The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills, 1956, Excerpts
The daughter of an old upper-class
family, for example, is usually under the care of nurse and mother until she is four years of age, after which she is under the daily care of a governess who often speaks French as well as English. When she is six or seven, she goes to a private day school, perhaps Mis Chapin’s or Brearley. She is often driven to and from school by the family chauffeur and in the afternoons, after school, she is in the general care of the governess, who now spends most of her time with the younger children. When she is about fourteen she goes to boarding school, perhaps to St. Timothy’s in New York Maryland or Miss Porter’s or Westover in . Then she may attend Finch Junior College of New York City and thus be ‘finished,’ or if she is to attend college proper, she will be enrolled in Bryn Mawr or Vassar or Connecticut Wellesley or Smith or . She will marry soon after finishing school or college, and presumably begin to guide her own children through the same educational sequence. Bennington
The boy of this family, while under seven years of age, will follow a similar pattern. Then he too will go to day school and to prep school: St. Mark’s or
St. Paul’s, Choate or Groton, or Lawrenceville, Phillips Exeter or Hotchkiss. Then he will go to Princeton or Harvard, Yale or Andover . As likely not, he will finish with a law school attached to one of these colleges. Dartmouth
Harvard or Yale or
Princeton is not enough. It is the really exclusive prep school that counts, for that determines which of the ‘two Harvards’ one attends. That is why in the upper social classes, it does not by itself mean much merely to have a degree for an Ivy League college. That is assumed: the point is not Harvard, but which Harvard? By Harvard, one means Porcellian, Fly, or A.D.: by Yale, one means Zeta Psi or Fence or Delta Kappa Epsilon; by Princeton, Cottage, Tiger, Cap and Gown, or Ivy. It is the prestige of a properly certified secondary education followed by a proper club in a proper Ivy League college that is the standard admission ticket to the world of urban clubs and parties in any major city of the nation.
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