The story, written by Post reporter Jenna Johnson, refers to a study at the University of Maryland that suggests that students who take cognitive enhancers study less, party more, and have slightly lower grade point averages than their classmates. That suggests that their main purpose for using the drugs is stay competitive without letting studies get in the way of college.
There is little doubt, however, that the drugs are also being used by highly focused, academically competitive students in demanding programs. Their purpose: to add an edge to their hard work in order to stay in the top one or two percent of the competitive pile. As the Post reports, one name for these drugs is “Ivy League crack.”
The drugs in question are familiar enough—mostly Ritalin and Adderall. Students without prescriptions can easily buy these drugs from other students.
Should use of these drugs be treated as crimes? Or should those who wish to excel academically be allowed to use whatever means helps them achieve that end? For more on that debate, see the now-classic 2008 article in the journal Nature, in which prominent bioethicists such as Stanford’s Henry Greely argue for greater tolerance and openness.