Monday, November 20, 2017
Opinion

Do not send your kids to Ivy schools (please!)

RECOMMENDED READING


You need to stop sending your kids to Ivy League schools.

In brief, according to an article in the New Republic by William Deresiewicz, who taught at Yale for 10 years, the students who are sent there are conformist, over-privileged overachievers. They emerge from homogeneous backgrounds and grow up to be elitist little twits. (He also went to an Ivy League school, but he is different now.)

They overcame a little diversity, mainly not socioeconomic, to get in. In fact, Ivy League applicants' biggest hardship was having so little hardship in their lives that they had to hire people to take them on bus trips during the summer so they would have things to write college essays about.

When they get in, they learn nothing because they are too terrified of failure to study things they do not already know. They develop the firm conviction that, if you march to the beat of a different drummer, you are doing something wrong. We are all listening to this drummer for a reason. Your drummer must be screwing up.

When they get out, they are obsessed with status and give society less than they might have. Or something. The point is that the education is not value-added. If anything, it is value-subtracted. It produces conformist, unimaginative people who are desperate for approval.

And, well, I don't disagree. Of course I don't. I don't know how. Besides, if I disagreed, you might not like me, and I want you to like me! That means more than anything in the world! I can fax you some of my high school report cards if that would sway you!

If you cannot tell from the foregoing, I went to an Ivy League school. I didn't learn very much, but I drank a lot. I remember freshman year, talking with my peers about our deepest fears. "I'm afraid," someone said, "that I won't ever be able to become a great writer because my childhood was too happy."

Everyone nodded. There was a silence.

"My mom died," said someone else.

"Lucky!" we said. "That must have made a great application essay! I had to fly all the way to Bhutan and build houses for half an hour."

So the question becomes: If we're serious about this, how do we go about fixing it? The simplest way is not to send your kids to Ivy League schools. Not that "we" stop sending kids to Ivy League schools. Or that "one" stops sending them there. Or that "you" (everyone else) stops sending them. It is that you — you in particular — do that.

And that's the problem.

Of course, everyone agrees that the most efficient way of producing good human beings who aren't elitist twits is to break down the system.

But for every person who has read the New Republic article and knows that the Ivy League schools are elitist twit factories, there are thousands upon thousands who haven't. If everyone would just read the article and agree on what to do, we could proceed. Not even everyone! Just all the Concerned Parents who are currently embroiled in the helicopter derby whose only conclusion is admission into an elite institution.

The trick is that you have to get everyone to agree. If some people don't get the memo, their kids will get into Ivy League schools in your kids' place, and all the employers who did not read the article will keep assuming that going to an Ivy League school is a mark of quality and hire them instead. It is no use enclosing copies of the New Republic with your child's investment banking applications and scrawling, "He didn't go to Yale because Yale would have done him a disservice!" at the bottom of his résumé. First off, that is creepy. Second off, it is unconvincing.

Besides, it seems so unfair, as Mitt Romney's dad probably used to lament. I worked my whole life to overcome adversity and earn a comfortable place for my children, and now you tell me that is the worst thing I could have done?

Still, if that's what we've agreed to do, it's fine. We just have to make sure we're all on board.

Soon, the conversation from Suburban to Suburban will be much different. "Hello, Gail," Florence will say at the country club. "Trip is working at McDonald's this summer and reading Emerson to himself. What's your daughter doing?"

Gail will shrink a little into her Adirondack chair. "Well," she will hedge, "Campbell is — she's going to Columbia, actually."

Florence will nod in sympathy. "Some kids take longer to find themselves," she will say. "But we all have to march to our own drummer."

"Oh, absolutely," Gail will say. "I only hope you're right."

The point is: You need to stop sending your kids to Ivy League schools. You first. I'll watch and see what happens.

— Washington Post

Comments
Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ruth: Would high-speed rail have reduced traffic deaths on I-4?

Ah, just in time for the Thanksgiving travel season, Florida has once again achieved national prominence. We’re No. 1 — with a body bag! Can’t you feel the pride swelling?A recent study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finds that...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

Editorial: Florida should restore online access to nursing home inspections

In a state with the nation’s highest portion of residents over 65 years old and more than 80,000 nursing home beds, public records about those facilities should be as accessible as possible. Yet once again, Florida is turning back the clock to the da...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Another voice: A time of reckoning on sexual misconduct

Stories about powerful men engaging in sexual misconduct are becoming so common that, as with mass shootings, the country is in danger of growing inured to them. But unlike the tragic news about that latest deranged, murderous gunman, the massive out...
Updated: 10 hours ago
Editorial cartoons for Nov. 21

Editorial cartoons for Nov. 21

These cartoons are from various Times wire services.
Published: 11/20/17
PolitiFact Florida: Did Rick Scott run ads bragging about Florida’s minimum wage?

PolitiFact Florida: Did Rick Scott run ads bragging about Florida’s minimum wage?

Miami Beach Mayor Philip Levine wasted no time attacking current Gov. Rick Scott as he jumped into the 2018 governor’s race.In a Nov. 1 speech announcing his run, Levine, a Democrat, criticized the governor for being so proud of the state’s minimum w...
Published: 11/20/17
Dowd: The Hillary Effect

Dowd: The Hillary Effect

WASHINGTONWould the war against preying on women be blazing so fiercely had Hillary Clinton been elected?When I interviewed women in Hollywood about the ugly Harvey Weinstein revelations in the New York Times and the New Yorker, they told me that fee...
Published: 11/18/17
Updated: 11/20/17
Jay-Z: The criminal justice system stalks black people like Meek Mill

Jay-Z: The criminal justice system stalks black people like Meek Mill

This month Meek Mill was sentenced to two to four years in prison for violating his probation. #FreeMeek hashtags have sprung up, and hundreds of his fans rallied near City Hall in Philadelphia to protest the ruling.On the surface, this may look like...
Published: 11/17/17
Updated: 11/20/17

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17

Column: Shame has fallen out of fashion, but it can be a force for good

BY JOSEPH BURGOPublic shaming represents an ironic kind of justice, for it is shame that keeps many victims silent for years. Shame has increasingly come to be viewed as a repressive force whose shackles must be thrown off.Every day it seems someone ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17