To (All) the White Girls Who Didn’t Get Into The College Of Their Dreams


To (All) the White Girls Who Didn’t Get Into the College of Their Dreams,

I’m not gonna lie. When I applied to Brown University back in 2005, I was positive that I was getting in. I didn’t care what my college counselor was telling me. “Reach” my ass.

I was a legacy. An African-American legacy. An African-American legacy applying from a New England boarding school where I was also a legacy. My academic record wasn’t perfect, but I arrogantly told myself that “not perfect” at boarding school basically equated to public-school excellence. I had fantastic SAT scores, and I had great extracurriculars. In addition to varsity sports and stage crew, I was a Black competitive figure skater!

As far as I was concerned at the naive age of 17, I was a freakin’ unicorn.

As far as Brown was concerned, I wasn’t even worth the wait list.

I ended up choosing between Pitzer and Oberlin and, like many other Brown University rejects, I chose Oberlin. And that was that. Brown didn’t want me, but I’d done all that I could, and I just had to accept that.

On the flip side, I remember hearing about a girl from my first high school who also graduated in my year (’06). She didn’t get into the Ivy League school of her choice but, instead of going to one of the other schools that accepted her, she walked around high school collecting signatures on a petition to prove to the college that their admissions department had made a mistake and that she deserved to be there. To be fair, it worked; the college let her in after receiving her petition. But I remember rolling my eyes and saying something about that being some “white people’s foolishness,” to my friends, because who does that?

Over the past few months the answer has become clear: White girls do that.

And it’s moved beyond petitions. Y’all are in the Supreme Court now. I’m looking at you, Abigail Fischer, claiming that Affirmative Action and the need to meet federal quotas took your rightful spot at the University of Texas. Never mind the fact that you had an average GPA of 3.59, below average SAT scores of 1180, and weren’t in the top 10 percentile of your class. There’s nothing wrong with any of those numbers I just mentioned– plenty of people with those scores and grades are going to go onto college and very successful futures. They just may not be going to the University of Texas.

And then there’s Suzy Lee Weiss who claims a 4.5 GPA, a 2120 SAT score, and spot as a US Senate Page. She got into college, but not into any of the Ivy League schools that had been her first choices. Her Wall Street Journal editorial, “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me,” claims that colleges lied to her because just being herself wasn’t enough.

“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 … 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.”

Apparently brown babies are receiving their Ivy League acceptances stapled to birth certificates in the delivery rooms nowadays. You sign up for a lifetime of other systemic issues (Racism? Discrimination? No big), but hey, at least you’re going to Harvard. Maybe, but it helps if you’re lucky enough to land in a decent public school where your race is non-factor when it comes to the quality of your education, and even in a diverse, wealthy suburb with good public schools that’s not a guarantee. I’m guessing Suzy didn’t think about that. Headdress jokes aside, Suzy probably also doesn’t realize that, in the fall of 2011, only 0.4% of undergrad students attending Title IV schools (which include the Ivy League) were Native American. Suzy’s apparently limited understanding of the college admissions process leads me to believe that a full explanation of the circumstances and historic treatment of America’s indigenous people that’ve lead to this staggeringly low number would go over her head.

Suzy’s desire for a “Tiger mom” so that she could be one of, “those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe” is equally laughable once you wrap your head around her belief of the stereotype. First of all, I don’t think someone who whines as much as Suzy could’ve handled growing up under my parents, much less the full Amy Chua parenting doctrine. A child of color often has to live under a completely different set of rules than their white counterparts. We work twice as hard to go half as far and still have to deal with a persistent academic achievement gap. The helicopter-parent approach isn’t used to produce 60 Minutes-worthy results; it’s just what’s necessary to survive public school (and life) in America as a child of color.

Suzy Lee Weiss on the Today show. (NBC / Getty)

In an ill-advised appearance on The Today Show, Suzy argues that the necessity of diversity means that colleges are judging applicants using factors (read: race) that the applicants have no control over. “Anyone can relate to this,” she says.

Actually, Suzy, no, they can’t. I mean, we could start with fact that most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to cry over our failings publicly in a nationally published papers where our sisters just so happened to work once upon a time. Plus, in singling out diversity as your issue, you’re eliminating half the college applying population from your debate. By your logic, if a white girl with your background doesn’t get into an Ivy League college, it’s because there weren’t enough spots for white students that year. But, if a non-white girl with an identical profile is rejected, who do they blame? No one. They don’t have the excuse; they simply weren’t good enough. We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by engaging in a smear campaign against the fictional Cherokee girl that took our Ivy League slot.

We’re not privileged enough to get to use a convenient excuse to shift the blame, and using it only makes all of you look like you’re grasping at straws. Let’s consider The Today Show’s example: Princeton received 26,000 applications last year and accepted just 7% of those. That’s around 1820 students. This is a good time for everyone to sit back for a minute and remember that college admissions are, in essence, a competition, and rejection is part of that process. I’m not saying it’s always a fair competition (that’s another post entirely)–even for you white girls–but that doesn’t make this any less true. The majority of applicants to Ivy League schools have GPAs of 4.0 or higher,  a veritable scroll of extracurriculars, and stellar SAT scores. Admissions officers expect that. It’s what a student can put on top of that that makes them stand out from the pile.

Take a moment to look at it from an admissions officer’s point of view. Do they always want that kid with the 4.5 GPA? Should they? How many applicants leave them with a poor impression during their interviews, despite that 4.0+ GPA, high IQ scores, and three-pages worth of charity work? It’s all well and good to be smartest person in your class, but why would anyone want to admit a student who comes off as entitled, smarmy, ignorant, and racist? Suzy, you might want to ask yourself how you presented yourself in your interviews and applications, because if I were admissions officer reading your WSJ “satire” and I’d rejected you? I wouldn’t be regretting my decision.

There’s an arrogance in high school students that manifests during the college-application process, but it’s an arrogance that correlates with already existing racial and class privilege. Coming from my school environment, with my background, I expected to get into an Ivy League college –a “name-brand school.” I kind of understand where Suzy’s coming from (though I’m guessing that when you add a dash of white privilege on top of that, the unfamiliar feeling of rejection and not getting your way is multiplied to extremes that I can’t possibly fathom). She’s young–you’re all young–and disappointment is hard at that age. It’s hard to understand that despite working hard for four years, you may not get into your first choice of school. It’s easy to look for someone to blame, and it’s easier still to want to place that blame on groups of people who can so easily be scapegoats for your problems…and historically always have.

To paraphrase Mad Men: “Not every little girl gets to do what they want. The world could not support that many ballerinas…or Ivy League graduates.” My advice to Suzy, Abigail, and every other white girl who didn’t get into their first choice of college this year is to keep your rejection out of the public eye and do what every other kid does when they go off to school in the Fall: give it the ol’ college try. Seriously, make the most of the environment around you, and if you really don’t like it? Again, keep the Wall Street Journal out of it; have an amazing first year, and apply for transfer. And do it while understanding that the group of Black, Native, and Asian, and Latina first-year students hanging out on a Harvard quad had nothing to do with you not getting in in the first place.

That was your own comparative mediocrity.

–Kendra James (My Third Choice College, ’10)

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  • Geoclac

    Several years ago I was in the check out line at a local grocery store, being waited on by a cashier who was bubbling with excitement because she had just been accepted to college (the first in her white, working class family to attend). I asked her which school she was going to. She replied “Greenfield Community College!” with a huge grin on her face.

    This was a girl who was not from a background of privilege. She did not expect to just waltz into a top school. She had to struggle to get into the local community college and felt very happy when she had done so. Some of the young women whining about not making it into Harvard or Univ. of Texas might want to take a leaf from her book.

  • Emmy

    Hooray for late comments. However my favorite paraphrased quote came from an admissions officer at I think U of C “I could kill off the entire incoming freshman class, replace them with the wait list, and no one would know the difference.” I think that speaks a lot to the sheer randomness of the admissions process. It sucks for everyone, because the truth is if you’re in that “upper caliber” by whatever random standards than you COULD’VE gotten in. It’s just not a SHOULD’VE. Because that’s entitled, and no one deserves to give you anything. I think that’s why many minority students deal with rejections from these schools better, because in generally we have more of an awareness by this age that we have to work hard for things to happen for you in society, and sometimes it still won’t work due to “unseen forces”. If you’re white, while that advice certainly still holds true, its not hammered institutionally like it is for brown people.

  • Jollyrancher

    I am a college admission counselor at a small, private school, and I thought this was a good article on college rejection–certainly much better than the satire we’ve all been complaining about.

    You have to keep in mind that admission professionals are building a class. Hopefully that class will include students with diverse educational and cultural backgrounds, diverse interests, diverse personality types and diverse learning styles. And the number one thing that counselors at small private schools look for is FIT. You can be the most high-achieving applicant in the world, but if the application readers don’t see evidence of good fit with their institution, you won’t be invited to join the community.

    You can also be high-achieving, play two sports, be active in three clubs, have a part-time job, and help mom raise younger sibs, and still fail to sell yourself to us. We don’t have ESP and if you don’t tell us about your ten-hour-a-week job at Sonic or that you’ve sewed all the costumes for the school plays since 10th grade, we won’t know about it! If you list a bunch of clubs, but don’t tell us what your role was and how you contributed, all we can tell is that you had some surface-level interest in those areas. Who cares that you’re in NHS? Everyone is in NHS. It’s what you DO as a member of NHS that might actually make a difference. You can’t just give us the X, Y, and Z; you have to give us the WHAT, HOW, and WHY. Students who can articulate themselves this way when applying are much more likely to be attractive to application reviewers.

    I will end my rant with this final thought: Students shouldn’t take rejections as insults or indications that they didn’t achieve highly enough. They should follow Kendra James’ advice and be excited for the opportunities they have at the schools to which they were admitted. They should make their college decisions based on what schools seem to be the best fit for them and look forward to making the most of their time at [second choice/third choice/fourth choice/fifth choice] with excitement and positivity–not bitterness and regret!

    Congratulations to everyone (students, admission staff, high school counselors, and helicopter parents) for finally making it to this exciting time of year!

  • Jo

    it has been my experience that people can be really prejudiced against students with learning disabilities. in an ideal world they aren’t, but i will bet you $100 that the colleges read your essay and their first thought was “she had extended time on her sat, thats why she did so well.” it sucks, but its the truth. im trying to change the system, but its like hitting a brick wall with a pillow. good luck to you. feel free to email if you want to commiserate.

  • Sarah S

    Thank you for your insights on this topic! As a white middle class woman from rural Iowa, I’m never sure how to challenge the attitude that, “they must have gotten to where they are because of their race/ethnicity/gender, not because of their qualifications or intelligence.” They never say it in those words, and whenever I try to counter that belief, it never comes out right. I usually just end up deepening their dislike of affirmative action because they think that it means that others are saying that “just because someone is they deserve it more than you, even though they don’t have the same qualifications.” Again, never said in so many words, but that is exactly they mean.
    I love what the article said about the unfamiliar feeling of rejection and blame. Its that uniquely white middle to upper class attitude that if I do what I’m suppose to do then I deserve to get what I want, and that if I don’t, then there must be some other person (who is not like me) to blame.

  • Angela

    This is a great article which resonates with what you are saying.

  • Angela

    You are right. Those things should happen but they don’t. Please look at the history of labor unions. White racism against blacks was used to bust up unions. But black people were not the ones acting from that place. Even if they hated white people, things were so bad back in the day- add lynching on top of poverty, among other crimes- so called race riots- pogroms against black neighborhoods actually, that black people would have taken any ally.

