Busted Myth of the Week: Elite Universities Build Character

Barry Lenson

Busted Myth of the Week: Elite Universities Build Character

Okay, I have to admit that elite and Ivy League institutions might build the character of some of their students by teaching them the value of hard work and scholarship. But I’d also like to suggest that ambitious students can learn the value of hard work and scholarship at state schools, at community colleges, in online study, or anywhere else they choose to apply themselves.

Yes, students can flourish and grow in any kind of school. But to look at this question from the opposite perspective, you have to remember that really bad behavior takes place equally at all kinds of schools.

At one Ivy League school this year, a bunch of boisterous young men marched into a courtyard and started hollering “humorous” things about rape. It was part of a fraternity initiation, and it sparked outrage among other students, faculty and alumni.

At one state university in New England last year, students went on a rampage and vandalized cars in a parking lot after a loss by the Boston Red Sox.

So you see, students really do behave very badly – or very well – at all kinds of schools. The notion that elite schools build the character of their students, and that other schools do not, is really just elitist, antiquated bunk.

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