to "be happy" (again, what does that even mean?), but that's hardly true for the most of us. I can't say that I enjoy being a student here, but I'm here for the once-in-a-lifetime experience to learn at this university, with all it has to offer (seriously, our faculty is fucking awesome), whether it's fun or not.

The author also judges our approach to getting somewhere in life (or nowhere... whatever). We've each made our decisions, so why shit all over everyone who isn't doing what you've done? You may think finals is lame, but some of us don't have much of a choice (want to be a doctor/lawyer/PhD student? Good luck not working on them finals.). We've all thought about what we want out of life, and some of us have no idea where we're headed. Putting ourselves through CU seems to be the safest (I don't know how I'm evaluating "safety", though) route, so we're staying. Why make fun of us? I don't understand.

I'm not sure why the author made this article so harsh. She posts something similar on her blog, but it's considerably more friendly, and I think that's what she was really trying to say. It's short, and I recommend the read, just to put things into perspective a little:
http://talesofanivyleaguedropo...

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Anonymous posted on

Whether or not you and your family have loads of money is of no concern to me. There are many people on campus who would agree that there is a negative vibe within the student body that most people pick up on. There is also a feeling of disconnect with the administration and faculty. There have been groups formed on campus that try to directly address this. For example the Student Wellness Project.

Sorry that Columbia wasn't for you. I almost transferred after freshman year. Stayed. It is pretty good now. Could somewhere else have been better? Probably. Do I worry about it? Nope. What's done is done.

I just might say that perhaps with the level of dissatisfaction that you have with Columbia, perhaps there would be a way to channel that in to a way to make a change. A change at Columbia or elsewhere. Be the change you wish to make.

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Anonymous posted on

SHE DOESN'T EVEN GO HERE

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Anonymous posted on

Even if she was not reimbursed for next
semester's tuition, which I don’t think anyone knows for sure, leaving school 2
years early, is, un dubiously a way to save a f*ck-ton of money in student
loans, which are screwing our generation ( in a ways worse than screwing cacti)
and will be screwing every one of you in some way, whether you doubt it, deny
it or dont have the capacity to see a picture bigger than a close up of a
dubious or sulky expression in your mirror in your single alone with your
cactus.

maybe it’s because you
are bitter as hell that someone had the courage
to do what she did… (this doesn’t seem like it was an ‘hmm im sorta done with college..like
yeah, I just want to like be happy and
never have to work’ decision.

need it not be said
that if you come from an affluent well educated family… its about a million
times harder to deal with the shame of dropping out…shame is a choice… and to
some degree, misery is too… Hannah is clearly making the right choice one for
her at this time.
People I know who've dropped out of college have
1.Not been dumb and 2. definitely not been rich...but, if you actually think th’above
are THE top reasons someone would drop out of school... it would seem that you have
no empathy or capacity for compassion whatsoever ( this includes for yourself)
so “have fun” with the shallow and emotionally stagnant life you probably will
go on living until something shitty happens in like 30 years that makes you reevaluate why you did any of what you did and why you want to be alive.

A human is a whole person- a constellation of selves
and feelings and thought-flickers throughout time...not a resume or a
diploma, or a potted cactus.
Money
is not what this is about, anything can be about money if u decide to focus on
it, i think the emphasis here is that it IS possible to live without money as the dominant dictator of your emotional lives. Money sucks… were all in debt… everyone is
better, everything is broken… but I think everyone has the capacity to develop
a sense of self that they can find meaning in being… after all, to quote a tea
bag i haven't thrown out yet, “The beauty of life is to experience your self”.
there's no single way to do that.

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rick131 posted on

I hope she is going to pay Columbia back all the loans and grants she got that could have gone to another more deserving, appreciative student.

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Anonymous posted on

AMEN!

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Anonymous posted on

Dear Hannah,

I think you are a very confused person who is trying to find her way in life, who wants to stay true to her ideals and morals without realizing that the world isn't black and white but shades of gray. You started to wake up and realize the truth but only halfway.

