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When her mother enrolls her in the exclusive finishing school Crockett Hall, wealthy Virginia Radcliffe promises headmistress Miss Van Alstyne that she will uphold all of the institution's strict rules. However, after rooming with the spirited Celeste "Pony" Ferris for a time, Virginia learns that the true creed of Crockett Hall is "do whatever you want, just don't get caught." Consequently, when Pony invites her on a weekend excursion to New York, she eagerly accepts. Virginia enjoys her drunken rebellion in the city until football player Bill Martin tries to force himself on her in her hotel room. After being rescued by Ralph "Mac" McFarland, an intern who works nights as a waiter at the hotel, Virginia sobers up while Mac drives her back to Crockett Hall in his jalopy. As the semester progresses, Virginia grows closer to Mac, but her budding affair with the lower class waiter severely aggravates the snobby Miss Van Alstyne, whose primary preoccupation is with the school's reputation. To punish Virginia, Miss Van Alstyne forces her to stay at Crockett Hall during the Christmas holidays after her indifferent parents write that they will be out of town. Virginia is overjoyed by Mac's unexpected, clandestine appearance on Christmas Eve and, filled with love, spends the evening with him. Two months later, a pregnant Virginia begs her parents to allow her to leave Crockett Hall but, unsuccessful, returns woefully to school. Miss Van Alstyne intercepts all of Mac's letters, and once their suspicions about Virginia's pregnancy are confirmed, Miss Van Alstyne and Virginia's mother Helen accuse her of disgracing her class and Crockett Hall. In her despair, Virginia contemplates suicide, but is saved again by Mac, who, having heard about the baby from Pony, happily proposes to her.