Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life by William Deresiewicz

10. Your Guide to Rankings

  • It’s the students that mostly determine the level of classroom discussion, which is one reason William recommends avoiding elite schools to find a more genuinely diverse student body. Such students are likely to be more interesting, curious, open, and less entitled and competitive. You are also more likely to stand out from the pack. Public universities cost less and liberal arts colleges place a much greater emphasis on teaching. Look for courses that are seminar based and are taught by real professors, even for freshmen. In seminars there is nowhere to hide and you are likely to get much more individual feedback. Freshmen seminars can be an excellent way to help you figure out what college is for, and to set up a four-year planning process.
  • William sees skipping college as pretty stupid. We constantly hear about famous dropouts like Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg, but they did attend college for a few years where they built their network. On the average, college is still the best investment you can make and it offers necessary credentials for many professions. As you search for a school, don’t be dazzled by fancy gyms and dorms. Sit in on some classes, which very few prospective students ever do, and forget about the rankings. College can be a place where you get as little as possible out of what you pay for, or it can be where the person you never dreamed of being is born.

11. Welcome to the Club

  • Just as in the bad old days, elite colleges are perpetuating the class system, only it’s getting better each year at exacerbating inequality, retarding social mobility, perpetuating privilege, and creating an elite isolated from the rest of society. American higher education is more economically stratified than it has been in the past three decades! While rising tuition is part of the problem, the cost of manufacturing students who are fit to compete is even worse as wealthy parents pour more and more money into paying for educational resources for their children’s development. The fact that SAT scores track so closely with income and wealth supports this. As a result, poor smart kids are less likely than dumb rich kids to get a degree.
  • Schools also need to rely on more and more rich kids as they pay full fare. Elite private schools can’t afford to let their student bodies reflect that of society as a whole. While selective schools give admissions advantages to athletes (48%) and legacies (24%), there is no advantage for lower-income students. Even Title IX that opened up more athletic opportunities for women really turned out to be an affirmative action program for rich girls. When it comes to diversity, the minority populations are mostly drawn from Asian groups, and even blacks and Hispanics are drawn from the business and professional classes. Good luck finding a rural white kid. Elite grads are often incapable of talking to people who aren’t part of their club where A- is the default setting as they never meet any. Instead of fighting inequality, the system has been captured by it. For most kids at elite schools, 90% of the competition was excluded before the race even started.
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter Share this page via Google Plus
DrDougGreen.com     If you like the summary, buy the book
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6

Leave a Reply