If you haven’t read Jonah Lehrer’s recent article in the New Yorker, “Groupthink”, hop to it. Here’s why:
Humans tend in two directions simultaneously - we limit each other with our sameness (that’s why we tend toward people we already agree with, or why we are ethnocentric or prejudiced, or why when one person buys things we all tend to want it); or we can inspire each other with our differences (that’s why we explore, travel, create, innovate). We’re neither one or the other. We are always both.
When it comes to college education, understanding these dual tendencies becomes very important. Why is it that we tend to think job=business major, or rich=economics major? Why is it that we just apply to the same 10 schools our friends or parents did? That’s groupthink. But the true joy of college is seeing the incredible opportunity you have to begin carving your own path. To do that, you want to be in an environment where you will interact with (not just walk past) different kinds of people studying different kinds of things and asking different kinds of questions. If you’re a bio major, you want to be living, talking and thinking with artists and writers and historians. You want to live and eat and play with people who are diverse not just in where they come from or what color their skin is, but in what kinds of intellectual questions drive them, what things they are curious about, how they want to impact the world. An environment like that encourages collaboration rather than groupthink; it will stimulate your creativity rather than stifle it.
When you read Lehrer’s article you’ll see that Steve Jobs understood this deeply when designing Apple’s campus - putting the only bathroom in the whole building in the atrium so that engineers and designers and managers all HAD to bump into each other; or why MIT’s Building 20 is known as the “magical incubator,” one of the greatest idea labs in modern intellectual history. The world is in desperate need of innovators, creators, and collaborators - not more groupthinkers.
So hop to it.