    Please, you need to have this conversation with the poor whites that you are talking about. White privilege is a relatively new concept, but the way poor whites align themelves with wealthy, racist white Republicans predates that concept. So, no, the concept of white privilege is not the alienating key that makes poor whites refuse to align themselves with poor blacks. Racism does. It is the fantasy of White Supremacy spoon fed by the white elite and eaten up by the white underclass that keeps us from having a proper form of socialism. More homegenous societies, have in my better view a better chance at a mix of capiltalism and socialism, because the frightful fantasy that dark and swarthy others are getting a shot they somehow don’t deserve can’t apply.

    Poor, struggling whites need to get over their own racism before any of these alliances can take place. Martin Luther King was actually writing and speaking about anti-poverty campaigns for the whole nation when he was shot. Remember Chris Rock’s routine- a one legged janitor would stick with being white rather than trade places with Rock, a rich black man. Why? Ask white people.

  • Angela

    This will happen. No doubt about it.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    By who? Once again, being Jewish is being religious, not being an ethnicity–big difference bwt the two.

    • zdrav

      Judaism is BOTH an ethnicity (generally speaking) and a religion, especially since it’s not an evangelizing one that seeks converts. You don’t see lot of Black, Latino, or Asian Jews, do you? There are, however, lots of Christians and Muslims of all races.

  • Michelle Kirkwood


    You conveniently left out the legacy points that white kids whose parents/grandparents went to a particular Ivy league school went to can use to get into the school of their choice,whether they’re qualified or not. That’s basically affirmative action for white kids,whether you call it that or not. And how do you know that your fictional example Jamal is guranteed to get in a college over Jim just because he’s black? Maybe Jamal had to work harder than Jim to get into that college. Funny how there’s always this assumption that black students don’t ever work as hard as white students to get in college, which is total BS. Where’s your absolute proof that black students get in over white students? Until then,if you haven’t got any proof (and those who NEVER seem to have any actual proof of this—-it’s usually just assumptions and anecdotes) I don’t need to hear any more whining about how AA is supposedly hurting white students, which is clearly some ore BS. Hell, I’m sure white students with lower scores get in too (and those who have the legacy point definitely get a leg up) but funny how NO one ever brings THAT up, as if white students are the only students deserving to get into Ivy League colleges. And no, this article wasn’t a waste of tie, because it was a response to Weiis’ article in the first place. Just because it’s not an issue for YOU as a white person dosen’t mean that it’s not an issue for US as black people and students of color in general. Plus this article wasn’t even about these other subjects you mentioned—write your own article about that,and quit being so dismissive of something that dosen’t affect you.

    • fedward

      I agree with you completely that the legacy part is an unfair advantage, and I suppose that I should have mentioned that in some way as part of a balancing test, but as I said I think the socio-economic type test would just as easily combat that problem. I will respond to this later more in depth as to where I was coming from, and I see now that it was somewhat unclear (Sorry! I have a huge exam tomorrow). There are a lot of issues with college admission that make it unfair to many groups of people. Many schools basically have a de facto Asian quota system that makes it harder for them to get into schools that they are definitely qualified to be students at. I think that the anecdotal stories are exactly the problem. That is the view that white Americans have with regards to Affirmative Action unfortunately. They see a black student and think well…they got in because they are black, and sadly this is especially true when the student “acts black.” This is counter-productive and not what affirmative action set out to accomplish. The biggest problem is the segregation in our public schools throughout the country, and this is the main cause for most of the problems with the unfair playing field or students having to work harder to get ahead. You obviously think that race should be a factor, and I understand that. My question to you would be where does it end? Graduate School? Should people be awarded jobs because they had to struggle more as a child and were in a bad school over someone who had a different upbringing? I guess lastly I would ask you… obviously didn’t like the Jim and Jamal hypothetical. Black student who has a doctor father and white student who has a doctor father. They grew up together and went to the same schools. Should race be a factor in their admission into the same school, assuming the have the same numbers? I think that’s where you might lose me.

      • Michelle Kirkwood

        Then white people need to stop making these stupid assumptions and actually ASK the student how they got in (which is really none of their business,anyway) or just leave them alone and concentrate on their own damn business, and stop worrying about who the hell got in what college,and where and how they did it. Why the hell don’t they ask OTHER white students how they got into college, and stop believing this self-serving myth that only white people deserve to get into certain colleges?

        AA has a been a used as a factor to make sure that an even number of students of color get into these schools in the first place—if AA didn’t exist, then how the hell would anybody know whether these students were actually getting into the school, or not getting into the school because there’s a bias against students of color that keeps them from getting there? It’s simply keeping track of it and making sure that happens. It the school needs to make sure they have an even number of well-rounded black students, why shouldn’t the black doctor’s son get picked? That’s how AA works, And once again,since colleges are competitive as hell nowadays, there’s still no guarantee that he would get picked by the school He might have to settle for a school not of his choosing either. Stop looking at AA as something that is causing white people to lose out on getting into college,because it’s not. There are white students who probably got in before you or anybody else because they were simply smarter and worked harder (just like the black student had to,of course.)

  • Cat Graham

    This was an exceptional article and from what I can tell, it sincerely was Brown’s loss. What we need to teach high school kids is that an ivy league degree (or the like) does not guarantee success or prevent failure. When you are left with colleges that were not your top choice, you have to choose whats best for you and be prepared to make the most of it. So many students from my daughters class started college with immediate applications to transfer out. Ultimate learning from the experiences you are given, the people you meet, becoming resourceful to get the most out of your college experience is what counts. My daughter did not get into her top pick, and despite an Ivy athletic offer, she chose the school none of her classmates were attending, not the popular choice, and at the end of Freshman year, feels strongly it was where she was truly meant to be in every way-location, community, spirituality which is new found for her, and that she is meant to be an engineer due to a strong supportive advisor. Had she not been rejected by her top choice, she never would have discovered she was meant to study engineering. And at the top choice school, she was a triple legacy with excellent grades SAT scores athletics and service. It didn’t matter, in the end she wasn’t meant to be at BC. She was meant to be at Loyola MD, and if these rejected kids give the schools they are attending a chance, they may well see the opportunity and value their college or university has to offer them.

    For the record, as an HR Director, I tend to hire the kids not from the top ten on the US News and World report. The degree is what you make of it, not a commodity as someone said in the comments. Having an Ivy league degree does not mean you have arrived, you like every other college grad have just started. I like hungry and willingness to make the most of every experience, ultimately those are the kids who are successful in their early careers, not the ones who carry rejection into apathetic approaches to their young lives. Rejection can be the very best catalyst to discover what they really want and who their really are, not their parents, their high school or community think they should be.
    Curious tho, what did you think of your Oberlin experience? Would love to hear about that!
    Thank you for writing this article and giving us a chance to face the brutal facts of college admissions!

  • Michelle Kirkwood


    Why do you have this assumption that people who get in under affirmative action aren’t qualified to get in the first place? Where’s your proof? Show some statistics—you saying it dosen’t make it so. How come white kids who get in through legacies aren’t considered less than qualified,even tough they only got in because their grandpa or daddy went to the particular school they went to, which automatically gives them a big advantage over most minority applicants? Do you really believe that all the white kids who get in colleges are all qualified and none of the minorities are? That’s pretty damn racist in itself,considering legacies are, and have always been basically affirmative action for white people.

    Nobody is even trying to pretend AA dosen’t exist—but that’s not even what this whole subject is even about. Affirmative action was created to make sure colleges had an equal amount of minorities to attend college in the first place—nothing wrong about that. But that’s not what this conversation is about in the first place.

  • Thomas Winslow Harris

    When they say “be yourself,” they’re saying that for their benefit, not yours.

  • Thomas Winslow Harris

    I do think that after you reach a certain level of competitiveness in this kind of market, it has to be random, because there’s no fair way to make a decision. There are just so many people at the top end of the spectrum that there’s no fair way to distinguish between them. Job applications are similar, actually, in many fields. You have to bust your butt to get in, but once you’re in there’s so much competition that it’s basically a roll of the dice. So you just keep rolling and rolling until the 1/10000 or so chance comes up.

  • Gael Nguyen

    For these super competitive schools they should base admissions on a lottery. Not for everyone that applies but figure out the students that are excellent candidates whether they get accepted or rejected and then start picking randomly. First it would be more fair in the sense that you do have a chance at getting in. Second is that it’s a reflection on how the world actually works. How many people are where they are in life because they had the right parents? How many people got there job because they just happened to know someone? Many opportunities in life don’t come because you deserve them, but because you were at the right place at the right time.

  • Le_Chat

    Great article. But I just need to point out that .4% Native Americans in the Ivy League student population isn’t really “staggeringly low” because that’s around the same percentage (or just *slightly* lower) of the American population that they represent (according to Wikipedia.) 12.4% of the American population is black, and I would expect a healthy student body to be one that represents the general make-up of the American population. People sometimes forget this when citing percentages. We need to keep it relative to the general population. Ivy Leagues are now capping Asian students for that reason (ask them how they feel, Suzy Weiss). Actually, the percentage of black students (at an average of 7% across the top schools) compared to their make-up of the general population is more “staggeringly low” than that of Native Americans, in my opinion. Anyway, just wanted to point out that we need to keep these figures relative.

  • alex gomory

    Fantastic read (Also a class of ’06 member). I was nowhere near Ivy league territory, heck I wasn’t even near top state school territory. I went to plucky ol’ Illinois State while my peers and friends went to schools of higher “quality” or something to that nature. At the time I was pretty bummed as to where I was going and was already preparing for my transfer, but as time went I on I began to realize it really did not matter. Being a super star in high school is not exactly an amazing accomplishment considering how much of a joke our schooling system is in America. Sure it takes some effort, but does it require a unique and special person? No, not really. Suzy probably completely dropped the ball somewhere else, in her interviews, her personal statements, or heck maybe her letters of recommendations. Prattling off a list of accomplishments just is not that important anymore, its about how you think and process the information given. My understanding is that the Ivy league schools are looking for individuals with creative thinking along with all the over the top accomplishments too.

    Like I said though, does it really matter? Hardly, as you venture further into your academic life where you completed your undergrad becomes less and less prevalent. Yea I went to Illinois State, and then I went to get my Masters and am working on my PhD. I was a slouch in high school, I barely graduated, but I learned from my mistakes and learned from my experiences to become a strong academic presence at my current place of study. My cohort members went to some incredible state and ivy league schools and guess what, we are all now on the same playing field and respected the same. My cohort member who went to Harvard is just as respected as me from Illinois State. There is more to learning than just the classroom and it is apparent that Suzy hasn’t figured that out.

    I think the article does too good of a job discussing the microaggressions and subtle racism in Suzy’s statements for me to expand on the point further. Essentially she complains that “I didn’t get in because I am white, but if a minority does not get in it is because they were not qualified.” What a delusional individual who is clearly not mature enough to recognize her own privilege. Her hissy fitting and demanding of attention may win over the hearts of some poor misguided whites who share the same delusions as she does, but the college acceptances boards are probably getting a good laugh out of her antics.

    In a year she will likely forget all about this, either because she will hopefully be enjoying herself wherever she is or the excessive binge drinking will have damaged those neurons beyond repair. Either way Suzy, best of luck to your in strange little bubble.

  • Andreas Nettmayer

    And socialism: including universal health care, universal k-PhD education, 5 weeks of paid vacation, workers rights. Paid maternity leave. Guaranteed retirement plans that make sure everyone can age with dignity. Financial help for parents. Extra help for single parents. All of this will go a lot further in helping erase the legacy of racism than affirmative action. Imagine a world where anyone can afford any college because education is viewed as a right and a smart investment in the future rather than as a free for all for each to chase on his own. Attack poverty and you may not destroy all vestiges of racism, but you destroy the worst one: cycles of multi generational poverty. You put all 310 million Americans in a position to succeed regardless of the circumstances of their birth.

