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If only I had a tiger mom or started a fake charity.
April 5, 2013 8:52 AM   Subscribe

To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me

Daily Mail. Forbes. Today Show. Columbia Journalism Review. Althouse. Uncle Tom Cobley and All.
posted by unSane (264 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
Dang.

Look, I'm sorry you didn't get into Harvard or whatever, but you're being published in the WSJ, so maybe things are looking up?

If all it takes to get an op-ed in the WSJ is being disenfranchised, then I have a 2 page spread waiting for me.
posted by hellojed at 8:57 AM on April 5, 2013 [9 favorites]


She called her sister, a former assistant editor of the Op-Ed section at the Wall Street Journal, who said she should write about her feelings, leading to the article."

Noted without comment.
posted by vacapinta at 8:58 AM on April 5, 2013 [115 favorites]


She shouldn't worry, she'll get a FOX News on-screen personality gig in no time.
posted by tittergrrl at 8:59 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet and I would've happily come out of it.

Charming. Needs to be informed that in our society many of "the diversities" come with lifelong experiences of racism and homophobia that are far more of a barrier to entry than what compensations there are on admissions forms are an advantage.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 8:59 AM on April 5, 2013 [134 favorites]


Like I've been saying on the various social medias... I spent my teens and twenties writing all kinds of terrible things that, looking back, make me nearly die from cringing and want to shrink myself to microscopic size so that the person who wrote that mortifying shit can never be found.

But that's nothing compared to the feeling Suzy Lee Weiss is going to run into when she goes back and reads this in a few years after gaining even the tiniest shred of self-awareness.
posted by COBRA! at 9:00 AM on April 5, 2013 [66 favorites]


> but you're being published in the WSJ

This is just the WSJ throwing this girl to the wolves in the guise of confirming its readers' suspicions about political correctness and diversity. It should never have been printed.
posted by The Card Cheat at 9:00 AM on April 5, 2013 [68 favorites]


Attention Students: ‘Just Being Yourself’ Isn’t a Skill That Should Earn You Admission to College
posted by saul wright at 9:01 AM on April 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


I could barely concentrate on the thing what with the sound of iron on the grindstone.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:01 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


She's a teenager, remember - and if she comes from a family with conservative parents, the news media they consume has been telling her all her life that her problems come from lesser people (you can tell who they are by the color of their skin and/or how their parents get handouts from taxpayers) taking her rightful place.

On the other hand, with the burning wreckage of higher ed still crashing to the ground across the country, maybe a nice associates degree in computer and network administration would be a better investment than a prestigious 4-year school.
posted by Slap*Happy at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


"Just be wealthy. yourself."
"Just be smart. yourself."
"Just be lucky. yourself."
"Just be good at cheating. yourself."
"Just know the right people. be yourself."
"Just be _______. [Anything but yourself.] yourself."
posted by Fizz at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


The essay has flaws, and yeah, I'm sure she'll cringe at some of it in later years. But she writes better than the majority of college seniors I knew. Whatever the reasons for her rejections, I bet it wasn't the essays.
posted by gurple at 9:02 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just go to state school. It worked out great for me.
posted by jeffamaphone at 9:05 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Let's all consider ourselves very lucky that the stupid-ass things we thought during senior year of high school were never memorialized by the WSJ.
posted by griphus at 9:06 AM on April 5, 2013 [131 favorites]


Wow, that's embarrassing. Someone should step in before kids fuck up like that.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 9:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


On the Today show, Weiss shared that her piece was meant to be fun and sarcastic.

“It was a joke,” she said. “It’s a satire. That’s the point. Just like ’30 Rock’ is a satire, which pokes fun at things that are politically correct. That’s what I was trying to do.”

She also said that diversity is a “wonderful thing,” although she thinks “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.”


Satire is really hard, as she is discovering. Not that I totally buy her explanation.

Most kids applying to colleges don't understand that the college is not trying to find each and every perfect tree out there; they're trying to create a forest. Some admits are going to look weaker on paper than others, but that doesn't mean they're less valuable to whatever the college is trying to make for the admitted class as a whole. Having perfect grades and perfect extracurrics does not entitle you to....anything, really, no matter how much you've been told it does.
posted by rtha at 9:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


Whatever the reasons for her rejections, I bet it wasn't the essays.

If this piece is anything like her application essays, I'm sure it was the amazing degree of entitlement.
posted by longdaysjourney at 9:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


"An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! "

So it is tongue in cheek, yes?
posted by destro at 9:08 AM on April 5, 2013


Yes, there are inherent inequalities in university admissions processes, but that's necessary if you view students as consumers who merely purchase your product. If your product is judged by what the purchasers do with it, then you better restrict who buys it.

There is a vastly more fair system employed throughout most of the non-English speaking world, rather than judge students by what they did in High School, judge them by what they do in University. In other words, fail out the students who fail their classes. Also, you admit almost everyone and make society pay for their education. C'est logique non?

There are plenty of universities in the English speaking world that do this too, but they're increasing prices and inflating grades too. Georgia Tech's 1997 entering class saw only 24% graduate within 4 years and only 41% graduate within 7 years, that represents fair selection.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:09 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Funny how this little piece of the admissions game, linked from the CJR piece, didn't quite make it into her "joke": Study Finds Family Connections Give Big Advantage in College Admissions

Legacy admissions have become an increasingly touchy issue for colleges. Admissions officers mostly play down the impact of legacy status. But a growing body of research shows that family connections count for a lot — and Mr. Hurwitz’s study found a larger impact than previous studies.

Note the new study didn't count family donations, which surely skew the result even more in favor of connections over merit.
posted by mediareport at 9:10 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I can't wait to see how she handles not getting the jobs she applies for.
posted by mkultra at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


I'm a high school dropout who never intended to go to a "real" college, with a single mom that never pushed me to do anything academic, and even *I* knew that you needed extra-curriculars, leadership roles, and damned lies IN ADDITION to a stellar GPA and test scores for a successful college application.

You have nobody to blame but yourself, you entitled little brat.
posted by elsietheeel at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


This individual girl sounds awful, it's true - but I'd like to point out that back in the early nineties I was accepted everywhere I applied (and I applied to pretty good schools - Carleton rather than Harvard, so not absolutely the tippety top, etc) based on high SATS (obtained with zero SAT prep classes) and one extracurricular. Admittedly, I had a lot of opinions about that extra-curricular (it was our school's then-novel environmental activism group, mostly concerned with recycling) and I went to the meetings, but that was about it. I didn't even work that much - I had a summer job for a couple of summers and I did housecleaning, errands and various stuff for my grandparents as they became frail, but that was it.

I wouldn't get in anywhere now!

On the one hand, this girl sounds like the very irritating epitome of clueless white privilege. On the other hand, I cannot imagine having to go through adolescence with no time for the reading, writing and random stuff I did because I had to pack my schedule until I was "working at capacity" (as the Harvard admissions page apparently recommends) with official extracurriculars and charity.

What a great way to eviscerate volunteering and political activism, too, by turning them into a sort of national service-esque slog that one has to go through in order to get into college.

I have no idea what can be done about this, but it seems like this girl is simply the ugliest facet of a systemic problem.
posted by Frowner at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


Satire is hard, and we should probably seriously reconsider publishing the attempts of high school students in a national paper.
posted by muddgirl at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


That poor child. Doesn't she know about Tufts?
posted by phunniemee at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it. "Diversity!" I offer about as much diversity as a saltine cracker. If it were up to me, I would've been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything.

I don't believe there's an ounce of satire in her belief that ethnic and sexual minorities enjoy all sorts of privileges and that she suffers as a consequence.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [73 favorites]


Why should anything but academics matter in universities admission?

When I applied for university, I listed the grades on my top 6 final year courses. That was it. They had no information about my hobbies, my part-time jobs, my interests. They didn't care - what they cared about was my academic ability.
posted by jb at 9:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Comedy is hard. Satire doubly so. Good luck to you, Ms. Weiss.
posted by boo_radley at 9:12 AM on April 5, 2013


If I ran a company, I would seriously be worried about hiring a person who takes their story of the lack of success to a newspaper to shame whoever she thinks she is shaming. The article should be given a "doing it wrong" tag.

Businesses need problem solvers, not problem listers......unless you are in the cable-tv news/opinion business as that is pretty much all they do.

Heck, maybe she is gunning for a job at Fox or MSNBC?
posted by lampshade at 9:12 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I had always been mystified at why I got into the college I did, since I am an Asian male and I didn't feel that I did anything special in high school.

In the introductory week, I ended up meeting my admissions council member, who said that she felt obliged to root for me because I played the saxophone, and Asian males typically didn't. So I lost any illusion of the supposed superlative exclusivity of the education I was getting.

A dynamical system with multiple factors will become increasingly strange given more of an energy-equivalent: it is like increasing the velocity of a flipped coin, and increasing the real exclusivity of a school is indeed like increasing the energy of a system in statistical mechanics. Essentially, modern American college admissions has elements of a chaotic system and you shouldn't be surprised by what comes out of it.
posted by curuinor at 9:13 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm having a hard time reading it as aggrieved entitlement or even "why colleges should stop promising I can get accepted just for being me". It sounds like a reasonably self-aware piece trying (okay, and failing) to be funny about the fact that most teens just want to hang out and do whatevs -- and while they would love to "SUCCEED" after all that, for some of them it's just not worth the extra workload. To me it's just trying to be a younger generation's heartfelt cry of "Meh." To me this is a comedy fail, not an educational red flag.
posted by Mchelly at 9:13 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually sympathize, just a tiny bit, with the author's cynicism about classmates padding their resumes with volunteer work - something I shared at that age although I'd go back in time to tell myself, is it really that bad to make yourself look good, if you at least help someone while you're doing it?

The real problem is this ridiculous pressure to get into ivy league colleges. I got the "even if your grades are fantastic, there are tons of other schools worth considering" speech and it seems like there's so much more pressure these days.
posted by Jeanne at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I would have gladly worn a headdress to school.

You know, when I first read that, I was charitably assuming that she had a big chunk of Native American ancestry in her that she had neglected to represent in her applications, and she was bemoaning her reticence. But, yeah, sounds like no.
posted by gurple at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


1980: Dear children, do your best in life, and you can be President, an astronaut, or go to Harvard.

1990 – 2010: (adoption of technology and global financial crisis results in a return to medieval wealth disparities)

2013: Dear children, due to budget cuts, we regret to inform you that the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off.
posted by nickrussell at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


She also said that diversity is a “wonderful thing,” although she thinks “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.”

Except that half of the essay was blaming her lack of a "Tiger Mom" for her middling SAT scores and the fact that other applicants had better-looking applications. Who in hell is in high school in this day and age and doesn't know that all that colleges are about are SAT scores, GPA, and extracurriculars? Who in hell was telling her "just be yourself"?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I hate to say it, but I don't think this girl is doing it wrong. Ok, you know what I take that back. But she's young and I get the confusion.
posted by phaedon at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2013


Oh, and as for the quality of her writing as evidenced here, most college applicants don't have the WSJ editorial board cleaning up their essays.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2013 [15 favorites]


I don't believe there's an ounce of satire in her belief that ethnic and sexual minorities enjoy all sorts of privileges and that she suffers as a consequence.

As cortex once said, scratch an ironic racist and you'll usually only scratch off the irony.
posted by justsomebodythatyouusedtoknow at 9:15 AM on April 5, 2013 [97 favorites]


Why should anything but academics matter in universities admission?

For one thing, concentrating solely on grades is a great way to make sure no kid who goes to a shitty, underfunded high school ever goes to a decent college.
posted by griphus at 9:16 AM on April 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


Kids these days.
posted by HostBryan at 9:16 AM on April 5, 2013


I'm a high school dropout who never intended to go to a "real" college, with a single mom that never pushed me to do anything academic, and even *I* knew that you needed extra-curriculars, leadership roles, and damned lies IN ADDITION to a stellar GPA and test scores for a successful college application.

See, I really hate this stuff. If everyone needs a "leadership role" who are they leading? The poor dumb proletariat who won't get to go to college?

And frankly, it took me into my early thirties before I was fit to exercise leadership - some folks are great when they're young, yeah, but lots of people are confused, self-hating or just need to focus on stuff that isn't "leading".

Ugh. This article is an appalling mess, and I don't feel sorry for the writer, but I sure do feel sorry for kids today. You do have it harder than my generation did, by a long chalk. And you're pressured to adopt a much more poisonous ideology which is much more pervasive than anything we dealt with.
posted by Frowner at 9:16 AM on April 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


"Write a letter, read it aloud, and then burn it."

Missed a step.
posted by tooloudinhere at 9:16 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


“It was a joke,” she said. “It’s a satire. That’s the point. Just like ’30 Rock’ is a satire, which pokes fun at things that are politically correct. That’s what I was trying to do.”

I don't see how her jokes were any different from Romney's crack that his father should have been born of Mexicans.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:17 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Damn, this is really gonna hurt her job applications. When she graduates in seven years.

