Started From the Bottom…

Life is like an elevator. We all have different floor levels that we’re trying to get to. Through all of our life accomplishments, many of us aim toward our passions, goals, and ideal or dream career. In this elevator of opportunity, twelve people cram into this tiny space with a destination in mind. Oh, and don’t forget about that one guy who tried to squeeze in… but just didn’t make the cut. It looks like he’s going to have to wait- sure, he’ll be set back behind the others, but he’ll still get his chance to cross the threshold into that sparkling silver elevator. Although we might be heading toward the same place or other, we’re all starting on equal grounds- LEVEL 1.

From one to eighteen… there are many possibilities for the future

There’s no casual conversation at this school that could start with “so how did you get into Michigan?” The student population should be aware by now that everyone must have been hard-working to have been accepted to U of M.  We’re starting completely over as equals. Indeed, Hobbes bred the idea that we were born with equivalent potential, but that it’s up to the person of whom they want to become. Some may have been known as the genius of their class while others may have been known for being president of 3 clubs while managing a year-long charity fund to promote clean water in Africa. It’s true… it’s incredible what some can do before even stepping over the threshold to adulthood. One of the ways that counselors pull their perspective students into U of M is by stretching not only the prestige, but the vast network connections. It gives us security that we are going to find job opportunities post-graduation…. But are we really the leaders and the best? Are students who got rejected from prestigious colleges automatically set behind? Not at all. We’re all still equal. As Hobbes ensured, we can go anywhere from where we are today. There aren’t limitations, but obstacles. We’re all on separate paths, determined by the college that we attend. However, absolutely anything is possible… and the key word is possible.

Even the “weaker” can dominate. GO GRANDPA!

We start at the bottom in education, just like we start at the bottom in sports. In the game of tennis, both players start at “Love, Love”. They’re seemingly equal, right? From prior training to the quality of rackets, they’re not truly starting as equals. In the end, the performance in the moment is what counts. The state of mind, body, and even attitude can truly affect who wins the game. Because of these immeasurable components of equality, “the weakest has strength enough to kill the strongest”. Okay, Hobbes’ perspective is much more drastic than in these terms, but the concept still applies. After all, there’s a reason that people always route for the underdog! Many people today tend to use the slang “kill” as an equivalent of “dominate”. So, in modern day terms, we could technically interpret this idea in a sense that doesn’t involve an axe-murder.

I’m sure you’ve all seen students around campus presenting U of M’s latest top ranking? If not, then yes, you’ve read correctly, folks. Check it out here. “What?! Another ranking!? DUDE! We’re AWESOME!”… Does that established ranking guarantee us a spot for a job over the next person? Nope, not necessarily. Sure, having more prestige to the U of M name gives us a leg up, but how do we really measure equality? For instance, my hall mate’s cousin was accepted to U of M, but had to decline due to financial purposes. Nevertheless, there’s no written rulebook that says that he will receive a lower paying job with a community college degree. The job market is full of equal opportunities, although outcomes are not always accurately depicted.  In the name of such injustice, we must carve our own pathways in the job market under Hobbes’ idea that we can’t measure the causes of success and outcomes. Our resources made available or the ones that we seek may or may not be determinants of our life careers. All that we can truly take from this immeasurable idea of equality is that we must strive to continually do better. After all, as Michigan Wolverines, we started from the bottom, and now we’re at the top- (or are we)?

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4 comments

  1. ayoubl · November 3, 2014

    I thought this blog’s original comparison to an elevator was very interesting and that the Hobbes reading was used very well in discussing the predicted success of graduates. Especially interesting was when you mentioned tennis. I thought the idea of the players having different backgrounds in regards to training and equipment very similar to that of educational backgrounds. The idea that we are all equal is very interesting in that individuals at the University of Michigan come from many different financial and educational backgrounds. Many students have had the luxury of private school education and hired tutors while others have not. It is unfortunate that not all students feel that their peers deserve to be at the same university as them and this blog was a breath of fresh air in considering that it placed all students as equals. However, it is a reasonable action to question whether a student’s background such as having a private education will better their college careers than for instance a public school education. College predatory schools pride themselves on preparing for university and it would be interesting to see whether statistics show a difference in grades between kids that attended private and public high schools. Also interesting would be the question of individuals who are “naturally smart”. On campus the term is often used to describe students who can do less studying and still do moderately well in class. Are these “naturally smart” people at an advantage? This blog is very interesting however, the notion that all students are equal is extremely debatable and I would have liked to see more data or counter arguments.

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  2. sklokiw · November 4, 2014

    I find the concept of “Level One” interesting here. All of the students at Michigan were exceptional students in high school in and out of the classroom, as you said, and now that we’re all here at school together the playing field has been leveled to an extent. The nuance, as you mentioned, is that college freshman all over the country–from community colleges to Ivies–are all at level one. Is Michigan’s level one different than a community college’s level one? Is Harvard’s level one different than Michigan’s level one? It’s an interesting debate, but I think that there is no conclusive answer because we see people from all different backgrounds on all levels of the income (or maybe “success”) scale. I think that no matter what school you’re at, it’s up to you to maximize the advantages given to you to determine how successful you’ll be. Being at Harvard and not joining any clubs or forging any relationships–professional or otherwise–is not going to propel you above other people just because you’re at Harvard. Hard work and motivation are, in the end, the primary drivers of achievement.

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  3. Maddie · November 5, 2014

    First, I love the use of the Drake quote. I disagree and do not think that we all start at the same level. Yes, we are all at Michigan and have been accepted. However, when the Office of Admissions chooses students, they look at how a student compares to the rest of the school. If Tim’s high school average ACT score was a 14, and his was a 23, he is way ahead of his high school class. The Office of Admissions knows that my high school environment was challenging and accepts me, nonetheless, even though the kid sitting next to me in PoliSci got a 34 on the ACT. The rest of the class in PoliSci may have started at Level 3, but because of my background, I’m at Level 1. I believe that we are all heading toward the same place, though, which is graduation.

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  4. prvalera · November 6, 2014

    This article is very interesting to me. You say that everyone starts on “Level One”, but I disagree. I feel as though the opportunities that each student has differ from one person to the other. These opportunities, be it good or bad, have the ability to change the “level” where a student starts. For example, someone who had the opportunity to intern at a marketing company would have more experience and a better looking college application than someone who did not do anything extra. Also, as you stated in your post, attending the University of Michigan would give you better prospects of finding a job compared to if you attended community college. In the sense of a better, secured future, in my opinion, we are not at all equal.
    On the other hand, hard work, dedication, and motivation are also very important factors in guaranteeing success in the working world. It is not untrue that people who attended lower level colleges can get the same level jobs as university graduates. It would just be a lot harder and more competitive. With determination and the will to succeed, anything’s possible.

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