    I’m not saying racism shouldn’t be addressed. I’m saying those who are poor should unite for the one thing this country has never had: equality of opportunity for all, regardless of where and how you were born.

    • Angela

      You are right. Those things should happen but they don’t. Please look at the history of labor unions. White racism against blacks was used to bust up unions. But black people were not the ones acting from that place. Even if they hated white people, things were so bad back in the day- add lynching on top of poverty, among other crimes- so called race riots- pogroms against black neighborhoods actually, that black people would have taken any ally.

      Please, you need to have this conversation with the poor whites that you are talking about. White privilege is a relatively new concept, but the way poor whites align themelves with wealthy, racist white Republicans predates that concept. So, no, the concept of white privilege is not the alienating key that makes poor whites refuse to align themselves with poor blacks. Racism does. It is the fantasy of White Supremacy spoon fed by the white elite and eaten up by the white underclass that keeps us from having a proper form of socialism. More homegenous societies, have in my better view a better chance at a mix of capiltalism and socialism, because the frightful fantasy that dark and swarthy others are getting a shot they somehow don’t deserve can’t apply.

      Poor, struggling whites need to get over their own racism before any of these alliances can take place. Martin Luther King was actually writing and speaisking about anti-poverty campaigns for the whole nation when he was shot. Remember Chris Rocks’ routine. A one legged white janitor would stick out being white than trade place with Rock, a rich black man. Why? Ask the one legged white janitor.

      • Andreas Nettmayer

        “Please, you need to have this conversation with the poor whites that you
        are talking about. White privilege is a relatively new concept, but the
        way poor whites align themelves with wealthy, racist white Republicans
        predates that concept.”

        This may come as a surprise, but I find far more racism in diverse communities with progressive politics than the rural, nearly all-white communities I wrote about. I’m sure this isn’t an absolute rule, but in areas where racial divisions never existed there is no reason to expect racism, a learned social trait, would persist. I have these conversations with poor whites all the time. It’s like hitting a brick wall trying to argue that poor rural whites natural political ally are urban racial minorities even though economically speaking, its true. Even though both would benefit dramatically from social wealth redistribution policies. The haves are essentially (mostly) whites in the suburbs. I put most of the blame on the Democratic party.

        “White privilege is a relatively new concept, but the way poor whites
        align themelves with wealthy, racist white Republicans predates that

        Exactly. Because Democrats allow irrelevant social divisions to matter. The Democrats have completely failed at overcoming cultural differences between urban and rural regions with shared economic interests. You don’t see, for example, progressive Democrats making their case at Western Fests, Stock Car races, or Country Music celebrations. The left in this country has conceded that turf to social conservatives, who use the space to argue a very false dichotomy between morally interested conservatives and morally deprived liberals. Progressive Democrats need to make the case, citing the bible if they must, that poverty is a moral issue and wealth redistribution policies the answer.

        Instead of making the case Martin Luther King II was making (using a Christian context and language) today’s progressive Democrats get side tracked with very academic concepts like white privilege. MLKII was shot in part because his message was working. Rather than find the successor to same inclusive line of thinking that uses American traditions and, when applicable, a Christian context to make a case that lifts all races, Progressive Democrats have retreated from the people they need to convince at the places those people live to instead write academic papers in elite coastal universities where no one disagrees with them. The very nature of those papers and the terms they employ (white privilege, Critical Race Theory), as well as the academic nature of them, have a polarizing effect that only appeals to a handful of academics who enjoy studying sociology in a very academic manner.

        • Angela

          I agree, I don’t think so called liberals are any less racist than anyone else. However, the Democratic Party’s tendency to advocate for “ irrelevant social movements started with that party’s embrace of the Civil Rights Movement. And How is the Democratic Party “allowing irrelevant social divisions to matter?” Are movements for gay marriage or freedom of choice, irrelevant? The fact is, a lot of rural whites are Christian based and are once again encouraged by their leaders to interpret Christianity in its most Old Testament sense, number one, and number two- the Democratic party wants to be a place, in a Democracy where atheists can be accepted. After all America was founded in part to ensure religious freedom from dissidents and exiles from European constructs of faith. That means freedom for all people. This does not seem irrelevant to me.
          I do not know how to align the Urban poor (blacks, other people of color) with the rural poor. I am not sure how papers on Critical Race theory have a polarizing effect on poor blacks and whites who are not ensconced enough in academia to ever read them. I know nobody I know from the ‘hood in Baltimore, my city of origin, is never necessarily going to read stuff like that. But, it is important for academia to engage in those discussions. Why?
          I do think the elites need to change before the rest of us can change. The elites run the media- when I was in Hollywood trying to create and be on tv shows, the boys who made the shows were good ole Harvard boys who might have watched music videos but never have had a conversation much less a friendship with a black woman. I sincerely believe television and movies and all media would have a huge impact on creating an alliances among the non privileged classes of all races. It can change minds and open doors.
          This is my motto and my creed, when TV changes, people’s atttudes will change. And TV cannot change until the elites change, because the Elites, to reiterate my point, who create all the stuff you see on television, all went to Harvard and Yale, Where they might actually have to confront their privilege. You see, the hegemonic forces (countless works of literature, and film and tv) reinforced the sense of entitlement, and unconscious racism among the elite as surely as it reinforces it among poor whites. I read a study on Racialicous that said that white male self esteem goes up about fifty percent when watching TV and minorities self esteem goes down about ten percent. I think of Hollywood as one long running commercial for white male confidence.
          If pop culture changed, I believe people’s attitudes would change. My husband (white) and I were talking about the bizarre divisions on the radio. I hear white rock groups from back in the day who sound like R&B to me get segregated onto “Classic Rock” stations and some R&B singers who sound more rock like get segregated onto R&B stations. Why is music segregated in this way? Ask people like Walt Disney who made all those goofy teen Disney movies to keep good white kids away from ni**er music. (I read that this sentiment of his was actually stated and written down for posterity) And if you watch Disney now, as I do with my kid, you will see young white kids who sound “black” but hardly any kids who look black, even if they claim some black heritage. I feel really that this is deliberate.
          Michael Jackson had to fight to get his top selling songs into music videos on MTV. What has been done to us as a nation has been systematic and intentional. White academics at Harvard and Yale need, need to have ideas about dismantling race be presented to them in ways that make them feel both smart and progressive.
          As much as progressive hip hop just does not have much of a forum in pop culture (and many argue that this is intentional) many young white kids and kids from other backgrounds can recite lyrics from some rap or another. Art and culture can be a unifying force. So, for your part, if you are in Rural areas, maybe it might help to get people involved with the arts? Or teach a class on the history of rockn roll which has many roots in black culture. The Democratc Party is not going to foray where it is not welcome. I do not think people’s minds will be changed without stories. After all, Jesus spoke in parables. And also, Christian Ministers have to emphasize the egalitarian nature of Christianity- Jesus sat with sinners, called out sexual hypocrisy on behalf of Mary Magdalene and generally embraced the people who everybody hated- Samaritans for example and truly penitent Roman soldiers.

  • userbuser

    Yes yes, life is tough for everyone, from the upper middle class man who honestly can’t decide which college acceptance he should to the inner city girl who never gets call backs for job interviews because she has a “Black sounding” name. I think a round of kumbaya and a blind eye towards systemic injustice is in order.

  • Andreas Nettmayer

    Yes. Class is the issue. Poverty is the issue. The solution for minorities and whites is the same: socialism. Active programs that help those born without access to wealth. Universal health care. Universal education, k-PhD. Paid maternity leave. 5 weeks of paid vacation. In other words, policy that actually tries to help those born without access to wealth. The affirmative action debate is useful, but a very minor issue compared to what needs to happen: dramatic wealth redistribution towards the poor.

  • Andreas Nettmayer

    I don’t think it’s good to compare oppression either. But I think you missed the thrust of my point: poverty is the issue. We’re blind to poverty in this country. Socialism, wealth distribution, and aid are needed for the poor, regardless of their color. Our fascination with race based affirmative action, even though I support it, still has blow back for rural (white) America, who, as fellow poor people, should be working with, not against, the minority community. The solution, time and time again, is socialism. It’s federal spending on education. It’s making sure all schools are good, not just the elite ones. It’s health care for everyone. It’s 5 weeks of paid vacation (which can actually increase productivity). It’s guaranteed retirement accounts, not do it yourself 401(k)s. It’s paid maturity leave, guaranteed. It’s equal pay for women guaranteed. It’s aid for parents. All of those are better policies than fighting over whether elite universities can consider race as a plus factor when considering the college applications of a few really brilliant people of color. All of them would do more good. All of them would do more to make up for the lingering legacy of slavery and the poverty that continues.

  • Michelle Kirkwood


    The reality is, is that dosen’t matter how privileged a black person is in this society, he/she is STILL subject to getting profiled by the police simply because you’re black in certain areas; more likely to be passed over in the job market and having your resume thrown in the trash because your name sounds too “black” for a white hiring manager; getting passed up for a cab in certain cities; going to schools in inner cities that don’t get half the funding white suburban schools get,meaning you have to make do without a lot of educational resources;being assumed to be a “thug” simply because you’re black and wearing a hoodie near a gated community. All of that pretty much cancels out any so-called “privilege” a black person has half the time. White people rarely have to deal with ANY of that on the mass scale black people always have had to—it’s always been a fact of life for us.So what if being “black” is associated with athleticism—it dosen’t mean most young black people are gonna be good athletes or that they even want to be.

    You also need to educate yourself on the diversity of black people and find out that we are all not not one big mass glob that acts and thinks alike–just as most non-black folks seem to think half the time. White privilege exists—stop trying to flip the script and act as if this so-called “black privilege” black people supposedly have is even remotely comparable, because it’s not, and you know it.

  • Michelle Kirkwood


    It’s been a truism in the black community that black kids have always been told that we have to work twice as harder than white folks to get anywhere int his world—we can’t be just mediocre or just plain average (and yes I was actually told that myself as a child by my own godmother in a Sunday School class—she told all the kids in the class that.) So yes,it IS a fact, and has ALWAYS been a fact of a life for black folks in this country because of racism. Just because YOU never heard of that dosen’t mean that it’s not true,and of course being a white female, you obviously were never EVER told anything like that in your whole life, which shows your white privilege right there.

  • MoseyM

    Well, I’m about as unimpressed with these two complainy white college applicants as I would be with any kid who is ignorantly repeating what their parents have told them, even thought they’re old enough to know better. I just hope they grow up and get some perspective, and I hope they’re not really as nasty as they sound.

    But as for the adults involved… WOW. I mean, a fail this big was a team effort! First there were likely the parents and other adults who instilled these “values.” And then there was every major news outlet who gave these young women platforms– professional media organizations that KNOW BETTER. Let’s hear it for the news orgs that wake up in the morning and think, “you know what our audience wants? A little racism! Hey let’s get those clueless kids to up our bigot ratings.”

  • Dwight Smith

    ever heard of the appeal process?

  • GetYourLife

    Really? You still need to PASS the interview! You still need to present yourself as the best candidate. I am tired of minorities feeling less than. If you are qualified, YOU ARE QUALIFIED! Stop acting like victims! Furthermore, people will ALWAYS think you got in because of Affirmative Action so GET OVER IT! As a minority student who went to UCLA and UCSF (to study medicine and after proposition 209 passed by the way), I was constantly reminded by idiot classmates that I was accepted only because I was a minority. Let me tell you, during those situations, I never felt less than. I would calmly tell the person to “kiss my a$$” and remind them there is no such thing as Affirmative Action and it has nothing to do with the FACT my scores/grades are better than your grades are in our class. Let me give you a little advice, anybody who tells you that your race is the SINGULAR factor in your opportunity, kindly record their name and write it on the bottom of your shoes and go walk over some dog feces.

