So I see that someone in Norway has visited my blog, and I'm assuming it's due to my recent advertisement on the college admit board websites, and not my huge Norwegian fanbase. And up until now I haven't done a lot of college reminiscing because I assumed all the people who know me are sick and tired of hearing me whine, but i feel like I owe it to N.Weejee (hope you don't mind that's your new nickname) and to other kids who are lost in that hurricane of horrible called the college admissions process to give you what you came for:
Yale.... YALE yale. Is a place. just like any other place. And the fact that those four little letters have made you visit a blog of a person you've never met and who has zero net legitimacy (though I appreciate your faith) shows a spec of how powerful a name can be. And I'm not going to tell you it's not a name that opens doors- it's this little invisible tattoo that you can shine a special IvyLeague certification light on if your intelligence is ever in doubt. People who are looking to hire you will raise their eyebrow. Maybe even both. "hoho" they will think to themselves "this person is not a retard. Or if he is, he is an EXTREMELY well connected motherfucking retard and I want in on that." And maybe you'll get the job.
If you want to conquer the financial world it's probably helpful to have gone to Yale. But please think of it as just what i described- a badge, a hoop to jump through, an obstacle course, and nothing more. Yale is not the utopia it makes itself out to be kids, it simply isn't, and if you have any little nibbling doubts when you start going on campus tours and realize that they are all the fucking same, and that every place has a *stellar* social life and *super* diversity and *amazing* classes with *passionate* teachers then you should listen to me when I say: college is a business. A branding. You are paying 40 grand a year to go to a hyped up summercamp where instead of relaxing you have to do all sorts of bullshit busywork.
So great- we always knew most of school was a waste of our time. Almost no institution has the budget to give you a teacher who has time to really learn your interests innate abilities talents flaws and unique information assimilation style, so instead of having an apprenticeship system, instead of really figuring out how your brain works and giving you the tools to rock it, they make you take lots of tests that are all calibrated exactly the same even though every person in the room is completely different, and if you do well, then you get a gold star or something. Good job kid, you've done what you are told, even if it is boring and unproductive and uncreative, and therefore you get all sorts of high numbers. High numbers are better than low numbers, and because the system is not designed to treat people as individuals, they have to rank you all, low to high, so even though your unique selfhood might as well be a big piece of flaming shit for all the bureaucracy cares, at least you're the poop on top.
And you bath there at the top of your highschool- you get honors and whatnot, you get elected to positions with little or no opportunity for real change, but you get to put them on your resume. And then one day, you are baptized into the cruel cruel reality that now you must leave this safe place where you are on top and compete blindly with millions of other poops who are just as, if not unfuckingbelievably more talented than you in every way. And even if they are not, some of them can afford to buy the types of services they provide in Westchester- $30,000 for guaranteed Ivy League admission (or your money back). The system isn't flawed, it's fucked, and it's no longer about learning, it's about earning.
Yale has a 28 billion dollar endowment. 28 billion dollars. And still, they couldn't find the funding to keep my junior year room from flooding with toilet water. Thrice. When the plumber came up to fix it after 2 days of my screaming on the phone, he laughed and shook his head, "every year for 9 years I keep tellin' em to fix this room or it'll flood in the fall." Whaaaaaaat? Nobody complains because it's Yale. If you don't like it, go to a state school. You're only here for 4 years and the shittiness of the facilities becomes a laugh, a test, we bond in squalor and everyone thinks it's pretty funny after a while- then they don't petition to fix it because if they had to deal with it for a year why can't you? And you will, little freshman, you will.
I came to yale expecting a utopia and found New Haven which is literally a fake gothic pouch of pretentiousness wrapped in ghetto. Want to witness the brutal effects of forced gentrification? The thrills of living with a community of people who hate themselves so much they study all day to keep the voices quiet surrounded by a community of people who hate them so much they hold you up with knives and guns? Come to New Haven.
One thing I will say for New Haven, the food, for a depressed urban hellhole, is actually quite impressive. That's the food in NH, not at Yale, where the food is provided by the same people who have the biggest prison food contract in the country. We're eating prison food and believe me, you can taste it. Going in and coming out.
