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Tom Rexton

writing an essay about Ayn Rand or her works

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One of the questions on my college application is the following:

"Describe a fictional or historical figure, or a creative work, or a scientific achievement. Why is it important to you?"

I really would like to write about Ayn Rand or one of her works, but I am aware of the (mostly) hostile attitude towards her in colleges and universities. Would it be wise to write an essay about Ayn Rand or her works? Could or would a college deny me admission because of it?

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Could or would a college deny me admission because of it?

Would you really want to go to a college that refuses you admission because you write about Ayn Rand. Doesn't sound like a hospitable environment for an Objectivist... :huh: I don't know how bad it is though. If all colleges are hostile to Objectivists, then I guess there isn't a lot of room to choose. But I am inclined to think (hopefully :) ) that not all colleges would refuse you for being an Objectivist.

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I would take this approach: Pick a book connected to your central purpose in life, if you have chosen one.

Your love for your chosen work, as epitomized in the book, will give you the chance to demonstrate to admissions people that you are goal-oriented and that you will take your education seriously because you know that that education is a step towards the end.

Write about that book because it is the most important book for your beloved work -- again, assuming you have chosen a CPL.

An example might be this: If I were an architectural student, I would love to have the chance to write about Louis H. Sullivan's Autobiography of an Idea. (Sullivan was Frank Lloyd Wright's inspiration, and somewhat similar to Henry Cameron in The Fountainhead.) Sullivan's book describes the idea of "organic architecture," that is, the idea that form should follow function -- not tradition in architecture.

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One of the questions on my college application is the following:

Where are planning on applying to college? More specifically, what college is this particular application for?

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Would you really want to go to a college that refuses you admission because you write about Ayn Rand. Doesn't sound like a hospitable environment for an Objectivist...  :huh: I don't know how bad it is though. If all colleges are hostile to Objectivists, then I guess there isn't a lot of room to choose. But I am inclined to think (hopefully :lol: )  that not all colleges would refuse you for being an Objectivist.

I never heard of a college or a university that was hospitable to Objectivism. You can find Objectivist professors in some universities, and you can find professors who are not hostile... but the average academic IS hostile.

And so, with regret, I would recommend not to write about Ayn Rand, unless you can ascertain that this will not hurt your academic prospects.

I have a friend who wants to get accepted into a respectable philosophy department, and had to sweep the internet clean of references connecting him to Objectivism out of fear of being Googled. Sadly enough, I don't think he was being paranoid. He was simply being realistic.

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I never heard of a college or a university that was hospitable to Objectivism. You can find Objectivist professors in some universities, and you can find professors who are not hostile... but the average academic IS hostile.

And so, with regret, I would recommend not to write about Ayn Rand, unless you can ascertain that this will not hurt your academic prospects.

I have a friend who wants to get accepted into a respectable philosophy department, and had to sweep the internet clean of references connecting him to Objectivism out of fear of being Googled. Sadly enough, I don't think he was being paranoid. He was simply being realistic.

That is quite sad. :lol: These academics, who will listen to almost anyone spew their nonsense, are hostile to Objectivism... *sigh*

edited to add last sentence

Edited by non-contradictor

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I have a friend who wants to get accepted into a respectable philosophy department, and had to sweep the internet clean of references connecting him to Objectivism out of fear of being Googled. Sadly enough, I don't think he was being paranoid. He was simply being realistic.

Respected? By whom? For what?

On first glance this appears as a simple application of the fact that you have no obligation to go around incriminating yourself, however, I think that acting in this way is very dishonest on a personal level.

I place zero value on appearances . . . on attaching myself to a prestigious school, program, professor, or whatever. What is "prestige" . . . it is appearance without substantiation. To me, respect is a VERY personal matter that is based solely on my appraisal of a individual or group of individuals. Largely because I learned that other people's opinions are generally, well, crap, pardon my French.

You (speaking generally) cannot use an anti-Objectivism program as a springboard for promotion of Objectivism. It can't be done; you will experience such violent resistance on all levels that you will either be forced to compromise over and over, thus distorting your message beyond recognition, or they will break you and destroy your love of philosophy. You cannot really achieve a value without exercising the corresponding virtues; honesty and integrity.

If the University wants to know what your values are before admitting you, TELL THEM. You will accomplish nothing by failing to call a spade a spade. There are other Universities, and, if not, there are libraries, there are public forums (such as this one) there are MANY MANY means of acquiring an education.

An education is simply a means to an end, not the end itself, and if you want to succeed you need to treat it as such. By all means, write that essay about Ayn Rand's books, IF those are honestly the most influential books you have encountered.

