Yes, Lehigh Killed My Passion For Learning
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Yes, Lehigh Killed My Passion For Learning

Xaverian high school is where I found my passion for learning. Lehigh is where it was killed.

Yes, Lehigh Killed My Passion For Learning
Andrew Schillaci

"Brothers, we are truly standing upon the shoulders of giants" boomed throughout an auditorium on 71st and Shore Road in Brooklyn, New York. "Look to your right and then look to your left, these brothers will be with you for the rest of your life — they will be the best man at your wedding, coaches of your kids' baseball team, and lifelong friends." Our high school principal, Deacon Mac, reached deep into his large 6-foot frame for every word in a speech to Xaverian's class of 2013. He spoke with a conviction that had everyone in our class wide awake, even Reggie, who always slept through class. I left the auditorium that day a part of a culture that prioritized character, only to soon enter a college culture that valued the opposite.

Xaverian is where I found my passion for learning and Lehigh is where it was killed.

Lehigh is a private university with no religious affiliation, so there aren't any moral champions like Deacon Mac. As a result, power, money and knowledge are valued higher than character at Lehigh. In the classroom, especially in the business school, students are pitted against each other to perform better than their classmates so that they can get the highest grade, which translates to the highest GPA, which then translates to the highest paid job. There is never any discussion in class or any interactions, besides the teacher asking occasional questions to test the students' subject knowledge. As a result, you do not meet anyone new. If there are group projects, students flock to their fraternity brothers, unless the teacher assigns groups. The values of the Lehigh culture do not create team building skills.

Learning at Xaverian was much more than achieving a high exam score or a phenomenal GPA; it was about inspiration. Deacon Mac was at the heart of a culture at Xaverian that promoted passion not only with the students, but with the student's parents, and the Xaverian faculty.

While I learned in my finance classes, my most valuable college class was intro to theater, because I discovered new skills in my classmates and in myself that I hadn't known before. If you talk to Lehigh people, then they would tell you that this class is an easy joke class because at Lehigh, self-discovery is not as important as intellectual knowledge. Yet the ice-breakers we played, the 15-minute life speeches we prepared and different character roles we performed, all helped us grow as a team. My classmates cried at the end of the class because they could feel how we grew as a family, sad that we would not be meeting twice a week in the Blackbox theater anymore. Each one in this class worked as a team to push everybody forward — something I never experienced in a finance class.

Although Lehigh's culture creates a "me versus you" mentality in the classroom, the culture attracts talent from all over the globe, which I would never have experienced if I stayed in Brooklyn. While people complain at Lehigh that everyone is from New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania, I have had a different experience. In my freshman hall, my roommate was from Ohio, my neighbor across the hall was from Greece and two other hall mates were Chinese. In short, half of my hall did not fit the "Lehigh" stereotype. In the Italian club that I started with a few friends, we have two members from Italy, another from Saudi Arabia, sisters from Guatemala and we partner with the Indian Student Association.

Not only that, but at Lehigh, there was a diversity of culture and also diversity in socioeconomic backgrounds. Growing up in a predominantly white middle-class background, I had not been exposed to friends whose families received government assistance, but I was exposed in college. During freshman year and to this day I would spend nights talking to my friends about the problems they faced: low-income communities, especially regarding education, drugs and crime; and potential solutions for these problems.

It is evident that Lehigh's resources enable more opportunities for students; however, the cost is the money-sucking machine it creates. Teachers are more concerned about tenure and their research than their students' development. Students are more concerned about getting an A in a class and not on passion.

Lehigh University's mission of learning gets lost along the way.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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