Ivy League Produces 'Timid' Grads With No Souls

New Republic essay urges parents to send their kids elsewhere

By John Johnson,  Newser Staff

Posted Jul 22, 2014 12:34 PM CDT

(Newser) – A former Yale professor serves up a damning essay in the New Republic about elite education in general and the Ivy League in particular, urging parents to send their kids elsewhere if they want them to become authentic individuals. Yes, Ivy League grads are smart and driven in their particular fields (probably finance), writes William Deresiewicz, but they're also also "anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose." In short, they are "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."

Deresiewicz castigates not only elite colleges but the entire system of prep schools and the admissions process that leads to them—they're teaching kids how to succeed, and what it means to be a leader, in such narrow terms. Until reform comes, he recommends that students who want a real education head to a small liberal arts college or to a "second-tier" school such as Reed, Kenyon, Wesleyan, or Mount Holyoke. "I used to think that we needed to create a world where every child had an equal chance to get to the Ivy League," writes Deresiewicz. "I’ve come to see that what we really need is to create one where you don’t have to go to the Ivy League, or any private college, to get a first-rate education." Click for the full column.

Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League is overrated, argues the author.
Harvard and the rest of the Ivy League is overrated, argues the author.   (Shutterstock)
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