  • Michelle Kirkwood

    Judaism is a religion, being Caucasion (White) is being a white person. So being Jewish does not make you non-white.

  • Michelle Kirkwood


    You don’t get it—how many non-white girls do you actually see and hear of complaining in a column in a major newspaper about not getting in the college of their choice, despite the fact that they really hadn’t done much in the way of extracurricular activities to show that they were a well-rounded student by the definition of the university that they wanted to get into? Very few. Name me some that have.

    You totally missed the point—she’s not the only one who couldn’t get into a school of her choice, and instead of complaining about it, she needs to figure out what she did and didn’t do that caused her to get turned down. So she needs to accept some of the blame for that. Obviously you didn’t read some of the comments here from other college grads and students—colleges get thousands of applicants with top grades like hers all the time—they obviously didn’t see anything about her that made her stand out from the crowd. And,yes, she’s still young enough to learn that she does need to get over it and realize that you don’t get everything you want in life,period. It’s usually white students that are quick to blame AA for not getting into a college before any other possibility of why they didn’t get in in the first place.

    BTW,she already got a few offers from other colleges, so her rant actually got her some results,apparently. And Ms. Weiss herself was quick to cry “racism” in her column,claiming that if she was a minority, she would have gotten in quicker—funny how she never mentioned the fact that some white kids got in ahead of her—no, it’s always the minority’s fault.

  • K.d. Beebe

    I tuned at halfway through because it sounds like you’re arguing that race is not really an issue in the academic admissions process… but it is. “People of color” is also a rude statement in general because you use it in a way that makes it sounds like white people have no culture, no heritage (other than whatever it is you’re accusing us of) and basically no reason to complain. How can you say this when you’ve clearly never been a poor, poverty-line “white” person trying not only to get into but afford college. Not impressed with this article…

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      “People of color” was a label created for non-white people by non-white people to describe ourselves in a respectful non-racist manner—-basically, a label that wasn’t slapped on us/shoved down our throats by racist white people for change that had nothing to do with who we are as people. It has nothing to do with making white people feel bad at all,so get over yourself about that. That’s just your insecurities about your own culture talking. Look up the history of the phrase,please.

  • Christina

    I am an African immigrant. My overal GPA was a 3.7, my SAT was 2080. However, I got into MIT. I remember overhearing some people make a comment about race being the reason why I ever got into MIT. They only knew my HS GPA and SAT scores but had no idea what was in my essay, they didn’t know that I was fluent in 4 languages, and were unaware of my research experience. At the age of 13, I was a sophomore in high school and started doing research in nanotechnology at a state university after school. I believe MIT accepted me because not many 11 year olds love engineering and physics enough to read about quantum physics during their free time. And I think the admissions office liked my passion, my dedications. Scientific research = failing many many times, until you succeed. That’s what I did and that’s what got me into MIT

  • Kelly Shelton

    Especially in light of the hugely racist statements she made.

    • FreeX

      Hugely racist statements are popular in some quarters.

  • ss


  • angelica

    Yes. But, stuff about the spectacular arrogance required to believe that the massive privileges that lie behind much academic achievement aren’t totally arbitrary aside, there’s one utterly crucial well-attested fact missing from the above:

    Who has benefited from affirmative action programs the most – indeed, overwhelmingly so? White girls.

  • kazee

    I agree that it is random. I think that’s the only way to leave college admissions and still be sane. I got into Brown, but I spent months prior convincing myself that I wasn’t going to get in anywhere. In the end, it worked out for me (my resume was similar, though I’m 100% Eastern European Jew), and every day I feel so lucky to be here.

    Anyway, the reason why I’m responding is because in many ways it’s complete luck. How do you decide between thousands of brilliant, hard-working 18 year olds? I don’t think you can without intuition and a little bit of randomness.

    I hope you’re excelling at your current school.

    Brown ’14

  • nicthommi

    B/c this is not as rare are you think…and as more and more people become part of the college admissions process (e.g. parents, admissions consultants), the bar is raised. You are competing against kids whose parents invest $50K into perfectly marketing their children.
    Someone has to get rejected, and believe it or not, there are enough high achieving, high scoring kids that some will get in everywhere, and some will get in nowhere (as far as the Ivies plus Stanford and MIT are concerned).
    It’s easy to think your kid is some special snowflake but as someone who has interviewed for my Ivy League university for many years, the parents with money have raised the bar to previously unheard of levels, and I’ve met kids who made the kid you describe look like a special ed student who still did not get into my former university.

  • Robert Sanchez

    Because it’s a safety school. (’06)

  • USA_2011

    Well said!

  • USA_2011

    I agree!

  • Kevin

    Acting as if the rules that are the same for everyone else shouldn’t apply to you (for whatever reason) is fueled by some sense of entitlement. To pretend that entitlement wasn’t a part of her decision to petition the school she “deserved” to get into is a bit myopic.
    Further, to go outside the bounds of the established rules to get your way…well, I’m not sure how you can defend such actions in a discussion that is largely about fairness.

  • Daniel Kane

    Well, no. Kendra is addressing a specific problem, which was made evident by Suzy, who is one in a long line of privileged white people to unfairly attack minorities. Statistically, Kendra’s points on the achievement gap have merit, whereas Suzy’s blatantly racist comments do not.

  • Joeyman


  • Felise

    Wow! Thank you for this article. As a current college
    student at a public state University, I was both intrigued and insulted all at once.
    On some level I understand and agree with Suzy and Abigail’s response to
    rejection. However instead of interrogating why other students are accepted (basically
    whining publically), why not interrogate the social stigma attached to attending
    a “lower ranking” university? I agree with the author that it was presumptuous and
    borderline ridiculous for Suzy to assume that “anyone can relate” to her point.
    Even if other students did agree would they have access to being published? No.
    The way in which she went about her complaint is an example of privilege and
    access. I agree with many of the comments on this article. It seems as though
    Suzy has yet to learn how the Affirmative Action Executive Order has benefited
    white women. I also agree that the consideration
    of Legacy (which didn’t work in Abigail’s favor) is an “unfair” practice. White
    students benefit from parents or grandparent attending a University when my
    black grandparents may not have been allowed to apply to the University. There are
    so many holes in Suzy’s argument and I am just baffled that Abigail’s case made
    it to the Supreme Court.

  • BornInTheUSA

    It’s still not the end of the world

  • BornInTheUSA

    She can, but how often is it in the media or in the courts?

  • BornInTheUSA

    Great Post!!

  • Pingback: The Sunday Salon: Racebending the Right Way | The Literary Omnivore()

  • Shikiri

    As a half Black half Chinese American raised in Berkeley California, this is a subject near and dear to my heart. It is the reason that it’s difficult for me to have white girlfriends. White privilege, especially for white feminists, but for white men too, is something very difficult for white folks to accept and acknowledged that they receive. In America, it’s something that they receive from birth especially in systematic institutions, like education. To me, white privilege is sort of like beauty, it opens doors. That’s it, opens doors. It does not keep you in, it does however, give you the opportunity to get in the game. With that, similarly, and to make things fair, affirmative action for blacks opens doors to get in, that’s it, not stay, be successful, or graduate. When my older sister went to Cornell, many classmates expressed that she only got in only because of affirmative action. That happened to Sonia Sotomayor too. See her 60 Minutes interview at 8:30 here ( and here at 5:50, ( For myself with affirmative action, I embrace whatever my reality is. Affirmative action helped me get into USC, my intellect allowed me to graduate. I was accepted to UC Berkeley for grad school post prop 209, meaning I got in without affirmative action and again, it was my intellect and hard work that afforded me my diploma. I believe affirmative action is still necessary. When the reality for children of color, of ALL economic levels, (see is so different from whites in America, doors still need to be opened. Folks need to remember that only hard work and intellect will allow you to stay and graduate. The UC system is a clear example of what happens when affirmative action is thrown out. UC Berkeley’s pre prop 209 student body was reflective of California, Blacks representing about 10-14 percent, now we represent only about 2-3 percent. The irony is that taking affirmative action out of the equation didn’t help people like Abigail Fischer, it helped folks like my cousins, the Asians! Now the UC’s are looked at as the Spelman/Morehouse (see world for Chinese folks!

  • Makabit

    Used to be that being a white boy with decent grades and a daddy who went to one of these places would get you in. The daddy is still useful, but the level of competition has spiked in an ungodly way. I work with college bound students, both as a college counselor at an inner-city highly academic charter school and as an essay consultant for a college planning company that charges a fortune to very affluent families. So I get to see some of this play out in real time.

    Several people have touched on this, but it is striking how the kind of resentment expressed in the articles linked to this post is directed at students of color, or sometimes to a lesser extent, poor or LGBT students. There is no resentment expressed normally of the rich.

    The ‘right’ ethnicity or adversity can sometimes give you a boost. One of my students who is Native American was aggressively courted by a couple of schools that probably wouldn’t have looked at him if he’d been black or white. A great essay about how you fled Iraq as a child, disguised as a boy, is going to stand out more than one about getting through your parents’ divorce. It’s a factor. But none of it guarantees you anything, contrary to the fantasy. One of my students was African, the child of an immigrant family, low-income, and smart as hell, great academics, plus great, heart-wrenching fleeing-a-war-zone-and-then-living-in-Europe-alone story. You know what? Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Dartmouth all rejected her. So did Stanford and Penn. (She did get into some awesome schools, because she’s awesome.) If the fantasy of ‘be exotic and suffering and show up, and you’ll get anything you want’ was true, this girl would have been a major contender.

    The crazy shit rich people do to give their kids an edge in this process doesn’t guarantee you anything either, but it does work sometimes, which is why they do it. I have worked with kids whose parents do things like send the child to India to volunteer for a charity his grandmother is on the board of. Because just working at the local soup kitchen does not look so impressive on the application. I worked with one kid who was able to do an amazing piece of research, made possible by the fact that his mother owns the multi-million-dollar agricultural concern that let him use their labs and their land for his project. Political and business connections can get you internships that look great, and are much harder to achieve when you have to compete for them.

    Rich people can give their kids stuff like this, and pay thousands upon thousands of dollars to hire a team of consultants to give their kid’s application the edge.

    And yet, while I often hear, “If I were a desperately poor lesbian from a Sioux reservation, I would have gotten into Yale,” I haven’t ever heard “If my parents were really stinking rich, I would have gotten into Yale”. The latter is probably more effective than the former, for a number of reasons.

  • Temperance

    Quotas aren’t allowed because they are categorizing based on race, generally speaking. Admissions policies are able to consider race as part of a holistic measure, but that’s about it.

  • wrcheatham

    There’s nothing obscure about Aristotle.

  • Hegetarian

    Well, he’s been through it before, right? He’ll be ok.

  • wrcheatham

    “Obscure” and “uncommon” are not the same. Every high school in the country has a tuba player, because high school concert bands require tubas. They might have just one lonely tuba player. But virtually all of them have at least the one. Bagpipe players are much harder to come by. Bagpipes — now that’s an obscure instrument. All major universities and undergraduate colleges have classics programs. Classics and philosophy are similar and have similarly low enrollment numbers. Humanities aren’t as popular as business — the major of choice for 40% of U.S. undergrads, God help us. But classics isn’t obscure. Now, not many places have, say, a naval architecture program. That’s an example of an obscure discipline (for an undergrad). Save your credentials list for someone who cares. Sorry, but this is one time your self-aggrandizement and arrogance won’t help you. Prestige doesn’t win arguments.