Yes, it is true that Columbia the enterprise, the corporation, the institute, doesn't care about us and that Columbia is worth leaving. Yes it is true that Columbia, the people, the students, make the difference. But I think you fail to see where the two blend and mix. Where would Columbia, the people, be if Columbia, the enterprise, didn't exist? Where would Columbia, the enterprise, be if Columbia, the students, didn't exist? Neither can exist without the other, Hannah, you couldn't have made the friendships you made freshman year if it wasn't for Columbia, the enterprise, accepting you into this school. You are losing out on the friendships you haven't yet made with Columbia, the people, because you left Columbia, the enterprise.

Hannah, the world is full of enterprises and corporations and institutions that don't care about the measly worker. The grass isn't greener on the other side, it's all receiving the same sunlight, the same acid rain.

You can't set the world on fire without society's approval. If you want to change the world for the better you need society's approval. Whether that means all the elite or all the poor or a mix of everyone from in between, a single person cannot turn the tide but a group of people can. Now if you say that a single person CAN change the tide, it's what we've been taught in school have we not? But realize that if you examine it further, a single person CAN only change the tide because he/she changes the opinions of those around him/her so that he/she is no longer alone, and so it is that group that turns the tide with that person is the catalyst. You cannot set the world on fire alone but you can be the catalyst to it, so don't scorn the societal approval you will need to make a difference.

There is no perfection in this world, what you are striving for does not exist. The ideals you have been taught in school, that you have woken up to, are just that, ideals. As Merriam-Webster so perfectly phrased it, an ideal exists in fancy or imagination only, it is impractical. When ideals are put to the test in reality, compromises are made and that's when you start seeing shades of gray.

I hope you one day realize the full truth.

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Anonymous posted on

Spec, please take this opinion piece down. This is not healthy for the school.

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Anonymous posted on

Also, the casual racism and ignorance in it is really disturbing from a news-source associated with such a diverse campus.

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Anonymous posted on

Article above: Baaaaawwwww I don't my school and I dropped out cause I don't want to get job. I'm edgier than a fucking dodecahedron.

Comments below: B-b-but mah privilege!!! I'm so liberal and free-thinking! I'm going to criticize the author for being rich while pretending to understand the plights of the average working class American even though I have no idea what they're like!

Everybody at this school is goddamn migraine waiting to happen. Please kill yourselves now.

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Anonymous posted on

hell yeah

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Anonymous posted on

this => I'm edgier than a fucking dodecahedron <=

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Anonymous posted on

I guess she just bailed after realizing that the first half of her acting class was all she needed to make it big:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?f...

Fuck all the h9rs, Hannah! If I had as much talent as you showcase in the first 40 seconds of that video, I would drop out, too!

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Anonymous posted on

"tales of an ivy league dropout"? the presumption, privilege, and self-absorption is sickening. the only thing half-clever about the piece was the "making love to a cactus", and that was kind of lame and stretched thin by the third sentence. then it's all downhill. "columbia as a business enterprise?!" WOAH MY MIND IS BLOWN *sarcasm* you should've gone to brown

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Anonymous posted on

This was hilarious, and I respect your decision to leave. As long as free speech exists though, people will challenge and chastise others' views. You seem bold and very clever, so I doubt that any of the carping comments below rattled you. Fly free Hannah. I wish you well, and I hope you find softer flora with which to continue your odd fetish.

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Anonymous posted on

Dear Hannah,

"If want to tell people the truth, you better make them laugh otherwise they will kill you."-OW

Miss ya in CC.

-Lana

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Julia Salazar posted on

Sounds like somebody missed the "be here, now" memo...

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Anonymous posted on

Hi Hannah,

Your piece really struck a chord with me. I am a Columbia alum that thouroughly detested my time there so much so that after my second year I moved off campus and doubled my credit load so that I could graduate a year early.

