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Educational Elite

21 Mar
Graduate-bot says what?

I’ve been thinking a lot about school lately. In fact, I’ve been thinking about higher education, Ivy-league and otherwise, since before I finished undergrad. I’m not talking academics, here, because I’ve been thinking academics since forever. My official membership in the Nerd Herd was granted in high school, and I keep the flame burning in my adult life by making grammar jokes and geeking out about fonts on the regular.

No, I’m talking about something far more insidious, something which I’ll call “Schooling.” I started thinking about this before the end of high school, when I was applying to colleges. Even though I had a 4.0, high SAT scores and seven million extracurricular feathers in my hat, I knew my family couldn’t afford Wellesley or Harvard, so I didn’t bother applying. I picked the closest, cheapest public university. I held steadfastly to the idea that “good” schools don’t equal “smart” people. And I still believe that’s true with all my heart.

But a couple years out of college, I started reading a bunch of junk about class (Snobbery: The American Version, and Class: A Guide through the American Status System, among others) that adjusted my perspective. Sure, going to a “good” college doesn’t make you a “good” person. But having credentials from a “better” school WILL make people perceive you as “better” – better at your job, better at thinking/living/succeeding – and you will therefore be the recipient of preferential treatment, likely advancing farther and faster than your averagely-schooled countrymen. Thus, the perception that people who went to good schools are better/smarter/faster becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

In true Baader-Meinhof style, my new perspective was reinforced wherever I went. My current workplace is above-average in its obsession with Schooling. My immediate supervisor not only gleefully puts down my alma mater, but includes my hometown(s), parental occupations and the part of Portland where I live as dry tinder for the fires of devaluation. Introductions to new people are prefaced with long strings of alma maters, followed by names as inessential afterthoughts.

Not me, I swear.

A recent article from The Cronicle of Higher Education took educational elitism to a whole new level, reinforcing my suspicions that it’s not what you accomplish or how smart you are, but where you’ve been and who you know that matters in certain (powerful, rich) circles.

“Why all this prognostication?” you may ask. Outside of discourse for discourse’s sake, some of you know that I’ve been mulling pursuing my masters for oh, say, ever. I applied to a few schools, and got into all of them. I’ve narrowed my choices down to two: One is close to home and dirt-cheap. The other is far away and Ivy league. So research into educational elitism is not only interesting, but personally a propos. If the coursework is the same – and I believe it is – which one do I choose? Do I follow the proletariat’s path and attend the former, or “sell out” and attend the latter? Dear readers, weigh in in the comments. Do it now, lest I royally screw up my future, my credibility, or both!

*By the by, linking to these books don’t equate to authorial laudability – both authors are a tad douchey, and exhibit little humanity in belittling those-of-lesser-means, which ought to be a cardinal sin in the writing world. If you can’t empathize, you shouldn’t storytell.

Alone on Valentine’s Day, ladies? Maybe you’re overeducated

12 Feb

According to the enlightened cognoscenti over at the New York Times, we ladies a) only go to college to meet men; and b) are having a hard time meeting those men because too many of us go to college to c) you guessed it, meet men. The amazing part is that the article, by the estimable Alex Williams, is not an editorial. It appears in the style section, which makes an equal amount of nonsense.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but I know why I went to college. I thought to myself, “You know, self, these high school man-hunks are just not up to my brute standards. I think I’ll spend a few dozen grand on a bachelor’s. Then maybe I can finally find that special someone on which to perfect my fellatio technique! I do hope he’ll cheat on me, though. Fidelity is something up with which I will not put.”

My favorite quote? This one, from a guy surely unaware of how on-the-head he’s hit the cultural nail:

“It’s awesome being a guy,” admitted Garret Jones.

The article cites some sketchy statistics (sources are nowhere to be seen, so one can only assume they’re completely fabricated), namely that some colleges have a male-to-female ratio that is representative of the general population. I don’t know about you, but I smell a Pulitzer! It should be noted that Williams also mentions that the Ivies and other “prestigious” schools are still disproportionately male. So manhunters, apply yeselves, get into an Ivy, and ye shall be rewarded with better husband-trapping odds!

The only shred of truth can be found in Williams’ nod to that old antiquated idea of “fair and balanced” so tragically co-opted as a marketing slogan by an even worse news organization that shall remain unnamed:

Many women eagerly hit the library on Saturday night. And most would prefer to go out with friends, rather than date a campus brute.

No shit, Sherlock.

Conclusion? Not only does the NY Times format their headlines all wonky and stair-steppy, but they are also stuck in the 1950s and happily give page space to complete incompetents who were apparently high during Reporting 101 at their Ivies. Brutes.

If you’re into vapidity, you can read the sad excuse for an article.

For more on horrific coverage provided by Alex Williams in the style section, I highly suggest checking out the nytpicker.

For a counterpoint to this piece specifically, see Bust Magazine’s rebuttal.

*Photo courtesy of Hot Chicks with Douchebags, which needs no further explanation.

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