I mean, it's a damn shame that shitty SAT scores and a mediocre GPA isn't enough to get privileged little white girls into a good school any more. What is this country coming to?
posted by teleri025 at 9:18 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Attention Students: ‘Just Being Yourself’ Isn’t a Skill That Should Earn You Admission to College
I bet if I'd had great SAT scores, they would have accepted me.

I bet that too. That is a safe bet. I bet if you had performed well on your driving exam, you would have a driver's license right now. I bet if you hadn't burned down that barn, that barn would still be standing. All reasonable assumptions.
OK, it was mean-spirited, but I laughed.
posted by GenjiandProust at 9:19 AM on April 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah, the satire/comedy thing only really works if it's funny. This essay is many things, but it is not that.
posted by juliplease at 9:19 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


BRAVO. /sarcasm

Yeah gee too bad you didn't get to play the "member of a marginalized group" card, your life is so hard.

My classmates gave me shit for mentioning my deafness in my admission essay but they weren't marginalized and they were teenagers, what did they know. I think that's the only time my deafness has worked in my favor-- and even then I had to play SPIN DOCTOR to avoid looking like a whiner or an "inspiration".

So, yeah, I don't like this essay.
posted by lineofsight at 9:20 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The real problem is this ridiculous pressure to get into ivy league colleges. I got the "even if your grades are fantastic, there are tons of other schools worth considering" speech and it seems like there's so much more pressure these days.

Bingo.

I remember talking about the incredible pressure those of us who wanted to go to good schools were facing in terms of having good enough applications - did we have enough extra-curricular activities? Good enough grades? Were we "well rounded" enough? What the fuck did "well-rounded" even mean? And this was in the 1980's, and I wasn't even applying TO an Ivy-League school.

However, my not applying to an Ivy-League school probably worked to my advantage. The only school I applied to (NYU), I got in; I even got in early admission, and was considering an application to Carnegie-Mellon as a backup option the day I got my acceptance letter. I probably would not have gotten into Princeton or Yale or Harvard - but neither did I want to, and neither was I expected to. The stakes have gotten way higher, and the pressure to be in a good school has gotten way more intense, and I think that's what her essay was attempting to be about. And a lot of that pressure could be eased if people realized "you know, U-Conn isn't Yale, but it's still a good school, dammit."

...That said, she did come across as really smarmy, so feh.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:20 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


The Absurd Lies Of College Admissions

College Admissions And Affirmative Action For The Well Off - TL;DR play squash, lacrosse, or row crew.

Also, what's missing from this is OF COURSE SCHOOLS ARE MORE SELECTIVE. THEY HAVE MANY TIMES MORE APPLICANTS TO CHOOSE FROM. THIS IS BECAUSE WE ARE ALL ENCOURAGED TO JUST APPLY, WHAT IS THE WORST THAT COULD HAPPEN?

I applied to twelve (12) institutions of higher learning. I got into three, which coincidentally were the three I was actually interested in. Looking back, I should have just applied to those three, but I was told OVER AND OVER to apply apply apply. I'm sure my applications help boost the selectivity numbers of those other nine schools.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 9:21 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


There is only so much you could learn about prospective students from academic scores, jb. You need not know any more if you consider students as a sort of civil servants doing job that consists of bettering themselves for the benefit of society.. a job from which they can be fired. If however you view students as consumers buying a degree, then you need to know everything you possibly can about them before you agree to sell them a degree.
posted by jeffburdges at 9:22 AM on April 5, 2013


I had a decent GPA, great test scores and absolutely no money, so I went to a community college, then a third-tier state school and got a great education because I had dedicated profs that were great at teaching their fields and loved enthusiastic students. I do regret that I didn't try to get into the top tier state school in my home town, having been told too many times by my parents that I wasn't good enough for it and that I couldn't afford it, only to see classmates with worse grades and test scores get in, but that generally only comes up when people try to engage me on college sports or when I deal with the upper class bourgeois folks that assume I went there and try to get me into their alumni networks. It's a little obnoxious, but since I've never been rich and probably never will be, I can feel superior by being scrappy. (Plus, honestly, going to that state school and community college really did help me ramp up at a pace that worked much better for me; while I may regret not going to the big school, there's more than a little chance I would have flunked out.)
posted by klangklangston at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


Yeah gee too bad you didn't get to play the "member of a marginalized group" card, your life is so hard

There was a girl in my senior year who once told me without hesitation:
"I'm the only child of a single mother. I'm female. I'm black. I can get into any college I want."

Her ability to use her specific demographic to get into any college is debatable. What is not, my disgust that she is saying this outloud to me without concern about how it makes her look.
posted by Fizz at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Why should anything but academics matter in universities admission?"

Why should only academics matter?
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:24 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Maybe she was herself, and the schools just didn't like her for her?
posted by klangklangston at 9:25 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


Why should anything but academics matter in universities admission?

My father spent his entire career in high-level academia. He always said that it wasn't necessarily the case that the professors at schools such as Harvard and MIT were better teachers than those at supposedly lesser schools. Rather, a big part of what schools such as Harvard and MIT are selling to prospective students is the opportunity to be surrounded by a particular student body.
posted by slkinsey at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


This post is a ridiculous, GRAR-inducing attempt at sticking a hand in a hornet's nest for pageviews. Just because this satire is bad or a high-schooler feels outraged about something does not make for Best of the Web. (yes, I flagged it and will now move on, after I roll 1d20 for privilege-check)
posted by antonymous at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2013


> This is just the WSJ throwing this girl to the wolves in the guise of confirming its readers' suspicions about political correctness and diversity.

No kidding. She might be naive and privilege-blind but she's a kid and she's stressed about college. Tons of kids are. The adults in the situation should be commiserating at home and resetting her expectations, not holding her up for the internet to pick over.
posted by postcommunism at 9:26 AM on April 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


Show me to any closet and I would've happily come out of it.

Is there a lot of affirmative action for gay people? Because all the gay people I know were still closeted when they applied to college. I don't think financial aid would have helped me come out sooner. That was almost 10 years ago, but still . . .
posted by Garm at 9:28 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Dumb kids write dumb things. The supposedly responsible adults at the WSJ should have resisted the temptation to put it out there for the world to see.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:29 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I actually sympathize, just a tiny bit, with the author's cynicism about classmates padding their resumes with volunteer work - something I shared at that age although I'd go back in time to tell myself, is it really that bad to make yourself look good, if you at least help someone while you're doing it?

A college friend of mine went on one of the school's spring-break volunteer-work trips to West Virginia. About a dozen other people went with him. He was the only one among them, he said, who actually hung out with the West Virginians they were allegedly there to help. The rest, when their work was done, stayed in their cabin and played Bananagrams. I guarantee you they all came back claiming their minds had broadened.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:29 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm a high school dropout who never intended to go to a "real" college, with a single mom that never pushed me to do anything academic, and even *I* knew that you needed extra-curriculars, leadership roles, and damned lies IN ADDITION to a stellar GPA and test scores for a successful college application.

None of which have any real relevance of how well you'd do at college, but if you have 1,000 people for each opening, you can afford to be extra picky.
posted by MartinWisse at 9:29 AM on April 5, 2013


The rest stayed in their cabin and played Bananagrams. I guarantee you they all came back claiming their minds had broadened.

To be fair, Bananagrams is a pretty intense mental workout.
posted by griphus at 9:31 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Dumb kids write dumb things. The supposedly responsible adults at the WSJ should have resisted the temptation to put it out there for the world to see.

But making rich, connected white kids feel oppressed is a very cheap and sensible investment for the WSJ.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:32 AM on April 5, 2013 [17 favorites]


I wouldn't get in anywhere now!

Ditto. There was a hilarious (for certain values...) hand-wringing editorial in a recent edition of my alma mater's campus paper about how awful it was that the admissions rate was so high for the incoming class, and what was the administration going to do to change this situation?

The admissions rate was 10%.
posted by rtha at 9:32 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I actually sympathize, just a tiny bit, with the author's cynicism about classmates padding their resumes with volunteer work - something I shared at that age although I'd go back in time to tell myself, is it really that bad to make yourself look good, if you at least help someone while you're doing it?

It's nice and all, but some people need to work paying jobs to live. It's tough that they don't look as good in comparison.
posted by Drinky Die at 9:34 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


nickrussell: " 2013: Dear children, due to budget cuts, we regret to inform you that the light at the end of the tunnel has been turned off."

Teens today have a hell of a lot more access to opportunities, knowledge and especially supportive networks than people like me, who were born in the 1970's. I don't envy them the economy and environment they're inheriting, but from one perspective, their future looks quite bright.

I suspect kids with drive, intelligence and creativity who lack family connections have far more ability to influence and change the world than ever.
posted by zarq at 9:35 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is the WSJ Dunking Tank section.
posted by Drastic at 9:36 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The rest stayed in their cabin and played Bananagrams. I guarantee you they all came back claiming their minds had broadened.

If you'd sent me - a nerdy little social outcast - on a "work trip" with my classmates to a part of the country where I had no connections and then expected me to bond with the people I met there - and expected this "bond" to be deeply enriching, like the people I met were sort of spiritual guinea pigs - well, it wouldn't have worked and I would have gone straight back to my cabin to read a book and have an anxiety attack from spending all day around my classmates and strangers. (I mean, I think it's quite good to have both the social skills and the interest to talk to people outside your immediate circle - that's actually really decent and mature.)

Also, it's creepy to pack a bunch of kids off to "help the disenfranchised" in this manner. I always wonder if the "disenfranchised" get shipped off somewhere to "help" someone else or what.
posted by Frowner at 9:36 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm reminded of a line from the Simpsons episode where Homer goes to college: "Reading his essay would only waste valuable seconds."
posted by compartment at 9:37 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


This article made the rounds at my office yesterday. This is what I said there:
The paragraph where she talks about “diversity” reminded me of the affirmative action case that’s before the Supreme Court currently. As if the advantages these students had due to their racial/ethnic privilege throughout their lives are totally balanced out by the fact that they can’t benefit from affirmative action!

My brother just went through the whole college application process a few months ago and so I’ve been thinking a lot about college apps recently. Application numbers, especially for highly ranked schools, were sky-high this year – including at my own alma mater, the University of Chicago, where only a little under 9% of applicants were admitted to the class of 2017. For comparison, it was around 25% when I applied four years ago. The schools love to brag about those numbers, but I’m not sure it’s such a good thing. I suspect there are some very passionate, creative students with incredible ideas out there whose SAT scores are just two percentage points too low for the admissions committees to even look at their resumes.

My personal take-away is a feeling that college apps have become so much about going to “a good college” for your resume, the school’s reputation, etc. But I feel like the students who get accepted and really thrive at their schools of choice are the students who do the research and figure out which college is the best for them personally. Part of the problem is social/class status, and how liberal arts research-focused institutions are perceived as higher-status than, say, community colleges or professional studies programs – and we really need to get past this as a society. Though I acknowledge that these things go both ways: the big name schools have the biggest endowments, which means that they can better serve students who need scholarships. I heard “I’m applying to [Ivy League school] because I might actually get the financial aid I need there” quite a bit. But I’d really like to see an end to the relentless obsession with rankings and numbers.
posted by capricorn at 9:38 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I always wonder if the "disenfranchised" get shipped off somewhere to "help" someone else or what.

These are usually called "wars."
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 9:40 AM on April 5, 2013 [53 favorites]


Man I am just glad my mother changed her mind about sending me to a kibbutz.
posted by griphus at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2013


The Curious Case of the White Underachiever
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


There are a bazillion well-respected colleges and universities in the US. If she couldn't find a decent school who wanted her, she wasn't trying very hard.

Apparently, though, she doesn't have the critical thinking skills necessary to figure out that instead of twisting herself in knots to be a very ordinary small fish at the most highly-selective schools in the country, she could be a very desirable candidate at a slightly less Ivy-ish school.
posted by desuetude at 9:44 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Yeah gee too bad you didn't get to play the "member of a marginalized group" card, your life is so hard.

That was Clutch online magazine's take on it too: For Middle-Class White Girls When Being Privileged Isn’t Enough
posted by fuse theorem at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I teach a pre-college summer course at a top-ranked university every summer. My students are very entitled, but also, for the most part, very, very smart and motivated (and very good writers). I am consistently shocked by how few of them get into the universities of their choice.

None of them are whining about it in public forums.
posted by munyeca at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2013


Application numbers, especially for highly ranked schools, were sky-high this year – including at my own alma mater, the University of Chicago, where only a little under 9% of applicants were admitted to the class of 2017. For comparison, it was around 25% when I applied four years ago.

Hey, that's how we got from the #13 best school in the country to the #4 best school in the country. Blame that one on the college ranking system.
posted by phunniemee at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


If she couldn't find a decent school who wanted her, she wasn't trying very hard.

But how was she supposed to try hard when she didn't have a tiger mom like all those cheating Asian kids?
posted by Navelgazer at 9:45 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


she writes better than the majority of college seniors I knew.

