Yoga and Rankings


I was just settling into a relaxing shoulder opener before class when I overheard two of my yoga buddies in the row behind me:

--Well, I think Exeter has really gone up. I mean, its ranking is far higher than when I attended.

--My daughter is thinking of Bath. But, the rankings are not as high as Durham.

--I think at the end of the day all UK unis are on the same level after you hit Oxbridge.

--Yes, she’ll just go by the rankings and decide.

--Wait, Jennifer is here. Why don’t you ask her?

--Jen, which is better: Exeter, Bath or Durham?

I was upside down facing them, eyes closed. I smiled but it would have looked like a frown to them, which would have coincided well with my immediate “response”:

--Ladies, rankings are total bulls•••. I can’t answer your question in two minutes (our instructor was shutting the door about to begin) but they are absolute, total, BS.

--They are?!?

--They are. Please, Gail, don’t have your daughter determine her university based on some ranking—all of which are published just to make money and the very criteria for each no one really bothers to dissect but yet by which a student will determine his future?

--Can I talk to you after class?

So, we did.

And if she was not going to determine her university of choice by rankings, how else would she do it?, Gail asked. Gail!, I exclaimed. But she must dig deeply! What programme is she looking at?—something that will matter greatly in the UK. And, what courses will she take at each university, which courses will she have the option to take? How many students are in the programme? Who teaches in her programme of choice? What sorts of opportunities are there for sandwich or study abroad in her programme? Is there a joint programme connected to hers that could be of interest? What do students go out and do after finishing said programme? What is the student profile of her programme of choice? Will there be tutorials? How does she learn? How long has the programme been running?

Gail cut me off. But, how am I supposed to know this information? How will she?

And, this is what surprised me. It wasn’t so much Gail or her honesty in expressing despair, rather it was the fact that still we have not taught our young adults how to go about finding a fit for their future education and instead consistently funnel them through a one-size-fits-all mill—Name? Check. Ranking? Check. Location? Check. What-my-friends-say? Check.—instead of giving them the opportunity to find a place they love by asking hard, laborious, subjective, thoughtful questions (that cannot be answered in one sitting).

Finding the right fit for anything subjective—university, friends, partner, …--IS NOT SCIENTIFIC. We must stop treating this process as if it is (read: rankings). I believe we do a real disservice to our young adults by not helping them understand the essence of fit—which undoubtedly leads to success—perhaps because it takes so long, we are afraid of the outcome, we don’t know how to do it. And when we don’t are we limiting this young adult from finding more depth and happiness in her life?

I saw Gail yesterday. She said they started the research I suggested…but it’s so much work! Work not being anathema to her, she was struck more so by not having known what to look for. What to really do in this process. How to not make this whole process into a quest, but rather a fulfilling, thoughtful, growth experience.

I told her I thought yoga would help...

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