One More Reason Your Kids Must Get Into Harvard

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Did you know that Harvard people think they're special?

In case you need reminding, go pick up a copy of a new magazine called 02138, dedicated to tracking the "Harvard tribe" as it migrates around the globe. Even if you're an ordinary zhlub with no academic pedigree, you'll be delighted to read about the parties attended by trendy young Harvardistas, recent books about Harvard, and the trenchant political views of Harvard alums.

Then there is the "Harvard 100," an indispensable list of the most influential Harvard grads. I don't know how we've lived without this up until now. I thought I had read enough about George W. Bush, Ben Bernanke, Ted Kennedy, and Hank Paulson. Yet when I see them and 96 other luminaries all lined up in a gallery of greatness, I shiver with awe and thank providence for granting our humble nation an institution as august as Harvard.

I was thrilled when the premier issue of 02138—can you guess where the title comes from? Hint: It's not Beverly Hills!—landed on my desk. The press pays far too much attention to prima donnas like single working moms, immigrants who toil 100 hours a week, and families who sacrifice material things so they can spend more time helping their kids grow up.

There's also a deficit of elitism in America these days. Incomes are too equal. Ordinary wages are catching up with CEO pay way too fast. Blue-collar workers can practically move right into the gated communities of Greenwich or Palo Alto. Something is amiss in America.

Thankfully, 02138 helps rectify some of these mounting social woes, by celebrating people who were born with high IQs, wealthy parents, and a direct line to the Harvard admissions board. Founder Bom S. Kim is sparing no expense to honor the tribe. The premier issue is a glossy, Esquire-style magazine with clever featurettes and long articles that you'll get only if you're really smart. There's a board of advisers that includes cognoscenti like Kurt Andersen, Steve Brill, and James Fallows. And Kim has hired top-shelf writers, photographers, and artists to help us get to know a select group of Harvard alums.

Who are beautiful, by the way! The cover of the premier issues feature a braless Rashida Jones (class of '97), the actress-model-producer who plans to launch a clothing line soon. Sex appeal sells, even at Harvard (especially at Harvard?), judging by a fetching full-page shot of actress Natalie Portman (class of '03) and one article illustrated with a photo of a barely legal girl taking off her bikini top, nipple vaguely visible. Hey—Harvard is edgy!

There's not as much beefcake for the gals in the audience, but tennis player James Blake (class of '01), helps by showing off his furry belly in one photo, where he's leaping into the air for an overhead smash, his shirt flying up. And I'm not sure you'd call them sexy, but artful close-ups of Barack Obama (Harvard Law, '91) and Mike Bloomberg (Harvard Business, '66) might persuade me to scratch that check for Refugees International and make it out to the Harvard endowment instead.

There's just one question. The No. 1 character on the Harvard 100 is Bill Gates. Yet Gates dropped out of Harvard in 1975, after two years, choosing to start Microsoft rather than earn a Harvard diploma. If the tribe can claim an outsider as one of its own, does that mean I might have a chance to join someday, if I do something to prove myself worthy? Oh please, send me an application!

Harvard University
  • Rick Newman

    Rick Newman is the author of Rebounders: How Winners Pivot From Setback to Success and the co-author of two other books. Follow him on Twitter or e-mail him at