As a first year law student at the University of Oklahoma College of Law, the idea of competition was something I never really thought about until recently. Within the past couple of weeks, first semester grades came out, and as I looked at my grades and didn’t think much of them after seeing that I passed all of my classes (a surprisingly difficult accomplishment), I began to think of how competitive law school and life in general really is.
In law school, many students’ first year grades determine how good of a summer internship they get after the first two semesters of law school. Many students’ first and second year summer internships determine how fancy of a job/career they may have upon graduating law school. Law school is structured to encourage competition which can be a good and bad thing. After grades are posted, the law school ranks all of the students based on GPA from 1 to 175. Some students won’t have to worry about their rank thanks to connections and networking with future employers, while others that aren’t lucky enough to have connections are much more dependent on grades and class rank because most law firms determine who they want to work for them based on their grades and class rank.
This concept makes law school extremely competitive for those that are fighting for jobs and a career. However, it is much less stressful for those that have a father or mother who went to law school with so-and-so who turns out to be a respected attorney. Despite being so competitive, it is crazy how widespread connections and who you know can get you a great job over a top student in the class that had to work their butt off in order to even be considered as a potential intern/employee at a good law firm.
With this in mind, I began to think that life in general is competitive and competition is something that we take for granted and don’t really think about. From young ages we are encouraged to participate in competitive sports whether it’s basketball, football, soccer, golf, etc. We spend most of our life competing even though we don’t think about it much. We compete in sports to be the best athlete in that sport and maybe even play professionally someday, we compete for grades to become the smartest student and to get scholarships to colleges to secure a better future, unfortunately we compete for a significant other with others who may also be interested in that person, and we compete in our jobs to become the best employee and make the most money.
What is it that makes our lives so encouraged by competition? Although everyone has the chance to compete, not everyone is exposed to the same opportunities that other people may have. Our socioeconomic class is often what determines what schools we get into and what jobs we may be able to obtain. This is an unfortunate structure of our society because those that are born into families that struggle to make a living have to start working at young ages and may not be able to afford going to college. Therefore, those that are less fortunate are not able to go through life and make connections and go to college to build those connections and networks which makes them even less able to compete for the better and fancier jobs that people that are born into a higher socioeconomic class are able to compete for. Even when the less fortunate are able to break through and get to college and even law school to join the competition, they may work hard to make great grades but other students’ connections and who they know can still beat out those with great grades in the competition for jobs.
The main idea here is that competition can be a good and bad thing. Competition is good for encouraging people to do great and strive to be the best in whatever it is that they are seeking. Competition invites us to not be lazy and to persevere through tough times in order to come out on top. Competition is great for society in that people become smarter because of their willingness to compete, and we work harder at our jobs thanks to that mindset that I want to be the best at what I do. However, the downside of competition is that opportunities in life are not equal, which makes the less fortunate less able to compete, and the higher socioeconomic classes able to beat out those that may even work harder in many situations.
Peoples’ socioeconomic class determines who we know and who can get us a great job later in life. For example, if you have a family member that is a wealthy lawyer, they can get you a job with another attorney who they respect or may be friends with. If your family is mainly working in minimum wage jobs, it is likely that they are not blessed with the same connections as another family with a higher societal status. What societal structures guide competition and make life more or less competitive? There are many ideas out there but it is my belief that Capitalism is one of the main driving forces of competition. Many people like it this way and some don’t. There is always a constant competition for jobs and money and some individuals are able to separate themselves from the rest of the society. No matter what your opinion is about what guides our competitive society, do you agree with it? Is competition equal to everyone?