Most college seniors aren't being editing by The Wall Street Journal.
posted by to sir with millipedes at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Plenty of people have made good lives for themselves without going to an Ivy league university or any college at all. I'm pretty sure she'll land on her feet.
posted by arcticseal at 9:46 AM on April 5, 2013


Clearly she should have joined Metafilter at a young age so that she could learn that college degrees are useless and vocational/trade schools are where it's at. Also, to DTMFA.
posted by book 'em dano at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was Clutch online magazine's take on it too: For Middle-Class White Girls When Being Privileged Isn’t Enough

If your house was profiled in the WSJ "Luxury Real Estate" section you might not be middle class.
posted by theodolite at 9:47 AM on April 5, 2013 [29 favorites]


I also have to admit that, probably because of my (slightly bitter) absurd fascination with college admissions, I want to see a chart that lists where she applied and where she did and didn't get in. I bet she got into some good but not "elite" schools.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:49 AM on April 5, 2013


You forgot therapy, book 'em.
posted by rtha at 9:49 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey, that's how we got from the #13 best school in the country to the #4 best school in the country. Blame that one on the college ranking system.

And it's a positive feedback loop. Low acceptance rates ==> higher ratings ==> lower acceptance rates.

In the end you get a ton of donations to help educate your army of perfect high-achieving clones! EVERYONE WINS!
posted by capricorn at 9:51 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just got rejected from 4 preschools (!), so I was actually prepared to empathize with her. However, the fact that she's attacking marginalized groups instead of the even more privileged legacies who are really advantaged made my sympathy evaporate.

The fact of the matter is that there are just more smart, deserving kids than there are slots, and you need a hook to differentiate yourself. So it sucks that bring bright and privileged isn't enough, but being bright has never been enough for a hell of a lot of minorities. You had to be extraordinary, and extraordinarily lucky. So sorry your privilege doesn't go as far as it used to, but you're looking at the wrong place.
posted by snickerdoodle at 9:51 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, where did she apply and where did she get in and where did she get rejected?

These are relevant questions.

If you apply to enough schools even the best applicant will get rejected from somewhere.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 9:54 AM on April 5, 2013


Am I the only one who read it as self-deprecating humor in support of current enrollment practices? Not sure if it's hilarious, but that last paragrah seemed to indicate so.

Not sure what everybody else is reading here.
posted by destro at 9:55 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


> I can't wait to see how she handles not getting the jobs she applies for.

What business could possibly want to turn away somebody with the ability to write complaining op-ed pieces in the nation's leading business publication?
posted by ardgedee at 9:56 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


So sorry your privilege doesn't go as far as it used to

Her privilege actually goes farther than it used to, now that you don't just need good grades but also the kinds of activities and trips that require money, free time, and parents with flexible schedules.
posted by theodolite at 9:57 AM on April 5, 2013 [21 favorites]


She doesn't need college, she has a great future with Gawker Media. Just keep channeling that trolling, pageview-getting youthful entitlement and turn it into a career!
posted by naju at 9:58 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Schools aren't taking the top 8 percent of their applicants -- they're taking a more-or-less random third of the top 25 percent of their applicants, because you can't rank 20,000 kids that precisely ("Well, Suburban Consolidated High School is better than Consolidated Suburban High School, but the volleyball team at SCHS is more competitive than the squash team at CSHS...). There is no magic formula for being admitted (other than "be legacy"), there's just getting into that top 25 percent and crossing your fingers.
posted by Etrigan at 9:59 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Am I the only one who read it as self-deprecating humor in support of current enrollment practices?

It's not really self-deprecating, though, except for one sentence at the end. Underneath the attempt at satire it seems like she really does believe that kids get into good schools because they're GLBT. This is a really common viewpoint I hear people of my generation express sometimes, "Oh, she got into Stanford and I didn't because she's Indian."
posted by muddgirl at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


" As if the advantages these students had due to their racial/ethnic privilege throughout their lives are totally balanced out by the fact that they can’t benefit from affirmative action!"

I'm still a bit peeved that one of my high school compatriots got in as an affirmative action enrollee to a good school because he was "Latino," which actually meant that his grandfather was a wealthy Jew born in Cuba. Dude had zero relation to any Latino culture, and could have afforded to pay full freight, and instead took that slot from a deserving actually Latino person.

(I can't honestly say what I would have done when I was applying if I knew what I do now, that I'm about a quarter black. I look white, was raised white, and it's only recently that we've found out that the jumble of "Cherokee" and "Italian" on my mom's side is pretty much all just black — or as we've taken to calling it, "Indiana white." I might have applied for scholarships, figuring that since I was poor and grew up in a neighborhood where I was pretty much the only white kid, that it was close enough. Now I think that'd be hypocritical, but that's hindsight.)
posted by klangklangston at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nah, check saul wright's link. Gawker already hates her.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:00 AM on April 5, 2013


Her privilege actually goes farther than it used to, now that you don't just need good grades but also the kinds of activities and trips that require money, free time, and parents with flexible schedules.

Nope, that's not enough anymore. You need to be really, really good at something, or super connected. And that's just for preschool!
posted by snickerdoodle at 10:01 AM on April 5, 2013


Hey look.; it's right wing comedy, notice how it starts with how not being gay or native is somehow a "crime" in the "PC gone mad" society and goes downhill from there.....
posted by NiteMayr at 10:01 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


I'm still a bit peeved that one of my high school compatriots got in as an affirmative action enrollee to a good school because he was "Latino,"

Thank you for demonstrating my point so clearly! Obviously the school saw no redeeming value in your friend except his race!
posted by muddgirl at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I'm still a bit peeved that one of my high school compatriots got in as an affirmative action enrollee to a good school because he was "Latino," which actually meant that his grandfather was a wealthy Jew born in Cuba.

Yeah, that crop of people whose acceptance letters say "Welcome to the Latino segment of the Class of 2016!" are all assholes.
posted by Etrigan at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I think it's perfectly understandable for students to feel like they've missed out on something really big and important by not getting into one of the top 10 or so schools. Having Harvard or Yale or whatever on your resume and making connections with other people at those schools are unique and profound advantages that you only get one chance at in life. The quality of education is pretty much immaterial since you can get a fantastic education at dozens or probably hundreds of other colleges. This is about class, and about sorting yourself and being sorted into a social class based partly on decisions you make between the ages of 14 and 17 and partly on the nebulous needs of admissions committees. I think it's perfectly understandable to have that sort of decision making process leaving people bitter, even if they're lucky enough to get into a great university.
posted by skewed at 10:02 AM on April 5, 2013


I actually sympathize, just a tiny bit, with the author's cynicism about classmates padding their resumes with volunteer work - something I shared at that age although I'd go back in time to tell myself, is it really that bad to make yourself look good, if you at least help someone while you're doing it?

It's nice and all, but some people need to work paying jobs to live. It's tough that they don't look as good in comparison.


In fact, I think the best act of charity a rich teen could do is work at a fast food place and donate the earnings so a less advantaged student can afford to volunteer to help AIDS patients in Africa or whatever.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:04 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm still a bit peeved that one of my high school compatriots got in as an affirmative action enrollee to a good school because he was "Latino,"

That isn't how it works. And it is a common misunderstanding.
posted by vacapinta at 10:05 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


> Not sure if it's hilarious, but that last paragrah seemed to indicate so.

Conservative humour isn't supposed to make you laugh, it's supposed to make you ball your fists and shake your head ruefully.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:06 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


"Thank you for demonstrating my point so clearly! Obviously the school saw no redeeming value in your friend except his race!"

If not for the points given to him for his purported race, he wouldn't have gotten in. If not for his purported race, he wouldn't have received scholarships. This was in the pre-Gratz v. Bollinger era.

So while I'm sure that they saw many other things to like, he was pretty open about that being the only thing that got him in.

But don't let facts get in the way of righteous snark!
posted by klangklangston at 10:06 AM on April 5, 2013


Having Harvard or Yale or whatever on your resume and making connections with other people at those schools are unique and profound advantages that you only get one chance at in life.

Statements like this always compell me to point out that Obama went to Occidental and then transferred to Columbia. Not getting into Harvard undergrad is not the political or economic death sentence that people sometimes make it out to be. Where you go to Grad school or law school or business school is almost always more important.
posted by muddgirl at 10:06 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


My god, have conservatives turned into a bunch of simpering crybaby sissies.

The obvious solution to her problem is to get good. Do something amazing and show them what they missed. But that would required discipline, responsibility, and most importantly, guts.

But instead what's she's got is a sneering disdain for things she cannot comprehend and an utter lack of imagination as to how to overcome an obstacle.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


I wonder if she's aware of the unwritten anti-AA policy that Ivies tend to have for Asian Americans. I'd much prefer to read an angry letter from, say, an Asian American with perfect SAT score and tons of extracurriculars who still got rejected from all her top choices. Which is not uncommon from what I understand. But that probably doesn't fit into Suzy's worldview very neatly.
posted by naju at 10:07 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


Pretty offensive, but ya, the volunteer stuff is spot on. I wonder if she realizes that all that bullshit volunteerism is only accessible to the privileged with money and/or connections and/or grooming from their parents?

Volunteering at the local soup kitchen won't help on your application; travelling on your parents dime to help the indigenous peoples of.. Wherever... Wins you major bonus points.

That being said, playing the white card ? Either affirmative action is out of control in the US, or she's out to lunch. In Canada, you might have access to more scholarships as a minority(like say, being female..) but affirmative action doesn't exist in the way she implies it does in the States.
posted by Yowser at 10:09 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


simpering crybaby sissies.

Come on dude, you can make your point better than that.
posted by Drinky Die at 10:10 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


If not for the points given to him for his purported race, he wouldn't have gotten in. If not for his purported race, he wouldn't have received scholarships. This was in the pre-Gratz v. Bollinger era.

You know, klang, this is the kind of shit I heard from white dudes at my college, directed at me. Unless you were actually on the admissions committee for whatever school, you don't know this. Maybe his family seekritly gave a truckload of money to the school. Maybe he had legacy connections of some sort. Maybe the school found a reason unrelated or barely related to his alleged ethnicity for admitting him. He didn't "take" jack from someone else: the school chose to give him something over giving to someone else.
posted by rtha at 10:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [13 favorites]


Yeah, where did she apply and where did she get in and where did she get rejected?

Buried in one of the links I followed was the information that she got into Wisconsin and Michigan. Apparently she has the means to pay out of state for those, too. Boo hoo.
posted by BibiRose at 10:11 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


God, this was a despicable move on WSJ's part. They threw this poor girl to the fucking wolves.
posted by Think_Long at 10:12 AM on April 5, 2013 [10 favorites]


If not for the points given to him for his purported race, he wouldn't have gotten in.

Were you on the acceptance committee? Were these points actually reported in the past? They certainly aren't today, when some of my friends make the same claims. I suppose he was pretty lucky to be applying to U of M in the 5 years between 1998 and 2003. Otherwise he wouldn't have gotten in at all.

But don't let facts get in the way of righteous snark!

It's not snark. It's a bit of sadness for anyone (not you, I'm sure) who goes through life thinking that the reason they're behind is because they're white.
posted by muddgirl at 10:12 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Man, this could have been me in 1988. 4.0, top of my class, many, many extracurriculars, high SATS, plus I was charming and good looking. Grew up relatively poor and I perceived no special advantages, despite being born a white male in 20th century USA.

I got into no ivies, ended up at some crappy state school called "Berkeley" and realized the world is pretty fucking complicated but that I would likely never go hungry and that's a lot more than a ton of people, including some who also had 4.0s.

But it stings a lot when you realize you've been playing and winning by a rule book that is entirely bullshit. This was well written and I forgive her for being bitter and snarky. She's insightful and will likely be fine in a few years.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:13 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Oh god, she actually did get accepted to multiple universities? I got accepted to two as well and was damn happy about it.

This article should die in a fire and I wish I hadn't contributed my eyeballs to advertisers.
posted by Yowser at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


God, this was a despicable move on WSJ's part. They threw this poor girl to the fucking wolves.

Her sister is the one who got this thing published so I can only assume it was revenge for something terrible.
posted by griphus at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [27 favorites]


The first time I really learned that nothing makes sense, that everything is arbitrary, and that whatever value I actually had would not be measured by external validation was applying to college in 1987.

I was second in a class of 1400 at my high school. I was president of my audition-only show choir, editor of the literary journal, and a first-place-at-state-competition winning member of the speech team. I also volunteered at an environmental action group. My SATs were excellent, although I no longer remember what they were.

I was not accepted to a single one of the seven colleges I applied to. Not a single one. As I recall, the schools were all private, but they ran the gamut in exclusivity. The closest I came to acceptance was a letter from Rice saying I could go somewhere else my freshman year and was a guaranteed transfer with a minimum GPA from that first year.

