Stern Exceptionalism Does Not Mean Stern Superiority

Whatever factors a Stern student could qualify as exceptional, should not act as grounds for arguing superiority. Photo courtesy of Keith Miller.

Written by Jonathan Bach

When I joined NYU Stern as a first year, I was quickly swept up into Stern traditions and gained a strong sense of community. With a Welcome Week that sent us to the U.S. Open, I was pumping with school pride. Other students in other schools were envious of our orientation.

After spending more time at NYU Stern, I experienced so many more exceptional aspects within our school. We are a unique undergraduate school with our social impact core, club system, and IBEX program. But whatever factors a Stern student such as myself could qualify as exceptional, should not act as grounds for arguing superiority. In fact, that mindset is destructive to having an integrated NYU student body and places us, Stern students, at a disadvantage.

Close-mindedness is the first flaw. As an orientation leader, I had the opportunity to speak with the current first year students. A few approached me to discuss my experience, but most were focused on my time in investment banking. My close friends know I have shifted my career path away from investment banking, so I had hoped to share with the students a more neutral opinion about it. I asked why they wanted to go into investment banking. Giving me the usual interview answers, all of them  were highly adamant about this selection.  And yes, I would like to highlight the word ‘selection’, because the way they spoke about it was as if it was the only thing they could do. Some students may come into school with a desire to enter a certain field, but with such a desire, they should also dare to try other things. It is heartbreaking to hear ‘How does that help me?’ or ‘Isn’t that a waste of my time?’ from first year students when I suggested that they meet students and try activities outside of their original spheres of interest.

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