Training the Neurotic Elite

Ivy League students sit at the pinnacle of American society and are considered the seeds for the nation’s future elite. Told they’re the best, the cream of the crop, their education serves as their ticket to the most prestigious jobs and profitable endeavors.

But what experiences do these institutions grant to those lucky enough to receive an acceptance letter? A grueling four-year long boot camp that trains our elite to be neurotic, materialistic, pedantic, and depressed worker bees that can keep the System chugging along.

I’ve written on this phenomenon before, but a contributor to Vice now offers a first-hand account of what’s it like to actually attend an Ivy League school.

Zack Schwartz recounts his dismal experience attending Columbia University and the type of person who typically attends a school like his eventual alma mater.

There's a myth that you have to be interesting and hard-working to get into an Ivy League school. I was disappointed to find out otherwise. Certainly, there are some amazing people, but you also have kids who would attend an Ivy no matter what—the children of Fortune 500 CEOs, movie stars, Middle Eastern royalty. There have been multiple pieces recently exposing Ivy League admissions as " a sham" and "rigged in favor of the privileged," and I've even overhead students laughing and saying stuff like, "I definitely wouldn't be here if my dad didn't donate." So, to all the kids who came from public schools, who worked hard, and didn't get in anywhere—that's who took your spot.

I'm still appalled at how shallow some of my classmates are. How the fuck did you get in? I wonder. But it makes sense. A lot of kids turn out to be interesting only on paper. Sure, they might have lived in four different countries and traveled to 20 more, but those experiences were bought.

Here’s Schwartz explaining the lofty goals most Columbia students have:

If you graduate from an Ivy and don't have a lucrative job waiting for you, it's shameful. So many students disregard passion, disregard their own interest and hobbies—things you can't list on a résumé—and get ground up and spat out with a suit, a smile, and a hollow inside. This is the reason why the most popular major at Ivies is financial economics—even at Brown, the school known for making grades optional, has students flocking to study the "dismal science" so they can cash in upon graduation.

I've seen kids who came in as incredibly talented musicians give up and go into finance. I've seen kids who wanted to be astronauts give up and go into finance. At Ivies, dreams take a backseat to prestige and stability.

But why do these bright kids with artistic ambitions turn to the soul-sucking world of finance?

Here's where the Ivy League's relationship with finance comes in. Once this environment crushes you and makes you realize that achieving your dreams is going to require a lot more rejection than you're used to, Wall Street swoops in. Not every Ivy has this relationship with Wall Street, but the phenomenon of banks and financial firms preying on vulnerable, intelligent students is well documented. "Here," they say. "Here's money and stability and prestige, all the things you deserve, because you're a straight-A student who made all the right choices." The only thing you don't get from that is honor. [Emphasis added]

It is interesting that the aristocrats of yore prized honor as the highest virtue and considered it more important than life itself. Our current elites seem deprived of that value—and have no qualms about it.

And they also appear miserable beyond comprehension.

My first night at Columbia, a girl jumped out of her window. I saw the blood on the pavement. Depression is normal, but here, it's the norm…

An Ivy can change your life for the better, but there's a price you pay for that. You're going to have fight for your happiness constantly. You're going to have a hard time finding "real" people. And you're going to sleep very, very little.

So why do we still think of those with credentials from prestigious schools as gods amongst mortals? Our managerial elite aren’t impressive—they’re just sad, pathetic souls tasked with the burden of running a multiracial state and a globalized economy.

If we ever want the society that lives up to the virtues of our ancestors, we need genuine aristocrats in charge—not these neurotic busybodies.