  • Safiya Outlines

    That is a quote-worthy comment and very true for me too. I’m enjoying reading this discussion and have enjoyed your comments in particular, thanks. *goes back to lurking*

  • Mike Hower

    To be fair, I would hardly call a UC anything but top-tier. Maybe he had his eyes set on an Ivy League, but UCs are effectively the Ivy Leagues of the West Coast.

  • LittleHobbit13

    So, “it goes without saying that not ALL white people are like this”, right?

    I’m curious then. Why does the title say “To (All) White Girls…”?

  • bbdoodles

    Someone please consider the poor white girls! Get their mommies and daddies in here to defend them! They’re being picked on by mean old Kendra!! Better call the WAHHHHMbulance!

  • Mariele Ventrice

    Quite the bragathon going on here.

  • Elton
  • srb199

    I have always wondered how white students (who blame affirmative action for not getting into a college of their choice) believe there is a high probability that a student in the 5% (or less) of admitted black students at a given college could “take” a spot from a white student. But then again, this also answers the question of why they weren’t admitted.

  • Amanda Michelle Jones

    Reina: I went to Penn (UPenn is also TOTALLY acceptable). This was 14 years ago, but my ‘profile’ wasn’t all that great: full IB diploma w/ an ok score on the calc test (I failed the AP calc test altogether), & my GPA was 3.489. I did track a couple years, winter guard 3 years, & a’cappella for one year. I was also on Peer Court & a counselor for Camp Anytown.

    My interviewer told me that my application was good, but there were two things that made Penn take me seriously: (1) my application essays & (2) my interview.

    I used to be a college prep counselor, so I got to rub elbows with a ton of admissions folk. That little part in the info session when they say, “We look at how you will fit into & improve our campus culture,” is just about THE most important part of any application package. Folks think that “well-rounded” only means “outrageously high numbers of things that make me look good”. Not at all. Schools want to see that you can do a lot of things well, but that you also have a personality & that your personality is a good fit for the school. It’s kinda like the idea of “marriage material” – lots of people look great on paper, but if the potential mates don’t “click”, the relationship ain’t gonna work.

  • Elton

    >Won’t happen though because all of Washington came up through the elite or semi-elite schools.

    It makes you wonder what “elite” really means. “Elite,” or incestuous? If we really value diversity in this country, then why are the same handful of schools on the resumes of so many in power? The incorrect assumption that most people come to is that that small handful of schools must be “better than” the rest. Just because a bunch of privileged elite went to a particular school doesn’t mean that school offers a better education.

  • Mario Nguyen

    I didn’t have a tiger mom either. When I came home crying my freshman year about how hard college was and no one could relate because no one in my family had graduated high school. You know what my mom said? “It’s okay, you can quit, Mario.” I almost gave up on college listening to my mom. I did speech and debate, and had a job since I was 14. I would hitch rides just to make my extra-curricular activities possible. It was on my own. Part of the college process is recognizing that you are an adult, so take charge of your own life. With a single mother who had five kids and making less than 15k a year. I had nothing to help me. Did I go Ivy League in undergrad? No. Am I now with post-grad? Yes. Nothing makes her special than everyone else who got a rejection letter.

  • singingsarah

    Meanwhile, the rest of us who can’t afford Ivy League schools or private colleges altogether, and aren’t legacies anywhere, are wondering why wealthier white AND black people care so much about their school. I know the white-girl type you’re talking about though, and it’s pretty obnoxious. I am a white girl, but I grew up with no money (which meant no tutors, no extra help, no parents in the home with a college degree) and still excelled at my modest state school and went on to have an extremely fulfilling and lucrative career. So I’m wondering, with so few upper-middle/upper class people in this country, why this conversation about pretentious, highly ranked, $55,000 per year colleges is so prevalent in the media. Even though you’re criticizing this rich white-girl mentality and obsession with top colleges, the fact that you even wrote this article exemplifies the disproportionate focus on this topic.

    That being said, I love your final couple sentences. I dislike affirmative action not because I believe its policies are flawed, but because I’m SO SO sick of hearing white people talk about reverse discrimination.

  • Tom H

    Just because she’s as diverse as a ‘saltine cracker’ doesn’t mean that she cannot or should not be able to express her disagreement with the college admissions process. I do not directly agree with her points, and personally I would just look at other schools and move on and not make a big stink about; however, I also don’t think people need to jump all over her for this. Frankly, if it was the opposite in terms of race everyone would have her back because that is the easy thing to do. Just because she grew up privileged does mean she cannot have gripes, nor that she will not face adversity in some form(s) throughout her life. Let’s not crucify her for expressing her opinion and fighting for what she believes in, whether or not you, I, or whomever else decides they are new official moral authority of the day. And to that point you certainly have your right to make your opinion but I just don’t totally agree with the tact of sarcastic smugness.

  • disqus_8Z0gxDtr6d

    Thank you for writing this – it is so important that people understand white privilege and the ‘self entitlement’ – truly disturbing. Keep the convo going!

  • sunseeker

    …horrifying if less than 1 percent of Americans identify as being of native descent–that level of mass-genocide is mind-boggling…

  • meg

    This girl is going to be in for a rough time if she’s already this bitter. When I was 18 rejection used to motivate and make me try harder… I look forward to seeing how she deals with the daily rejection of being a college grad applying for graduate school and jobs after all the pr buzz of her whiny article has died down.

  • cory

    Why does this article only pertain to women?

  • Xtina

    Then, more to the point–wouldn’t Suzy and Abigail’s outrage be better aimed at the legacies and athletes that are taking up almost half of the admission slots, rather than the lone gay student who has demonstrated strength and courage of character, or the young volunteer concerned and aware of global issues, who demonstrate qualities that the university might actively want to add to their campus body? Attacking underrepresented groups, as if donning a “headdress” or coming out of a closet are fashion choices does a disservice to those who have to live those realities and washes out the possibilities that can be gained by true diversity.

  • Ifeanyi Awachie

    This is perfect.

  • Dom McLennon

    I would have rather seen this on WSJ. Great read

  • RettCall

    There’s an inherent privilege in Suzy Weiss’s entire protest. As a random black girl that nobody knows or cares about, if I complained about being rejected from my school of choice, the media would either ignore me or slap me down and accuse me of playing the race card. The automatic assumption is that if I didn’t get in, I probably didn’t deserve it. Hell, the assumption is that I still didn’t deserve it even if I DO get in. Yet some white girl whines on the Internet about how unqualified minorities are taking her spot (never mind the unqualified whites who no doubt got in instead of her, why the hell do people not talk about them) and we all legitimize her ridiculous accusations by scrambling to find tissues for her White Woman Tears.

    I don’t know how or when it happened, but somehow white people have managed to convince themselves that they are the ones getting the short end of the racial stick, despite all evidence to the contrary. I suppose that message flies for two reasons: 1. White people control the narrative and 2. White people really truly have no idea what real racial discrimination looks like, so they feel no shame in hijacking it for their own purposes.

  • Greling Jackson

    That is why the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that numerical points and formulas are unconstitutional in U-Michigan case. Old news there. What we’re looking at now is the Fisher case, where a point system isn’t used. Instead, minority applicants are flagged by a third-party and are later given additional consideration before being rejected. Still, in the interest of objectivity the actual person reading the application has no idea that the person being evaluated even is a minority. The effect is that a greater percentage of minority applicants are accepted than otherwise would be had they just been thrown in pile along with a sea of other applicants.

  • Edward Kwong

    Ah, more white people complaining about racial issues. I love hearing from privileged white folks that think they know something about race issues. Please try living a few days in my shoes (I’m Asian) where people randomly scream out profanities at you because they think you’re North Korean (I’m Chinese btw). Please tell me about the hardships and racial profiling you experience.

  • Daniel Swinney

    My girlfriend is Jewish. And she’s definitely white.

  • Sharon Joseph

    You are incredibly, massively and profoundly wrong. When the AA standards in California were dropped, black admissions remained the same. White admissions dropped and Asian admissions increased. I don’t know if actual facts will penetrate your racism, but I figured I would give you then benefit of the doubt.

  • Sharon Joseph

    Stop trying to play Oppression Olympics. It is a piss poor attempt to derail this conversation.

  • Maggie Kazel

    Thank you thank you thank you for writing and sharing this great work – this stuff can be hard to articulate, but you tap danced on all their little heads while tip tap typing away the awesome forces of truth. So often unspoken, so often difficult to find all the right words – THANK YOU AGAIN!!!

  • Terri Bora

    I thought branding is what they look for these days. Perhaps they didn’t get a real sense of who the student is. What about teacher recommendations, Essays and interviews. The above stats, believe it or not, are quite common.

  • Jana Currie

    I could have taken advantage of my native american heritage when I applied for scholarship aid but, as a young, naive girl, I was against affirmative action and had enough integrity to stand by it. I was against AA not because I was racist (although I was accused of it) but because I was uneducated about the more intricate aspects of racism in our country. I hadn’t realized that minority applicants often didn’t get the same level of education and support that was available to their privileged white counterparts. I’m white (mostly, for what it’s worth) but I was NOT privileged and my education was crap. As I understand it now, this is a CLASS issue less than a race issue and calling it on color is missing the point.

  • Eric Gibson

    Kendra, I completely understand your position and agree with you fully with regards to these girls, however do you not also see the hypocrisy of painting “white girls” with the same large, racist brush? “White Privilege” is a myth and one that must end. Sociology and a basic study of modern history will show, beyond a shadow of a doubt that Caucasians, especially in the United States do have advantages due to systemic racism that has been very difficult to eliminate. While some people resist eliminating it, most folks are all for it — either because of honest, progressive desires or white guilt. As a result, many of the policies that exist to try and eliminate systemic racism, while generally positive, actually DO have an unfair, negative impact on some Caucasians. Nearly all policy can be seen to usually be extreme — which try to “fix” problems not by subtle moderation and elimination, but by extreme over-reaction. For affirmative action, the problem is rather simple — not all white people are created equal. Not every white kid has been born to privilege. MOST haven’t. There are plenty of white folks that are deeply impoverished and face a kind of racism themselves. Not necessary the deep systemic racism that you faced, but tell a insecure white girl or boy, growing up hungry and very poor in the urban ‘hoods (yes, they exist there too), who happens to have several “angry black teachers” that are immediately confrontational to white kids, that they are not subject to severe racism. Do you have any idea of the effects on that same terribly poor white kid, who has nothing and wants for everything, that they don’t qualify for a helping hand because, “they were lucky enough to be born white,” or that “they don’t know how hard it is to be black?” The think the fuels the anger of nearly every red-neck Billy-Bob out there is that they, themselves have nothing, but are constantly being told that there is racism against black, against Indians, against Asians, against Arabs, against nearly everyone EXCEPT whites and that is bullshit. Whites are subject to racism (although admittedly less) just like everyone else. It even come out in the terminology. If someone does something racist against black person, its called racism. If that some black guy does something back, it’s call ‘reverse-racism.’ Uh… no. Reverse racism is inclusion or equality or whatever. Doing something for or against a white person solely because they are white IS RACISM.

    Listen, the problem is not that kids are black, or white, Native American, or whatever. The problem is that these kids are born POOR. There is a systemic racism that makes it much harder for non-whites to ‘get out,’ but there are other systemic problems that makes it nearly as difficult for ANY poor kid to ‘make it out.’

    I’m off on a tangent now, but back to my original point. Stop painting all white kids with the same brush of privilege. That is far from accurate. Hell, you cannot even paint all kids BORN to privilege with the same brush. I think is would probably be more accurate to say that teenagers in general (yes, even disadvantaged urban black youth) have a tendency towards an expectancy and privilege. Teenagers in general are a mixutre of “noble and inspiring” and “foul, loathsome parasites.” I suspect Ms. Weiss and Fischer are probably a little more of the latter, but that is not because they are white girls, or born to a more upscale family, but because they are individuals that happen to be nasty, disgusting, bratty-ass little twits (not the first word I thought of).

