> She told me my semester English paper was a total F. Thank god by my 20s I'd matured enough to stop making excuses
I remember being laser focused on grades, so concerned about my ability to deliver on the assessments that sometimes (Especially in those high credit load semesters) I would completely shirk the academic duty of seeking understanding if there was an easier equivalent to get the same grade. It became "I can read half of three books and synthesize a passable Frankenstein's monster".
It wasn't often that I sat down and focused on why this type of self-improvement (I was a good student, but not the greatest), the type of self-improvement which is only motivated by someone actually saying "This sucks" to your face and you trusting that they are telling the truth. I think the only saving grace was my lack of vision , ironically, as it forced me to do way more work which naturally forced me to apply myself more vigorously.
> I'm less and less convinced that human organizations can light kids up. We gotta come lit up and some hard knocks often helps get that fire started
For me, it was often my peers that aided in this. I took a few classes where it was much more focused on working as a cohort , and those situations connected me far more intimately with the material. I think one of the greatest parts of university that many of the incoming cohort will miss initially is the ability to form the type of peer groups in classes I was able to, which proved to be hugely impactful on my ability to learn the knowledge .
 two majors, done mostly sequentially in my 4 years at state school
 No curves are one example of the type of policy that facilitates this
 Or get research jobs, extracurriculars. Especially as as a first generation student who had no clue what they were navigating and a familial support system that did not have the expertise
This is rational behavior in mass education systems where grades are important for future success. It's an example of Goodhart's law in action, I suppose.
It was only in my late 20s that I came to understand the true purpose of writing essays, and why essays are so frequently used as a form of assessment. All through my actual education I focused on maximizing my grades while minimizing the effort I expended.
I've been meaning to write an essay on this subject for a while.
Once you get a job, your grades barely matter anymore. And after several positions and a few years in the field, no one is likely to ask for your transcript.
A fair distinction, yes.
> The student with lower grades may lose out on some opportunities, or only get access to them later, but if they've gained better understanding (while a student) of the material, they'll be better off in the long run than the person acing every test and homework, primarily by cramming and forgetting in a week.
I'd like to believe this, but I don't think it's true. Prestige, connections, and opportunity costs are too significant to ignore.
> Once you get a job, your grades barely matter anymore. And after several positions and a few years in the field, no one is likely to ask for your transcript.
True, but at a large enough company you'll participate in a performance review system in which you'll regularly be given a literal grade which influences your career trajectory. Goodhart's law comes into effect again.
Or, in picture form: imagining you start on the left of the graph and can move along the curve to the right, reality isn't like this:
| -------/ \------
To add some context, I'm an immigrant to the US. I came here for opportunity. A lot of people are uncomfortable with what that means. It isn't some Eddie Murphy "Welcome to America" kumbaya, happy-go-lucky thing. I came here with my family to out work and out compete everyone for the shot at a better life. If you look at any STEM class, as opposed to any non-STEM class, the makeup of people in those classes in both Undergrad, and especially Graduate levels, is much closer to being representative of people who look like me rather than the general public/college demographics. In immigrant populations there is no disillusionment with the elite institutions in America, and more broadly, the American Dream.
Similar scepticism is expressed in many other articles and blog posts these days, questioning the value of traditional and often expensive university education.
Ivy League affiliates enjoy the privileges of being branded Ivy League all their lives. And the schools are pretty great to boot.
To me the original article was asking the following questions:
Did I have to come to Harvard to do what I want?
Why don't more people make use of their Ivy League privileges?
Why isn't Harvard doing more good for society?
Which does sound a bit whiny, I would think, especially to an Auckland Kid. The takeaway for me, was that there should be more Auckland Kids at Harvard, and that OP here is more of an Auckland Kid. He's saying there is little to complain about if this is what you came for, and that it should have been.
On the other hand, the author of the article presents valid criticism about Harvard Kids and Harvard, but appears also to be closer to the Harvard Kid than the Auckland Kids she seems to admire. Sometimes it takes one to know the others and where you are at.
But at least there are some Auckland Kids in the Ivy Leagues. And I would bet you there are some Harvard Kids in Auckland too that never made it to Harvard.
Anecdotally, I've seen similar at the top private school that I went to. I had to give up on idealistic things I did in high school, and would have otherwise continued doing in college, because of the workload I experienced at school.
Everyone changes, especially in college. Regardless of the school, one can easily assess them the blame, but some of it has to be on you, especially at an age when you should stop making excuses.
With that said, the work load can be absurd, some peers are arrogant and elitist, some teachers are total assholes, and not everything is fair or makes sense. Although, that's true at varying degrees at any school.
I want to also bring up one more observation that addresses the psychological aspect that the author addressed when he said elite colleges close doors psychologically, by describing manual work as beneath them. I've gotten to know some people who come from the world of the elites, and I've found it farcical and disturbing how often people do performative bullshit like send their kids to work construction jobs in the summers before college to learn about things like "the meaning of hard work". If I was to send my hypothetical children to work in construction, it'd be to learn construction with the view of deriving real world capitalistic value from it, not as some performative mind-body exercise.
John Adams, one of the Founding Fathers, said:
"I must study politics and war, that our sons may have liberty to study mathematics and philosophy. Our sons ought to study mathematics and philosophy, geography, natural history and naval architecture, navigation, commerce and agriculture in order to give their children a right to study painting, poetry, music, architecture, statuary, tapestry and porcelain."
This quote illustrates to me perfectly why wealth is typically destroyed in 3 generations, or at least why that stereotype exists. The rigor and knowledge disappears as the elites become more concerned with the optics of what they are doing, instead of the actual work at hand. It's precisely why I brought up my lens of being an immigrant. My future kids will probably never have the hunger and edge with which I work, but I hope to distill in them rigor, and hope that they can bring that intensity that I still lack today.
