Some Thoughts and Advice for Our Students and All Students

The following letter written by professors from Yale, Harvard, and Princeton was first published on 8/29/17 by our friends at the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University. With permission, I have re-printed it here. I wish I had the opportunity to read this letter when I was a freshman. Perhaps you too will find it as insightful as I did. If you’re interested, James Freeman (Yale ’91) at the WSJ had valuable commentary on the letter.
– Pranam Dey, Editor-in-Chief of The Beacon

 

We are scholars and teachers at Princeton, Harvard, and Yale who have some thoughts to share and advice to offer students who are headed off to colleges around the country. Our advice can be distilled to three words:

Think for yourself.

Now, that might sound easy. But you will find—as you may have discovered already in high school—that thinking for yourself can be a challenge. It always demands self-discipline and these days can require courage.

In today’s climate, it’s all-too-easy to allow your views and outlook to be shaped by dominant opinion on your campus or in the broader academic culture. The danger any student—or faculty member—faces today is falling into the vice of conformism, yielding to groupthink. Continue reading

Honorable Mention: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Zain Anthar

The following essay received an honorable mention at the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

In today’s media landscape, political discussions have swayed towards partisanship at the expense of meaningful, probing dialogue. Politicians opt to conduct interviews with their congenial news outlets in order to avoid the “toughies” – questions that penetrate through any attempt at feigning comprehension of an issue. Continue reading

Third Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Gabrielle Vozzi

The following essay was the third-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Today, the United States is a divided nation as political polarization can be seen in every corner of the country. Now, more than ever, this nation needs the wisdom of William F. Buckley, Jr. Buckley’s conservative beliefs and overall view of government can greatly influence the nation today. Continue reading

Second Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Calla Bai

The following essay was the second-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Champion of conservatism and celebrated founder of the National Review, William F. Buckley Jr. was one of the most influential figures in American politics who is remembered today. He had studied at Yale; written over 50 books on topics more imaginative than imaginable; hosted the popular television show, “The Firing Line”; and most importantly, in the predominantly liberal landscape after the World War II, he managed to make conservatism respectable and mainstream. Even apart from politics, there is a clear lesson that can be learned from Buckley’s life: to conform is to sacrifice risks, yet also greatness.

First Place: Buckley High School Essay Contest

By: Emma Weinheimer

The following essay was the winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester high school essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

William F. Buckley, Jr., certainly was a strong, conservative political mind with much to offer to the world. One could meander for hours through his commentaries and learn what he believed about many controversies of today’s world or how he could cleverly refute liberal arguments. From the same readings one can also learn that one can add wit to an argument and still make sense. However, I personally feel that we can learn a lot about gratitude from Mr. Buckley. Continue reading

Third Place: Buckley College Essay Contest

By: Sophie Dillon

The following essay was the third-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Last November, America experienced one of its most surprising elections to date, when Donald Trump edged out a win in a presidential race so close they couldn’t call a winner until three in the morning. Clinton supporters watched in astonished agony as the votes were tallied—what about the polls that had been promising a Hillary presidency for months? What about the reputable news sources who had denounced Trump’s comments as racist and sexist? The morning after the election, many Americans found themselves wondering—How could this have happened? Continue reading

Second Place: Buckley College Essay Contest

By: Bernard Stanford

The following essay was the second-place winner of the Buckley Program’s spring semester essay contest. The topic was “What can we learn from William F. Buckley, Jr. today?”. 

Yale today has a delicate relationship with the concept of “namesakes.” On a university filled nearly to bursting with names (such that poor Messrs. Sterling, Sheffield, and Strathcona have all been forced to share), the regular students hardly engage with them at all, and when they do, it’s generally to point out that one or other is racist and offensive and must be blotted out. Not one of the hundred-and-twenty-odd freshman residents of Durfee Hall, for example, likely thinks at all about what he or she can learn from the example of Bradford M.C. Durfee, a man who, upon realizing the fortune he inherited as a young man, set about giving it away to worthy causes as fast as he could. Not once in four years have I ever seen a Yale student draw a positive lesson from a namesake about the university. Continue reading