    • Michelle Kirkwood

      The truth is that race has EVERYTHING to do with it. White people in this country, no matter HOW poor they are, are always gonna have a leg up because they”re in the majority, and it’s ALWAYS been that way since this country started. So to say it’s only a class thing and leave out race is flat-out disingenuous at best. And reverse racism is a joke, considering that black people in this country have never had the power to enact racism against white people on a mass scale like white people have always done against practically everybody else on the planet,whenever the hell they felt like it. I’m sick of white folks throwing up class as if race has no bearing on it whatsoever,as if racism dosen’t exist simply because y’all don’t ever have to deal with it on a regular basis like people of color do. And the very few times in your life that you actually do, you scream and whine louder about it than anyone else, like Ms. Weiss, a little white privileged girl who hasn’t been anywhere and done anything important enough to whine about anyway EXCEPT not getting into her college of choice. Give me a break,please!

  • Tusconian

    Especially since the so-called good universities accept only a few thousand a year. Even if you trim away everyone not getting high grades, good scores, and leadership positions, there flat out aren’t enough spots for the qualified applicants.

    Plus, a lot of the propaganda people hand out about “big state schools” are honestly more true of the “ivies” IME, such as large class size and not actually seeing the real professors as an undergrad. I went to a huge state school, in a popular program, and that was really only true for freshman level classes. Most large classes also have breakout sessions, and you end up getting to know your professor or TA way better than you would in a typical small class. A fact conveniently left out when people were telling me that unless you went to a ridiculously expensive, selective school where 60% of the people there were in on nepotism, you’d end up stooooopiiiiiiid.

  • Kate Adams

    Very well written! I am a white woman, in my early 30’s, and I just want to say that I’m glad I didn’t get into the ‘school of my dreams’. When I got the rejection letter, I was disappointed, sure, but I never once thought it was due to someone else taking MY spot. I knew it was, for whatever reason, that I just didn’t measure up to the other applicants. So you know what? I sucked it up and moved on. And I found a school I was able to learn at that was much better suited for me. Not Ivy league, but I wasn’t shooting for that. I never wanted that. I, too, was told I could ‘do anything’ and ‘be anyone’ and was ‘really smart’ and blah blah blah, but I was also realistic and didn’t delude myself into thinking the world owed me anything. I went to college and joined the working force like everyone else. I recently left a job as a manager of a grocery store, and the majority of the employees that I had who are of college age or slightly older, are so entitled. I cannot say the entitlement is race specific, but generally was age specific (every now and then, I got a hard working, humble college aged employee, but they typically left the job for bigger and better things). Suzy definitely displays entitlement. Generally many of her peers do as well. What’s interesting is that of my employees like that, many still lived with their parents and/or had little to no motivation to do much else with their lives. The sad thing is that they are very intelligent individuals. So enjoy that entitlement, Suzy, it’s not going to get you far. I hope this experience has humbled you.

  • disqus_6LdfGI7ONO

    I just had to say something after reading this article. As a minority woman who had a 4.0+ GPA at a private high school that gave max 4.2 GPA, and 2370 SAT scores, I did not get into any of the IVYs I applied to. On top of my academics, I was a member of the varsity tennis team, principle cellist of the orchestra, co-founder/co-president of a interfaith club, member of a math and science competition club, and editor of the school newspaper. By the time I graduated from high school, I had accumulated over 800 hours of community service volunteering at my church, local hospitals, and nursing homes. I had spent a week in Mexico doing missionary work and spoke three languages with decent fluency. I came from a low income family where my household income level was below $20,000 and my dad was supporting my mom, my sister, and me with minimal assistance from the state (only health insurance).

    Despite all these factors, I did not get in. And when I did not, I was a bit disappointed because a part of me had hoped, but my overall response was, “oh well, I knew those schools were lottery schools and that even students with perfect SAT scores, crazy GPAs, and extracurriculars don’t get in.” I went to another college, a top liberal arts college, and will graduate next month. I’m happy with my choice, and I would make the same decision to come here if I were confronted with the choice again. In fact, I’m actually glad I didn’t get into any of those IVYs because I would have felt pressured from people around me to go. My school is on comparable levels with IVYs but is located in beautiful Southern California and is very laid back. I didn’t let my rejections from the IVYs pull me down and made the best of the situation. I didn’t blame my race for my rejections (I’m Asian), so to see people with equal or lessor qualifications than me complain about the unfairness of the process is upsetting. You don’t see me complaining, and Asians are supposed to score 100 points higher on the SAT to be considered equal with white applicants.

  • SQ

    If Ms. Weiss’s application essays were anywhere near as misguided as her article, I’m not surprised she didn’t get in.

    That said, I’m a white girl who is lucky enough to attend her dream school, and I worked my ass off to get here. That process didn’t include any petitioning of my classmates, legacy points, or SAT prep courses. For that matter, it didn’t involve any college counselors. And it’s sometimes hard not to resent the implication that my acceptance letter is worth less because I didn’t have to “work twice as hard to get half as far.”

  • Dawn

    Your statement about struggling at an Ivy with a 2120 is completely unfounded. The difference between a 700 and an 800 in all three sections could mean you got five questions wrong in each, which absolutely negligible in terms of how well the person knew how to take the test.

    Second of all the SAT is far from an accurate way of showing someone’s readiness for college work. The writing section can vary dramatically based on an overly-basic essay, the math section is designed to trick people and see how many questions they can answer in a ridiculously small amount of time rather than show true skill, and for the critical reading, proper analysis of a passage cannot be chosen between multiple choice options determined by someone else. Obviously what passes for learning differs between high schools but at a top ranked college, having only SAT-level skills will get you nowhere.

    • Tusconian

      Very true. I had good test scores (I think my SAT was around 2100, but I can’t remember. My ACT was very high) and mediocre grades in high school; I’d never have gone to an Ivy even if I was more concerned about studying. I had very high grades in college, which I found easier than high school (more due to setup than the material), and most of the people I knew with “valedictorian” stats actually struggled quite a bit in college.

  • Marnita Schroedl

    She wasn’t whining at all about not being accepted. She was pointing out very clearly that there is this myth any black person who applies to any college just gets in automatically. She needed to demonstrate that she was actually in the “perfectly qualified for acceptance” pool.

    She was pointing out that this is a frequent cry of whites who don’t get in to colleges to blame “those people.” My son is at Brown now. He’s black. he worked his ass off in his IB program. I would be so wealthy if I had a nickel for every time a white person said to me that my child was only going to get into college because he was black. When we went to ADOCH last year, we also attended the TWC day for kids of color. I thought it was going to be about the “extra resources” for kids of color but instead it rapidly became clear that if you got into Brown of any color you were a standout in many more ways than your grades. Because it turned out that many of those kids of color had been raised in exactly the type of school my child had been raised in–meaning a whole bunch of white kids who actually believed that kids of color in college would naturally be inferior and only got in because of their race. As they started talking they realized there wasn’t an ACT in the group below 33, with very impressive and unique accomplishment. Very much the same profile of the white students at Brown. I believe that was the point of the day. For kids of color to realize that this is a very poisonous idea that if you are student at an elite college and you are of color, you couldn’t possibly deserve it.

  • Marnita Schroedl

    I think we are much closer to that standard in college admissions already. Kendra didn’t get into Brown. She for all intents and purposes was treated as many other very talented privileged whites would have been treated of which there are over 32,000 applicants of which they accept only 7%-9% each year. Almost every single person who applies is qualified. I just went the process with my two children who are both first years in college (one at Brown and one at St. Olaf). I also had one gradate last year from Lewis and Clark. My son who is at Brown happens to be black and my other two sons white. The differences in treatment they received in K-12 was striking. Even thought it was my black child who was reading at a college freshman level in kindergarten (yes literally-he could read hard chapter books fluently) it was my two very bright and fully nutritioned and fully resourced white children who were automatically placed into gifted and talented. Over his time in school I had to write repeated letters to ensure that he wasn’t being placed below his level although his performance on every test and every assignment was at the top of his class. But I was amazed at how good the college admissions people were. Actually, overall, it was my experience still that it’s harder for blacks and latinos to get into school even with any type of “diversity” consideration. it’s because to get into those schools you have to take the hardest possible classes. My two white sons were encouraged to take them and my black child was actively dissuaded but took them all anyway, graduating with a full IB diploma. But in order to play at this level academically it takes a whole lot of practice. Frequently only the most self-directed and self-advocated and externally advocated young people of color make it.

  • John Brecht

    Can we stop telling our kids that the college you attend matters in life and move on?

  • Will Rohrer

    Spot on. I understand why we white people make this argument time and again (because it’s a lot easier, as you pointed out, to blame traditionally scapegoated minorities than to critically examine and face the truth), but damn if it doesn’t get old. White privilege is the worst.

  • Sarah M

    Meh, I’m a little critical of this writer’s argument. Unfortunately, there is a problem with white people claiming reverse racism, but she’s oversimplifying things by saying that white girls can’t accept rejection. She’s making an underlying assumption that all white girls consciously take advantage of their privilege. Of course, white privilege is an issue. But the writer is doing no one favors by making generalizations. Also, I think the (albeit not skillful) satire from the WSJ she’s talking about is being critical of the system in a way she wouldn’t disagree with if she really thought about it. Though I get that satire is hard to interpret if you give it a blunt read, and it’s easy to misconstrue. It’s also ironic that she’s quoting Mad Men, which is a show that critiques mysogeny; at least the quote sounds good when taken out of context. I also find it interesting that she critiques race dynamics but ignores nepotism. I could say a lot more, but I’ll leave it at that.

  • Heather McNamara

    Oh and I went ahead and counted some words in your little article here. The words girl and girls appear 12 times, the words man and men appear 13 times, the words boy, boys, woman, and women appear 0 times. Infantilizing jerk.

  • elizabeth

    people of color still have things MAJORLY stacked against them. white people like myself need to stop bitching about black people taking our place. i mean come ONNNN the percentage of colored people in ivy league schools is still miniscule. the percentage of black people at the top of wall street is MINISCULE. it’s really unseemly and EMBARRASSINg to see white people complain about this shit… you know what, white people? you’ve been given the privilege of being white. just deal with this college shit. it’s the not the end of the world if you don’t get into harvard and maybs you didn’t even Deserve to get in anyway. seriously.

  • crazygemini12

    Sigh. It’s like listening to “Accidental Racist” all over again.

  • james

    No one cares that you didn’t get into college. Boo hoo.

  • crazygemini12

    You win the Internet for the day.

  • Hannah

    “Oh, poor me, I expected my privilege to get me into a school I didn’t really have the numbers for and I didn’t get in! Now I’m going to use my privilege to whine about it on the national media!” is basically what I got from Abigail Fischer.
    As an extremely privileged double-legacy white girl, I often wonder if I deserve to be at the school I’m at as much as first-gen or minority students. They had to work their asses off to get here; they got told again and again that they were probably going to fail; they had the weight of hundreds of years of oppression and systemic racism against them and they still made it. It’s definitely not white folks who work twice as hard and get half as far. That idea is bullshit, and it needs to stop. Now.
    It’s not even new. I mean, come on. The entire story of Othello is about a white persecution complex (or a lot of them,) and everybody dies at the end. Clearly, we need a new model.

  • disqus_S6C6nRUsBO

    A friend shared this post on Facebook and a white girl replied, “Some of it yes…some of it noooo. Why demonize Suzy Lee? Some of the stuff that Kendra James “can’t possibly fathom”…well, maybe she should try.”


