Another reflection on GOATs, rankings, and flourishing within the ACM program

Another reflection on GOATs, rankings, and flourishing within the ACM program

The past few days have allowed me to reflect on the journey of our BS in Applied Corporate Management (BS-APC or ACM) students during the pandemic. I’ve been reading their reflections on their personal journey. For the recent ACM alums, it’s heartwarming to see them graduate into a more optimistic post-pandemic era. The icing on the cake: another ACM student was chosen to deliver the university graduation speech!

As a product of the program myself, I’ve come to intimately understand the ACM program’s traditional characteristics: its three-term full-time internships and “competitiveness”, brought about by the yearly qualifying examinations and aspirations to intern at popular multinational companies. Students have expressed how they’ve felt the pressure to hustle, to keep up with their peers, to join multiple student orgs, do part-time internships while doing acads (brought by the online learning mode!), and so on.

In the last five years, we’ve been recalibrating the ACM program to emphasize humanistic and sustainability management strongly. This is so we can be consistent with our goal to produce authentic catalysts for change. It is imperative that we promote human, societal, and ecological flourishing.

For me, what’s romantic about “flourishing” is that it is not a zero-sum game. Whereas there can only be one GOAT or champion, in theory, everyone can flourish. We can all be the best version of ourselves.

My dilemma: how can we reconcile flourishing with a program that has been traditionally “competitive”?

Froshies experience pressure to join orgs and to compare themselves with high-performing peers. Is this conducive to flourishing?

Students inevitably compete with one another for limited popular internship positions. Is this conducive to flourishing?

Our K-12 system has popularized ranking systems and top 10 lists, which students internalize even during college. Is this conducive to flourishing?

How can we be consistent with a more virtues-based approach (comparing ourselves with our self) when our current context is peppered by rankings and GOAT conversations?

From my initial reads of student reflections, two approaches seem effective to promote flourishing and lessen distracting (and destructive) competitions: (1) a focus on thinking and feeling processes rather than “correct” answers, which train people to be comfortable with multiple rejections; and (2) positioning the program as a space where students get the opportunity to pursue causes greater than themselves – an ecosystem of support, healthy competition, and co-creative learning.

The youth will generally begin their journeys seeking validation from others while discovering who they are (self-awareness). We need to rethink our educational system, which should be less about outranking another and more about empowering a student to be a person capable of being the best version of themselves.

Mark 9:30-37. But they remained silent. For they had been discussing among themselves on the way who was the greatest.


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