Wednesday, July 11, 2012

A Lesson in Humility

Apparently "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education," an essay written by William Deresiewicz, who seemed to be trying, about five years ago, to make a second career as a professional embittered former Yale English lecturer, has been making the rounds again.

I'm not sure who Willa the Princeton Student is, but her response is rock-solid. Read it. She writes about knowing that you didn't get into an Ivy League school because you were awesomer than everyone else, but because you were pretty awesome and really, really lucky; and about the humility that comes from being around a lot of people who are a lot smarter than you for the first time; and about being awkward and bookish because that's just who you are, not because you've been turned into an elitist snob in your singular pursuit of ivy admission or by dint of having gotten it.

A lot of people have picked out the quote from the image I've included above as the part that resonated most with them. For me it was this line: "People stopped treating me like the eighth world wonder. Instead, they treated me like... a normal person?!?! It was (and is) awesome."

That panel pretty completely encapsulates what Yale was for me: A place where I could be one wicked smart freak among many.

(I'm sure there's more I could/should say now from the other side of the desk and at a slightly different kind of university; I've just returned from a seriously deadening day at jury duty, though, so if there is, it'll have to wait for a second post at a later moment or the comment thread, on the off chance that takes off.)

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