"But the professors! FAMOUS people teach at yale!" Ya, famous people live in Hollywood too but that doesn't mean you should go there expecting to become enlightened. Yale professors are required to teach, unlike at other colleges where they can hold up in their offices doing research and banging grad students. Yale likes to advertise this as some wild benefit, but in reality it means you have disgruntled people who are forced to teach to keep tenure when all they really want to do is, well anything but teach. They dust off a 30 year old syllabus and stand up and a podium twice a week and read from a script they wrote back when they still had hair and you sit there wanting to stab yourself in the eye with a fork for not realizing the whole charade sooner.
I am a fair judge and I will give Yale one thing: shopping period is really great, 2 weeks to do whateverthefuck you want and visit all sorts of classes to figure out what kind you should take. Great. Great in theory, but if you want to take anything that actually seems cool with a teacher who is actually not an incompetent jurassic hack, you need to SUIT UP on the first day of class. You have to get there early, shmooze, and do possibly all of the following things in some combination:
be friends with the department head
be friends with the teacher
be a senior majoring in the class major writing a paper about exactly the topic covered
be really fucking lucky
For some of the best classes I ever shopped there were roughly 250 people gunning for 12 spots. And those 250 people, as I mentioned before, are the top golden poos in all their regions, sometimes in their entire countries, so you are constantly having to assert the fact that you're the best, even when you've gotten into Yale. And you might be. But you know what?
The advisership system is, in general, a fucking joke- a new person every year who is so busy you could have changed gender and species before coming in to ask them to sign your schedule for a second time, and they wouldn't notice. And this is the average kids, this is my experience, I'm not saying there isn't a single competent adviser, but I'm saying that IF YOU, LIKE ME expected to show up to the golden gates of an Ivy where people would be skipping through Shakespearean meadows reciting quadratic equations, skimming over the vast pond of philosophical ponderances sampling the fruits of the literatti trees, you are living in a fantasy and it's time to snap out of it. You'll only be hurt by your optimism.
Schools are businesses. I should know- I worked for yale in the admissions office all 4 years. And I learned that there are parts of the official tour that are banned. That the map instructions they give you to get here take you a loooong circuitous way through cottage grad student housing, instead of the fast way straight through the ghetto. We spend millions of dollars a year on outreach and admissions packaging because we, like cigarettes, are going to convince you that we are going to make you super cool, super sexy, super fantastic, even if we're lying straight to your face.
So if you've gotten to the end of this post you're either my father, or someone who feels intrigued by hearing someone tell them that the strange feelings they're feeling about this 'big decision' are well founded. Ask me questions. Please ask me what you want to know about working in admissions, about being a yalie, because these are the things I wish someone had told me. Yale is not utopia, it's not a dump either. I'm not saying that I didnt appreciate my educaiton- I'm not going to sit here and bitch about having gone to a place where all I was expected to do all day is learn. Learning is great.
But you can learn where people care about your brain and your uniqueness. You can learn at a place where not everyone wants to slit their wrists because the pressure to be the best is so overwhelming and the competition so impossibly steep. YOU CAN LEARN AT A PLACE THAT IS THE BEST FOR YOU. Everyone goes around saying yale is one of the best. The best at what? The best at advertising. There is no objective best, and the fact that people think that way just shows how deep rooted the linearly ranked system is. If you want to be your GPA, if you don't have a personality or any desire to be anything other than top poop, then Yale is the best for you. But if not, then yale is just another school, a school in a bad neighborhood with lots of benefits and lots of flaws, and you need to strip away the name and actually look at the facts. I didn't do that. I saw Yale- and i was sold instantly. And sometimes I wish I could have looked at all the schools totally unbiased, without the names... Yale would not have ended up being even near my first choice. It wasn't the best for me.
But again- I'm not saying it's not the best for you, I'm just suggesting that if you get into 5 schools including Yale, Yale should not automatically win just because it's Yale. Do some thinking and soul searching, and decide what you are willing to sacrifice for a name brand. It might be your integrity. your social life. your educational satisfaction. your time. your money...
Please ask me questions- I'm always excited to share what I wish I had known.
Also- college is important, but here is a list of people who didn't graduate from a college:
Think about it. College isn't magic- it's an expensive holding tank.
And I, for one, didn't learn anything SO AMAZING in college that I couldn't have learned with a library card and a big helping of dedication and curiosity. Make it fun. Make it worth your while. Make it about what you want instead of what you want people to think about you, because living your life in designer jeans, worrying about what people think all day long, simply isn't very productive, and if you're a smartie IV hopeful, you'll know I'm right.