Training the ruling class of tomorrow

Training the ruling class of tomorrow. By Scott Newman.

In 2017, I got the welcome news that I’d been admitted to Princeton University. At the time, I was ecstatic. … But now that I’ve graduated, I’m not sure the prize was worth the price I paid to win it. …

During high school, I spent almost every Friday and Saturday night studying, or working on the sort of extracurricular activities that I knew would assist my college applications. I had little time for friendships or dating. For meals, if I remembered to eat, I’d often wolf down my food in solitude. It wasn’t a healthy way to live, yet this is how many ambitious American students behave in their bid for admission to one of the country’s top schools. …

The hyper-competitive admissions process at elite institutions can rob teenagers of important experiences. It also can encourage a sense of hyper-individualism, since the only way to beat the odds is by endlessly boosting one’s own accomplishments. …

Those scenes from film and television of students on college campuses whimsically throwing around frisbees and having snowball fights — I never saw that happen. Yes, people ate together, drank together, went to parties, played sports, and studied in groups. But to an almost comical degree, these activities were tightly scheduled. You’d be hard pressed to find a Princeton student who didn’t track his or her life in 30-minute increments.

 Students still have sex, of course. But it was hard not to notice a lack of sustained romantic relationships. In my case, I allowed a meaningful relationship to lapse because I prioritized my studies, imagining that this kind of intense focus would lead to a job in investment banking (a dubious goal to begin with, but more on that below). Regardless of whether a relationship really would have affected my grades in any significant way (which seems doubtful), it was the wrong choice. …

The sort of student who gets into Princeton has probably spent his or her teenage years in constant fear of slipping up in any way that might threaten his or her picture-perfect college application — whether at school, in his or her personal life, or on social media. Fellow students looking to sabotage one another and college admissions officers looking to lighten their reading load all have an eye out for any slip-up. In the social-media age, teens often feel like they’re being constantly watched and judged. But given that a single bad tweet — or even an off-color meme shared in a private group chat — can cost you a shot at the Ivy League, as it did to 10 Harvard hopefuls in 2017, that’s not mere paranoia.

Whatever an applicant’s actual views, it’s a huge plus to signal the right social-justice commitments. Consider, for example, the student who gained admission to Stanford with an essay-question answer consisting of the #BlackLivesMatter hashtag repeated 100 times. …

But these progressive ideals are mostly for show—as evidenced by the fact that the actual career paths of typical Princeton graduates are guided by a hunger for status and security, not social justice. No one I know mentioned “Goldman Sachs” or “McKinsey” in their admissions essays. But year after year, they flock to places like these.

What I’m describing is a kind of liar’s club. Hopeful high school students lie about their commitment to social justice in a bid to gain admission, while the universities themselves lie about all the risk-taking, world-changing mavericks they’re looking to nurture. Neither side dares to speak the grubby truth, which is that the undergraduate experience will be a pro forma exercise in leftist indoctrination that precedes a march into the hallowed halls of investment banks and management consultancies.

Molding woke conformists with little idea of what makes the rest of us tick.