I graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with not one but two engineering degrees between 2009 and 2010. And frankly, as I read this article, I see no strong moral fiber or sense of purpose that distinguishes me from the hypothetical Ivy League graduates in this article. Sure, I’m not confused or strictly hunting for affluence, but I was certainly mercenary in my educational choices, looking for financial security above and beyond mental inquiry. For better or worse, I don’t regret it, but I do think some colleges, my alma mater included, send the wrong message about the purpose of education.
I have not shied away in my opinion that young engineers, the exact group I was trained into, have stunningly narrow intelligence and in some cases truly lack education needed to exist in the world…education about other people, education about the society they live in, and education about how the majority of people think and perceive (i.e. not like them). I like to believe I did not fall into this trap, but to be honest most of my arguments sound like resume filler about “breadth” and “multidisciplinary training”. I no longer think quite like an engineer, yes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t fall into similar traps.
So how do we teach affluent kids and self-involved nerd types to engage the world around them? I don’t know. But what we currently do at elite schools probably isn’t the answer.