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Rewatching Good Will Hunting to End the Ivy League Blues

"There’s more to life than a f**king field’s medal" – Dr. Maguire


After going through the rigorous college application process last year, witnessing younger students’ acceptance videos and commitments was bittersweet. I remember my naive hopefulness of perhaps receiving a “congratulations” from at least one Ivy League. My 4.0 GPA and eight APs plus my enrollment in the International Baccalaureate program (I received the highest marks in my entire high school) supported me academically. My exhaustive list of extracurriculars in the nonprofit sector and trauma-turned-inspiration and success personal statement satisfied the other front. I ruined myself to try and secure a spot that was never there for me in the first place.

Even to this day, I find myself having to snap out of seething at those who had a spot ready for them. This piece is not supposed to discuss the institutionalized failure of the United States college system because we would be here for too long. Hearing about tuition officially reaching the $90,000-a-year threshold and families paying about 750,000 dollars for a college advisor made me rewatch Good Will Hunting–a perfect movie that encapsulates that where you go does not equate to your worthiness or success.

For my entire life, I groomed myself into believing that elite universities were the only avenue to take if I wanted to grow intellectually and receive dozens of offers for competitive internships. Rejection after rejection, as well as lack of any financial aid, set forth a cosmic rupture in my pristine plan for success. This was a common feeling among friends of mine; we recognized our privilege, but it was nowhere near the ballpark of a “varsity blues” type. I was a square desperately trying to shove myself into a circle. I have grown to understand there are some forces out of anyone’s control.

I recently decided to rewatch one of my all-time favorite movies that I had not thought about in a while. Hint, most of the characters stay “fa” instead of “far” given their origins in the beautiful south side of Boston. Good Will Hunting tells the tale of a “Southie” named Will who, alongside his entourage, enjoys getting into physical fights around town, as well as frequenting bars to find attractive women who become intrigued by his brooding personality. He also happens to be a MENSA leveled genius.

Will’s gift was revealed at one of the bar trips when a Harvard student attempted to make his friend, Chuckie, look dumb in front of a fellow Harvard girl. After a few short minutes, the Harvard man’s superior look on his face morphed into a flabbergasted one. Will lists facts like he is reading them off a Wikipedia page and makes it known to everyone that this man’s “brilliant insights” are nothing more than ones found in the pages of lesser-known philosophers. I might not have an IQ like his, but I know I am capable of excelling in academic discussions, particularly those related to modern political affairs and niche pop culture events. This scene was the first reminder that no lecture hall will magically make you have intellectual prowess.

Grasping the world and all of its intricacies comes from one’s willingness to learn them.

With no parents or family, Will supported himself, thus taking up a luxurious janitor job at MIT. In between the excessive cussing and mopping of the hallway floors, Will manages to solve what was once believed to be an unsolvable mathematical proof written on the board by Professor Lambeau. After an extensive amount of time, the professor finds Will–only to discover that he is in jail for assault. In order to continue using Will’s brilliant mind, the Professor struck a deal to get him out of serving time if he agrees to therapy given that Will has his fair share of demons. Going through multiple therapists with degrees lining their entire rooms, Will realizes he has another uncommon gift: he manages to make all of them refuse to do their job. Professor Lambeau out of desperation reaches out to his old college roommate, Dr. Maguire, who happened to be a fellow “Southie.” He had left the academic and corporate rat race behind. Though his brilliance was unmatched, he chose a different path than Professor Lambeau. With one mishap that prompted Dr. Maguire to place Will in a chokehold, Will has a slight willingness to continue working with him.

Throughout the film, the audience discovers Will’s outright disinterest in utilizing his potential–this ultimately changes because of Dr. Maguire, his friends, and that Harvard girl who watched him school the man at the bar. The poignancy of Will and Dr. Maguire’s relationship deserves an extensive analysis of all that it portrays. For me, it demonstrated that no elite diploma in the field of psychology could reach Will–it was a professor at a local community college with a simple life who did.

Watching this film and writing this piece helped fill the gaping hole of anger with gratitude. Still, sometimes I have periods of thinking about the “what if” or comparing myself to students at so-called “prestigious” schools. Nonetheless, from walking past Graham Hall and spotting Graham the Gator tanning to even eating five-dollar Krishna Lunch, I have grown to love this school. I will continue to defend the accolades it has acquired in face of problematic governors who attempt to upend academic freedom. Looking back, I know the universe, in its odd way of working, shielded me from the terrors of "imposter syndrome" and other problems that inevitably arise with attending schools with such small acceptance rates. I needed to flourish differently and in a way I did not know was possible. Maybe down the line, I will help make collegiate education equitable to ensure all have an opportunity to learn. And no, it will not be to satisfy the common delusional belief that the classic name-brand institution means you will make it. After all, I did not get the school I wanted because I unknowingly came to the one I needed.


Lauren Gregorio is an Online Editor for Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, you can find her either blasting a rotation of the Red Hot Chili Peppers and Taylor Swift's discography into her ears thanks to her wired headphones, taking naps, or re-watching Modern Family.


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