Posts Tagged ‘surprise’


I was born into a modest, middle-class background, in a small town near a larger city.  Like many “gifted” children, I had parents who thought they should encourage the flowering of my intellectual talents, and deemed that accelerated educational programs were the best way to do so.  Consequently, I sacrificed the better part of a decade of my short existence to studying – math, writing, SAT preparation, etc.  I participated in pre-college programs through Stanford, Duke, and Princeton, and the fruits of my test-preparation efforts were a 1570 SAT I (out of 1600, not 2400), a 790 average on the SAT II subject tests, and offers of admission to Yale, Duke, and MIT.  I ultimately chose Duke for its life science programs (my father wanted me to become a doctor, but that’s another story).  Four years later, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology and a respectable 3.6 GPA, and entered “the real world,” where I thought that my elite schooling credentials would open up a plethora of professional opportunities and would ensure that I had nowhere to go but up.

I think that expectation is one I share with all students who pursue an education at a high-ranking private university, and I don’t think it’s an unreasonable one given the sacrifices that we have made to get where we were.  Unfortunately, since I graduated nothing for me has worked out as anticipated.  More than four years post-graduation, my life is a living hell.  I’m broke, I’m unemployed, I’m living with my mother, and I’ve been forced to re-enroll in college again, essentially re-doing my education from ground zero because my Duke degree – along with a laundry list of other academic achievements – has gotten me nowhere.   For a long time, I accepted my plight with good graces and kept silent out of both pride and embarrassment.  But recently, something inside me snapped.  I will be silent no more.

Those of us who pursue the “Ivy Dream,” as I will call it, make tremendous sacrifices – of time, effort, and money – for our educations.  I, for example, spent $100,000 of my own money on college.  I was lucky enough to have a trust fund set aside by a grandparent, but now, it is all gone, and I have nothing to show for it.  I could really use that money now, since I can’t find work, but alas, I have nothing to fall back on – entirely as a result of my choice to attend an “elite” university.  I was scammed; there is no other term to describe what has happened.  Had I attended a simple state school, as I’ve ultimately ended up doing anyway (I’m at a community college at present), I would have saved all that money – as well as avoided a tremendous amount of the academic burnout I experienced from facing such a challenging curriculum.  I might have led a normal existence of partying, dating, traveling, and enjoying life to its fullest.  Instead, I bit the bullet and decided to devote my time to an education which I believed – erroneously – would open doors that would otherwise be closed.

It is not unreasonable for those of us who make these sacrifices to expect that our credentials should pull some weight.  But to an ever-increasing degree, I notice that many of us haven’t seen our dreams come to fruition, but instead have fared no better than our state school counterparts.  In addition, many of us are burdened with crippling debt on the order of $100-200,000.

In the worst economy since the Great Depression, I have found that no one cares where I went to college.  But this is precisely the sort of economic climate in which my “elite” credentials should make a difference.  This is when guys like me are “supposed” to be getting job offers, while those lesser mortals who attended “regular” schools are struggling to scrape by.  Instead, my diploma isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on.

U.S. News and World Report, you lied to us.  Elite education sucks; it lands students (and parents) in tremendous debt, and frequently leaves them burned out, jobless, and hopeless.  Harvard, you suck.  MIT, you suck.  Yale, Princeton, Duke, Cornell, Brown, Dartmouth, Columbia – you’re all a laughable joke.  You duped us into working our asses off for you, and then you threw us to the wolves.  You destroyed our dreams and wrecked our credit ratings.  You left us with no hope.  You are no better than the slimiest snake-oil seller.  The only difference is you dress a bit better.  And even now, you have the gall to continue asking for money in the form of alumni donations.  You’ll never see another penny of my money.  The first $200K was $200K too much.

I am sorry that I ever chose to attend a private school.  I am sorry that I wasted my time on accelerated, “gifted” academic programs that deprived me of social development and what might have been an normal adolescence and an enjoyable college experience.  Whereas most people refer to college as “the best years of your life,” my college years were far and away the worst of my life.  Attending an elite university was the worst mistake I ever made – one which may haunt me for the rest of my life – and I think it’s important not to see others fall into the same traps that I did.

This blog will serve as both a sounding board for my personal rants about life during and after “the Great Sacrifice,” as I like to refer to my “elite” education, as well as a source of stories and articles from others like me whose lives haven’t worked out the way they anticipated.  This is not a frivolous exercise for me; I sincerely hope that this blog can provide some useful information for many soon-to-be college students, and that I can help others to avoid making the mistakes that I made.


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