The Four-Year Plan: A Reframing of Contemporary Debate Regarding the "Death" of American Undergraduate Liberal Education

A procession of students in black graduation robes. Photo by Gordon Griffiths.

My paper was undeniably a response to Ken Auletta's “Get Rich U.” and – in many ways – my attempt at a defense of Stanford' pedagogical mission. Over the course of conducting research for the paper, I became increasingly convinced that modern critics yearned for a return to Ivy League curriculums from the ‘60s instead of seriously attempting to understand the higher education zeitgeist of our times, and I wanted to capture this sentiment and its associated issues in the work.  The final paper, however, reflects a minuscule portion of all the fascinating historical and theoretical research I engaged with over the course of the class.  I began my PWR class by trying to understand the University of California's high-profile rebranding failure.  From there, I asked questions that led me to the Hoover Archive and the correspondences of Stanford's first President, famous pacifist, and eugenicist David Starr Jordan; the murder of Jane Stanford; Stanford's academic brawl in the Western Culture Debates; and the Study of Undergraduate Education at Stanford.  Besides my obvious development as a writer and researcher, this writing process helped me think about why I go to college (as Auletta points out – it's easy to drop out!) and, as a result, has equipped me to best use my time at Stanford.

Read Ansh's entire Booth Prize-Winning Essay here

More about the Boothe Prize

Photo of Ansh Shukla, '16.
Ansh Shukla, '16

I was born in India and raised in Cupertino, CA, where I attended Monta Vista High School. On Stanford campus, I'm a VP of BASES E-Bootcamp (Business Association of Stanford Entrepreneurial Students) and generally interested in the Silicon Valley and EdTech.  Academically, I enjoy the rigor of mathematics and the ability to create really awesome, complex systems with CS. I hope to decide how I want to combine these interests into a major (or two) by the time I graduate in 2016.