The Other McCain

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Ivy League in Crisis: Student Suicide Epidemic at Columbia University

Posted on | February 5, 2017 | 1 Comment

Death by elite education:

A disturbing wave of seven suicides and likely drug overdoses has swept through Columbia University so far this school year — and students say fiercely competitive academics and inadequate campus counseling programs are in large part to blame.
The student deaths include three in January alone — two of whom police suspect OD’d, plus an exchange student from Japan who killed herself by leaping from the seventh-floor window of her Broadway dorm.
The four other student suicides came once a month, from September through December, The Post has learned.
They include a promising 21-year-old journalist, a 29-year-old Navy veteran, a Moroccan student and an 18-year-old freshman from Brookfield, Missouri, named Taylor Gilpin Wallace.
“You don’t know how badly I want to jump out that window right now,” Wallace, who would be Columbia’s October suicide, said in a Facetime call from his John Jay Hall dorm room to his mother in Missouri — days before quitting school, moving back home and hanging himself in his basement.

(Hat-tip: Legal Insurrection.) Different people have different motives, so it would be unwise to get too specific in speculating about the causes of this phenomenon. However, we can say generally that highly intelligent people are often also very sensitive people, and many students have difficulty dealing with the competitive pressures experienced on the scholastic fast-track that leads to an elite school like Columbia. If you were always the smartest kid in school, and spent your adolescence grinding away to maintain perfect grades in advanced-placement honors classes — which is how you get into an Ivy League school — you may well experience your first “B” grade as emotionally traumatic. To attend your dream school, only to discover that collegiate life isn’t what you’d hoped it would be, must be a painful disillusionment for many students. And then you have the situation described by Taylor Wallace’s mother:

“You have a child who comes from Middle America. He was surrounded by kids who had a social life. He just didn’t connect with the kids. He was popular at home, but not at Columbia. He just felt like he didn’t fit in.”

That’s a major reason I would oppose any of my children attending an elite private university like that. Annual tuition at Columbia is $55,056, and most of the students come from wealthy families. These are the kids of bankers, CEOs and big-time lawyers, in some cases the third or fourth generation of their family to attend an Ivy League school. They arrive on campus with plenty of spending money, the freshman class includes at least a half-dozen classmates from their private East Coast prep school, and on weekends, they jet off to their folks’ beachfront condo in Florida. These rich kids set the social tone at schools like Columbia, and this tends to make Ivy League life miserable for the poor nerd trying to scrape through on scholarships, work-study jobs and student loans.

If you don’t believe me, believe the Harvard Crimson:

The median family income for Harvard undergraduates is $168,800—more than three times the national median, according to a recent study.
The national median household income in 2015 was $55,775, according to Census data. . . .
Among the twelve “Ivy League and selected elite colleges”—which also include M.I.T., Stanford, Duke, and the University of Chicago in the study—Harvard had the eighth largest proportion of students from the top 1 percent, with 15.1 percent of its undergraduates coming from households making over $630,000 per year.

So if you’re a middle-class parent and your kid is a small-town high achiever — Taylor Wallace was a football star and valedictorian in high school — you might want to think twice before sending them to Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, Duke, Oberlin, etc. Any student with the grades to get into an Ivy League school can go to a state university and excel. He’ll find a lot more middle-class kids he can fit in with, and a lot fewer snotty prep school kids than he’d rub elbows with at Columbia. After your son’s successful career at State U., maybe he’ll become a millionaire, and then he can send your grandchildren to Cornell in appropriate style, but otherwise, just leave the elite schools for the rich kids, most of whom are degenerate atheist swine. The Ivy League Is Decadent and Depraved.

 

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