Elite colleges are looking for genius tigerkids, the ethnically and sexually diverse — and liars, writes Suzy Lee Weiss, a high school senior in Pittsburgh, in To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me in the Wall Street Journal.
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.
Weiss worked at a pizza place and ran last on the track team.
Worse, she is white — not even 1/32 Cherokee — as well as middle class and heterosexual, the antidiversity trifecta. And she didn’t redeem herself by starting a “fake charity.”
Providing veterinary services for homeless people’s pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you’re using someone else’s misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you’re golden.
Teens without traumas of their own are supposed to write their admissions essays about their trip to Africa — “spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life” — but Weiss went to summer camp instead.
With a 4.5 GPA, 2120 SAT scores and a stint as a U.S. Senate page, Weiss was rejected by Princeton, Yale, Penn and Vanderbilt. Critics complain she’s whiny, but I read her as sarcastic and quite funny.
Admissions directors should stop demanding that applicants tell absurd lies, writes Megan McArdle.
These days, a nearly-perfect GPA is the barest requisite for an elite institution. You’re also supposed to be a top notch athlete and/or musician, the master of multiple extracurriculars. Summers should preferably be spent doing charitable work, hopefully in a foreign country, or failing that, at least attending some sort of advanced academic or athletic program.
Naturally, this selects for kids who are extremely affluent, with extremely motivated parents who will steer them through the process of “founding a charity” and other artificial activities. Kids who have to spend their summer doing some boring menial labor in order to buy clothes have a hard time amassing that kind of enrichment experience.
In her day, applicants faked epiphanies about themselves. Now they have to fake epiphanies about the suffering of others, preferably foreigners. “This proves that they are really caring human beings who want to do more for the world than just make money so that they, too will, in their time, be able to get their children into Harvard.”