A former Yale professor and admissions officer, who himself has two degrees from Columbia University, recently wrote a provocative article for the New Republic called “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.”
In his story, William Deresiewicz argues that the culture behind these institutions — shaping children into the perfect elite university candidates, enrolling them in those colleges, and then sending them to Wall Street — inadequately prepares them for real life.
And in his own experience, he’s seen that many of these “highly successful” young adults are actually miserable and lifeless. They’re essentially “zombies,” he says.
Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.
Venture for America founder Andrew Yang recently wrote a book, “Smart People Should Build Things,” essentially making that same point. Yang points to the fact that most graduates from top American universities are heading to finance and consulting jobs simply because that’s how “success” has been defined for them. Yang argues that instead of ditching their passions and following the pack, talented young people should be starting and building new businesses.
Unlike Yang, however, Deresiewicz places the blame on the universities rather than the recruiters. He says the Ivies and other elite colleges like them are working in a system that places more importance on imbuing status than on education.
He tells parents that they should not sanctify the Ivies for their kids and that they’re better off sending them to a small liberal arts college like Wesleyan that he thinks emphasise curriculum over image, or a top public university with a more diverse student body.
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