And on the one hand it is good to do that before they are 25 because their brain will still be developing and it is a great time to be pushing in new knowledge. On the other hand the school system is so large and slow the good students probably don't have a lot of real-world grounding to figure out what they are interested in or what the education is useful for and it is much easier for a more mature student to enjoy an education and think critically.
Also; this article doesn't mention debt. That is linked to these people taking high-paid, low risk jobs. I had a friend who went to Harvard and the costs sounded crippling.
I like your point about required maturity. Certainly many of my texts read in high school English need to be revisited. Maybe students should be cycled in and out of formal education.
Even in the comments to this article, I'm seeing both populist right anti-elite links and populist left analysis framing the college experiences in terms of class...
Not sure I'm making sense, I'm kind of just writing this out as a form of thinking out loud...
Exclusivity is a hell of a drug. It's what gave in big part the large initial push to Facebook (being first available only to top universities in the US and then expanding).
It's also what luxury brands try to communicate (even though in reality they also try to be as massive and non-exclusive as possible, all the while staying very expensive).
Exclusivity drives FOMO.
At USNA, we said: "You're always someone's boy", meaning: "No matter how great you are at X, there is always someone who can school you."
Success and opportunity is not as likely to depend on what metric someone is "best" as who has the right opportunity at the right time while having a broad set of skills (almost any level of expertise).
Real disillusionment comes after the elite education.
The stuff that crushes your spirit comes later when you go to work at a FAANG and realize that the modern tech sector is fueled not by lofty ideals of innovation and altruistic visions of technological utopia, but by the same cynical profiteering, exploitation and rent-seeking as every other capitalist enterprise.
Your attitude changes once you understand that the high-paying tech sector jobs you spent years of your life training to perform all require you to compromise your beliefs about what is good/fair/just. The jobs require you to build things which hurt people for people who only care about money. Imagine working 40-60 hours a week to make good money doing something you know is at best a complete waste of time and talent.
Real disillusionment comes after you've lived in San Francisco for a while and you realize everyone you know also works in tech and thinks, looks and talks the same way you do and likes the same things you do. And maybe on your way to work at the glossy tech campus that gives you free lunch that your coworkers are always complaining about you pass a tent city littered with needles and human shit.
Eventually you realize that an enormous number of the public figures who went to your university and succeeded in "changing the world" didn't change it for the better. And you may wonder if a lot of the things you've been told about meritocracy and the virtues of intelligence and achievement and wealth accumulation are true at all.
Can you please elaborate on this bit more? How is FANAG hurting people?
People at FAANG companies may well strive to minimise the negative impact of their activities but it clearly doesn't work very well given, well, /me gestures broadly at the tech industry.
This information is then used to judge, to predict, to sell and more.
Their profits are enormous, so useful new services are created, but coincidentally they involve new ways to track.
You have companies full of smart people working hard who want to make the world a better place -- and the result is still eroding privacy, driving "attention economy" addictions, promoting the shallowest content, influencing politics, devastating small businesses, and ruining mental health.
Not because that's what some of the people working there want. (In that case you could at least think "OK, I'll work extra smart and hard, get to the top, and change things for the better.") But because that's what the system as a whole produces, even when the individuals in it don't want that.
See also: Slate Star Codex's "Meditations on Moloch", https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/07/30/meditations-on-moloch/ .
What do I get? All I see is constant disrespect from society and from places like HackerNews. Where's the sympathy for a state school grad like me struggling to get a top job, or struggling to be taken seriously?
Working at FAANG as well, for ~10 years now, and nobody has ever given a lick about my degree. Good thing too, because I don't have one :) Neither do plenty of colleagues. There are plenty of colleagues from state schools too. AFAICT - nobody really cares, so it's not discussed that often.
It's not a big question when evaluating interviews or hiring, either. (I've seen by now a high three-digit number of interviews)
And, seriously: Get rid of that handle. You're telling yourself a story every time you see it.
Realistically I don't think many people care deeply, but the folks I'm being surrounded by definitely didn't go to Ivies. I think they're just fine and I don't mind working where I work, but it's clear to me that I'm not regarded highly (or as intelligent) as a person by society. The worst part is I feel stuck and trapped by my own inherent ability as a person.
The multiple replies you have here are well meaning and are trying to say that you need to at least be able to look at things from another perspective.
As for how a therapist can help: a good one is trained to allow you to see your own thought process and ask yourself questions about them. A good therapist has also probably seen many cases and has some education, training and experience in how to help people break out of some unhelpful cycles of thought. It is not an easy job and not every therapist suits every patient. Nevertheless, with the right therapist, if one is committed to improving one's own health, things can start getting better.
Please don't give up and have faith in yourself. I can not deny what you see as problems. However, please allow me to question if the way you are looking at them is unavoidable and whether it helps you find a path to somewhere else (figuratively speaking) where you'd rather be instead.
This is still pretty OK, when compared to the average human being.
Which is to say, fair cop. HYP+MS produce too many consultants, finance bros and tech PMs is not exactly a unique POV. What is interesting to me is that Palladium has seemed to have cornered the market on "Student/new grad disillusioned with <elite institution>" articles.
Apsec112, is there a reason you decided to post this older blogpost rather than the more recent publication?
honestly too many to list: https://palladiummag.com/2019/08/05/the-real-problem-at-yale..., https://palladiummag.com/2019/01/07/western-academias-activi..., https://palladiummag.com/2020/06/18/the-new-managerial-class...
But I can't help thinking that the title should, more accurately, be "Elite Illusionment" :)