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I agree with Jennifer, I wrote on Objectivism for my college essays and I got into 4 out of 5 schools that I applied for. Don't compromise your values.

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I agree with Jennifer, I wrote on Objectivism for my college essays and I got into 4 out of 5 schools that I applied for.  Don't compromise your values.

Actually, if I wrote about a different topic that is just as appropriate and relevant, it would not be a compromise at all. After all, the question asks NOT for the MOST important, but for some historical or fictional figure, creative (art) work or scientific achievement that is important to me.

Writing about someone or something else that could just as equally show my values and character for the purpose of gaining a college admissions is no compromise. A college degree is of great value to me; should I abandon it for the sake of writing a mere 500-word college admissions essay about Ayn Rand?

Anyways, my original question was whether writing an essay about Ayn Rand could radically reduce my chances of being accepted into a college or university.

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Actually, if I wrote about a different topic that is just as appropriate and relevant, it would not be a compromise at all.  After all, the question asks NOT for the MOST important, but for some historical or fictional figure, creative (art) work or scientific achievement that is important to me.

No, it wouldn't be a compromise . . . unless the ONLY reason you were doing it was to avoid the possibility of public disfavor.

Anyways, my original question was whether writing an essay about Ayn Rand could radically reduce my chances of being accepted into a college or university.

In general? No. To a specific University? Maybe . . . not VERY likely but, well, there are jerks everywhere.

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Respected?  By whom?  For what?

On first glance this appears as a simple application of the fact that you have no obligation to go around incriminating yourself, however, I think that acting in this way is very dishonest on a personal level.

I place zero value on appearances . . . on attaching myself to a prestigious school, program, professor, or whatever.  What is "prestige" . . . it is appearance without substantiation.  To me, respect is a VERY personal matter that is based solely on my appraisal of a individual or group of individuals.  Largely because I learned that other people's opinions are generally, well, crap, pardon my French.

You (speaking generally) cannot use an anti-Objectivism program as a springboard for promotion of Objectivism.  It can't be done; you will experience such violent resistance on all levels that you will either be forced to compromise over and over, thus distorting your message beyond recognition, or they will break you and destroy your love of philosophy.  You cannot really achieve a value without exercising the corresponding virtues; honesty and integrity.

If the University wants to know what your values are before admitting you, TELL THEM.  You will accomplish nothing by failing to call a spade a spade.  There are other Universities, and, if not, there are libraries, there are public forums (such as this one) there are MANY MANY means of acquiring an education.

An education is simply a means to an end, not the end itself, and if you want to succeed you need to treat it as such.  By all means, write that essay about Ayn Rand's books, IF those are honestly the most influential books you have encountered.

You're wrong. The word respectable doesn't mean it's respected by everyone. It literally means "deserving of respect".

And the sad truth is that the institutions who employ the best professors, have the best funds, and produce the best sought after professionals are still very hostile to Objectivism. A philosophy department is not measured by how closely the professors follow or preach the Objectivist philosophy - but by its teaching standards, the depth and breadth of the materials, and its funds.

As to this being dishonest - I disagree again. If asked by a regular person what his personal beliefs are, he would not hide them. However, if the screening process includes googling, and he knows that Objectivism will ruin his chances in academy - he can take measures to protect his future. There is no dishonesty involved.

All the Objectivist intellectuals in the past had to do so to some degree, just in order to get into academia. Marxists and multiculturalists still control the campuses, and government intervention coupled with political correctness make academia a very hostile environment not just for Objectivist, but for other minor groups - such as Republicans.

If many Republicans felt until very recently they had to conceal their views to get in, imagine what it's like for Objectivists.

Edited by erandror

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I have a friend who wants to get accepted into a respectable philosophy department, and had to sweep the internet clean of references connecting him to Objectivism out of fear of being Googled. Sadly enough, I don't think he was being paranoid. He was simply being realistic.

Uh oh, I never thought about that. Goodbye, graduate school.

I wrote one of my college essays for my chosen college, St. John's, on Atlas Shrugged, and here I am attending St. John's. In fact, I've spoken to several people who wrote an Ayn Rand essay and were accepted here. It's not that the tutors (that is, our version of professors) like Objectivism--most of them, from what I can gather, don't know very much about it and don't care to learn. But most of them are decent people--as long as you don't sound like a fanatic or a zealot in your essay (you should probably take extra care not to give that impression), you're fine.

The situation is likely worse at other colleges, though, especially ivy leagues and the sort.

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