I got this article in my mail as a forward. I am not the kind of person who usually bothers with forwards, more often than not, they directly hit my trash can. Curiosity got the better of me and I clicked on it. The title read: The disadvantages of an elite education. That being interesting enough, add to it that its written by a student and now professor at Yale.
You can read the article here
The article touches many topics, most of which I identified with. Though it is set in the American system and the examples are all location specific, I found it to be as indicative of our B-schools as possible. There are a lot of things I agree with including the fact that it makes us socially incapable but this blog is about another point.
I always felt that I was apart from the crowd, did not fit in because my idea of the life I want to lead is not the typical management student’s dream. I don’t dream of being a CEO or running a $40 billion enterprise. I don’t see the point in traveling the world if you don’t have time to stop and smell the flowers, I rather backpack. But reading this made me realize that I am not alone.
It says “If one of the disadvantages of an elite education is the temptation it offers to mediocrity, another is the temptation it offers to security. When parents explain why they work so hard to give their children the best possible education, they invariably say it is because of the opportunities it opens up. But what of the opportunities it shuts down? An elite education gives you the chance to be rich—which is, after all, what we’re talking about—but it takes away the chance not to be. Yet the opportunity not to be rich is one of the greatest opportunities with which young Americans have been blessed. We live in a society that is itself so wealthy that it can afford to provide a decent living to whole classes of people who in other countries exist (or in earlier times existed) on the brink of poverty or, at least, of indignity. You can live comfortably in the United States as a schoolteacher, or a community organizer, or a civil rights lawyer, or an artist—that is, by any reasonable definition of comfort. You have to live in an ordinary house instead of an apartment in Manhattan or a mansion in L.A.; you have to drive a Honda instead of a BMW or a Hummer; you have to vacation in Florida instead of Barbados or Paris, but what are such losses when set against the opportunity to do work you believe in, work you’re suited for, work you love, every day of your life?
Yet it is precisely that opportunity that an elite education takes away. How can I be a schoolteacher—wouldn’t that be a waste of my expensive education? Wouldn’t I be squandering the opportunities my parents worked so hard to provide? What will my friends think? How will I face my classmates at our 20th reunion, when they’re all rich lawyers or important people in New York? And the question that lies behind all these: Isn’t it beneath me? So a whole universe of possibility closes, and you miss your true calling.”
When I took a sabbatical to rethink my life and find a direction I wanted to follow rather than go through the corporate rut, within a month of doing so these same doubts found their way back into my head. The fact that I am well educated, rather than spurring me on, pulled me back into the race to make money. It was hinted and sometimes blatantly stated that it would be a complete waste of my education if I did not use it and work in a corporate job. The perception of my intelligence, my standing as an individual and the entire purpose of my life suddenly changed.
I write all this here as an attempt to remind myself of who I am and the way I want to live…hoping that I will find it in me to tear away from all this and be content.