Enough said about the substance of Susan A. Patton's elitist, retro, marry-young exhortation to female Ivy Leaguers. What intrigues me is the impulse to give advice to hordes of people you've never met, whose circumstances, characters, and predilections are apt to be quite different from your own.
Giving such worthlessly uninformed advice is, however, less curious than taking it. People do enjoy holding forth, after all. What's most notable is the fact that when advice-givers hold forth to strangers, some of those strangers will consider their advice.
This is, of course, a historic American phenomenon, as firmly entrenched in our culture as the belief in rugged individualism that it belies. For centuries, self-appointed experts have offered answers, or at least approaches, to spiritual, personal, and professional questions. Many of them drink from the streams of New Thought (a collection of beliefs about mind power popularized in the 19th century) and the presumed power of positive thinking; but the perversely named self-help tradition is not monolithic. Early 20th century African-American self-improvement literature speaks in a different voice than the manuals of late 20th century pop feminists and "codependency" gurus.
Women have hardly been alone in seeking guidance from experts (think of Dale Carnegie) but, historically, they've been particularly active marketers and consumers of personal advice, perhaps in part because individualism has generally been deemed a masculine virtue. (Co-dependency was a stereotypically feminine vice.) When Elizabeth Cady Stanton wrote The Solitude of Self, in 1892, stressing that women, like men, "must make the voyage of life alone," she was challenging fundamental notions of femininity and gender roles.