on elitism

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So lately I have been focusing quite a bit on race, but I’m gonna take a break from that an look at class.

I went to one of the most “elite” colleges in the country and Have been thinking quite a bit about whether or not it was worth it. Actually, I have been marvelling at how worth it it was. It seems to me that once people are aware of the school I went to, they don’t criticize me the way they would if I had gone to another lesser known, or less prestigious school. How am I supposed to feel about that?

On one hand, it’s absolutely great. I try never to come out of the mouth with ignorant bullsh*&$ but sometimes, it’s nice to know that my school is a nice save. I have seen it with other people. I did not go to Harvard, but I have seen people eat up whatever bull S*!@ some Harvard person was slinging just because of the school they went to ( obviously they weren’t very bright because those who know better know about Harvard’s grade inflation problem).

BUt is this really fair? What about the tons of smart people who went to community college or or a lesser-known state university on a full scholarship? The college you attend intersects race and class in way that forms a new kind of elitism, and frankly it’s a bit sickening. I’m not intentionally trying to pick on Harvard, but I have had situations where when people attending that school found out I did not go there, they were colder towards me than before. One of my friends actually had some Harvard people walk away from her when she told them that she in fact went to Wellesley! Damn that is pretty cold! and all for what? She will do just as a well as they will if not better (if we are going by undergraduate preparation and opportunities per student). …

I have to go to a rugby game, so I will continue this blog later… more time to think.. I like that. ..

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3 thoughts on “on elitism

  1. Kristen

    I’ve been thinking a lot about elitism lately too. It’s everywhere in academia. And of course, I’m guilty of it too.

  2. Kristen

    Honestly, I definitely think my Wellesley education was worth it. I’ve had a lot of opportunities that other students here have not. I do catch myself sometimes thinking that I went to the best school out of all the incoming students here…but my classmates then impress me by how smart they are. So just because they didn’t go to a school as good as Wellesley doesn’t mean that they aren’t just as intelligent. And…we all ended up basically at the same place.

    So yes, this elitism is not really fair. And it affects your reputation in academia too. I’ve seen the excitement here about speakers from prestigious universities, and compared that to the blase attitude about speakers from less well-regarded institutions. Does that mean their research was any better? That they were better speakers? Not necessarily.

    This reaction worries me too when I think about the implications this has for job searches. Now I worry that the school I’m at is not prestigious enough–did I make a bad decision? Especially since people from top-tier univerities tend to get hired by second-tier universities and so on down the line. I suppose this puts even more pressure on me to do really stellar research so I can get a great post-doc position and be competitive for a good job.

    In some cases I think the reputation of the elite schools is warranted. . .but the sweeping generalizations are unfair.

    Sorry, I should get my own blog.

  3. Gazelle du Sahara

    I think I understand how you feel. In some ways the pressure to retain elite status can be a bit much.

    Sometimes people are surprised to discover that a particular high ranking official,intellectual etc. did not go to Oxford, Yale or Princeton. It is insane.

    At the end of the day what matters the most is your intelligence and how engaged you are with your research. Don’t sweat it chica. (Although I also have to be real, a post-doc at an Ivy wouldn’t hurt either 😉

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