William Deresiewicz’s New Republic article, “Don’t Send Your Kid to the Ivy League,” an inflammatory critique of the Ivy League, went viral this summer and sparked national debate about the nation’s top schools and the culture they create. Princeton students had a chance to fire back at Deresiewicz, who came to Whig Hall Sept. 25 after visiting several other Ivy League schools to promote his book, Excellent Sheep. The book, which expands on the article, argues that elite universities train students to become “excellent sheep” — individuals who excel at completing tasks for their own sake, at the expense of self-discovery and direction. After a talk by Deresiewicz, who attended Columbia and taught at Yale for a decade, students criticized the author’s proposals for reforming the college admission process, which include reducing applications to timed essays and evaluating applicants solely by their GPA. When one student argued that removing extracurricular activities from applications would hurt “well-rounded” applicants, Deresiewicz admitted that reforming the admission process is not simple, but a small step in the process of rebuilding public higher education. Students also accused Deresiewicz of ignoring the practical and financial aspects of college and their job choices. “I had more trouble finding a job as a car mechanic in Boston than I did with job offers from consulting firms and from law firms,” said Mikhael Smits ’18. “Who am I to say, ‘No, I’m going to do what I want?’ ” Other students voiced their agreement with Smits, but Deresiewicz held firm. “The world might need you to do something other than go to Wall Street and play computer games with people’s money,” he said, drawing applause. “I’m not concerned about the choice; I’m concerned about how the choice is made.” At a meeting with several hundred alumni in Philadelphia two days earlier, President Eisgruber ’83 had said he “ vehemently disagreed ” with Deresiewicz. But some students voiced support for his critique. Jeremy Cohen ’16 said recognized behaviors in Deresiewicz’s article that were manifested in his own life, and said he agreed wholeheartedly with the author. Problems in higher education are institutional, Cohen said, making them more difficult to fix. “I don’t think there are any individuals in the administration of Princeton or other schools who believe the college-application process is a good thing,” he said. “All the individuals implicated here are good people with good motives, but the institution that exists is not ideal.” Cameron Langford ’15 took a more nuanced approach. In a Sept. 29 column for The Daily Princetonian , Langford wrote that Deresiewicz’s observations about “the success-driven culture of Ivy League job recruiting” are accurate, and that she is applying for consulting jobs herself. But she said she disagrees with Deresiewicz’s argument that elite schools are failing when it comes to students’ “questions of purpose.” Princeton may have helped her find direction in spite of its success-oriented culture, Langford wrote, by fostering intellectual curiosity and the community to support it.