Book Recommendation: Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz

What is the point of college? Is a university education merely the next step to achieving lucrative employment in finance or consulting, or a stepping stone to medical or law school?

William Deresiewicz, a professor at and alumni of Yale, examines in "Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of American Elite" the consequences of an educational system that prioritizes checking off boxes and valuing learning only as a means to an end.

Reflecting on his own transition from high school to college, to him, "College was a blank. College was the 'next thing."

He criticizes the endless hoop-jumping society and college admissions processes subject students to. There is no room to take a step back and reflect thoughtfully on our actions and behaviors. 

"Questions of purpose and passion were not on the syllabus. Once they've reached the shining destination toward which their entire adolescence had been pointed...many kids find out what they have no idea why they're there, or what they want to do next."

He notes students he has taught for the past decade who learn to pass exams, but not how to use their minds. Instead of defining self-worth on their SATs and class rank, students identify with the MCAT or earning an internship at Goldman Sachs - only the credentials change.

Many students lament the stresses and comparisons that come from attending competitive high schools. Is it in your best interest to attend universities with these same sorts of people?

Especially at elite institutions, he finds a risk-averse student body terrified of failure. Deresiewicz examines the origins of our current society and offers prescriptions on how to get the most of the possibilities of exploration offered by an undergraduate education. 

One thing I appreciated about my experience at UT is there were thousands of people doing different things. UT's diverse student body offers exposure to different perspectives, opportunities, and career paths. Families often laud prestige for its own sake, but you can receive an excellent education at public universities.