If I had been as smart as my transcripts said I was, I would have listened to my mother and worked for a year and really thought about what I wanted before re-applying. Instead, I ended up a tiny liberal arts college in Texas, where I had a mediocre academic experience, mildly traumatic social experience.

Absolutely not any of it matters now.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


“It was a joke,” she said. “It’s a satire. That’s the point. Just like ’30 Rock’ is a satire, which pokes fun at things that are politically correct. That’s what I was trying to do.”

If I'm following this correctly, she was not being ironically racist and privileged. She believed that by exaggerating the degree to which (so-called) political correctness had marginalized her, she was satirizing political correctness itself. The joke, such as it is, was intended to be on those oversensitive liberal elites who've made it impossible for a regular white girl to get ahead in this world.

She appears to believe, in other words, that simple mockery and sarcasm is the same as satire. She is wrong. She failed on her admission exam to the college of advanced humour. Should fit in well in the right-wing echo chamber, though, where a WSJ op-ed is a better calling card than a Harvard degree anyway.
posted by gompa at 10:15 AM on April 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


If not for the points given to him for his purported race, he wouldn't have gotten in. If not for his purported race, he wouldn't have received scholarships. This was in the pre-Gratz v. Bollinger era.

Ah, right, Gratz v. Bollinger, where the Supreme Court told schools to stop telling each applicant exactly why they were let in, on a point-by-point basis.

So while I'm sure that they saw many other things to like, he was pretty open about that being the only thing that got him in.

Well, that plus his grades, extracurriculars, essay and test scores.
posted by Etrigan at 10:16 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Her sister is the one who got this thing published so I can only assume it was revenge for something terrible.

One flung booger too many.
posted by phunniemee at 10:17 AM on April 5, 2013


Buried in one of the links I followed was the information that the got into Wisconsin and Michigan.

Okay good. Context helps. Because now I know that despite her not doing anything special, not getting good test scores, and wasting advantages other would kill for, she has to settle for one of the top public institutions in the world.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2013 [12 favorites]


What I found interesting about the article was that she doesn't offer a single affirmative reason why she should have been accepted anywhere, except, y'know, because.
posted by unSane at 10:18 AM on April 5, 2013 [14 favorites]


"You know, klang, this is the kind of shit I heard from white dudes at my college, directed at me. Unless you were actually on the admissions committee for whatever school, you don't know this. Maybe his family seekritly gave a truckload of money to the school. Maybe he had legacy connections of some sort. Maybe the school found a reason unrelated or barely related to his alleged ethnicity for admitting him. He didn't "take" jack from someone else: the school chose to give him something over giving to someone else."

I have no problem with affirmative action admissions for people who are actually minorities or who suffer structural impediments to admission. I do have a problem with people purporting to be those minorities in order to claim those benefits — it is, to some extent, a zero-sum game. Resources he took were not awarded to another Latino.

"Were you on the acceptance committee? Were these points actually reported in the past? They certainly aren't today, when some of my friends make the same claims. I suppose he was pretty lucky to be applying to U of M in the 5 years between 1998 and 2003. Otherwise he wouldn't have gotten in at all."

I was not on the acceptance committee; the points were reported. He was pretty lucky to be applying in that time.

"It's not snark. It's a bit of sadness for anyone (not you, I'm sure) who goes through life thinking that the reason they're behind is because they're white."

If not me, then why bring it up? I don't think I lost anything because of him. I do think that he was cheating the system. I don't think that's even a big indictment of the system, I think it's an indictment of his character. And I already admitted that had I been in his place, I don't know how I would have acted.
posted by klangklangston at 10:19 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Statements like this always compell me to point out that Obama went to Occidental and then transferred to Columbia. Not getting into Harvard undergrad is not the political or economic death sentence that people sometimes make it out to be. Where you go to Grad school or law school or business school is almost always more important.

By all means, going to a good state school is not a bar to greatness, success or happiness. My point is that elite schools are a class-marker, I think one that's probably growing in importance relative to others. Notice how Obama didn't stick around at Occidental any longer than he had to. Getting a phenomenal education at a second-tier state school doesn't open up the same opportunities that muddling through four years at Stanford will, (and vice versa). I'm not saying that outcomes won't end up being great for the former, but they're also probably pretty great at the latter. Missing out on that kind of boost for reasons that are largely outside of one's control should make people bitter.
posted by skewed at 10:20 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Ah, right, Gratz v. Bollinger, where the Supreme Court told schools to stop telling each applicant exactly why they were let in, on a point-by-point basis."

Kind of. Except that growing up in Ann Arbor, the points were common knowledge — there were even online calculators.

"Well, that plus his grades, extracurriculars, essay and test scores."

Which wouldn't have been enough to get him in without the points for race.
posted by klangklangston at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2013


Write a letter, read it aloud, and then burn it."

Missed a step.


And, also, the Internet never forgets. Good luck with your future employment opportunities.
posted by ericb at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here is the link. She got into Penn State and Indiana too.

I am sure this piece of-- whatever-- is just another example of the kind of cv-polishing she satirizes here. She probably thinks this is high irony. It's really weak though. Unfortunately a lot of students have this idea that you can be slightly edgy and "non- PC" and it will qualify as good humor.
posted by BibiRose at 10:22 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


"Well, that plus his grades, extracurriculars, essay and test scores."

Which wouldn't have been enough to get him in without the points for race.


You're laboring under a common misconception -- no one was turned away from the University of Michigan (in particular) solely because they didn't get to 100 points. The 100-point threshold guaranteed admission, but only getting to 99 didn't mean you wouldn't get in.
posted by Etrigan at 10:26 AM on April 5, 2013


> Unfortunately a lot of students have this idea that you can be slightly edgy and "non- PC" and it will qualify as good humor.

When I was at UWO some tool wrote an ostensibly satirical op-ed about all the "gay porn" (i.e. advertisements for gay and lesbian student groups, some of which featured fully-clothed same-sex couples kissing) he was "forced" to endure while walking around campus. It read like one of the lesser works of Andrew Dice Clay.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:27 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Resources he took were not awarded to another Latino.

Please stop. You were not on the committee. You have this guy's word that making up his ethnicity is what got him in. You do not know that even if he had not been admitted, the resources he was given access to by the school would have gone to someone who was Latino. Just...please stop. I really don't need any education about how affirmative action works or is worked when it comes to admissions, its advantages and the ways it can be gamed. There is no point you can make here that hasn't been made to my face - sometimes, though, it came with a delicious dose of, "Oh, not you - you're totally deserving!"
posted by rtha at 10:28 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


WOW. Uh, back in my day (Class of 98), by the time you got to high school, you were responsible for making sure you looked good to colleges. I’m pretty sure my parents couldn’t tell you half of the things that were on my résumé . (I will admit to “lucking out” and having a father come out when I was 16, but uh, newsflash, it wasn’t a fun experience)
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 10:31 AM on April 5, 2013


Threads tend not to go well when people second-guess each other's anecdotes. Equally, threads tend not to go well when people take things personally, substituting their own similar-in-some-ways situation for what somebody else is actually talking about.
posted by cribcage at 10:32 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I got into no ivies, ended up at some crappy state school called "Berkeley"

What? UC Berkeley!? But that's a great school. I got in, and I knew dozens of my peers that would have killed to get in. Maybe you're joking, but Berkeley's admissions rate now is within striking distance of Cornell, and getting lower.

I think it's also good to keep in mind that someone's disappointed "Berkeley" is someone else's elite "Harvard". If you don't like your school, then really get out of the way for someone else to take more advantage of it.
posted by FJT at 10:34 AM on April 5, 2013


FJT - I think he's clearly joking about his perceptions when he was young versus what he knows now.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Hmph! I'm having a hard time having sympathy for her. I had excellent SATs, was involved in numerous extra curricular activities, was involved in REAL charity work and I still didn't get into a top university. I did, however, have scholarships to a handful of state universities. And I made the most of it.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:35 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh gods, I just noticed that there was video. The video caption is "Suzy Lee Weiss, a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School, on how colleges lie to prospective students." I'm too scared to click.

So many accusations of lying. WTF is she talking about, colleges don't say that "just be yourself" is going to get you admitted. And it's weird and unnecessary of her to deem the hobbies, achievements, charity work, etc. of the students who got admitted as fake.
posted by desuetude at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


FJT, I think that SlartyBartfast was being sarcastic about Berkeley being a "crappy state school".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2013


The WSJ can go straight to hell for throwing this kid into the internet hate machine for pageviews. Seriously, fuck them. Fucking high schoolers should be able to work through whatever less-than-enlightened notions they harbor without being subjected to the public snark and judgement of the whole goddamn world.
posted by prize bull octorok at 10:37 AM on April 5, 2013 [22 favorites]


Unfortunately a lot of students have this idea that you can be slightly edgy and "non- PC" and it will qualify as good humor.

As anyone who opened up a college newspaper this week to discover it's the April Fools edition knows.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 10:38 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Reality show pitch: Lets hook up Ms. Weiss with James O'Keefe on a blind date.
posted by Renoroc at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


FJT, I think that SlartyBartfast was being sarcastic about Berkeley being a "crappy state school".

Okay. Well, carry on. And, fuck Stanford!
posted by FJT at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Being something of a high school screw up, my college choices were pretty much limited to a handful of state schools whose policy was to take anyone who met a minimum standard of GPA/SAT score combination (which I just barely met), so this is all like reading about a foreign culture to me.
posted by The Gooch at 10:41 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


While the circumstances are different I have as much sympathy for Suzy Lee Weiss as I did for Blair Hornstine. And, that would be zero.
posted by ericb at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2013


In general, the college you attend is only significant in regards to the first job you get after college. From that point on, its work experience that usually matters more (assuming that you don't have family connections to help get you a job at, say, WSJ). Its better to attend a school that is the best match for you rather than "the best school" in that you'll do better, be happier and be more likely to be admitted.

I have seen "golden children" who did everything perfectly turned down from every school to which they applied. I have seen kids (of all ethnicities including white) get accepted at schools that seemed way out of their reach. The admissions process is mysterious and capricious. You might as well get pissed off at the weather for raining on your sweet 16 party, young rich people of the world.

Also, learn that "why are people so upset I was just making a joke" is the lamest thing you can say in pointed comedy. Its the comedian equivelent of "stop hitting yourself." It makes you seem like a bully and damages the audience's good will.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:42 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I have a lot of thoughts about this Op-Ed, particularly as an Asian-American that recently graduated from college and can still remember what it felt like to apply to, be rejected from, and be admitted to the colleges in question.

However, I'd just like to take issue with her central premise here, which is that she was somehow deceived by the colleges she applied to.
Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It's simple: For years, they—we—were lied to.

Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself."
Bullshit. From Harvard's admissions site:
What We Seek
Applicants can distinguish themselves for admission in a number of ways. Some show unusual academic promise through experience or achievements in study or research. Many are "well rounded" and have contributed in various ways to the lives of their schools or communities. Others are "well lopsided" with demonstrated excellence in a particular endeavor—academic, extracurricular or otherwise. Still others bring perspectives formed by unusual personal circumstances or experiences.

Academic accomplishment in high school is important, but we also seek people with enthusiasm, creativity and strength of character.

Most admitted students rank in the top 10–15 percent of their graduating classes, having taken the most rigorous secondary school curriculum available to them.
Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Stanford, MIT - all of these school's admissions departments have the same message. None of those messages are "just be yourself". The message being delivered, for better or for worse, is "be exceptional, be passionate about your interests, achieve academic success, and you will have a good shot of getting in".

Like most things in life, the college admissions process is a competitive process that is designed to separate out those deemed "worthy" from those that are not. Is the system broken? Yes. Is the system unfair? Yes. Is the system harmful to the mental and emotional well-being of millions of high school kids around the country on an annual basis? Yes. Does anyone, anywhere, say that the system is designed to reward those that are best at "being themselves"? No.
posted by hot soup at 10:43 AM on April 5, 2013 [16 favorites]


Yeah echoing others that she is confused.

"Your piece is very critical of diversity as a factor in college applications."
"It's obviously satire! I think diversity is important for colleges to consider, but [something critical of diversity as a factor]."
"So.. yeah, you just said that you have problems with it."
"But it's satire!"
"OK, but you JUST said - ugh, nevermind."
posted by naju at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2013 [7 favorites]


Okay, now that I've calmed down from my way-more-that-two-minutes-hate over this, I've got some words:

Suzy Lee Weiss, you're going to get a lot of hate from this, as you probably already know. It's deserved, which you probably don't understand yet, but you will. You're a teenager, everyone is awful as a teenager (for the most part anyway) and the good people grow out of it. You're likely no better or worse than anyone else at your school (as your Op-Ed kind of says.) But you got published in the WSJ, so that's gonna leave a mark. You don't deserve to have this rant follow you forever.

Anyway, to the bigger point, you've been accepted to Michigan. Go to Michigan for godssakes. Get involved in a lot of things. Do them well. Open yourself up to actually learning from those things. Maintain a solid GPA. Then, then, when it's time for grad school aps (as I'm pretty damn sure you're grad school-bound) then you can get into the Ivies, perhaps, when it matters more anyway. And you will have gotten in on your merits.

