Boston, MA - 07/18/14: Alexander Iascone, tour guide with Trademark Tours, explains the history of buildings in the Harvard Yard on the "The Hahvahd Tour" on July 18, 2014, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. (Kayana Szymczak for the Boston Globe)
Ban Harvard, a piece in The New Republic argues.
The Boston Globe

“Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” screams the magazine cover of the Harvard graduate-owned The New Republic, with a flaming Harvard flag as its centerpiece.

The piece from William Deresiewicz, a Columbia Ph.D and 10-year faculty at Yale, makes the argument that students at Ivy League schools are being turned into “zombies”:

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“Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

Students are not encouraged to think intellectually and critically, he argues, but to succeed in a chosen field like business. And that’s not the point of college, he claims.

Deresiewicz particularly takes aim at Harvard for being a “bastion of privilege” and for being more interested in building its coffers than acting for the common good. He slams the cliché “Harvard is for leaders,” insisting that “what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top,” he writes.

In terms of getting a job, though, Ivy League schools overwhelmingly succeed, Deresiewicz admits. He didn’t need to look far to make that point; the underlying awkwardness of the story is that The New Republic is full of Ivy League graduates, Politico’s Byron Tau points out.

Scott Bixby, a former social media fellow at The New Republic, seconded that point.

The best way to get hired at The New Republic is, as is largely true at any magazine, to be a good writer. But going to an Ivy certainly helps make that case on a resume. “The Deresiewicz piece on Ivy League overlooks the #1 reason kids go to college,” Bloomberg’s Lauren Streib tweets, “to get [a] better job.”

That’s not to say the story should be dismissed as hypocrisy, and it does make some valuable points about the perpetuating classism that the Ivies support. Promoting the chance that you’ll have future economic success is nice, too, and The New Republic’s staff can attest to that point.