A “good” candidate would be someone who took four years of science, English, math, and a language; they’d have at least a few AP and honors courses with mostly A’s, maybe a B or two; they’d play a sport or be on the debate team or have an after-school job or, ideally, do a bunch of these things; they’d have interviewed with one of us or with any alumni; and their essay wouldn’t be breathtakingly dull and/or pointless (which is, in fact, an extremely high bar for college admissions essays; I read so many poorly written accounts of overcoming sports injuries and life-changing service trips to foreign countries that I was bored to tears). I knew that college admissions was a messy business.
Ideally, this perfect candidate would also be from an underrepresented demographic: the first student in their family to go to college, and/or a student of color, and/or a student from outside the Northeast and California. I knew that, even though we claimed to value diversity and offered millions of dollars in financial aid every year, that there were far more white guys wearing salmon shorts on my campus than there are in the general American population.
(You have to consider, in general admissions rounds, that students will get accepted to a bunch of similar institutions, but they’ll only enroll in one.) Plus, I said: She was a full-pay student.
This touched off a heated debate about affirmative action.
The real scourge of higher education isn’t affirmative action, but wealthy families who will pay any price to prioritize their own children and keep their family’s elite status alive.
Famous College Entry Essay Essay Compare Between Two Friends
So whenever another college admissions scandal blows through the news — as it has this week, with the exposure of a massive college admissions scam involving celebrities and CEOs cheating and bribing their way into admissions acceptances for their children — I think about my brief stint as a college admissions counselor and am filled with rage and sadness anew.Because, as Adam Serwer of the Atlantic tweeted, it’s apparently of vital importance “that rich people buy their way into the Ivy League the old fashioned way.”It isn’t news that the wealthy hold undue influence over the college admissions process.Pro Publica editor Daniel Golden wrote a book about it all the way back in 2006’s The Price of Admission (which included details about Jared Kushner’s curious acceptance into Harvard).I would live cheaply in staff housing, get swiped into the dining hall by friends who were still students, and start chipping away at my student loans by the time the grace period ended. My college was a small, private northeastern liberal arts school.It was a good school — not the best or most competitive, but a very respectable institution.I applied there early decision, suspecting that my status as a good-but-not-great student and white girl who needed financial aid might hinder my prospects during regular admission.(Like some other mid- to upper-tier schools, mine was “need-sensitive,” meaning that admissions might factor a student’s ability to pay during down-to-the-wire acceptance decisions.) Three years later, when I graduated, I was happy to encourage other students to follow in my footsteps.He came up with a fictional white, full-pay kid in a neighboring town and asked if I would reject him in favor of a student of color who otherwise had the same profile.We kept going in circles, even after I tried to tell him that admissions doesn’t work that way.When I was given the opportunity to stay on full time as an associate, the decision practically made itself.I’d graduated a year early to save money on tuition, so I didn’t mind hanging around campus for a little while longer.