The allure of top-flight universities and colleges is one of the many assets that helped the United States maintain and strengthen its reputation as the most powerful country in the world.
America’s ability to attract some of the best minds in the world – often thanks to scholarships – bolsters the country’s intellectual base and its scientific know-how and, ultimately, advances American society as a whole. These people go on to become leading scientists and entrepreneurs who, as a whole, make a crucial contribution to the American success story.
For decades, thousands of gifted high school and university students in many countries around the world, including Greece, set their sights on American universities. They researched them, asked friends and acquaintances about their programs and teaching staff, learned about the athletic and social activities they offered and even explored the different neighborhoods of the cities they hoped to move to. With such stars as Harvard, MIT, Boston University, Amherst College, and other venerable institutions, Boston is a prime example of such a city.
These days, however, budding scholars and scientists at Greek and other high schools and universities are having second thoughts. They are starting to wonder if it’s worth it.
America has always been two worlds, as everyone knows, split between its progressive and its conservative side. Despite the apparent incongruity of such a coexistence, it was often seen as one of the many special traits of that great country. This time, though, the distance has become too great.
The demagoguery, the ignorance, the insularism, the attacks against other countries, and the withdrawing of funding from the World Health Organization in the middle of the pandemic are phenomena that are causing grave concerns and ill-feeling, especially among intellectuals and scientists who take a more critical stance.
The most powerful country in the world, with the biggest and most flexible economy, is falling short. The image it conveys is worrisome and annoying; it is losing its luster.
And as admiration wanes, it also risks losing the best and the brightest, many of those fine minds from other parts of the world who regarded it as their preferred destination. The pioneers, innovators and inventors of the future, the kind of people who helped make America great to start with.