    “Oppressors always expect the oppressed to extend to them the understanding so lacking in themselves.” – Audre Lorde

  • Fed_Up18

    And I, personally, know a Jewish kid who was told by an administrator that he shouldn’t even bother signing up for the Ivy League school that *he* wanted, because they had already filled their Jew quota. That’s right: bigots are pitting Jews against each other, *making Jews cut out each other*, in order to get into a college.

  • adcomattop10

    The most ironic thing here is that Suzy has now irreparably damaged any chance she has of getting into an Ivy League graduate school.

    – Q

  • Kenzie Allen

    Oh no, this posted twice! My apologies to all!!

  • Erin Maynard

    While I mostly agree with this article, having seen more than my fair share of entitled white kids while working for a Long Island test prep company, and even partially being an entitled white kid myself, having gone to a prestigious private school, albeit NOT a boarding school, I do disagree with one aspect of the article. The girl who attended high school with the author, who collected the petitions after her rejection, doesn’t deserve the same ire as the other two girls. This girl DID something about her situation. She didn’t go on national television or sue anyone, she collected signatures, pretty much the iconic grass-roots movement action. She probably learned more about participating in citizen governance then than Suzy did during her time as a page. When I talked to high school students, I told them that schools look at several things: grades, test scores, participation and leadership. I told them they had to participate as a freshman and sophomore so that leadership opportunities were available to them as upperclassmen. I told them they had to look at high school as a four year attempt to get into college. And I told them it might not matter. Almost everyone gets into college, but a large percentage don’t get into the college they WANT. This is of course especially true when applying to Ivies and Ivy knockoffs.
    I told them they had to stand out. I’m firmly convinced that my acceptance to Bucknell had as much to with my GPA and SATs as it did with the squirrel that came in through an open window and ran around the armchair I was sitting in while being interviewed. As patently unfair as it might seem, I’m pretty sure it was that moment that made the impression on the counselor.
    And so this girl who collected the petitions, she did something unique. She fought for what she wanted. Maybe she was initially winnowed out for not seeming driven enough or not being convincing enough in her love of her potential school. Maybe her actions impressed the review committee in a way her initial application didn’t. Or maybe the school just caved. Regardless, at least she continued to work for what she wanted, in spite of a seemingly insurmountable obstacle.
    This generation, I don’t care what color, orientation, persuasion, ethnicity or religion you, is, as a group, extraordinarily selfish and entitled. Everyone thinks they deserve more because they are special. If everyone is special, no one is. And some day they’ll have to learn.

    Erin Maynard
    Yale 2000 reject

  • Jenn

    I don’t understand what everyone has against mediocrity these days. Isn’t that the norm?!??

    • crazygemini12

      This made me laugh. Then cry. Then cry some more.

  • Emily Hursh

    I have to say, this makes me feel kind of good about myself. When Barnard rejected me and Smith wait-listed me, I was upset. I cried. I felt lied to by my guidance counselor. It never occurred to me in a million years that a member of a minority ‘took my spot’, or to collect signatures and insist I get my way. Wow, these people are entitled!!

  • thh

    This was a GREAT piece! As a white girl from a public school who didn’t get into any colleges of her dreams and couldn’t afford the one place that accepted me, it infuriates me how these girls are trying to stake claim on what they think they deserve. I too felt sad and disappointed when I got my rejection letter (from Brown) but, it was the best thing that could have happened to me. It made me come to terms with what I thought I wanted and why, and it forced me to step outside of my plan. As it turned out, focusing on something the opposite of academics (fine art) made me a much stronger applicant as a transfer and I got in eventually, and once I got there, I got a better education. If anything, I had a chip on my shoulder about rich people during the application process, so I’m thrilled that being from a prep school, getting the highest scores, and having connections isn’t the only way to get into school for anybody. It makes me embarrassed to be a white girl listening to these jokers act like they are suffering an injustice, especially because they are somehow trying to act like a voice for all of us. Only idiots think the world owes them anything.

  • Elton

    Tell that to all the unemployed liberal arts graduates saddled with enormous student loan debt.

  • Dartmouth ’11

    I think the people that really should be pissed aren’t white people but Asians. They really have to score high to get into an Ivy, trust me I went to an Ivy League school (Dartmouth ’11). But of course, in reality an equal score across the races doesn’t actually equal the same level of proficiency or graduation rates between them and that’s what the SAT was originally created to measure. African Americans tend to not study as much or not be able to afford to study for the SATs as much as other races, which studies show account for their lower scores. Though personal stories have no scientific weight I’ll add that I didn’t study at all and I scored in the 88th percentile (95th for my race…I’m black), my math score was slightly higher than that, while my Reading score was slightly lower and my writing score much lower (It was the first year they introduced it, I had no idea what format they wanted those essays in). I’m black by the way. If my parents could afford to pay for study materials and I applied myself, I prolly would’ve scored 200-300 (my writing score was especially heinous, but admissions didn’t really care about them back then) points higher than I did and matched or exceeded the scores of my white and Asian equivalents. Studies have shown that affluent blacks actually have an advantage over their less affluent counter parts which accounts for the reasons as to why blacks in lower socioeconomic groups tend to be far less represented in colleges than their richer but equally weighted brethren (some writers call this the black divide or others the black under class [in reference to poor blacks that fail to benefit from societal aid as compared to wealthier ones that do]. Therefore, shouldn’t admissions decisions take into account socioeconomic status rather than race due to the advantages those who are wealthy have over those who are not (Legacy babies, better schools / teachers, strong networks [this really helps when looking for a job after college, especially when people’s families own their own businesses], inheritances, economic support, don’t have to work while in college, the list goes on)? Of course that might aid African Americans even more in the admissions process since as a percentage African Americans hold 1/20th the amount of wealth as their white counterparts (think about that). Furthermore, blacks only account for about 8% of the Ivy League (about half of them being foreign elites from African and European countries…I knew an African Princess while attending Dartmouth). Even if scores were the sole determining factor, most whites who were rejected and plenty of those who were accepted, would be replaced by Asians. It would actually decrease their representation as a race while increasing Asian representation in positive college admission decisions. Black admissions might decrease, but the affect would be relatively small (we’re already pretty sparse). Look at California for proof of that. At UCLA Asians account for 40% of undergrads, at UC Berkley it’s 42%, and at UCSD Asians account for a staggering 50% of undergrads. I’ll add, these schools select students solely based on scores. I’ll conclude this discussion by stating to whites and other races, be careful what you wish for, unless you’re Asian.

  • Joaquin Peenix

    You didn’t come here to talk about sexism, you came here to make this about you because the title of this article offended your white self. If you don’t have anything better to contribute than “baww quit making generalizations about white girls,” then shut up.

  • Della

    I’m a white female, I didn’t get into my top choice college, everything about this article is correct, please just stop.

  • Anon

    I know people who got 2300s+ and had 4.7s and up, and only got waitlisted. It’s partially true, what the white girls were saying, but you gotta suck it up and stop complaining. Like seriously, don’t you have better things to do?

    Who would want to go to an Ivy League school anyway? The only impressive part is getting in. After that, it’s a free ride. The reason why their students get so many A’s isn’t because they all earn it, it’s because they have a rule that their students can’t fail. That automatically shifts the bell curve to skew towards higher grades. I know, because I have friends that go there. There was a protest because the A-rate dropped a slight bit…but they have open internet exams..before I spoke to Harvard kids I had never even heard of “open internet exams.” Ridiculous.

    • Elton

      A 4.7 GPA (where 4.0 means straight As) is absurd. That’s not impressive, that’s grade inflation.

      College is one of the most over-hyped products on Earth. Everyone says Ivy League schools are “better” but can’t explain how their education is superior to the competition.

  • Skegeeaces

    And the church said, “Amen!”

  • Hank Moore

    not at most Ivy’s in fact most of them are completely need blind and will meet one hundred percent of a student’s demonstrated need. Harvard definitely does as well as Yale, Princeton, and a ton of other schools

    • Elton

      They’re more than happy to trap you into massive student loans.

      • Tusconian

        Ivies typically don’t. (NYU on the other hand, is more of a rich kid school than Harvard or Yale ever will be.) Not that they accept that many students who have that much need, and don’t have their palms out to any students’ family that exceeds that level of income, but when they accept, most of them have fairly high standards for “low income.”

  • aboynamedart

    Let’s see, there’s:

    * Shit White Guys Say … to Asian Girls
    * Shit White Guys Say To Brown Guys
    * Shit White Guys Really Say To Black Women (There’s a series)
    * Shit Redneck Guys Say

    Sooo, that’s a start, I suppose.

    • crazygemini12

      This is why I love you, Sir Garcia.

  • Jeremy Gaines

    I can understand some of the hysteria, because college admissions is incredibly stressful (especially if you went to a competitive high school, it can feel like you’re entire existence is being judged). But at the same time this stuff is ridiculous – getting signatures on a petition to be let into brown? seriously? shame on them for taking her.

    The bigger point is that anyone who can look at elite college admissions and think that it’s even mostly logical is deluding themselves. All these people seem to be sure that they deserved a spot, and it was robbed from them. Absolutely no one, unless maybe you made a major scientific discovery in high school, is even close to being guaranteed. At a certain point it’s a total crapshoot, because there are so many good candidates. Everybody who’s ever gone through college applications (at least in recent years) knows this, deep down. Which makes it even more ridiculous to attempt to find someone to blame.

    It’s also worth remembering what happens to harvard and yale rejects. They don’t starve on the street, or end up at community college – they go to uchicago and tufts and cornell. Which makes the hysteria even more ridiculous.

  • Erica Fuentes

    I love you, Kendra James.

  • Phoenix

    Ok so I’m not going to jump on the “hate Suzy” band-wagon. She did have a few points in her article like “being yourself” isn’t good enough. Yet, I agree with the author of this article…get over it. I went to a top 5 school (it’s technically not an Ivy, but idc) and I was lucky enough for it to be my first choice. Yet, I was one of 84 black people admitted for my class and for some reason some white students thought that none of us actually deserved to be there (regardless of being on Dean’s List or other honors).

    I don’t think white high school students ever realize their white privilege. It is especially obvious during the college application process. I will never forget what I experienced after I was accepted to my school of choice. I was a typical student athlete and received early acceptance to the college of my choice. There was another girl in my AP math class, who was white and a legacy, that was deferred and ultimately rejected from the same school. I will never forget how the white girl getting rejected and me getting accepted was such a scandal. Some people (white and minority) told me to my face that I only got in because I was black. At first I was upset, but eventually, I did what Suzy should have done, I got over it and moved on with my life.

    • theLaplaceDemon

      “I don’t think white high school students ever realize their white
      privilege. It is especially obvious during the college application
      I wish we started teaching kids about privilege in elementary school (fellow white people, this is on us). But I don’t think many kids get any real introduction to these concepts before college (if even then). Conversations about social justice issues are present (though still too rare) at many college campuses and within the activist communities that many people become a part of as adults; they are virtually non-existent for young teenagers.

    • Sammlyn

      I can tell you that I, without a doubt, had no idea that being white made me privileged. In the little community where I grew up (a suburb of Detroit) I never, ever considered myself privileged in any way. My family was just over the lower-middle class line and among my friends my family was comparatively less well-off.

      I also didn’t think racism was even a real issue anymore. It was something that was from my grandparents’ time, and now consisted mostly of silly stereotypes. My friends, relatives, teachers, neighbors, etc. were of all different races and religions and I couldn’t perceive any difference in their treatment versus mine. It took a few years in the “real world” for me to see and understand that I was just incredibly fortunate to grow up in a community like that.

      I’m sure there was racism in my community, too, but to a kid it seemed like we were all on equal footing. I’m not trying to defend Suzy, but I do agree that some kids just don’t have any idea that being white gives you an advantage.

