Civic service and other explorations into the human condition (the subject of the humanities, after all) become creators of surplus value in a pool of already perfect people. Extraordinary experiences are strategically acquired by the Super People to boost their perceived value. So how will a Super Person stand out in their college or graduate school application? They need to have a spike in their profile, choreographed by an extraordinary value-free "humanistic" experience like building refugee centers in Bosnia or volunteering at day care centers in Guatemala. Admissions officers have a special word for these people, they are “pointy.”
Like most liberal arts colleges, Franklin & Marshall specializes in the cultivation of “pointy” individuals who will excel in post-graduate arenas. We, the educators, have been very disingenuous in maintaining the Bildung myth, while inflating the market with seemingly value-free collegiate experiences. We all aspire to cultivate full individuals with humanistic depth and breadth. But we should all realize that our actual role in the dynamics of American society is the fabrication of spiky profiles, a strangely subverted ideal. There is nothing that I love more than creating Pointy students, but it depresses me to think that Pointiness is the single most operative capitalist value in the marketplace of the liberal arts college.