Meet Ben. He’s a high school senior from a middle class family in Massachusettes who is choosing where to attend college next year. He’s down to two schools: prestigious Boston College, or the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, his state’s top public campus. Even with the generous financial aid package from BC, he would still graduate with a big mound of loans. UMass, meanwhile, would be more than $15,000 a year cheaper.
Which should Ben pick? Prestige or price?
With the cost of higher education climbing every year, and student debt surpassing $1 trillion, more and more young people will have to decide whether to make that trade-off. It begs the question: Does it really pay to go to an elite university, financially speaking? Researchers have been investigating this issue since at least the 1980s. And their findings tend to show that when it comes to future earnings, where you go to college counts.
Hm, interesting (if not altogether unexpected) stuff.
(Also take a look at the comments, which are full of anecdotal evidence and different perspectives, most of which seem to agree with the article.)
“In short, at the top of the meritocratic ladder we have in America a generation of students who are extraordinarily bright, morally earnest, and incredibly industrious. They like to study and socialize in groups. They create and join organizations with great enthusiasm. They are responsible, safety-conscious, and mature. They feel no compelling need to rebel—not even a hint of one. They not only defer to authority; they admire it. ‘Alienation’ is a word one almost never hears from them. They regard the universe as beneficent, orderly, and meaningful.
They have woven their way through the temptations of adolescence and have benefited from all the nurturing and instruction and opportunities with which the country has provided them. They are responsible. They are generous. They are bright. They are good-natured. But they live in a country that has lost, in its frenetic seeking after happiness and success, the language of sin and character-building through combat with sin. Evil is seen as something that can be cured with better education, or therapy, or Prozac. Instead of virtue we talk about accomplishment.
Maybe the lives of the meritocrats are so crammed because the stakes are so small. All this ambition and aspiration is looking for new tests to ace, new clubs to be president of, new services to perform, but finding that none of these challenges is the ultimate challenge, and none of the rewards is the ultimate reward.”
I want to print this article out and mail it to every. Single. Person. That I know.
Reblogging for truth (at least in the first half) but also for a more critical take on the latter half.
There is a bit of a self-righteous air to the article—a certain “everything was better and freer when I was a youngster.” And while I think that it’s a little silly to assume that all modern “contrivances” and “the end of chivalry” are automatically restrictive and wrong because Brooks seems to disagree, he brings up a number of really thought-provoking points about the sheer…achievement-based ethos of today’s children and students.
(I am, nonetheless, somewhat alarmed by the neocon-ish slant of his take on morality—perhaps it’s an instinctive “generational” recoil from the concept of pure Evil (with a capital E) and a general distaste for mixing religious doctrine—because, let’s be honest, there’s a lot of that when he discusses character and “virtue”—into an otherwise enlightening article about hyperachievementism.)
What happens to all the Asian-American overachievers when the test-taking ends?
I’m still not sure how much of this article I agree with—I need some more time to mull it over. But this passage, in particular, really resonated with me:
And so there is an additional concern accompanying the rise of the Tiger Children, one focused more on the narrowness of the educational experience a non-Asian child might receive in the company of fanatically preprofessional Asian students. Jenny Tsai, a student who was elected president of her class at the equally competitive New York public school Hunter College High School, remembers frequently hearing that “the school was becoming too Asian, that they would be the downfall of our school.” A couple of years ago, she revisited this issue in her senior thesis at Harvard, where she interviewed graduates of elite public schools and found that the white students regarded the Asians students with wariness. (She quotes a music teacher at Stuyvesant describing the dominance of Asians: “They were mediocre kids, but they got in because they were coached.”) In 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported on “white flight” from a high school in Cupertino, California, that began soon after the children of Asian software engineers had made the place so brutally competitive that a B average could place you in the bottom third of the class.
Things that somehow come naturally to people who go to school in the suburbs and have parents who are culturally assimilated.” I pressed him for specifics, and he mentioned that he had visited his white girlfriend’s parents’ house the past Christmas, where the family had “sat around cooking together and playing Scrabble.” This ordinary vision of suburban-American domesticity lingered with Mao: Here, at last, was the setting in which all that implicit knowledge “about social norms and propriety” had been transmitted. There was no cram school that taught these lessons.
In case you were wondering why it was so easy for all these people to look the other way for decades, I think this probably goes a long way in answering that question.
I was wondering about that, and yes, that does explain a lot.
was like this almost trans-political object of hate that united everyone in reflexive, powerful disgust that outweighed any other considerations. Like, if a candidate ran for president on a platform that included the public torture and execution of child rapists, they’d win in a landslide.
So what gives?
Football, and most of the victims were poor kids, so no1curr.
I cannot understand why people are picketing in SUPPORT of the sexual abuser. Welp, I guess coaching football gets you everywhere.
First and foremost, I call shenanigans.
Second, I like how you carefully worded your choice of education. ”Moderately priced” and “in-state”: aka barely accredited (enjoy when you get passed over for every job and/or promotion because someone else has a better education - one that taught not to use phrases like “I got good grades”).
Third, I’m happy that you can spend 30 hours a week working. It must be nice to not have an elderly parent to care for in that time or kids to raise.
Fourth, I’m happy you were able to begin saving for college at age 17. It must’ve been nice not to have any medical bills (maybe you should thank your parents here for having medical insurance) or to have to help your family pay for electricity, water or groceries.
Fifth, it’s cute that you assume everyone has the same opportunities, IQ, and background you do. Sure makes it easier to feel superior, huh?
Sixth, take one fucking sociology class and realize that the system is designed to make people fail — people’s own “bad” choices often have nothing to do with it.
And finally, take your arrogant, privileged white ass and put yourself in the life of somebody born into poverty. I bet you give your precious bootstraps one tug and society will break them in half. Then see if you still believe everything you just wrote.
Just gonna put this here.
Bless this commentary
I have to acquire some gifs to bless this commentary myself.
I got a full tuition scholarship to college. Not my first choice college. Honestly, I refused to even apply to my dream school (Columbia) because I knew I couldn’t afford it and it would break my heart to turn down an offer. Just like it did when I had to turn down U. Chicago, and U….
Preach. Go forth and be awesome—I’ll be rooting for you all the way.