It's been some years since I left and I've been trying to pinpoint what exactly made it so awful vs. my friends' experiences at other colleges. Perhaps the comments thread on the spec isn't the place to do this but what specifically make the sex hurt so much? The Brad Pitt part is obvious - ivy league school, strict admissions, new york city, beautiful campus, etc. I still get congratulated for getting in to Columbia. What what specifically made you hate Columbia enough to drop out? Bratty kids, aloof administration, culture (and if so what?), campus life, etc.?

feel free to PM if you'd like

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Anonymous posted on

All she said was you guys are fucking awesome people and to please take a moment to think about if your degree major is capable of nulling the debt you accrued... while you have a great fucking time hanging out with quality people in an amazing city.

Most of you respond to this by telling her to fuck off.?

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AG posted on

She said you guys are all awesome people and make the community great, but to please take a moment to think about if working in your majors field will null the insane amount of accrued debt CU imposes on you. The majority of the responses to her are sickening. Her background is irrelevant, your attitude is not.

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Anonymous posted on

i'm glad you dropped out so someone who values their education can take your spot and use the resources and amazing experiences this great university has to offer its students

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Anonymous posted on

OK, well the fact is college helps you get a good job, and jobs are non-optional for many people because they have to eat food and live somewhere. Many people really can't afford to drop out of college. Maybe they could transfer somewhere else, but the fact is they need that "stamp" of validation because it's their ticket to a decent life.

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Anonymous posted on

Recover from your eating disorder first.

Then, hopefully, Columbia will re-admit you.

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Anonymous posted on

???????

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Anonymous posted on

YOU'RE A FOOL. MAYBE THEY'LL LET YOU BACK. IF NOT, YOU SEEM LIKE A GOOD FUCK AND WHEN YOU'RE HOOKING FOR A LIVING MAYBE I'LL FUCK U IN VEGAS

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Anonymous posted on

SEEMS LIKE U SUCKED A LOT OF COCK AT COLUMBIA BUT DIDN'T STUDY MUCH. FOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!! WHORE!!!!!! KEEP UP THIS LIFESTYLE AND U MAY GET RAPED!!!!!!

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Anonymous posted on

Hey Hannah,

Wow, the vitriol in some of these comments is pretty ridiculous! Clearly, you've struck a chord in a lot of different people, whether they agree with you or not. I think, first, that your piece did come off as being a bit condescending and certainly, coming from a place of immense privilege. As I'm sure you know after all that's been written above, not everyone can afford to drop out of an Ivy League university and take a minimum wage job as a sort of "life experience." By afford, I refer of course to financial circumstances, but also circumstances of lifestyle, career aspirations, family, etc. While my parents are wealthy enough that I could drop out with little financial trouble, they would likely not support me very much, personally financially, after this decision, as they are not nearly as understanding, patient, or supportive as I assume your parents are. What's more, I want to be a civil rights lawyer, and regardless of whether or not I enjoy the pursuit of a degree, I need it in order to achieve my goals. While I definitely agree with your argument that Columbia doesn't really care about students as individuals, I would amend your claim that anybody who isn't happy at Columbia is wasting their time- are we wasting time if we're working towards a goal that will help us live the future lives we want for ourselves? While it's a lovely ideal to pursue only moments of "hope and beauty," the truth is that at some point, you need to pursue those things that, while perhaps unpleasant or difficult, are necessary to set the stage for those lovely moments to occur within our capitalistic, achievement-driven society. Anyway, I really liked your article, and I appreciate that your tone was one of humor and bombast, and likely not as nuanced as your actual views. However, I would be careful in the future to appreciate other perspectives before brazenly championing your own. I wish you a lot of luck and happiness in your exploration of the ivy league dropout life (seriously- no shade)! Your blog is great and you seem to have a pretty groovy thing going for you.

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Anonymous posted on

Whether Columbia has a "community" or not, a college degree will have no value at any time if you do not value knowledge. That's why we go here.

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