Today started off as a good day. I slept the most I have in the past three weeks and woke up at 10:30am. I went to the Cal Alumni Club annual BBQ in Virginia with a great turnout. I ate damn good food and conversed with past, current, and future Cal Bears.
And then a friend told me something. He said that a bunch of the other University of California students had attempted to hang out with Berkeley folks, but had stopped trying after receiving pretentious, exclusive treatment. The Berkeley folks don’t have the a good reputation in my apartment complex as a result.
This irritated me for a long time. Thus, it’s time to talk about the disadvantages of an “elite” education. You can read about my part one post here, written one year ago.
The disadvantages of an elite education is felt every day. I have been a product of it, and I am trying to disconnect myself from those disadvantages.
The largest one is pretense. Students enter a top institution and are berated by administrators and professors with the psychobabble talk about being future business leaders, engineers, medical practitioners, lawyers, and politicians of the next generation. They are bombarded with the rhetoric of being number one; the top in their country; better than everyone else.
Those types of talks tread dangerous waters. Allow me to explain.
I’m going through job recruitment right now. I have many people who read my cover letters and resume, and one colleague offered to glimpse through one application. He indicated that my profile appeared strong, but recommended me to change the following sentence: “Research experience from the University of California, Berkeley, has empowered me to…” to: “Research experience from the number one public university and top research institution in the world, UC Berkeley, has empowered me to…”
I immediately vocalized how pretentious that sounded, yet I was met with stiff resistance about how “true” the statement was. What!? Since when did we have to vocalize the brainwashing forced upon us by every university affiliate? Since when did that give us the right to stand broad shouldered in an application pool with many equally qualified applicants? Since when did we become better than other people?
There are many people who choose B University over A University for their own reasons. Does that make them less capable, less successful, less “better” than others? Does it correlate into their lifelong earnings, or intellectual capacity, or corresponding networks? Hell no. Successful people will reach their potential regardless. Why look down on them?
Many people suffer the same mentality of superiority. These folks range from 18-25 years old, have limited to no real world experience, are worth zero net worth in individual wealth when you subtract parent’s assistance, and have yet to add value to society. Yet, they talk about being future leaders, about how they are better than everyone else because Berkeley is this and that; because Stanford is this and that; and because Oxford and Princeton is this and that. And the list goes on.
I’m rambling now. Most disorganized blog I’ve written in years. But let me end with this.
At the BBQ today, one of the Berkeley grads said something that hit me hard. He had obtained his law degree from UPenn and was met with awe from a recent graduate. “Dude, that’s top 14 law school! You’re amazing!”
His response: “Ahh, is that what the rankings say now? I see you look up stuff on websites like toplawschools.com! Hahahahaha”
He was humble, honest, and patient. Without revealing any ego, he indicated that rankings did not define who he was and didn’t care about it. He was merely trying to reach his full potential.
Be humble, man, be humble.
I encourage you all to read this article “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education”, as it better sums up what my thoughts are of exclusive, pretentious behavior.
LASTLY, University of California folks: on behalf of my alma mater, I apologize for the way you guys have been treated by some of us Berkeley folks. I assure you that not all of us are this way, and I also assure you that such behaviors exist within our own school as well. I, and many of my cohorts, despise elitism and wish it did not exist.