A number of folks have written us asking us to comment on the piece in “The New Republic” written by William Deresiewicz entitled “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League.” In the piece, we found much of what Deresiewicz writes to be completely true. We also found much of what he writes to be completely off base and his conclusion — as well as attention-grabbing headline — to be fairly unrelated to his arguments. Deresiewicz essentially argues that students who often go to the Ivy League, while clearly bright and high achieving, end up becoming stressed during college. Their college experience becomes more about networking and pretending you’ve read certain books than learning and actually reading books all the way through. He thinks this leads to depression in a number of students and he essentially blames the Ivy League for putting all of this pressure on students.
Writes Deresiewicz, “So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error. Once, a student at Pomona told me that she’d love to have a chance to think about the things she’s studying, only she doesn’t have the time. I asked her if she had ever considered not trying to get an A in every class. She looked at me as if I had made an indecent suggestion.”
How is getting stressed exclusive to the Ivy League? That’s what we’re wondering. Deresiewicz also makes the point that Ivy Leaguers are essentially funneled into a select few set of career paths. How come some of the greatest entrepreneurs come out of the Ivy League then? That’s what we’re wondering. Entrepreneurs take risks. They carve their own paths. We’ve featured a number of highly successful Ivy League entrepreneurs over the years on our blog.
Anyhow, we have more to say on this piece in “The New Republic” so check back tomorrow for additional analysis. But the argument that Ivy Leaguers are more stressed and become less interested in learning for learning’s sake for attending an Ivy League institution…sorry. We’re just not buying that. Students at the University of Miami are more interested in learning than at Penn? Uh huh.