I attended a big public school in Miami—think Fast Times at Ridgemont High
that was far more concerned with preventing fights in the halls and keeping drugs out of the bathrooms than with academics.
When I was accepted into Harvard, many of my high school classmates asked me why I would want to go to a school filled with geeks.
Then they would stop short, remember who they were talking to,
and sheepishly walk away without waiting for an answer, realizing they already had it.
Freshman year of college was a huge shock for me.
First semester, I took a course called The Concept of the Hero in Hellenic Civilization, which was nicknamed Heroes for Zeroes.
I didn't have a burning desire to study Greek mythology, but it was the easiest way to fulfill the literature requirement.
The professor began the first lecture by asking which students had read these books before.
I whispered to my friend next to me, "What books?"
"The Iliad and The Odyssey, of course," she replied.
Almost every single hand went up. Not mine.
The professor then asked, "And who has read these books in the original?"
"What original?" I asked my friend. "Homeric Greek," she replied.
A good third of the class kept their hands up.
It seemed pretty clear that I was one of the zeroes.
A few weeks later, my professor of political philosophy assigned a five-page paper.
I was panicked. Five whole pages!
I had only written one paper of that length in high school, and it was a year-long project.
How could anyone write five pages in just one week?