Obsession with Elite Schools
There he goes again. Brennan Barnard, a college counselor at The Derryfield School in New Hampshire as well as the Director of College Counseling at US Performance Academy, an online high school for competitive athletes in totally “of the people” kind of sports like bobsledding, sailing, and synchronized swimming, penned a longwinded piece yesterday for Forbes essentially arguing the revelatory notion that one doesn’t need to attend an Ivy League school in order to become successful. One of his key points is that the undergraduate institution boasting the most Fortune 500 CEOs happens to be the University of Wisconsin — with 14 CEOs. He didn’t happen to mention that Harvard University, as of a few months back, boasts 12 Fortune 500 CEOs. Or that six Ivy League schools in addition to Stanford University are among the 30 most common alma maters of these Fortune 500 CEOs, as reports Abigail Hess for CNBC. Instead, he glossed over these important facts, dismissively writing in a parenthetical: “(though some of those institutions were well represented)” in reference to the Ivies.
College Counselor Argues Obsession with Elite Schools is Perverse
Mr. Barnard writes in his piece for Forbes entitled “Elite Admission: What Is College Worth?,” “Whether one has aspirations of becoming a CEO of a Fortune 500 company or finding a secure financial future doing something they love, the take-home message is this—rankings, status, and acceptance rates do not tell the whole story.” On this particular point, he’s right. Rankings, status, and acceptance rates certainly don’t tell the whole story about universities and, yes, the sky is blue. But it seems Mr. Barnard is trying very hard to make the larger point that folks are too focused on earning admission to elite universities. Heck, he’s expressed criticism of companies that cater to students hoping to earn admission to elite colleges, like the Ivy League colleges. The man’s gone so far as to call it a “perverse obsession” in a previous diatribe for Forbes.
That Very College Counselor Seemingly Suffers From This Very Obsession
Of course, we can’t help but find Mr. Barnard’s arguments all rather ironic considering his own emphasis on name brand schools. His Twitter handle doesn’t feature a profile picture of a young person in a University of Wisconsin tee; it features a picture of a young person in a Yale University tee. His very school — The Derryfield School in New Hampshire (because that isn’t trying too hard to sound elite!) — prominently features photos of students admitted to Brown, Bowdoin, Syracuse, and Penn while not seemingly featuring on their college counseling page photos of admits to Alfred, Drew, Ithaca, and Western New England University. But, Mr. Barnard, graduates of Alfred too can grow up to become Fortune 500 CEOs…don’t you know?
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So, Mr. Bernard, if I can only get into Wisconsin after 4 years at Derryfield, why would I NOT attend my local- and free- public high school? Maybe this is Mr Bernard’s way of saying, it’s OK if you wasted $200,000 at our Ivy-feeder school just to get into a state school, since you can still be a CEO of GE? But then he makes a living on selling the Ivy-feeder label? What a hypocrite.
P.S. I was impressed that Cornell had 10 to Harvard’s 12 CEO’s on the list and beat every other Ivy- plus Stanford!
Amen. The guy speaks out of both sides of his mouth. He’s anti-privilege yet he works at a fancy boarding school and moonlights helping bobsledders and snowboarders get into college. A real man of the people! 🙄