Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Deep Concern: Trinity College and unfulfilled expectations

By: Dominic J.V. Carbone ’15

Greetings Friends,

This is the first in a series of articles displaying “Deep Concern” for the future of our lovely Trinity College.  Currently, it seems that the powers at be believe that the existence of “Greek Organizations” and an active party scene are what has obliterated Trinity’s perceived “ranking” and societal significance as a whole.  Beyond that, some believe that our “partying” has lead to intellectual apathy and disdain.  Common sense comparisons, observations and statistics, will show that these conclusions are not only false, but that our “problems” stem from a much greater variety of areas.  It is my intent that the Deep Concern series of articles will provoke LOGICAL discussion and thought processing throughout the Trinity community to address these “problems.”  By addressing these “problems,” I mean the following: 1) Identify our superiorities and inferiorities as an institution, and why they exist; 2) Gain further understanding of our superiorities and inferiorities; 3) Think about ways to turn our inferiorities into superiorities through logical thinking and problem solving; 4) Work to implement previously indentified ways to reverse our inferiorities.

WARNING: Throughout “Deep Concerns” I intend to call into question our leaders’ collective level of basic competency, their understanding of both institutional and societal realities, and whether or not they are the right fit for improving Trinity. I will criticize openly specific areas of Trinity that I think need drastic improving.  I will call out the bullshit we are told to believe as I see it.  Some of my comments and conclusions will be offensive to some. They may annoy you, make you mad, and probably make you think I am a huge A-hole. Quite honestly, I don’t really care, because if some people feel that way that probably means I’m getting my points across.

We have a severe inferiority complex:  before discussing some of our “problems” in subsequent articles, I will first outline two important things to understand about Trinity so you can have a better understanding of where my ideas and thoughts are coming from.

Trinity suffers from a huge INFERIORITY COMPLEX.  We are an institution of people who want more.  More money, more time, more fun, more learning, more, more, more, more.  Why do we want more?  Because there is something we want, and we do not have it, duh.  Realistically, this “more” at one point probably included admission to a “better” college for many Trinity students and graduates.  Even the students here who applied early decision to Trin probably wished they could be applying to a better school, a school that was more.  I know I did, I would have loved to go to Dartmouth, Yale, Princeton, or Oxford.  The bottom line is: Trinity is at the bottom of the list of schools generally considered “acceptable” in the backgrounds most students here grew up in.   These are “backgrounds” associated with high levels of academic and financial success.  The fact that many of us were not admitted to a college that represented the “most” has created a seemingly unique inferiority complex here at Trinity.  This complex creates a student body and alumni base of people who have been told they are NOT good enough.  This can lead to a whole host of reactions: some students try harder to succeed and transfer; others take pride in their mediocrity and continue full steam ahead; others take their hard work and effort out of the intellectual sphere and become rampant social climbers; you get the drift.  Basically, if mishandled, the Trinity Inferiority Complex (TIC) can have a debilitating impact on many aspects of the College.

We perceive Trinity as mediocre; a new college ranking system called Alumni Factor is showing us a plethora of interesting information about Trinity and other colleges.  This new ranking system, which analyzes schools based on alumni/ae perceptions of their college experiences compared to other institutions and a variety of financial factors (meant to indicate financial success) showed a SHOCKING depiction of Trinity.  Even the Alumni Factor seemed shocked as indicated in their word blurb about Trinity, describing our apparent inferiority complex likely because of our relationship with Yale.  Here are a few numbers for you.  Trinity College has the fourth most financially successful alumni/ae of any college or university in the country. Fourth!  The only NESCAC school ahead of us is Middlebury at first place.  That ranking is based off of the following criteria; average net worth, percent of millionaire alumni/ae, median income, and percent of alumnae earning $150,000 or more per year.

Given this information, one would assume Trinity would have a top tier ranking by Alumni Factor, right?  FALSE, 68th.  We are only ranked the 68th best college or university in the country.  How can this be?  OUR ALUMNI THINK TRINITY IS INFERIOR COMPARED TO THE SCHOOLS THEY COMPARE US TO.  More so, our alumni think THEIR EXPERIENCES AT TRINITY ARE INFERIOR COMPARED TO THE SCHOOLS THEY COMPARE US TO.  Oh, wait a second.. how does this make any sense?  Trinity has (or had at the time of this ranking) THE 9TH HIGHEST ALUMNI GIVING RATE OF ANY COLLEGE OR UNIVERSITY IN THE COUNTRY!  What is this high rate of Alumni Giving an indication of?  Love, appreciation, and thankfulness for the Trinity experience overall.  Hmm…

The above statistics depict an alumni/ae body, which is amazingly successful in a financial context, and yet views the institution from which they graduated as shockingly inferior compared to their expectations. Despite Trin not living up to their expectations, they still love the school and are fiercely loyal.  This is an incredibly strange phenomenon.  After all, Trinity has the largest difference in the Alumni Factor rankings between financial success (4th), and the “overall experience” category (119th)!  That is out of 177 schools! This “difference” between the financial success and experience ranking is only 17 for Bates, 20 for Williams, and 34 for Middlebury.

At first glance, these numbers indicate two major things: Firstly, Trinity grads, still suffering from their Trinity Inferiority Complex (TIC), naturally rank their experiences at the college as being far more mediocre compared to other schools then they are really intended to be.  After all, what Trinity student or alumni/ae actually thinks Holy Cross is a better school?  In fact, I don’t even consider Holy Cross in the same realm of Trinity, let alone think  should be placed anywhere near us on any ranking of educational institutions.  Secondly, Trinity alums constantly want more, more, and more.  And unfortunately for Trin, that means a lower ranking; because Trinity alumni/ae just think Trinity can do and be, well, more.

Some last words for this first article:  I hope to have illustrated to you a more concrete understanding of two major constructs, especially unique to Trinity, that are absolutely necessary to understand in order to seek out our institutional inferiorities and fix them.  Our TIC, and general view of Trinity as a mediocre institution, are two unique psychological constructs that have unique impacts on Trinity’s culture.  These constructs, however, are not necessarily negative qualities; they just need to be handled in the right way.  Next time, I will be discussing more about our Alumni/ae body’s perceptions of their experiences and explaining why one of Trinity’s greatest “problems” (our intellectual life) is largely the result of the mishandling of these constructs by those in power, and not our  “social issues” that seem to have everyone’s full attention at present.

By the way, I absolutely love Trinity, and I’m sure most of us here do.

Cheers for now,

A Concerned Bantam

Dominic J.V. Carbone

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