Best of luck,
posted by Navelgazer at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2013


As anyone who opened up a college newspaper this week to discover it's the April Fools edition knows.

Cf. my alma mater's student paper's fairy-tale-land edition full of rape jokes.

Also, learn that "why are people so upset I was just making a joke" is the lamest thing you can say in pointed comedy. Its the comedian equivelent of "stop hitting yourself." It makes you seem like a bully and damages the audience's good will.

Every time I hear this excuse, I want to show whoever says it the Stewart Lee routine about Top Gear.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Reading some more of the other links about her follow-up, it seems she wasn't being that sarcastic.

"Colleges need to take a more holistic approach in their selection process[...]In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can"

I guess this is the problem with sarcasm is that it can go all kinds of awry. It seems she was being very straightforward but in a sarcastic accent.
posted by destro at 10:44 AM on April 5, 2013


Am I the only one who read this as satire? It could have been better, but it is better than I think I would have written at 17.
posted by dgran at 10:45 AM on April 5, 2013


The admissions process is mysterious and capricious.

You'd think that a generation that grew up reading a book that featured a piece of magic headwear that would determine which House you got into would be better able to deal with the college admissions process.
posted by FJT at 10:46 AM on April 5, 2013 [18 favorites]


Her parents are horrible.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:47 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Statements like this always compell me to point out that Obama went to Occidental and then transferred to Columbia. Not getting into Harvard undergrad is not the political or economic death sentence that people sometimes make it out to be. Where you go to Grad school or law school or business school is almost always more important.

Not to mention where you went to high school. I wonder how many people who went to Punahou are doing really badly.

I do feel bad for ambitious high school seniors getting college rejection letters. It's usually their first experience of that kind. But people who go to the kinds of high schools from which you usually apply to the ivy league are so far ahead of the game, anyway. It shouldn't be like that. Everyone should have a good high school experience available to them.
posted by BibiRose at 10:49 AM on April 5, 2013


> Go to Michigan for godssakes.

And have fun with your new safety friends.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:52 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


I can excuse her writing this due to her youth and naivete, but I can't excuse WSJ for printing it.
posted by rocket88 at 10:53 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Huh. I basically was myself when applying for colleges. Got into every one I applied to, but then I didn't apply to Ivies because why bother? Their acceptance rate is so low even for really well qualified applicants, it just felt like a lottery. I had friends accepted and friends denied to Ivies with no apparent rhyme or reason. People got denied who worked much, much harder at extracurriculars and volunteering than I ever did.

Instead, apply to great small undergrad liberal arts schools. They're full of smart people, not impossible to get into, and give you a really damn good education.
posted by BungaDunga at 10:54 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah. I don't imagine she's going to be very popular for a while, but still. Michigan's an amazing school.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:54 AM on April 5, 2013


Any faint whiff of sympathy I had for her, any hint of doubt that this was anything other than another set of right-wing talking points in the Wall Street Journal, was erased, for me, at the reference to Elizabeth Warren. There was no reason for her and her ethnicity to be mentioned except to score an imaginary point off her. Indeed, if there was any part of the essay I thought might have been added by the WSJ's editorial board, it was that little mention.

So the author might have the scorn, pity and opprobrium of people here - it's likely she'll be fine, if she wants to embrace her potential new role as a Right-Thinking American.
posted by gadge emeritus at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


So, in between slamming diversity, charity, initiative, and academics, does she ever say why she should have been admitted to any of these schools in the first place?

It sounds like some college dodged a bullet here.
posted by bibliowench at 10:55 AM on April 5, 2013


Yeah, add me to the list of people cringing for this girl. She comes across as very annoying and entitled, but she's still a kid, not an adult. The WSJ shouldn't have given her the means to erect a permanent monument to her own racism and lack of self-awareness.

On the Today show, Weiss shared that her piece was meant to be fun and sarcastic.
....
She also said that diversity is a “wonderful thing,” although she thinks “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.”


Her comment about diversity in the Today show interview is what tips her hand that although the piece is indeed sarcastic, it's not satire. And I wonder what else is on the list of things she thinks individuals can control--what their family income and connections are?
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:56 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Was anyone else discombobulated by her higher than 4.0 GPA and higher than 1600 SAT scores? I gather that the scales upon which these things are measured must have changed since I was in high school, but it activated my confused inner old man to see these numbers, not having the slightest idea what they mean.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 10:58 AM on April 5, 2013


The SAT and SAT II Writing were merged, so the SAT is now out of 2400 points instead of 1600.
posted by griphus at 10:58 AM on April 5, 2013


SAT scores are now three sections with a max of 800 points in each section. I have no idea what a 4.5 GPA means.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 10:59 AM on April 5, 2013


DirtyOldTown: SAT scores go up to 2400 now, which is weird and wrong. A lot of schools have GPAs that are oddly scaled. I don't know how consistent they all are.
posted by Navelgazer at 10:59 AM on April 5, 2013


I have no idea what a 4.5 GPA means.

The school believes in giving out A pluses. Philistines.
posted by phunniemee at 11:00 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Also, I've seen >4.0 GPAs from schools where an A gets you a 4.0 and an A+ a 4.whatever (as opposed to A+ being 4.0, or A being the highest achievable grade.)
posted by griphus at 11:01 AM on April 5, 2013


Colleges tell you, "Just be yourself." That is great advice, as long as yourself has nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.

Yeah, I feel like this is an incorrect premise in the 2nd paragraph. I don't remember any colleges saying "eh, whoever you are" in their recruitment materials. Certainly there weren't any that said "we love slow runners and pizza shop workers!" Unless they just want your money, in which case she has a variety of options.

And you certainly CAN and people DO get into good colleges if they work at a pizza shop - but only if they have done other things too and can write a good essay about how they did so to support their family after everyone got laid off or something, rather than "I dunno, beer money".
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:02 AM on April 5, 2013


I just went through the admissions process with my son. He has Aspergers, ADHD and LD so we weren't sure where he could get accepted. A big piece of the puzzle is those extracurriculars and he just didn't have them. Leadership? He can barely talk to people sometimes, let alone lead them. But for all that, he's a charming, funny and bright kid with a lot of potential. We found a school exclusively for students like him (Landmark College) and he was accepted last week. It's not a famous school or a super exclusive school (although it was more exclusive than I thought it would be) but its the right school for him. My point is that this young woman probably didn't really do the work required to find the right place, but instead focused on the impressive place. There is a school for her somewhere, just like there is one for my son.
posted by Biblio at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ah, so her 2120 is something like a 1400 in my day? Gotcha.

Anecdote: remember as freshmen, how you're supposed to take the PSAT to see if you can qualify for the National Honor Society? In classic ADD fashion, I was only half listening. I went to the library and filled out some forms, waited until my day and took my test, noting that it was odd I didn't see any of my classmates there. Eventually, I got my score: a 1490. I had taken the SAT instead by mistake. DUMB. ASS. They never did let me into the NHS.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:03 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


My school had a 5.0 scale, no idea why and I don't remember how it was calculated. Pretty sure I had a 4.5 GPA as well - pretty good but certainly not stellar, I had a slew of As, a few A plusses, a few Bs. I didn't even try for the Ivies.
posted by naju at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2013


One thing that nobody has mentioned is that schools like Harvard also give a lot of weight to teacher/mentor recommendations and, of course, to the admissions interview itself.

She really should go ask her teachers why they believe she was not accepted.
posted by vacapinta at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2013


C'mon, people, at least it's not as bad as the average WSJ editorial.
posted by uosuaq at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Back when I was in high school, above-4.0 GPAs meant you got A's in AP classes. But I also went to a public high school in the South in the late 90's, so I have no idea what it means now or in other parts of the country.
posted by inara at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder if she's aware of the unwritten anti-AA policy that Ivies tend to have for Asian Americans.

What's that all about?

I'm currently reading the novel Admission (the source material for Tina Fey's recent film failure of the same name) which reveals a lot about the admissions policies and practices of a certain Ivy League school. In a paragraph listing the multiple problems the school has had in trying to develop a more diverse study body, there's this sentence: "Placate the faculty by tightening academic standards, and certain objectionable immigrant groups became a bit too well represented on campus."

I assumed this sentence was mainly referring to first and second generation Asian-American students and was puzzled by the word "objectionable". Objectionable to whom, and why?

Weiss shared that her piece was meant to be fun and sarcastic

Yeah, good luck with that.
posted by fuse theorem at 11:04 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


it just felt like a lottery. I had friends accepted and friends denied to Ivies with no apparent rhyme or reason.

This is exactly why I applied to Harvard Law. I figured the application fee was more expensive than a lottery ticket but the (still-astronomical) odds were much, much better. And I do buy lottery tickets on occasion so hey, why not.

This girl's essay is good. It's far from excellent satire but as others have pointed out, it's better than I probably could have written at her age. No, it's not the kind of good that would make me think, "Hey, this should be published in the WSJ!", but I think there's value in giving a few national column inches to a young writer every now and then—a type of affirmative action, one might say. ("HAHA," I add for the uncharitable readers in this bunch.)

I find it difficult to relate to somebody who read her column and took it seriously. Her last paragraph, especially: She basically added her own "HAHA" at the end just to be super-clear. If you read that and you still took it seriously, that's on you.
posted by cribcage at 11:05 AM on April 5, 2013


It's easy to hate on her, and she's irritating as hell, and she makes good fodder for the Friday afternoon metafilter hate derby. But the pressure that kids are under today to get into the Right School is undeniable and unbelievable. All the talk about the "unique advantages" of getting in at a school with a specific name and a specific endowment and a specific position on the US News and World Report list multiplies the pressure, and to increasingly uncertain ends.

The folks on here who say they have a hard time having sympathy for her -- well, all I can say is, thank God I'm not a high-school student facing college applications in this day and age, for this and so many other reasons.
posted by blucevalo at 11:05 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


If you read that and you still took it seriously, that's on you.

Well, the unfortunate part for her is that the "you" it's on are people on college admissions boards, future employers and so on.
posted by griphus at 11:06 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Re: over-4.0 GPAs, at my high school, AP courses (and "post-AP" courses, e.g. the course was what you took the year after AP [whatever] but didn't come with a College Board test) were out of 4.5. I think they may have recently changed it so that honors-level classes are out of 4.5 and AP/post-AP is out of 5.
posted by capricorn at 11:07 AM on April 5, 2013


Er, specifically, it was regular GPA + .5 so if you got an A your score was 4.0 + 0.5 = 4.5
posted by capricorn at 11:09 AM on April 5, 2013


If you read that and you still took it seriously, that's on you.

What's the Vonnegut line? "We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful about what we pretend to be."
posted by DirtyOldTown at 11:10 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find it difficult to relate to somebody who read her column and took it seriously. Her last paragraph, especially: She basically added her own "HAHA" at the end just to be super-clear. If you read that and you still took it seriously, that's on you.

I'm not expecting "A Modest Proposal" here, but I've got to say: when the piece is about how you got rejected by various Ivy League schools because you're not 'diverse' enough, tacking a "HAHA!" at the end doesn't turn it into satire.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 11:13 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


wait so i shouldn't have eaten all those

oh god
posted by griphus at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


Friday afternoon metafilter hate derby

Nobody told me this was a derby! I don't have my hat with me today!
posted by rtha at 11:14 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


This is so maddening. The passage to a life of gainful employment and financial security is narrowing down so much that by now it's practically a sphincter. Everyone is going through the motions and making sure to follow the agreed-upon protocols (go to the best college you can, get student loans if you must, get a four-year degree), but what exactly is waiting for any of these kids at the other end?

What jobs exist, will exist--could exist--for all these college graduates to perform? And don't just tell me everybody is going to be a high-tech/biotech engineer.

WHAT ON EARTH IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS?!
posted by overeducated_alligator at 11:15 AM on April 5, 2013 [6 favorites]


WHAT ON EARTH IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS?!

If the emperor's gonna fiddle while Rome burns, he's gotta have a kickass solid-gold fiddle.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 11:18 AM on April 5, 2013


Quick everyone let's call this teenager privileged.

Oh okay looks like y'all are on top of that.
posted by Evernix at 11:18 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wonder if she's aware of the unwritten anti-AA policy that Ivies tend to have for Asian Americans.

What's that all about?


There's been a lot written about this recently, and it's been a known phenomenon for a while. Here's one article.
posted by naju at 11:19 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


tacking a "HAHA!" at the end doesn't turn it into satire.

Sure, but there's a difference between criticizing her for failing at her goal versus totally (and maybe disingenuously) misinterpreting that goal.
posted by cribcage at 11:20 AM on April 5, 2013


Statements like this always compell me to point out that Obama went to Occidental and then transferred to Columbia. Not getting into Harvard undergrad is not the political or economic death sentence that people sometimes make it out to be. Where you go to Grad school or law school or business school is almost always more important.

