Tiger Moms. You know who they are. You’ve talked to them in the stands at your child’s game. You’ve parked behind their minivans on the pickup line. Maybe you paged through Amy Chua’s book. Maybe even there’s a little bit of a Tiger Mom in you as much as you may care to deny it. But do you have to be a Tiger Mom for your child to gain admission to the Ivy League? Absolutely not!
However, Anne-Marie Slaughter, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University, thinks that the innovators and entrepreneurs who will shape our country’s future aren’t in her Ivy League classroom. In a CNN post, Professor Slaughter writes, “Innovation requires creativity; entrepreneurship requires a willingness to break the rules. The jam packed, highly structured days of elite children are carefully calculated to create Ivy League-worthy resumes. They reinforce habits of discipline and conformity, programming remarkably well-rounded and often superb young people who can play near concert-quality violin, speak two languages, volunteer in their communities and get straight A’s. These are the students that I see in my Princeton classes; I am often in awe of their accomplishments and teaching them is a joy. But I strongly suspect that they will not be the inventors of the next ‘new new thing.'”
We don’t disagree that many of the movers and shakers whose startups revolutionize a space don’t come from Ivy League colleges. But there are only eight Ivy League colleges! They can’t enroll every future American innovator. Professor Slaughter, you point out anecdotal evidence — the Bill Gates’ and Mark Zuckerbergs — who dropped out of an Ivy League college in their entrepreneurial pursuit. We wonder if Professor Slaughter bothered to peruse some of the hot new startups coming out of Silicon Valley, New York, and Boston. Did she check out any of the “About Us” pages? Because if she did, she’d realize that a disproportionate percentage of these companies were founded by Ivy League graduates.
We can throw anecdotal evidence to the contrary right back at her. Need an electrician in your area but you want to get it done for the least amount of money possible? Electricians can bid online for the job on Redbeacon, one of the hottest startups coming out of Silicon Valley founded by Harvard MBAs. Or what if you want to go on an adventure and make friends outside of the city with a group of people? Urban Escapes was founded by a Dartmouth grad and it recently sold to AOL. What if you want to buy the cheapest tickets for a concert or sports event online? SeatGeeks, a company that uses an algorithm that aggregates the available ticket prices on the internet, was founded by Dartmouth grads, too.
If a college professor doesn’t believe in the potential of her students, maybe she shouldn’t be teaching. And we wonder if Professor Slaughter really believes what she writes. Her two sons are going to go to Rutgers instead of Princeton, a university where both she and her husband hold professorships? We think not.
Check out our related blog on what Rice University admissions looks for in its applicants. See Ivy League admissions statistics and take a look at the CNN blog by Anne-Marie Slaughter on admission to The Ivy League and innovation.