"Colleges hate geniuses just as convents hate saints" —Ralph Waldo Emerson
I. College Wasn't Designed to Make Millionaires
Show me a man who denies wanting to become rich & famous and I'll show you a man capable of denying he exists here & now.
I recall catching a glimpse of a Dave Chappelle interview. Apparently the interviewer expected to steer Chappelle into giving an insincere answer about his personal feelings on fame. But he refused to take the bait.
"Being famous is great!" said Chappelle. "It's not like bad or horrible or anything."
To put it simply: on a world's stage overflowed with 7,800,000,000 people, clearly being among the less than one-tenth of the one percent who qualify as "famous" goes a long way in the security department. The same can be said for wealth.
Perhaps the above serves as the chief reason for which college wasn't designed to teach students to become either rich or famous.
What Emerson meant by "colleges hate geniuses" boils down to this:
Because billions of humans overflow the world’s stage, it would be unreasonable to expect universities to teach each student how to earn billions.
The ivory tower wasn’t designed for the ordinary student body to add the "extra-" and thereby produce extraordinary students. Take for instance the University of Texas.
UT's campus alone houses 50,000 students. Do you really think overworked, underpaid professors are striving to make 50,000 monomaniacal Mark Zuckerbergs?
As the great philosopher Immanuel Kant once noted, regarding his style of teaching: because the fools are beyond helping and the geniuses specialize in helping themselves, my focus is on helping the "average" students.
The professor’s chief priority is to make an upstanding citizen/taxpayer out of the student body, and hopefully teach them something along the way.
If I may be honest — college is a factory; the raw material is called a student; and the finished product is known as an employee!
As far as evaluating college—or anything for that matter—goes, perhaps Shakespeare put it best:
There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.
Fire in itself has the capacity to both cook Gordon Ramsey’s Beef Wellington and cook him, too. In short, it all depends on your aim.
II. A Few Things College Wasn't Designed to Teach Students
“Perfection of means and confusion of goals," said Einstein, "seem–in my opinion–to characterize our age.”
Far too often we enroll in college while still being saddled with a confusion of goals.
If as an incoming freshman your goal is for college to teach you how to become rich, you've landed in the wrong place. On the other hand, if your aim is to earn a degree for learning about the factors that contributed to making notable entrepreneurs rich—such as Bezos or Musk—then college is the right place for you.
If as an incoming freshman your goal is for college to teach you how to become famous, you've landed in the wrong place.
"Famous" is merely shorthand for being celebrated for a particular talent. Hence the word "celeb" stems from celebrate. College wasn't designed to help an individual unmask some personal "calling" along with achieving mastery of the special talent in the process.
Perhaps the above explains why the famed idiom goes:
Those who can, do; those who can't, teach.
Think about it: if professors knew how to teach you to become the next Einstein or Oprah, wouldn't they have applied such knowledge for their own benefit?
In short, getting a Ph.D. in physics from Princeton wasn’t designed to make the next Einstein any more than earning a Harvard MBA will result in earning like Gates and Zuckerberg.
III. In Closing
"I cannot teach anybody anything," Socrates confessed. "I can only make them think”
One of life's greatest unspoken truths boils down to this:
Because the requirement for achieving extraordinary results in any area of life calls for adding the "extra-," whether it be earning an extraordinary amount of money (rich) or an extraordinary level of celebration for your talent (fame), the secret sauce always consists of the word—"extra-."
Perhaps the above explains why Mike Tyson, someone who's tasted fame and fortune to a degree that very few mortals have, boiled the success formula in life down to one word—SACRIFICE.
"Becoming successful is all about sacrifice," said Tyson. "It's doing what you hate to do, but doing it [anyway] like you love it."
The truth of the matter is, just as another can't taste food for you, another can't motivate you . . . another can't give you confidence. Hence the spelling of such terms consists of the same prefix—self-motivated, self-confidence, self-esteem, etc.
In short, college was never designed to add that "extra-" to the ordinary student body. Rather, as Kant put it, the chief aim of college lies in helping the average students—because the fools are beyond helping and the geniuses specialize in helping themselves.