OK, yeah. But not everyone, wherever they went to school, is Barack Obama. And the thing is - you go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton or Columbia - well you're pretty much guaranteed to at least do OK unless you seriously fuck something up. The shit state of the economy, the job market, the post-college unemployment problems, all this stuff is, I'm sure, on the minds of high school students and their parents. Not getting into Harvard may not be an economic death sentence, but getting into Harvard is an economic golden ticket. It doesn't mean you'll cure cancer or be a captain of industry or a best-selling novelist, but it does mean you very likely will not have to deal with all the crap that the thousands of graduates of State U are dealing with after graduation.

I've literally never met an Ivy League grad that isn't at least modestly successful. You go to Harvard, you're not going to be working as a barista at 26 to pay back your student loans. That's the payoff. That's why there's so much pressure. It's the economy, stupid.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:23 AM on April 5, 2013


I went to Michigan, after growing up in a small town about forty minutes north of Ann Arbor. People like her come to Michigan, and spend all their time talking about how much better things were back east, and laughing at us Michiganders who think Ann Arbor is a city worth talking about when it's so inferior to New York and Boston. I get that she's not from back east. But she's that kind of person.

I have a friend who went to a high school that was so much a feeder for the top Ivy League schools--Harvard, Yale, Princeton--that she and her brother were considered failures for going to Cornell and MIT. She came to Michgian for a Ph.D. and, after a decade or so, stopped complaining all the time about how much better it was back in New York and became a pretty cool person. It's interesting to hear her talk about her upbringing and her high school experience. It's really a whole different world than what I grew up with.
posted by not that girl at 11:25 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


> What jobs exist, will exist--could exist--for all these college graduates to perform? And don't just tell me everybody is going to be a high-tech/biotech engineer.

I've recently had three separate conversations with colleagues my age (I'm 39) who had anecdotes about being asked about how to enter their middle-class, white collar professions (librarianship, journalism and teaching) by college-age kids...all of which which ended with variations on "I just started laughing/crying."
posted by The Card Cheat at 11:26 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the Today show, Weiss shared that her piece was meant to be fun and sarcastic.
....
She also said that diversity is a “wonderful thing,” although she thinks “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.”

And this to me is another logical fallacy. It presents a scenario where applications are divvied up by race or sex or whatever and then all the college does is say "welp, these two got the same SAT score, let's take the non white/Asian one." It's way more complex than that. "The things you can't control" are only a sliver of admissions decisions. AND, the people that cry hardest about race/sex discrimination are almost always silent about legacy admissions giving you points at MANY colleges, especially prestigious ones, which is just as much something you can't control.
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:30 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


And the thing is - you go to Harvard or Yale or Princeton or Columbia - well you're pretty much guaranteed to at least do OK unless you seriously fuck something up. The shit state of the economy, the job market, the post-college unemployment problems, all this stuff is, I'm sure, on the minds of high school students and their parents. Not getting into Harvard may not be an economic death sentence, but getting into Harvard is an economic golden ticket. It doesn't mean you'll cure cancer or be a captain of industry or a best-selling novelist, but it does mean you very likely will not have to deal with all the crap that the thousands of graduates of State U are dealing with after graduation.

But you can't really separate that out from the fact that people who get into Harvard/Yale/etc. tend to be upper economic class and have the connections/background to get in in the first place. So is it really just the diploma that gets them the golden ticket, or the conditions that helped them get into an Ivy in the first place?
posted by nakedmolerats at 11:32 AM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Shorter The Card Cheat: This is just the WSJ throwing this girl to the wolves in the guise of confirming its readers' suspicions about political correctness and diversity. It should never have been printed.
 
posted by Herodios at 11:34 AM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


She also said that diversity is a “wonderful thing,” although she thinks “In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.”

Wait, the question of "whether or not you do any volunteer or extracurricular work" is something she thinks she "can't control"?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:35 AM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


But you can't really separate that out from the fact that people who get into Harvard/Yale/etc. tend to be upper economic class and have the connections/background to get in in the first place. So is it really just the diploma that gets them the golden ticket, or the conditions that helped them get into an Ivy in the first place?

Quite true. Two things:

1. This is sort of a chicken-or-egg thing. They're mutually reinforcing.

2. I think the apprehension you often hear from upper-middle class families about college admissions stems from a real fear that if their children do not get into a top college they will lose the advantages given to them. This may or may not come to pass in any individual situation, but it's a reasonable fear given the state of the economy and the job market, and top colleges do act as a kind of insurance against it. Hence the ever-greater emphasis placed on being admitted to them.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:38 AM on April 5, 2013


But you can't really separate that out from the fact that people who get into Harvard/Yale/etc. tend to be upper economic class and have the connections/background to get in in the first place. So is it really just the diploma that gets them the golden ticket, or the conditions that helped them get into an Ivy in the first place?

I went looking but couldn't find an AskMetaFilter from a year or two ago, from a young man who had grown up in a small working-class town in the middle of the country. As I recall, just leaving town to go to college would have been notable, but he got into Harvard, and was encouraged to go by people telling him that it was his ticket out and that any students loans he took would be worth it. He went to Harvard, and, with no idea how to create cultural capital or make connections, just spent four years doing well academically. After graduation, he found himself working a low-paying job with something like $100,000 worth of student loan debt. It was heartbreaking to read, but also a good example of how there is social class-based knowledge that can matter as much or more as your degree even if you go to Harvard. He didn't have people in his life at home who knew how to advise him, and he didn't know how to leverage the Harvard experience. I hope he's doing well now.
posted by not that girl at 11:39 AM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


After graduation, he found himself working a low-paying job with something like $100,000 worth of student loan debt.

Harvard -- not sure about the other Ivies -- is actually pretty generous ("...parents with incomes currently below $65,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs. ") with financial aid. Then again, navigating the financial aid system of any university is only slightly easier than Shackleton's expedition (and only because there are fewer fatalities.)
posted by griphus at 11:44 AM on April 5, 2013


One issue regarding the increasing competitiveness in getting into colleges and universities is the increase in the number of schools students are applying for these days due to the Common Application.

For example:
Harvard University was the most selective of the bunch, accepting a record-low 5.8% of its 33,531 applicants. It was followed by Yale University, which admitted 6.72% of its record-high 29,610 applicants, and Columbia University, which dropped its acceptance rate from 7.4% last year to 6.89% this year.

... A larger applicant pool helped fuel increased selectivity.

... For many of these schools the ever lower acceptance rates are the result of bulging application pools. According to the Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education, the number of high school graduates in the U.S. steadily increased for 15 years before peaking at 3.4 million graduates in 2010–11. But there are still some 3.2 million students graduating each year, and they’re applying to colleges alongside high school seniors from around the world. And all those students are applying to more colleges than ever, thanks in large part to the Common App, a single application and essay that is accepted at 488 schools, including the vast majority of selective schools. According to the National Association for College Admission Counseling, 79% of students in 2011 applied to three or more colleges, up from 67% in 2000. “More people are applying for the same small number of elite colleges than there ever have been — there are a gazillion applications for every spot,” says Rachel Toor, an author, college-admissions counselor and former Duke University admissions officer. “Even when you tell them only 6% get in, they still think, maybe I’ll be the one. Mostly, they’re not.”
posted by ericb at 11:48 AM on April 5, 2013


Not so long ago, I was a high school senior and a terrible snob like this girl. I was luckier and got into my top choice school; not Ivy League, but seven sisters, close enough. I assumed that only a school of this caliber was suitable for my bright shining ego intellect, and the finances miraculously worked, so I went. Didn't think twice about the chain of events that led to my even having that option. Certainly never considered my State's flagship school, even though I got in. Too many of my classmates were going there, and I was better than them don't ya know.

Fast forward to my post graduation life. I'm in a reading group with a bunch of grads of the state school I turned down. We're reading dense theoretical stuff together. And my state school grad friends are so many worlds ahead of me in terms of being able to make sense of the reading. They are so smart and so perceptive, and it makes me realize just how judgmental high school me was.

Go ahead to Michigan or Wisconsin, Suzy. Take some sociology or anthropology classes. Find the people having interesting discussions about privilege and listen. Be prepared to get shot down if you cut in and talk about reverse racism.

Treat going to one of these schools like he huge privilege it is, and find the interesting people. They are very much there at state schools, no matter what lies people have told you about Ivies being the only places that matter.
posted by ActionPopulated at 11:55 AM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


He didn't have people in his life at home who knew how to advise him, and he didn't know how to leverage the Harvard experience.

This is an incredibly good point.

I went to the University of Chicago, which is a fantastic school. Everyone else in my family went to the state university in the city they grew up in. My parents were very focused on me getting into a top tier school (and I had the ability to do it), but they had no idea what that entailed. They bought those "how to get into college" self help books starting when I was in middle school. But most of the things that got me into a top tier school were my own doing, and to be honest, most of them were not that difficult to achieve given the pool I was swimming in.

For those interested, this included: being valedictorian, having the top SAT score in my grade, being president of the city's Red Cross youth council, being a Girl Scout, being a member of all the honor societies, working, being on a varsity sports team, winning every academic award, taking every AP my school offered, etc, I'm actually forgetting a lot of it now because it doesn't matter.

Anyway, where I'm going with this is: my parents had no idea what it was like to be at a top tier school. To them, it meant instant success. You go there, and suddenly all problems will be solved, and you will ensure yourself a better life than your parents ever had.

In the, oh...4? nearly 5? years I've been out of college, I have been unemployed for two of them. And severely underemployed for a year and a half of them. And I'm currently at a job where I'm way undervalued and kind of miserable, but at least it's full time and I have health insurance.

My dad has had three jobs in his adult life and has been working the same (great) job for a bit over 30 years. My mom is a teacher, and has never actually had to apply for a job in her life, because timing has worked out such that her skills have been needed at the right place and time and she's just been able to step into open roles.

They have no idea what to do to offer help to me and my job situation, other than to say, "just start knocking on doors" or "did you tell them where you went to school?"

If you don't know how to work it, the top tier education kind of means diddly in the real world.

Though I should add that going to school there was great, and I learned a lot and did a lot of things the vast majority of people at other schools would have never had the chance to do, and that is something I would never trade away.
posted by phunniemee at 11:57 AM on April 5, 2013 [11 favorites]


Having Harvard or Yale or whatever on your resume and making connections with other people at those schools are unique and profound advantages that you only get one chance at in life.

Not to discount the value of connections that can be formed at a place like this, and the advantages having these colleges on your resume can confer . . . But it's more complicated than that. The real advantage is in being the sort of person who gets into Harvard or Yale (etc.). And yes, money and connections play a part in this. But the biggest thing that gets you into Harvard or Yale is not just being a smart person, but being the kind of hard-driving, self-motivated, tirelessly working, always curious smart person who is willing to do whatever it takes to get into Harvard or Yale.

Let's say you took the 2013 matriculating class at Harvard and put it in a box for four years. Then you replaced them with a representative sample from the 2013 matriculating class at the University of Massachusetts Boston, and gave those students four years of a Harvard education. The chances are that, ten years after graduation, the Harvard students who had spent four years in a box would, as a whole, be doing better than the UMass Boston students who went to Harvard. Now, the pre-existing money, connections and families the Harvard students brought with them into the box will certainly help some of them get ahead. But a lot more of them will get ahead due to having a relentless drive.
posted by slkinsey at 11:58 AM on April 5, 2013


I was thinking, do international student applications factor into this? That is, do they compete with local students for the same slots? And how do you compare an American student to a non-American one? Or two non-American students?
posted by FJT at 12:03 PM on April 5, 2013


Sephardim aren't Latino, Klang? Or is it that a quarter isn't enough? Is half? Or is it just that he didn't conform to a certain socioeconomic stereotype? Should only people who can't pass for 'white non-Hispanic' be allowed to identify as Latino?
posted by perhapsolutely at 12:03 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


I was waitlisted from my first-choice school when I was applying for college. It was in Canada, so even my top choices weren't as coveted as an Ivy would be, but I had my heart set on that particular school. I went to a magnet high school for the International Baccalaureate program, graduated in the top percentiles in my class, had a 3-page-long resume of all the extracurricular and volunteer stuff I did, ran my admissions essay by several teachers and counselors, and I still didn't get in until 12 weeks before freshman year started and I'd already put down deposit for a room at a safety school. What's more, I'm Chinese, female, a first-generation immigrant, played three instruments, and I had a Tiger Mom.

Meanwhile, a white guy who went to the same school that I did whose graduating average was a full 10% points below mine and who spent most of his free-time drinking and partying got early admission to the same program I applied to (at a school he applied to on a whim). Our IB advisor theorized that it was due to the football scholarship, though of course we can't and don't and shouldn't know. When this classmate heard at exam-time in senior year of high school that I still hadn't heard from the college, even he was surprised.

Wonder what Weiss would make of that anecdote? It's at least as scientific as hers!

