So argues this Princeton alumna and current Yale 1L. Is it nice to describe your classmates as not nice? (For the record, there’s a nice young woman from my church who’ll be entering Yale this Fall. I hope she can stay that way.)
Stated a bit more modestly, her larger point is that there’s a tension between achievement (as we define it) and what Hobbes would call complaisance. Our meritocratic college admissions and career advancement processes reward the former but don’t really take the latter into account. And there’s apparently nothing in high-flying college life to encourage the latter.
By contrast, I’ve encountered lots of nice college students, some at places I’ve visited in recent weeks, some at places where friends teach, and some at my own institution. In some cases (I know I’m using "some" too much), these nice kids are pretty doggone smart and might even be described as high achievers. But, so far as I can tell, they’re not ambitious self-promoters. Might it be because they recognize their "giftedness" as actually a gift from someone? That gives me a bit of hope for the young woman (Yale College, Class of 2012) from my church.