The Perils of Being a Poor Ivy Leaguer

The Daily Princetonian has a good article on some of the difficulties faced by low-income students at Princeton. For some reason, this (relatively unimportant, at least compared to some of the other parts of the article) anecdote got me the most:

Freshman year, one of [Caitlin] Caldwell’s roommates furnished her entire room with furniture, a carpet, a television and a refrigerator. When that roommate asked her roommates to split the cost of cable service, which came to $60 each, Caldwell and another roommate from a low-income background initially declined. Caldwell, who ultimately agreed to pay, said she consulted with her RCA about these issues but added that the experience was unhelpful because her RCA was friendly with the roommate who asked to split the costs. Caldwell did not pursue the issue further.

For Caldwell and her roommate, that $60 month is not a throwaway expense; it’s real money. For her roommates, however, $60 is nothing—who wouldn’t pay that for cable? Not an easy divide to bridge, especially when you face it on a daily basis at a place like Princeton. It would wear you down after awhile.

Jesse Singal

Jesse Singal is a former opinion writer for The Boston Globe and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. He is currently a master's student at Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Policy. Follow him on Twitter at @jessesingal.