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The Milton Measure

Resentment and Scapegoating in College Admissions

by Jon Esty on Friday, April 26th, 2013

Suzy Weiss Excerpt: “To All the
Colleges that Rejected Me.”- From the Wall Street Journal

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.” 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.

What could I have done differently over the past years? 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. “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. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, I salute you and your 1/32 Cherokee heritage

I also probably should have started 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.

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!

To those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe: You make us mere mortals look bad. (Also, I am desperately jealous and willing to pay a lot to learn your secrets.)

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.

Rebuttal to Weiss: Resentment and Scapegoating in College Admissions

The Measure has taken the somewhat unusual step of reprinting an abridged version of an article originally published in another high-quality newspaper, The Wall Street Journal. Suzy Weiss, a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh, immediately provoked a firestorm of critics and supporters across the media spectrum by attacking what she perceives as an unfair and deceptive college admission process. Ms. Weiss, in her arguments, gives voice to bitter sentiments toward affirmative action and other “diversity-promoting” criteria that you can hear muttered around the Student Center and in dorms.

Sadly, the only person who has been lying to Suzy Weiss is Suzy Weiss. If Ms. Weiss honestly believes that what highly selective colleges prize most in applicants is “being themselves,” she should consider whether or not she is ready to graduate from the realm of finger painting and into the grown-up world of higher education. If Ms. Weiss believes her “true self” to be someone without the test scores, skills, and grades that colleges value, then she should have no problem with recognizing the fact that her true self is not one that belongs at those schools. Authenticity is a virtue. Apathy is not.

She simultaneously blames her failures on the uncontrollable factors of race and wealth and on the entirely controllable factor of her own comparative lack of achievement. Ms. Weiss, unfortunately, cannot have her cake and eat it too. She argues that being born into privilege and being thoroughly mediocre is reason enough to be accepted. Having neither overcome adversity nor achieved anything of note, Ms. Weiss cannot substantially justify her claims to eligibility.

At the core, Ms. Weiss seems to believe that she deserves to enter an elite college simply because she wants to. This kind of entitled attitude defending mediocrity would be bad enough if it only bemoaned her own “bad luck.” Ms. Weiss, however, feels the need to lash out at those who are “responsible” for her failure. Her belittling of sexual and racial minorities, as well as those who dedicate their time to charity, is no less despicable for its self-aware tone. “Bitter” and “disgusting”? Yes. Witty satire, as she claims her piece is? Given her follow-up interviews, hardly.

Suzy Weiss also takes time to attack those who find internships through nepotism. Funny, considering that she happened to contact her sister, a former assistant Op-Ed editor at The Wall Street Journal, a day before her editorial’s publication. I hope Ms. Weiss is proud of getting access to the soapbox entirely on her own merits.

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Posted by Jon Esty on Apr 26 2013. Filed under More Opinion, Opinion, Recent Opinion. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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