Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz


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Former Yale Professor, William Deresiewicz in his book Excellent Sheep delves into the issues facing the Ivy League admission process, the facade, the pressure on students to succeed, the American elites, and other thought-provoking insights on higher education. The book was inspired by an essay William wrote in the American Scholar: “The Disadvantages of an Elite Education.”

As schools shift focus from the humanities to “practical” subjects like economics, students are losing the ability to think independently. It is essential, says Deresiewicz, that college be a time for self-discovery, when students can establish their own values and measures of success in order to forge their own paths. He features quotes from real students and graduates he has corresponded with over the years, candidly exposing where the system is broken and offering clear solutions on how to fix it.

“The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

Here are my favourite take-aways from reading, Excellent Sheep by William Deresiewicz: