Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach

Elite Schools Tear Apart The Prideful

Thousands of American students go to university to become mathematicians and scientists. But over half drop out by the second year.


The lower third of the class can’t cut it, regardless of the university you visit.

Which is odd. The bottom students of Harvard match, if not beat, the top students of any other non-Ivy League university.

So students don’t drop out due to a lack of brainpower, but thanks to their class rank.

Although Malcolm Gladwell recently brought the problem to our attention, the phenomenon has plagued America for decades.

When Nobel-prize winning physicist Richard Feynman taught at Caltech, he had students come to him and say, “Mister Feynman, I think I’m in the bottom of the class and I don’t know what to do.”

And he’d explain that Caltech was a school with an excellent reputation. A school where all its graduates never find themselves missing any know-how.

Which is great.

But Feynman would also point out that only the very best students would be accepted into Caltech. So even if you’re the country’s finest, odds are you’ll be average at Caltech.

Which hurts.

Imagine you ran circles around your competition in high school science. Almost everyone struggled where you soared. And to you, the slowpokes seemed like idiots.

Then you go to Caltech. And you’re demoted from number one to mediocre. Now you’re the idiot.

It’s a terrible blow to your ego. 

And if you can’t handle that psychological uppercut, you’ll quit.

Ultimately, it revolves around your personality.

Have you convinced yourself you have to be the big gun? Then every Ivy League school will likely lead to disappointment. Only the especially gifted earn a spot at the top.

Can you tough out being average for four years? Then you’ll come out the other end of Caltech, Yale or Brown in the same spot you started: number one.

Back in the ordinary world, you’ll again be the expert everybody runs to for advice. The genius you always were.

Elite schools tear apart the prideful, and reward the laid-back.

By Jeroen Elsing
Ex-lawyer turned relationship coach