William Deresiewicz’s article, The Disadvantages of an Elite Education, discusses the disparity in education for those that attend Ivy League universities and those that do not: an education that goes beyond the classroom.
There is no doubt a degree from an Ivy League university holds prestige. Individuals are selectively chosen to attend these competitive institutions. These highly driven students are groomed to become future leaders in government and business. Yet Deresiewicz believes Ivy League students are at an educational disadvantage due to this environment.
There are Ivy League students who “worked the system” in order to get in. Once they attend college, the administration creates opportunities so that students will not encounter disappointment and failure. Students maintain the status quo at these traditional institutions by fitting into the mold and rarely being encouraged to think outside of the box. In contrast, non-Ivy League students receive little, if any, buffer or exceptions. They experience failure: a lesson anyone must face. It is from failure where we learn to fix our mistakes and try again until we succeed.
If tomorrow’s leaders are currently in top-tier schools, shouldn’t we expect them to rise above by leading with innovative and creative thinking? Some of the most memorable historical figures went against the grain by demanding change and experienced multiple failures until they achieved success. To be a great leader is to acknowledge that change is inevitable. One must not avoid it, but rather encourage it, and recognize failure as an opportunity to grow. It is unfortunate Ivy League institutions withhold such experiences from their students, and that some students lack the initiative to pave their own way. The result is “great success but no vision.” But true leaders will emerge, as they have throughout history, regardless of where, or if, they went to college.