Why I Still Go To EPS

Just today, I received my first real reply to my post about EPS being a bad school from Mr. L. J. Salazar, father of our very own L. Salazar. He writes his message as follows:

If I recall correctly, You mention the quality of the students as your criteria for assessing whether or not the school is good. You explain that the school accept any student, as long as the family can afford tuition and you would like to see another criteria, beyond financial capacity, to be accepted at the school.

I agree with your assessment, and I invite you to see the problem from another angle. If you look at the elite schools in the country, it is indeed very hard to get into those schools and academic excellence is an important criteria. Those schools have a demand that surpass their capacity, hence they have the luxury of selecting elite students. But they were not like that since day one. At the beginning they had to balance the financial aspects with academic excellence and it took them many years until they built a name based on proven track record of excellence (graduates from those schools had a good track record getting into top jobs, or creating important technologies or companies).

I think EPS is in the middle of that journey. I agree there are many things that could be better, but those things will get better only with students like you. The school is going through what I call “growing pains” and at times academic excellence could be compromised by trying to move too fast, trying to get too many students too fast, at the expense of a visible detriment of the academic environment, which seems to be the case based on your observations.

So what do you think is the root cause? Is the current quality of the students, the root cause that has the consequence of a sub par academic experience, or is the sub par academic experience the root cause that has as a consequence poor quality of the student base? Is the sub par academic experience really a root cause or is that a consequence of growing too fast? Or the consequences of a non sustainable financial model?

At the end, the school does not matter much. I have seen people going to Harvard or Stanford and accomplish nothing, I have seen people attending sub par schools (due to many valid reasons) and achieving success in life beyond anybody’s dream. I consider myself a good example of this situation. I did not have the means to attend an elite school, I had many mediocre teachers and my friends were not very interested in academic excellence. Yet I managed to marry a wonderful woman, have a son that is our pride and our joy, moved away from a dangerous situation in another country and now are proud citizens of this country we love so much. In record time: 9 years, having a promotion every single year, I got to an executive position at the largest software company in the world, created technologies that helped to change the world and now I work with many entrepreneurs that keep on changing the world. I truly enjoy what I do and sometimes it seems surreal the journey I have gone through.

At the end it is up to you. As I shared with Luis last night, do your best, because you enjoy that, not because you will get a great grade or because a teacher asked you to do so. If a teacher demands something that does not meet your high standard, do not compromise your values . Deliver always something that pleases you, regardless of the low bar used to measure the rest of the students. Follow your bliss and you will always succeed, regardless of the environment surrounding you.

Is EPS a school that allows you to thrive if you want to?

Best,

/LJ
@nakedCMO

I love it! If you happen to read this, I would like to thank you immensely for writing this, Mr. Salazar. Not only does this perfectly summarize the rest of what was missing in my previous post (If I wish to make a compelling argument, I must not contradict it with my evidence), but it brings up the excellent point of why I’m still at EPS if it’s not a good school. The thing is, this isn’t the whole story.. No matter how much I say EPS is a bad school, I could say three times as much about why it’s an absolutely amazing school that I love greatly. To start, I shall address Mr. Salazar’s question to me, “Is EPS a school that allows you to thrive if you want to?”. This is perhaps the best of EPS. It is what I explain to people as why I’m still here after 3 years when I tour them at Open Houses. EPS inspires the worst of us to do whatever we want to do, as long as it is in some way innovative, and in some way changes the world. This perhaps explains the number of liberal arts majors who are EPS alumni. The unique environment might encourage being well-rounded, but it focuses much more on developing a person’s real skills. Take for example, my presentation at SIFP (see video below). Of course, there are many people who inspired my to do this, but it wouldn’t have been within my reach if it wasn’t for all the practice given to me by my teachers. Even before high school, I had done enough presentations, and gotten enough help and feedback from my excellent teachers that I could present in front of nearly 700 people. This simply isn’t something I could get at another school, and is therefore a huge reason for why I like this school.

Finally, I just want to clarify something.  I’m not saying the students at EPS are stupid.  In fact, most of the kids I know here are some of the smartest people I know, and have an immense amount of potential for their futures.  The thing that our school lacks is huge amounts of competition, which from my perspective, is good!  Without competition, students have to push themselves to succeed, and this leads to better character than any sort of competition does.

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