Harvard Student Hates Harvard for Being Harvard

Harvard: we get it. You hate Harvard. But, at this point, it feels a tad bit old when professional illusionist Mitt Romney complains about Harvard’s “faculty lounge”, or aggrieved alumna Kaya Williams bleats about having to discuss Plato, or Canadian performance artist Misha Glouberman whines about living in a dorm. Because, come on.

Can we move on? Maybe let others complain about Harvard, or other things? (Like Yale professors, about not being able to talk to plumbers?)

We ask because the latest barrel of Harvard haterade, supplied this time by Nation intern and Harvard sophomore Sandra Y.L. Korn (pictured), isn’t another screed against Harvard’s elitism or intellectualism or insularity. It’s complaining about Harvard being Harvard, or something:

Why do so many Harvard graduates work in finance? Most students contend that they need the assured income of a finance job to justify their expensive Ivy League degrees or support their families. For some, this may be true. However, in reality, finance may often simply be an easy career choice for undecided students. Ivy League universities have institutionalized the culture that makes finance jobs so ubiquitous among graduates.

In a nut shell: Korn’s beef with Harvard is that she goes to college with future inhabitants of Greenwich, Connecticut. 

Harvard, tell us: Isn’t that why people go to Harvard? To be among your swath of humanity? Korn isn’t some kind of . . . she couldn’t . . . OHHHH. Oh no. “Sandra Korn is a sophomore at Harvard College studying History of Science and Studies of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.”

That’s your problem right there. Unless you’re pre-law, Harvard really ain’t the place for the humanities undergrad. Think of Harvard President Drew Faust, who went to Bryn Mawrwherever that is!

After protesting a recruiting event for Goldman Sachs, the international baby-panda rescue society, Korn tells Harvard to see the light:

This sparked an informative and important discussion on campus about the ethics of Wall Street jobs and also encouraged Harvard’s Center for Public Interest Careers to host a conference for students interested in pursuing public service careers. While these steps are important, destroying the well-paved road between the Ivy League schools and Wall Street will take a more dramatic cultural change on the part of students and administrators. Until we come to our senses, finance firms will continue to hire Ivy League students in disproportionate numbers.

Alright. Not to get too preachy, but the reason Goldman Sachs recruits Ivy League students is because (deep breath) the Ivy League heavily selects for students who excel at following rules and obeying authority. You don’t get into Harvard unless you enthusiastically heed the instructions of others, for years. That’s what makes the Ivy League so awesome: it’s filled with successful people! (As IvyGate’s Eve Binder once said: “Skip the kumbaya and go straight for the bonus!”)

And duh: Such unthinking obedience, much more so than intelligence, is the secret sauce of high finance. (There is really no other explanation for the apparently real Conde Elevator rip-off set at Goldman Sachs.) That being said, Harvard still needs scholars of feminist theory for the same reason Goldman still hires compliance officers: to burnish its image. We suspect, however, that it’s the Harvardian on his sleigh ride to the financial district, not Korn, who knows this best of all.

  • anon

    Harvard students are not smart enough to do math or science or engineering. They all go into finance. You do not see Harvard students lighting a science education ablaze.

    • JT

      did you get rejected or something?

  • Alex Ball

    It’s one thing being smart enough to do math or science or engineering. It’s quite another being intellectually engaged by the material and/or supported by a culture promoting such careers. Which, I believe, is Trotter’s thesis anyhow…

    …not sure if troll ಠ_ಠ


    Korn’s right. I liked a Yale student’s essay about it a while ago: http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/11/09/another-view-the-science-and-strategy-of-college-recruiting/

    But Princeton’s far worse than Harvard:
    http://economix.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/12/21/out-of-harvard-and-into-finance/ 36% of employed Princeton grads go into finance. If you include consulting, the number is over 60%.

    I don’t know why IvyGate turned on people like Korn. It was only a few months ago that you posted this:

  • Jim

    Really? Not smart?   I suppose you have never sat in a Math 55 class, or CAS 50, or Physics 16. Or that Harvard students usually win the Putnam, that it has the highest number of IMO gold medalists each freshman year enrolling in it.  Yeah, they are really pretty stupid kids.  As for the culture, it is very supportive of the science jocks (it doesn’t much care for pre-meds–but they aren’t science jocks really…). Science students recognize that their GPAs will be lower than humanities kids by the nature of the fields, but they don’t care–and looking at the graduate schools that they enter– neither to their future departments.  
    Check the number of Harvard students later winning prizes in the sciences…as for engineering, until recently Harvard didn’t have much of a presence in engineering, now there is a whole school SEAS that is devoted to it and it enrolls about 13 percent of the class…

    As for Wall Street– you know as about as much about it as you do about math and science  at Harvard– if you aren’t smart, you wash out–does it take the kind of raw candle power as pure math?–sometimes.  I know a young man who recently got his PhD from the Math Dept and was headed to the Institute in Princeton, decided instead to become a quant jock at a Wall Street hedge fund– the work he has told me is as challenging as any he had ever done…

    What Korn doesn’t like is that Harvard students don’t share her politics.  She gussies it up with a self-righteous smugness.  That’s all…

    • ez there

      calm down broseph

    • Heyyy

      Chill the fuck out?

  • Jack

    Whoever wrote this article is as dumb as shit. 

  • word.

    Wow. This article is snide and condescending. Way to make an ass of yourself.

  • Guest

    “However, in reality, finance may often simply be an easy career choice for undecided students.”  ….so?

  • Guest

    What upsets me about Ms. Korn’s argument is that it perpetuates the horribly inaccurate stereotype that Harvard is full of ”future Greenwich, Connecticut” inhabitants. The school’s widely-encompassing financial aid program has lead to one of the most diverse (academically, politically, racially, socio-economically) groups of students in this country. To group them all together and imply that Harvard students are selfish Wall Street bankers is a horrible misjudgment on your part…or maybe just a direct attack on the career goals of some students simply for the sake of attacking something. To give some balance to this one-sided theory, it should be noted that there are just as many pre-meds as there are finance-interested people on campus. And the pre-med culture is just-as (may I venture to say MORE) aggressive and competitive than the finance-culture.

    It’s actually rather ironic to say that finance is the ”easy” career choice at Harvard, being that there isn’t even a finance curriculum; competing with students from other schools who have legitimate finance degrees and practical knowledge doesn’t sound like the most risk-free career option to pursue.I’m sorry, but sometimes people single something out just to have a crusade to fight.