ConcernedHabsFan wrote:Maybe that was how it was back in his day at Duke but it most certainly isn't like that at top schools now. The majority of people study/work a ton and to prepare significantly "more than all the other students" would require a superhuman effort that might put you at risk of death. We are talking about people who graduated in the top 10 students of their class at the top school in foreign countries where only the top 10 students in each province are even admitted to the top school, people who write blog entries about their opinions on recent court rulings for fun, and some people who literally have zero interest in social interaction.. You aren't going to make top 15% by simple virtue of "outworking" the other 85%.
Interesting you say that, because where I work right now (a tennis center), I meet a lot of lawyers and other professionals (accountants, pharmacists, doctors). And, a lot of lawyers have likened their careers to tennis when I talk with them.
The guy from Duke actually compared it to pro tennis, where you'll have your extremely hardworking and talented people who always find success because they'll just flat out spend whatever amount of time and resources it is to beat you (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic). Then you'll have those with crazy work ethic but lack natural talent but still find success due to their unwavering work ethic (David Ferrer, Andy Roddick), and you have the ones talented enough to beat everyone but don't work hard enough on that level to do it (Tsonga, Gasquet, Murray). So, it's basically a theory of "levels of hard work." Are they all hardworking enough to be Top 20 tennis players? Yes. Are they on the level where they're going to win 6 Grand Slams? No - because that would be "superhuman" like you said. And only very few people in this world have that high a level of work ethic. So this Duke guy, I'm assuming from knowing him (though I never knew him at school), had a high threshold of "level of hard work." Probably not on a Federer/Nadal level, but definitely one where, according to him he prepared harder than everyone else to get the high grades he wanted.
For non-tennis fans, it's the "Kobe Bryant vs Vince Carter" comparison. Is Vince hardworking? He has to be incredibly hardworking in order to even make the NBA, let alone have a 10 year career as an All-star. He's probably at the top 1% of "hardworking people." But is his "level of work ethic" comparable to Kobe's? Is he flying to German to find a way to play 3 more seasons through damaged knees, has he developed at low-post game at age 30 to counter his declining quickness, will he play through an All-star game with a broken nose? He's nowhere close to that level of MVP worthiness of hard work.
Also, I know a few people at Yale and Columbia grad school right now, or top Engineering programs. They're not that hardworking. I'd describe them as smart people, that are responsible, and keep their partying to non-busy weekends. They don't spend any more hours per day studying than high schoolers in Korea or Japan.
Take your basketball analogy and apply it to a situation where there are dozens of basketball leagues equivalent to the NBA around the world (since "academic excellence" isn't as rare as athletic supergenes) and the Kobe Bryants/Vince Carters, Federer/Nadals, Ferrer/Roddicks, etc. of each league all combine to join the same superleague... only the new league is a baseball league and none of them have much baseball experience. Imagine that they bring the same insane work ethic they always had to the new baseball league but have different levels of success because different methods of training or different innate abilities might be better suited to baseball. That is a top law school (or at least how I think of it). The people who completely dominate are, for the most part, the equivalent of what LeBron James is to basketball.. absolute monsters who for one reason or another "got it" enough to come in and dominate. You are not just going to out hustle people to the top. You could work your absolute hardest, be smart, and still end up below median.
Maybe there is a difference between where I am (Harvard) and Duke but I really, really doubt. Its also possible that Im just dumb but that is another discussion.