Via Historiann, who says this really chaps her ass. I have to agree:
Check out this pickup from Flavia last week featuring some public boo-hoo-hooing by one of suburban Philadelphia’s tragically overlooked and underprivileged, those who didn’t get into their top choice college:
To the Editor:
David Leonhardt forgot about me. I grew up in suburban Pennsylvania and attended private school before Bryn Mawr College, the University of Pennsylvania and now the University of Oxford. And yes, my parents paid for it all.
I realize that not needing to work at 7-Eleven afforded me more time to study, read and learn. But I used it. Acceptance letters don’t come because my parents foot the bill; kids like me get in because we are responsible, passionate and talented.
In theory, hard-working, low-income kids deserve help; in practice, their 1,250 SAT scores’ counting for more than my 1,300 doesn’t reflect meritocracy.
College admissions are a zero-sum game. Universities putting their “thumb on the scale” for a South Bronx applicant’s 1,250 lessens the weight of my achievements. His 1,250′s win is my loss.
J***** A**** K****
Philadelphia, May 27, 2011
. . . . .
[T]his aggrieved sense of exclusion from someone who is wealthy and entitled is breathtaking. (And, seriously: a person with all her time, money, and alleged talent should do better than 1300 on the SAT – or at any rate score more than 50 points higher than a disadvantaged kid from the Bronx.)
Shorter Ms. K.: people like her deserve all rather than most of the cookies.
(As a graduate of 2/3 of the same institutions that Ms. K. attended, I just have to say: boy, is my face red!)
Ms. K. doesn’t write about the kind of advantage she enjoyed in admissions relative to other worthy students with her identical scores at least for undergraduate admission: several years ago, Bryn Mawr switched from a proud need-blind admission policy to aneed-aware policy, which means that once the admissions committee decides to offer admission to their first- and second-round draft choices, they start offering admission strategically. In other words, if the college thinks your folks can foot the bill, you get an advantage towards admission that other students with middle-class or poor parents don’t get.
I wonder if that letter-writer will ever get to the stage in her own education where she realizes what she wrote should make her cringe. And yes, she sounds just like the kids described by a friend who’s a professor at Bryn Mawr — entitled and unaware.
I much prefer this letter:
I attended an elite high school (hint: the President’s kids go there), but was only able to attend because of scholarships. I transferred in from a public high school where I received free lunch because of my family’s income.
I’m white, by the way.
Come time for the college admission process, I really became aware of how unfair the whole thing is, especially at more elite colleges.
Most of my classmates had private SAT tutors and had had coaching for years, or at the very least had attended expensive and rigorous SAT prep classes. My family couldn’t afford any of these things; instead, I saved money and bought an SAT book and scraped by with a 1410 on a scale of 1600. I say “scraped by” because I was definitely on the bottom of my well-trained class with that one. Anywhere else a 1410 was a good score, and I definitely worked hard (and on my own!) to get it.
When the college offers came in, my 18-year old self was shocked at what I saw (although in retrospect, I suppose it makes perfect sense). The students with very elite parents, regardless of their school performance, god admitted to top colleges quickly and often even with incentive grants. One minority student, whose house boasted both an indoor pool AND a tennis court, received a minority scholarship. One student, whose very famous politician father I won’t mention, was still in freshman Algebra as a senior and received early, early admission to Harvard (before even early admission was announced).
I got wait-listed or rejected from every school that wasn’t “need blind” or “need sensitive”. I felt completely dejected; after all, I had overcome a lot to get a decent SAT score and attend a good school, but being white and poor didn’t garner a lot of sympathy or fill any quotas. Why take yet another white person, and one who can’t afford to pay to boot?
When I graduated from college, I found that little had changed. Students with fancy internships (read: parents who could afford to foot the bill) got a leg up on me, who had spent my summers working at the Olive Garden the the rest of the year working at Subway.
It is my greatest hope and wish that colleges will begin to take situation into account. Minority status isn’t good enough; assuming that African Americans are poor and disadvantaged is just as wrong as assuming that no whites are. I personally think that working at 7 11 should be regarded MORE highly than some fancy internship where you got coffee for a Senator, because it means that everything you did, you did on your own.
I hope that more schools can follow Amherst’s model. This country is fast becoming an oligarchy, and maybe if schools can change, the rest of the country will follow.