The Corner

Conservatives in the Campus Crucible

For those interested, I have a piece up over at the Washington Post’s Political Bookworm previewing an argument from the introduction to a book I’ve edited, Proud to Be Right. An excerpt:

There’s a powerful upside to the downside of higher education: conservative students tend to come out of universities sharper, more self-confident and more ready to rumble in ideological debates because as members of a disfavored minority, conservative students have their preconceived notions tested every day.

Obviously, there’s no shortage of sharp liberal students on college campuses, but even the sharpest ones get a lot more of their education passively, because they largely agree with what their professors and textbooks say. Their prejudices and convictions are more likely confirmed, not tested. They can go with the flow never questioning the received wisdom because the received wisdom is what they brought to the classroom in the first place.

Meanwhile, conservatives — and right-leaning libertarians — must swim upstream. Some can’t handle it. Others simply avoid courses where their philosophical views might create headaches. But the righties who stick it out, graduate with four years of Socratic learning under their belts.

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