UWEC Forum Series: William Deresiewicz: A Critique of Higher Education
Award-winning essayist and critic William Deresiewicz is a best-selling author and highly sought college speaker. His most current publication, a book titled Excellent Sheep: The Miseducation of the American Elite and the Way to a Meaningful Life is a New York Times best-seller, and his 2008 essay titled "The Disadvantages of an Elite Education" has been read online by over a million people.
The subject (or target) of Deresiewicz's work is the American system of higher education, the admissions process (including the K-12 prep) and the very pinnacles of our nation's higher education themselves, the Ivy League.
A 2014 New York Times review of the book said that Deresiewicz's Excellent Sheep will have lasting impact for three reasons: 1) He spent 24 years in the Ivy League himself; 2) His writing skill and the precision of his "strikes" are impeccable; and 3) It is a widespread indictment of the entirety of the upper-middle class in the U.S. — a decision likely to bring both fame and infamy.
The central tragedy of Deresiewicz's argument, according to the Times, is that "we've created kids who throughout their high school years, are unable to do anything with their time that they cannot put on a résumé. They're blinkered overachievers."
The concept of "return on investment" is the central theme of college recruitment and marketing, and Deresievicz holds that the return of which they speak is only monetary. The purpose of college is no longer to learn, he says, or to become — "it's simply to acquire a lucrative job."
Cost: $8 GA, $6 uwec faculty/staff/senior, $4 youth/students