Summary of Excellent Sheep

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Excellent Sheep book summary


8 Overall

7 Importance

8 Innovation

9 Style


Author William Deresiewicz grew up in a household that valued education, science, the Ivy League and a brilliant career. He became a professor at Yale University while still in his 30s (he later quit to become a writer). His fierce indictment of elite colleges, overbearing parents and driven students comes from firsthand experience. Deresiewicz portrays a system of higher education in which top colleges pursue only money and prestige, parents push children mercilessly – largely to bolster their own self-worth – and students (the titular sheep) care only about the obscene salaries they’ll command on graduation. However, these are not opinions to take literally. Reflect instead on Deresiewicz’s message; he is passionate and pushes his arguments to the extreme. He speaks to the rule, not the many exceptions. With that caveat, getAbstract recommends his call for better values and real learning to parents, students, employers, professors and those governed by his educated herd.

In this summary, you will learn

  • How and why elite colleges produce smart clones rather than educated citizens;
  • How parents, teachers, figures of authority and students perpetuate a perverse post-secondary education system; and
  • How to gain a real education in college.

About the Author

William Deresiewicz quit his Yale professorship to pursue his passion – writing. He speaks widely and writes on a variety of topics, including education.



The “Excellent Sheep”
The best of America’s young people – bright leaders, active volunteers and all-around overachievers – head to the Ivy League or to another 100 or so elite colleges. Upon graduation, they enter America’s governmental and justice systems and fill the top ranks of prestigious...

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