If I could never hear about how much affirmative action hurts the privileged majority for the sake of advancing the political agendas of feckless minority folk again, it would be too soon.

I should've stuck with my safety school, incidentally. Turns out when you have a childish idealized view of what a particular college would be like, you tend to get burned even more spectacularly when it turns out to be a toxic environment fostering anti-progressive values in the next generation of psychopathic Stephen Harper-types.
posted by Phire at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


Harvard -- not sure about the other Ivies -- is actually pretty generous ...

The Ivy League May Be More Affordable Than You Think.

Yes, Harvard has been progressive in providing aid to a majority of students, particularly with its "Zero to 10 Percent Standard" Financial Aid Program.

BTW -- Over the past few years there has been an ongoing discussion at Harvard about potentially adopting a "tuition-free model" for all students: Why Can't Harvard Be Free?

Harvard Financial Aid Helps 70% of Students [2010].
"... many [of the] students [who] get accepted into Harvard every year ... are qualified due to plain old academic talent. It's a good thing, too, because most of these students could not afford ... the Harvard tuition. With combined tuition, room and board, and miscellaneous fees costing $53,950-$56,750 for 2010-11 school year, Harvard financial aid is a must for students who want to get an education at a university known for breeding success.

Fortunately, the average Harvard financial aid package is close to $41,000. In addition, about 70% of Harvard students receive some form of aid, with nearly 60% receiving need–based scholarships. This means that for those students who cannot afford the Harvard price tag, the cost of attending the university is not more than that of a low-cost state college.

In fact, thanks to the March 2004 Harvard Financial Aid Initiative, students in households earning less than $60,000 per year pay nothing toward room and board. This goes for both International and U.S. citizens."
posted by ericb at 12:06 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


It almost sounds like mediocre academic performance in high school saved me from this kind of angst - I knew that even a lot of the SUNY schools were going to be a reach.
posted by Calloused_Foot at 12:07 PM on April 5, 2013


There's a really good satirical movie somewhere in American higher education's mess of problems: A kid graduates school with so much debt that they adopt a life of crime to pay it off, or something like that.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:10 PM on April 5, 2013


I spent a blissful summer before my senior year in high school at Harvard and decided that IT WAS MY PLACE. I applied, early admission, and wasn't admitted. My BFF from that summer, a brilliant student from Lexington, MA, was accepted. I ended up at what I then considered to be my safety school - Tulane.

It was about two years into my college experience that I finally realized that the college admissions process worked exactly the way it was supposed to. I would have been miserable at Harvard and I loved, loved, loved Tulane. My friend was perfect for Harvard, she had that quality, that *ping* about her that everyone who was a student there did.

I too was a bitter thing like our little Suzy, but I sucked it up and trusted that things would work out. Oh, and I had an awesome 21st birthday thanks to Mardi Gras being early that year.
posted by Leezie at 12:23 PM on April 5, 2013


You know, she can say this is satire all she wants, but it's just not funny.

If she wants to make jokes about how she's a privileged white kid who can't get into an Ivy, she should at least be making fun of herself as well. If you don't, you'll wind up with a piece that makes you sound like a whiny, bitter, self-involved brat*. Satire isn't saying a bunch of inflammatory statements and then saying "HAHAHA SATIRE!"

I would love to know what this looked like before it was edited by the WSJ.

*Like most teenagers, who don't get their rants that should stay in the pages of their journals published in the WSJ.
posted by inertia at 12:36 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


she should at least be making fun of herself as well.

The final paragraph of Weiss' column reads:
To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh—"The Real Housewives" is on.
Now again, you can criticize her for not making fun of herself well if you like. But that's different from claiming she didn't try, which is plainly wrong.
posted by cribcage at 12:42 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


There's an implied "throughout" in the part of inertia's comment that you quote, cribcage. "Satire isn't saying a bunch of inflammatory statements and then saying 'HAHAHA SATIRE!'" Like how the couplets at the end of Shakespeare's sonnets, when they turn around the meaning of the quatrains, are often unconvincing.

Allow me to say that her self-deprecation failed thoroughly enough that the rest of the piece is indistinguishable from sincerity. Her interviews don't help her case.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:50 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


If the column is satire, it's a satire on the supposed ease with which the underprivileged enter good schools, not a satire on the haplessly lazy privileged who expected all the perks without the work.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 12:56 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Allow me to say that her self-deprecation failed thoroughly enough that the rest of the piece is indistinguishable from sincerity. Her interviews don't help her case.

Yeah, the bit at the end is a pretty unconvincing "j/k!" She does make fun of herself in those last few lines, but she doesn't reveal that what she has been doing all along is making fun of herself and people like her. Instead, it seems pretty clear that, while she may have been exaggerating for effect, she does really believe almost everything she wrote. Which makes it problematic as satire. It's a little bit like if someone from England had written "A Modest Proposal."
posted by Ragged Richard at 12:57 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Having Harvard or Yale or whatever on your resume and making connections with other people at those schools are unique and profound advantages that you only get one chance at in life.

I don't think you can have "or whatever" and "unique" in that same sentence. Yes, Harvard and Yale confer advantages. So do many, many other schools; and anyone who can't get into any of those schools wasn't kept out of Harvard because he or she couldn't play the piano.
posted by Etrigan at 1:03 PM on April 5, 2013


To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh—"The Real Housewives" is on.

Agreed with Rustic Estruscan, tossing in this at the end doesn't make the piece satire and doesn't make up for the offensiveness of the rest of the article.

Between the article itself and the comments she's made after, I think the best conclusion is that the article captures her real thoughts about minorities getting a sort of upper hand in life. It's not disingenuous to claim that we see that.
posted by sweetkid at 1:28 PM on April 5, 2013


There are three kinds of students who apply to my alma mater:
  1. students for whom it's the first choice, but who don't get admitted
  2. students who get admitted to several schools and don't end up matriculating at mine
  3. students for whom it's not the first choice, but for whom it is the best of the available choices
Basically, we're everyone's silver medal. Go XYZ U!
posted by Nomyte at 1:43 PM on April 5, 2013


More re: GPAs. My school, and I think most schools in California (at least back in the early 90s) bumped up the possible grade points available for honors and AP courses by a point. So, an honors/AP 'A' was worth 5 points, a 'B' was worth 4; after that I think a 'C' was still 2. Honors courses were higher-level or accelerated classes in a particular subject, but didn't really have a relevant AP exam to take, so they were more common in classes normally meant for grades 9-11. Anyway, I think the valedictorians of my high school, who graduated with straight As, ended up with 4.67 GPAs, simply because there aren't lower-level honors/AP language or art classes, and there is no kind of honors phys ed. If you played your cards right from the start, by senior year, you could be in AP Spanish, calculus, physics, English, and art history, and could have taken care of biology and US history your junior year.
posted by LionIndex at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2013


OF COURSE SCHOOLS ARE MORE SELECTIVE. THEY HAVE MANY TIMES MORE APPLICANTS TO CHOOSE FROM.

A couple of the undergrads I supervise were discussing how RIDICULOUS it was that a pre-law program at a nearby school only admitted students who were in the top X% of their high school class. Their main argument seemed to be that gee, it's so hard to be in the top X%, how could they do that to people? I asked them if they were in charge of admissions to a pre-law program, and had far more applicants than spaces in the program, wouldn't they want to admit the best-performing students as opposed the not-best? I expected them to at least offer a decent counterargument about how class ranking should only be one factor among many that determines admission or something, but instead they said "Hm, never thought of that. Good point!"

To paraphrase Henry Fonda in On Golden Pond: Kids today... they think just because they want something that they deserve it.

/anecdata
posted by Rykey at 1:46 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


tossing in this at the end doesn't make the piece satire

No, that's true. I think tossing that bit in the end makes it super-obvious that the piece is satire, but it isn't what makes the piece satire. To use an analogy, often you know you're listening to a joke well before the punchline is delivered, right? It was clear to me the piece was satire well before I reached the end.
posted by cribcage at 1:49 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I personally am all for academic admission criteria (with some slop room), because the alternatives usually just end up making things easier for priveliged kids. At least if you know what the academic criteria are, if you have the ability, there is a way to achieve them. But if you also have to do the well-rounded voluntary bullshit, well good luck with all that if you have to work at Joe's Pizza evenings and weekends just to make ends meet for your family.

No doubt this reflects my own experience in the UK. I came from a working class, single-parent family, passed the 11+ (so went to a Grammar School instead of a comprehensive), and got into Oxford on the entrance exam. I never had a single piece of course work form any part of any qualification I got -- it was all exams from soup to nuts. The advantage, for a bright, poor kid, was that it was purely down to what I could do on the day. So I never felt remotely disadvantaged because of my social background. I *knew* I was competing on a level playing field.

Of course for kids who didn't pass the 11+ or who maybe didn't go to a Grammar School that was as fiercely competitive as mine, I would have appeared lucky or privileged.

I would also echo those who say that going to a big name institution like Oxford doesn't guarantee success per se. It depends whether you can exploit the social aspects. I really, really didn't, and nobody ever even asked about my degree in the years that followed. It was completely irrelevant after I got my first job.

What I *did* learn at Oxford was to be an absolutely first class bullshitter, and pretend to be an expert on anything after having read half a book. A skill which is enormously useful on Metafilter.
posted by unSane at 1:57 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


I find it difficult to relate to somebody who read her column and took it seriously. Her last paragraph, especially: She basically added her own "HAHA" at the end just to be super-clear. If you read that and you still took it seriously, that's on you.

Or, you can read that bit at the end the way some people make offensive comments and then say "no offense", as if that makes it all OK.
posted by mkultra at 2:06 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


Yeah, that's how I read it. Like when someone says something staggeringly crass and offensive and when you complain, they say "What's the matter, can't you take a joke?".
posted by unSane at 2:09 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Satire? No. Kidding on the square: "To be joking, but at the same time really mean it."
posted by benito.strauss at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2013 [5 favorites]


griphus: "Harvard -- not sure about the other Ivies -- is actually pretty generous ('...parents with incomes currently below $65,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs. ') with financial aid. Then again, navigating the financial aid system of any university is only slightly easier than Shackleton's expedition (and only because there are fewer fatalities.)"

Generous in relation to other schools, but certainly not in real-world terms. A school with billions of dollars in endowment money doesn't actually have to charge admission at all. It would be awesome and groundbreaking if Harvard took that step, but I'm not holding my breath.
posted by koeselitz at 2:19 PM on April 5, 2013


Take out the "diversity" paragraph, and there's really not much to talk about.
posted by MoonOrb at 2:28 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Generous in relation to other schools, but certainly not in real-world terms. A school with billions of dollars in endowment money doesn't actually have to charge admission at all.

Why stop there? With Harvard's annual endowment, you can probably run and offer free admission to at least a dozen state universities in a year. I think a lot of European countries do have free or cheap university systems, and some even offer the same for international students.
posted by FJT at 2:47 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


Just re-read it and I don't know how this paragraph slipped my mind before:

"Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. "Assistant Director of Mail Services." "Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics." I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!"

Yes, Suzy. Yes you could have. For instance, your sister was an assistant features editor at the Wall Street Journal. You could have indeed gotten work experience with her, instead of using your connections to her to complain.
posted by Navelgazer at 2:51 PM on April 5, 2013 [8 favorites]


My last round of applying for grad schools, I sent out (IIRC) 17 applications. If I were applying to undergrad right now, I wouldn't feel safe sending applications to fewer than 30 schools, just because of the randomness of the process. This is, of course, tremendously expensive; there are some programs that let low-income applicants waive the admissions fee, but in most cases navigating that process is a whole nother level of time-consuming.

This is yet another way that colleges ensure the perpetuation of privilege across generations; I grew up poor, but was only able to prepare and pay for all those applications because a) I had a boss who humored my application habit, so long as I kept getting work in, and b) I had very low living expenses, by dint of not having kids or parents to take care of, and by dint of not having any serious medical problems.
posted by You Can't Tip a Buick at 2:56 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


The advantage, for a bright, poor kid, was that it was purely down to what I could do on the day.

And, from my experience, down to the tutors' willingness to go with relatively unpolished potential over those who were more well-coached, or told what to wear (or, basically, had suits, which I didn't at the time). And I completely agree with unSane that you have a choice of sorts at an "elite" institution over whether to work the social/network aspects or not, which is perhaps what the private schools teach a bit better.

That's to say: this op-ed feels, perhaps inadvertently on the part of its author, like the same kind of elite signalling that the WSJ engaged in when it did that infographic of the poor, poor paupers struggling on their six-figure incomes. Rich people with not-exactly-brilliant progeny, you have the right to feel aggrieved at their inability to get accepted into elite institutions!
posted by holgate at 3:38 PM on April 5, 2013


the chasm between some of the eighteen year olds I teach at a community college and the older students is great. I mean, you could drive five Buicks through it. Because at age eighteen, you just don't grok that most of life is one rejection after another, and you need to cherish what you fucking have.
posted by angrycat at 3:41 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I didn't have a suit either, Holgate. I think you're exactly right about the tutors being open-minded.
posted by unSane at 4:25 PM on April 5, 2013


She should try to get off the status chasing train while she is young. There is no shame in just being yourself, hanging out with your freinds and going to an ordinary college or university, and not becoming a master of the universe.
posted by humanfont at 4:32 PM on April 5, 2013


I think you're exactly right about the tutors being open-minded.

