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 a need-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 remember on my college tour in 1985, Bryn Mawr boasted about the fact that their admissions operated in the need-blind fashion–they prided themselves on offering admission to people regardless of financial need. The tour guides we had, the admissions interviewer, and the financial aid officer all bragged about this, and pointed out that the admissions office and the financial aid people worked in two entirely different buildings to illustrate the point that they were geographically as well as operationally separate departments. (They were considerably less proud of their adoption of need-aware admissions in recent years–go figure!)
Needless to say, it really chaps my a$$ that wealthy, privileged folks always forget the most obvious source of their privilege: it’s the money, honey!