WEIS: College Mold Too Limiting
Published: Friday, January 25, 2013
Updated: Friday, January 25, 2013 13:01
Students at top-tier universities would be remiss if they did not read David Brooks’ article “The Organization Kid,” in which he describes our generation as one defined by its achievement. Students at elite universities across the country get perfect grades. They receive the admiration of their professors, administrators and peers alike. They go off and start businesses and run nonprofit organizations.
Brooks’ thesis is summarized as this: “At the top of the meritocratic ladder we have … a generation of students who ... feel no compelling need to rebel. They not only defer to authority, they admire it. ... At the schools and colleges where the next leadership class is being bred, one finds not angry revolutionaries [or] despondent slackers … but the Organization Kid.”
Put simply, we are the students our grandparents wanted our parents to be. We are well-groomed, hard working and desire success — often times at the expense of enjoying youth.
Though Brooks’ original article is over a decade old, I would argue that much of what he says remains true today at a similar top-tier university.
Here at Georgetown, there is a pervasive desire — almost a visceral need — to succeed. We seek — and more often than not, obtain — the best internships at the most prestigious firms. We are upset if we earn a B+ because it “hurts our GPA.” We are constantly evaluating our chances at getting into law schools, business schools and medical schools.
Many of us spend months preparing for interviews for spring-semester recruiting. We study tirelessly to get that impressive GPA top graduate schools require, all while volunteering 10 hours a week at a nonprofit, working part time at a paid job, being the president of this club or that organization and heading to Yates at least four times a week. Many of us seem to have mastered the ability to juggle responsibility and do the best — and be the best — at everything.
At Georgetown, we seem to be very much in the mold of Organization Kids. When we see a protest in Red Square, arguably the most common reaction is to laugh and discard the protestors as misguided or crazy. Even the unionization of the Leo’s workers was — and still is — met with a nervous response.
I’m not arguing that this incredible work ethic somehow diminishes what we do in our four years on the Hilltop. Georgetown is a unique place in the sense that we do not compete against each other — rather, we compete against what we perceive to be the dominant level of our peers.
At a university like this one, we have friends who have done incredible things. They have formed a million-dollar tech company, started a nonprofit in some developing country in an obscure part of the world and traded commodities at profit margins that would make professional traders jealous. All too often, we seem to think that we must compete against such benchmarks or fall behind — that we would somehow fail at what is expected of us.
Instead, I argue that, though difficult, we must not forget what youth and college are all about. We are college kids. We are supposed to have fun while working hard, to enjoy our youth and our inherent lack of any major responsibility. We are sheltered; we are pampered. Because of our environment at Georgetown, however, we are primed and very much ready to take on the world. I hold that we should not focus so much on fulfilling the Organization Kid mold as much as we should focus on keeping our age and current place in perspective. Go to basketball games, hang out with friends on Healy Lawn, have a beer at Tombs. Enjoy college while it lasts.
Live a little. Lighten up. Don’t just be the Organization Kid.
David Weis is a junior in the College. FROM THE OUTSIDE appears every other Friday.