October 30, 2002
8:23 AM   Subscribe

Between Wellstone and Veblen, I got to thinking about my alma mater. There are a few others, off the top of my head, that this tiny, out-of-the way school can lay claim to. How many other prodigal children come from small colleges? Kofi is one, from another small Minnesota college. Who else? Schools with more than 2,500 students need not apply.
posted by RKB (18 comments total)
This one is pretty small. This one is a smaller school as well (although real numbers are more difficult.)
posted by The Jesse Helms at 8:34 AM on October 30, 2002

I'm not sure what your point is. What about the prodigal children who didn't go to any college? Aren't they more uhm... special than those who went to >2500 schools, and double-special than those who went to big universities?
posted by Stan Chin at 8:35 AM on October 30, 2002

My alma mater is also pretty small. Quite a few famous names went there (some great, some offbeat, some embarrassing).
posted by trox at 8:41 AM on October 30, 2002

Stan Chin- I totally agree. Is there any point to this post other than some "me too" ego stroking? America is littered with many fine small liberal arts colleges, let's just leave it at that.
posted by mkultra at 9:02 AM on October 30, 2002

Not so much a person, but the Borg graduated from my college. Oh, we also got Kris Kristofferson.
posted by thewittyname at 9:03 AM on October 30, 2002

Stan - the point isn't that these people are more or less special than anybody else. I don't think I made that assertion anywhere in my post. I saw two names that I knew shared something in common. I thought it was interesting that all of these people went to an obscure college in the middle of nowhere, and wanted to draw on the MeFi community to learn about others who maybe made similar choices. I'm not trying to make a point (or encourage ego-stroking). I just enjoy looking for patterns in seemingly unrelated things.
posted by RKB at 9:12 AM on October 30, 2002

People from Carleton love to tell you they are from Carleton. This thread can be saved, however, from ego stroking. Why don't we find famous people who went to obscure colleges? When I was looking for schools I visited Ripon College in Wisconsin. They told me about twenty times that Harrison Ford went to their school before going into acting. I don't think he even graduated, but they were very proud of their little place in Hollywood lore. (I didn't go there despite their claim to fame...) Any similar stories?
posted by cholstro at 9:53 AM on October 30, 2002

Tim Allen went to my alma mater. It was while he was there that he got busted and sent to Jackson... He never graduated, but did receive an honorary doctorate.

(What is it about people who went to Carleton? Every single person I've ever met who went there seems to think that they went to the Best School Ever and that they must lord it over the rest of us plebes. Oh, and by the way? Hated hated hated Pamela Dean's Tam-Lin. )
posted by eilatan at 10:38 AM on October 30, 2002

My alma mater has produced an actor, a president, and a humorist of note. Gotta love little schools...
posted by tommyspoon at 11:02 AM on October 30, 2002

Re: Carleton. I liked Tam-Lin as a book, but all I could think while reading it was: Jesus Christ, I'm glad I didn't go to college. The characters in that book went beyond even my unflattering stereotypes of stuck-up private-college assholes, and I suppose she meant them to be positive images, too. Ugh.
posted by IshmaelGraves at 11:48 AM on October 30, 2002

I see, from Googling, an old friend and the one Carleton College graduate I know, Brian Kitely, is the author of Still Life With Insects (Made the Granta 52 with that one) and I Know Many Songs, But I Cannot Sing, and is a professor of English, to boot. And all this since the last time I heard from him--wow. So, there's something to be said for the place.
posted by y2karl at 11:55 AM on October 30, 2002

The reason I brought up Tam-Lin is that Carleton was the model for the college in the book. I found all the characters to be overly precious and insufferable.

The funny thing is that my best friend went to a similarly sized school (Roanoke College) that is probably, on paper, very similar to Carleton, and I've never gotten that "I'm better than you are" vibe from anyone who went to Roanoke the way I have from people who went to Carleton.

Of course, this could just be the chip on my shoulder talking, too. I'm still a bit bitter about my college years, despite having been out of college almost twice as long as I was in college. Big impersonal public university + insecure and depressed 17 year old = bad idea.
posted by eilatan at 2:01 PM on October 30, 2002

Re: Carleton, a/k/a "Where ugly people go to breed." I don't know where I first heard that phrase, but I've certainly enjoyed repeating it.

[My alma mater, at least, produced two famous dropouts (Walter Mondale and Bob Mould), a halfway-decent writer (Tim O'Brien), and the Secretary General of the United Nations (again, Bob Mould). And it goes without saying that we are all incredibly attractive.]

In Carleton's defense, however, I don't think its students approach the compulsive status-based ordering of folks from the fancy-shamncy East Coast schools.
posted by subgenius at 2:06 PM on October 30, 2002

You know, after reading Tam Lin, I thought "this sort of thing would never happen to a chemical engineering student at Iowa State." Of course, that leads to the idea of doing a novel about urban faerie from the viewpoint of an engineering student at a large state university. What you get out of that isn't references to Shakespeare, but small quotes of C++ code.

Most of the people from my high school who went to Carleton were of type Irritating before they went there, and if this thread is any indication, probably didn't get any better.

Don't get me started on Macalester, either; I'm not fond of the idea of a school that requires freshmen to live on campus even if they happen to live less than three miles away to begin with (yes, with parents, not alone.) Carleton also had that wee issue, I believe. Not the places to go if you're local and trying to save on rent.

And...will the Macalester students please, please, stop jaywalking on Grand? You're killing my car brakes.
posted by Electric Elf at 9:05 PM on October 30, 2002 [1 favorite]

Many politicos from my alma mater. Democratic Senator Jim McDermott, Republican Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert, presidential speechwriter Michael Gerson, and evangelist Billy Graham (beware sound). Lately, Wheaton's been making much of the fact that Todd and Lisa Beamer went there as well, which is a bit frustrating, but what can you do.
posted by lazywhinerkid at 4:27 AM on October 31, 2002

Nitpicking: prodigal is not the adjective corresponding to prodigy.
posted by talos at 4:59 AM on October 31, 2002

The college I used to work at promotes the fact that Gary Sandy is an alum (though he didn't graduate). More than a little pathetic.
posted by elgoose at 6:23 AM on October 31, 2002

A late tack-on comment about Macalester luminaries: back in my college days it was VERY fun to share with friends that my dorm room used to be Bob Mould's. Also, I find it scary that these days you'd get a much higher recognition rate among my cohorts citing Bob than Kofi.
posted by clever sheep at 9:31 AM on October 31, 2002

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