My thinking (somewhat confirmed after the fact) was that, as tutors rather than City types, they knew their own.
posted by holgate at 4:45 PM on April 5, 2013


On the one hand, I was so clueless about colleges that when I got to mine, I asked if it was Ivy League because it was covered with ivy. (Spoiler: it was not Ivy League.)

On the other hand, my school had zero AP classes, so even the brainiest of us could only max out at 4.0. When I found out other schools could get you HIGHER THAN 4.0, I was livid.

And when I saw the so-called AP class syllabuses, I was even more so, because they were nothing special, except as a way for teachers to track their pets into college.
posted by small_ruminant at 4:49 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


Everyone is going through the motions and making sure to follow the agreed-upon protocols ... what exactly is waiting for any of these kids at the other end? ...
WHAT ON EARTH IS THE POINT OF ALL OF THIS?!


It's quite a lot like getting into any cult. You must prove your worthiness: that you BELIEVE so fiercely that you'll do ANYTHING, whatever it takes, to be admitted to the inner sanctum.

Proving, thereby, that the hook is well set, that you've drunk the koolaid, and that you'll blame yourself when you fall out the pipeline and discover that promises are made of rarified gasses and all oracles are drunks.

What must we do to keep from going through all these things twice???
posted by Twang at 4:50 PM on April 5, 2013


as tutors rather than City types

What does this mean? What is City?
posted by small_ruminant at 4:53 PM on April 5, 2013


The City of London. I think. Like Wall Street, but in England.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 4:57 PM on April 5, 2013


The City of London is different from the city of London. The City is where all the bankers do all their dirty deeds.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 4:57 PM on April 5, 2013


Ah thanks. Never would have figured that out.
posted by small_ruminant at 5:07 PM on April 5, 2013


Generous in relation to other schools, but certainly not in real-world terms. A school with billions of dollars in endowment money doesn't actually have to charge admission at all. It would be awesome and groundbreaking if Harvard took that step, but I'm not holding my breath.

Because rich people need a subsidy of $58,000 a year, right?

Financial aid like Harvard's does a great job of redistributing wealth and makes it so that anyone can afford to go if they get in.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 5:24 PM on April 5, 2013


Part of me reads this and says boo-f#@$ing-hoo. Part of me thanks my lucky stars that there wasn't Twitter and Facebook when I was 18 and that I didn't have a sister who worked at WSJ.

I realize that acceptance rates are super low in general right now but I think it's also a thing that in general, students are applying to way more schools than before. There are more kids applying to college so if there are the same number of spaces for the incoming class and everyone is applying to 20 schools, of course the acceptance rates are going to fall.

So yes, it's harder to get into the best schools today than it was years ago and the economy sucks. But maybe the best schools according to US News and World Report are not the best schools for her. When I graduated, the economy sucked too. Suck it up and deal. What other choice do you have?
posted by kat518 at 6:16 PM on April 5, 2013


I don't get this- I got into a mediocre university, made excellent marks, worked a mediocre part time job or two (with no cred) and wrote a few articles for the school paper. Net result, two years in I transferred to a highly prestigious university. I was a mediocre student there, but I dutifully collected my degree.

In high school I was told by my idiot guidance councilor that I wouldn't get into university/be able to afford it, but she was a useless harpy. Especially since loans are exceedingly easy to acquire. I honestly couldn't have told you how yout prepared for university other than "have money put away" and "meet X academic thresh hold".

So what's this strange application process I keep hearing about? Is this a US thing? Were my peers with extra activities doing something university obtaining?
posted by Phalene at 7:34 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


So what's this strange application process I keep hearing about? Is this a US thing?

Up next, Canadians ask questions about how the health care system in America works. Stay tuned!
posted by benito.strauss at 7:57 PM on April 5, 2013 [3 favorites]


It's all so crazy!
posted by sweetkid at 8:02 PM on April 5, 2013 [1 favorite]


On Wednesday (after a night out at an AMAZING house concert in a nearby Southern Ontario town which was full of lovely people):

unSane: "It's crazy! They're all so NICE!"
Mrs unSane: "It's not crazy. You're from England".
posted by unSane at 8:18 PM on April 5, 2013 [4 favorites]


> So what's this strange application process I keep hearing about? Is this a US thing? Were my peers with extra activities doing something university obtaining?

Is this satire?
posted by desuetude at 10:09 PM on April 5, 2013 [2 favorites]


I wish I had been given the opportunity to drop out of an ivy league instead of the state school I eventually did so at to in for by.
posted by maxwelton at 3:01 AM on April 6, 2013


I applied to a single in-state school almost a month after the deadline, because I had misunderstood the date at which the application had to be complete as the last day to submit, but got in anyway, very possibly as a result of bureaucratic error. I left a number of sections of the application blank because I regarded certain questions as too intrusive and said so in my personal statement. I doubt very much anyone ever so much as glanced over that part of my application.

Many classmates went off to Ivies, including all eight co-valedictorians, but I didn't envy them, as I recall, even though my College Boards were higher than or equal to anyone else's on each of the five tests I took (though I did wonder why I wasn't offered a National Merit scholarship despite having the highest score on that test of our twelve semi-finalists-- I may have neglected to send in my SATs), because I knew there was absolutely no chance I would be up to the academic and social standards of such schools-- and I considered those standards ridiculous in the first place, insofar as I grasped what they were (which was not very far).
posted by jamjam at 2:46 PM on April 6, 2013


ne more dead town's last parade: "Because rich people need a subsidy of $58,000 a year, right? Financial aid like Harvard's does a great job of redistributing wealth and makes it so that anyone can afford to go if they get in."

No, it doesn't. The poor still pay - and student loans are still very much encouraged, the kind of loans that keep people destitute for years. And also the assumption that only rich people should go to grad school is also annoying. If Harvard's financial system is "redistributing wealth," then ObamaCare is socialism.
posted by koeselitz at 4:07 PM on April 6, 2013 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, my school had zero AP classes, so even the brainiest of us could only max out at 4.0. When I found out other schools could get you HIGHER THAN 4.0, I was livid.

I'll do you one better: my school had AP classes but you still only got a 4 for an A in them.
posted by BrashTech at 6:48 PM on April 6, 2013


No, it doesn't. The poor still pay - and student loans are still very much encouraged, the kind of loans that keep people destitute for years.

This just isn't true. As has already been mentioned, Harvard says that "parents with incomes currently below $65,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs." That's not offset by loans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:40 AM on April 7, 2013


the assumption that only rich people should go to grad school

Where are you getting that idea? (This thread isn't about grad school anyway.)
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 4:54 AM on April 7, 2013


My school was lacking in many things and I slacked off a lot in school. Yet because I had high SAT scores and was from the middle of Wyoming I was able to get into a number of very good schools. One of them offered me a good sized scholarship; so I went there.
posted by humanfont at 7:09 AM on April 7, 2013


one more dead town's last parade: "This just isn't true. As has already been mentioned, Harvard says that 'parents with incomes currently below $65,000 are not expected to contribute to college costs.' That's not offset by loans."

Cite? Because, even aside from my experience with people who have gone to Harvard, the page given emphatically does not say that, and in general "financial aid" is thought to include loans.
posted by koeselitz at 8:23 AM on April 7, 2013


Cite?

It's not like it's mentioned on the first page you see when you go to undergraduate financial aid or anything.
We do not consider home equity or retirement accounts as resources in our determination of a family contribution, and aid packages do not include any loans.
posted by one more dead town's last parade at 8:44 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


Cite? Because, even aside from my experience with people who have gone to Harvard, the page given emphatically does not say that, and in general "financial aid" is thought to include loans.

koselitz, do you know anyone that has gone to Harvard recently? The thing with people whose parents make under 65k contributing nothing at all is relatively new thing - perhaps as recent as the last few years.
posted by vacapinta at 9:14 AM on April 7, 2013 [1 favorite]


The thing with people whose parents make under 65k contributing nothing at all is relatively new thing - perhaps as recent as the last few years.

The current Harvard Financial Aid Initiative was started in 2004 and provided a free education for families earning less than $40,000/year.

And ...
Since 2006, students from families with incomes less than $60,000 who are accepted to Harvard under our regular admissions policies have had no expected parent contribution for their education. Beginning in the fall of 2012, this "zero contribution threshold" will be increased to $65,000. Financial aid is available to all students based on assessed need. Beginning with the class of 2016, families with incomes up to $150,000 will have an average expected parent contribution of 10 percent or less of their income and, as we continue to take individual circumstances into consideration in our assessment of financial need, many families in even higher income brackets also receive substantive financial aid. Families at all income levels who have significant assets will continue to pay more than those in less fortunate circumstances
posted by ericb at 10:39 AM on April 7, 2013


Actually, Harvard has a Net Price Calculator online.
posted by vacapinta at 11:11 AM on April 7, 2013


Also related to the discussion above:

Admissions, beyond a single test: Harvard’s holistic model gets a tryout at Trinity College Dublin
posted by vacapinta at 11:48 AM on April 7, 2013


Wow - things have really changed in the past ten years. Also, apparently I fail at reading. Thanks, all. That is pretty cool, anyway.
posted by koeselitz at 12:12 PM on April 7, 2013


When I was looking for colleges in 1981, I had outrageously high SATs and no extracurriculars (that got recorded -- i was Latin Club sec'y, but that never got written down anywhere, somehow). Solely on the basis of my SATs, I got recruited for several pretty nice sub-IV schools, and got recruited for a special program* at the school I did end up going to**.

None of that would happen for a person like I was, today.

Thing is, I didn't pan out too well -- dropped out without completing, spent too much time having Meaningful Experiences [read: getting drunk and throwing dance parties] and not enough studying, never really figured out what the hell I was doing there -- but there was probably nothing in my record to predict that. Well, maybe one thing, though I haven't heard thsi mentioned: the gap between my SAT performance and my GPA was probably a lot higher than average (overall I was no better than a high-B student), particularly in the math component. Which I can tell you categorically is the result of laziness combined with a freakish aptitude for multiple-choice tests.*** I know this because I was there & it happened to me.

So, I don't know -- things have changed, I guess? for the better, for the worse? well, i don't think i really warranted special attention and didn't really think so at the time (I knew I was lazy).

What I'm left wondering about after all this though is why we worry so much about whether people can meet the criteria for participating in thsi system, when what would probably best-serve all of us is for a critical mass of people to recognize that this current system is an industry for harvesting money: from students and their families; from institutions (government, industry) who want to pay bargain prices for research or which accrue some benefit, usually admistrative/bureaucratic, from furthering the interests of said industry; from foundations and other institutions.

The point of the education industry isn't to educate and hasn't been for a long time. The purpose of the education industry is to harvest money.


--
*"he said 'special'"
**... and dropping out of 3 years later, with less than 2 years worth of credit. i tell my stepchildren, 'kids, this is what a lifetime of bad choices looks like...'
***which aptitude, sadly, I no longer possess

posted by lodurr at 8:34 AM on April 8, 2013


jamjam: I applied to a single in-state school almost a month after the deadline, because I had misunderstood the date at which the application had to be complete as the last day to submit, but got in anyway, very possibly as a result of bureaucratic error.

If you were in NY, CA or any one of several other states with well-developed state systems (e.g. I think Nebraska works this way, too), and the school was geographically close, they very likely had to accept you. E.g., here in NY, if I were an HS sr. with a decent GPA, at least one of the local SUNY colleges would essentially be required to accept me, regardless of whether I'd submitted SATs or had extracurriculars. (Some schools get exceptions based on proximity to other schools & their own standards. E.g., SUNY Geneseo rejects most applicants because SUNY Brockport is an hour away. Needless to say, this causes Brockport's administration to bristle a bit...)
posted by lodurr at 8:43 AM on April 8, 2013


The Admissions Arms Race - "Critics contend that some schools use fast apps specifically for this purpose—luring students in to apply to institutions they hadn’t heard of and ultimately rejecting a portion of them."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:26 PM on April 24, 2013


Is this satire?

No, I'm honestly baffled. I'm Canadian, so I know our university is considerably cheaper. I graduated from McGill, which is allegedly one of the top ranked universities in Canada (18th in the world, go Martlets!). Either I have really bad imposter syndrome in regards to my achievements or I remain confused on the need to be more fancy.

I will say McGill was planet of the Upper Middle Class, and best enjoyed by people with large allowances from their parents, and it feels like I had no fucking clue what I was doing there, but I was not a particularly shiny 4.0 valedictorian king of the sports teams and clubs person and it went okay.
posted by Phalene at 2:21 PM on April 24, 2013


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