  • Danielle Small

    Yes, for all reasons, please make this about you. What is she supposed to refer to the numerous white girls as? They’re the ones in the spotlight making these idiotic claims. She’s just using their descriptors. They are white females (who benefit the most from AA by the way). I see this time and time again. I scroll through the comments on posts like these and someone (most often white girls/guys) makes the effort to put the spotlight on themselves and how they are feeling victimized. Get over yourself.

  • Tusconian

    I think you’ve missed the point here. The point is not “white chix suck, lolz,” it’s that white people (the people who have complained nationally have been women, but men do it too) are, and have been for a long time, publicly playing a victim and blaming hardworking, deserving minorities every time they don’t get exactly what they want, when they want it, but despite the energy and time to get on TV and moan, they don’t have time to better themselves or blame the people who really are getting what they want unfairly.

  • Bridget-Kate Sixkiller McNulty

    Thank you. I really appreciate how you talk about what it means to work twice as hard to get half as far. I’m a native student in an Ivy League institution and peoples assumption is so hurtful. I’m here because my grades are just as good as everybody else. I am not a token for my school to put up in native population, I am here to educated. Suzy needs to check her ego.

  • tomtenbob

    This is tangential to your main argument, which I fully support.

    I take issue with what you said about the the girl who put together a petition after she got rejected by her first-choice school. You shouldn’t lump her in with a someone who just looks to blame others for not getting what she wants.

    (I’ll preface the rest of this post by saying I don’t know the whole story and I don’t know what she wrote in the petition, but I’m assuming it wasn’t “these 300 12th graders agree that you’re biased against rich white kids like me,” which would be reprehensible).

    Based on what I understand from your piece, the girl with the petition did something for which she should be lauded, not mocked. She got her rejection letter and gave it another go. She did something positive, saying: “Hey! Look at me! I’m not your average applicant, I’m driven and creative and here’s the proof — give me a second look!” It probably worked because the admissions board were impressed that she even had the idea to make a petition and the initiative act on that idea. In a field of thousands of well-qualified applicants, most of whom on some level deserved to get in, but few of whom stood out, she *made* herself stand out. That sounds like the complete opposite of the whining of Suzy Lee Weiss and Abigail Fischer.

    Instead of rolling your eyes, I think a better reaction to that girl’s petition would be “I wish I had thought of that — I’m going to be more proactive next time I care about something.”

    • rainydaykate

      I largely agree with you, but for one caveat: the issue isn’t just that this young white woman was proactive whereas her counterparts of color were complacent so much as that white kids (this is especially true of boys, but–as the focus in this article is on young women–let’s acknowledge that this is true of white kids as a whole when compared to kids of other races) are raised with the encouragement and, generally, the safety net to take risks such as that one. Minority students are not encouraged to be rule-breakers–and even those who do end up penalized far more often than they were rewarded. So, while I admire the gumption of the young woman with the petition, I also think it is valid to raise the point that you almost never hear of such success stories with young women of color for protagonists.

  • Alisha Walker

    I’m a white girl that didn’t get into my first choice, but that’s because acedemic record didn’t make the cut. Abigail Fischer is an idiot for not realizing the same thing. I hope SCOTUS has some nice words that put things into prospective for her.

  • Andrea

    Does this misguided young woman think she is doing herself any favors by putting her entitlement and ignorance on national display? Seriously??

    The “woe is me, all someone else had to do was be born brown, look at the burden I bear” nonsense is pure racism that, sadly, carries broad appeal in the mass media in 2013. But, in order to get the soapbox, she also has to embrace the upper-middle-class message that she deserves everything in life and needs only to check the right boxes to obtain it. Combine the two and… well, there you go.

    (Says the poor white kid who was first in the family to attend college, wouldn’t have dared to apply to Ivy League schools, and yet managed to do great by busting her butt and understanding that excuses would get her nowhere.)

    • crazygemini12

      But here’s the thing no one on this thread has said: Someone gave her a national audience to speak to. Twice.I work in education so this entitlement isn’t new to me (and I’m 34 and black so way too old to be surprised) but I guess my annoyance is so many major organizations and lawyers signal boosting these girls’ claims. When they’re given a microphone/blog/Supreme Court suit to express their frustrations it essentially VALIDATES the claim in their minds and the minds of anyone else sitting at home watching the proceedings. It continues to perpetuate the idea that POC are inferior and white students should get what they want when they ask for it. I’m far more aggravated that there isn’t a single person anywhere that doesn’t stop and think, “Wait. Maybe we shouldn’t be giving these women a forum to display this ignorance.”

  • Kate Scott

    point, but can we just clock the BS around calling grown
    white women “girls”? It’s disrespectful but beyond that, it excuses us
    for our own agency. White women do racist, messed up things and we
    should be held accountable for them. Calling us “girls” insinuates that
    we are less responsible for our own decisions than we actually are.

    • Tusconian

      Grown? Aren’t most of the people being discussed about 17 years old? I am all for not infantilizing women, but also let’s not sit here and pretend teenagers are grown adults who make adult decisions.

    • rainydaykate

      While there’s definitely a double standard in that women are called “girls” for far longer than men are called “boys”, I find that people my age (and several years older–I’m 20) of all genders are usually called girls/boys sooner than women/men.

  • Liz

    Not to nitpick (but sorry, I am) since you do have some other good arguments and, more importantly, have clearly made up your mind about this issue already, but you should watch your statistics a bit more closely before you get too caught up in them.

    “Headdress jokes aside, Suzy probably also doesn’t realise that in the fall of 2011 only 0.4% of undergrad students attending Title IV schools (which include the Ivy League) were Native American.”

    As of 2010, the estimated population of American Indians and Alaska Natives was 2.9 million. They made up 0.9% of the total population.”

    I repeat, they make up 0.9% of the US population. In my mind that means we have 0.5% to grow before we reach “equality”. Just something to chew on.

  • Joe

    One thing that really bugs me is how people focus on race as the sole “unfair” element of the college admissions process. Colleges look for diversity along a lot of different axes, and race is only one of them. I got into Princeton in 2005, and when I went to visit, one of the admissions officers remembered me by name because they get so few applications from where I lived (rural Georgia). I also played an unusual instrument (tuba) and wanted to major in something relatively obscure (Classics). That I am black probably played some role, but it doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t have gotten in otherwise or that I could magically get in wherever I wanted.

    I knew a white girl from my high school who got into MIT with SAT scores well below the average for black students entering the Ivy League. One of my best friends is a white woman who got into Yale despite being in remedial math classes. No one ever talks about people like that. There are athletes and legacies and just straight-up dum-dums all up in the Ivy League and no one cares. But black people? Latinos? There’s got to be something wrong with the system.

  • William Leavenworth

    No one in his or her right mind would apply to an American school today when there are so many excellent schools elsewhere in the world. I say this as a Hamilton legacy, and the 6th generation of my own line to graduate from an upper-level American college (Yale, Vermont, Middlebury, Hamilton, Hamilton, Hamilton) If I had it to do over again, I’d emigrate to Canada, New Zealand, or NW Europe, all of which have fine universities and colleges, and cost a fraction of tuition here. Today’s diplomas from American Ivy-league or Ivy-fringe schools are little more than a codpiece for future country club dinners.

  • Jadele McPherson

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! ‘Nuff said. I can breathe a tad bit easier after reading this refreshing bit of sense.

  • Corinne Santoro

    One girl in my high school felt it was okay to blame me for taking her spot at Duke University, because I was a part Mexican and she was white. It undermined all the hard work I had done to get that acceptance letter. It’s rude, first of all, and it really took away from the joy that I felt at the time. Looking back, it was something that I took to heart. I often see myself as less worthy than my white counterparts; I’m only here because I am a minority, not because of my capabilities. I know I am not the only one, and I hate to hear that there are people who are spreading this message nationally. I hope that other young girls and boys like me do not take these messages to heart, believe in their capabilities, and believe that they earned what they worked hard for.

    • TX2Hi

      That is what bothers me most about AA. Anytime a ‘minority ‘ accomplishes anything, it is always because of affirmative action. For the record, ww have received more privilege and benefits that minorities have.

    • Tusconian

      A white ex did that to me because I got a scholarship that was solely offered to people with a certain amount of black heritage.

      Ignoring the fact that he got into a better school than I did, he hadn’t applied for any scholarships, and oh, yeah, my scores (what the scholarship was based on) were higher than his!

    • Kiffani Irby

      I had to go off on a white girl in a class freshmen year when she pointed me out as the probable affirmative action admit. Turned out, she had only been admitted because her dad was a donor while I was in the top of my class and had SAT scores that put me in the top quartile of the incoming class.

  • Pilar Quezzaire

    I’m that minority girl Suzy hates. Smith College and Harvard were my first choices for under and grad school respectively. I was also the teacher that told girls like Suzy: “Maybe it’s not your race that’s the problem.”

    This article is making me think that in part, it is. It’s also the incredible arrogance pampered kids give off that tells schools “I want to use you.” I’m not sure they want to LEARN anything though, and I doubt they’d appreciate much what they did learn. This is why I wouldn’t want to let them into my school’s gates. It’s kinda like Rebecca Black’s “Friday” song, where she proves tot he world how untalented she is, but at no point during the process was told, “You’re untalented.” She needed to hear it. So does Suzy. Most black girls I know don’t do this — the world tells them all of the time they are somehow less worthy.

    • Tusconian

      Most people who are really concerned with going to “dream schools” and are devastated when they don’t get it are not interested in learning at all, they’re interested in telling everyone “look at how smart I am.”

    • bbdoodles

      This is what always baffles me when I hear stories about white girls like Suzy and Abigail (unrelated note, could either of their names be any more white bread??): How did you manage to live a full 17-20 years of life without experiencing ANY type of failure? How does one even construct a bubble so insulated that you have never even considered to yourself, “Maybe this isn’t a race thing. Maybe they just didn’t like me”? I don’t understand how they feel it is the government’s role in our society to get them into the college they don’t deserve to be in. If that isn’t special snowflake syndrome, I don’t know what is. Someone needs to seriously pull these girls aside and explain to them, “This isn’t a race thing. THEY JUST DON’T LIKE YOU FOR THIS JOB/COLLEGE/SCHOLARSHIP/WHATEVER.” It’s not some random Native American kid’s fault that you are unwanted. Some random Native American kid has absolutely nothing to do with your ability to succeed in life.

      As a black girl I had some pretty hard reality checks very early in life. My first experience with racism was early compared to most of my other black friends (I was 7). With that said even if I were white and rich, even if I went to private schools from cradle to college, even if I actively avoided interaction with people from other races and other life experiences different from my own; AT SOME POINT I’d fail at SOMETHING in life that would be my own fault. Blaming everyone else for your own short comings all the way to the national level? Honestly, that type of arrogance to me isn’t just astounding, it’s a fucking work of surrealist art. I feel like this astronomical level of white privilege should be put on a petri dish and studied for the educational value of future generations so they never end up this incapable of thinking rationally.

  • Gersande

    Beautiful response.

  • Tstef

    Thank you for writing this. Better yet: THANK YOU. How someone could finish high school with that GPA and get those SAT scores and still not be able to ask herself how she was able to have that kind of success and what that might mean about her place in the broader system thanks to her family’s socioeconomic class and race……well, it blows my mind. Back when I was applying to colleges (ugh–15 years ago? ouch), I knew that Harvard required not just having awesome academics and a plum position to stumble into (Senate page, gosh how neat), but also required being either very well rounded or showing some exemplary passion and aptitude for something. Plus community work. Plus maturity. I got in, but my family couldn’t afford the tuition. Maybe I should have written an op-ed about it. Or maybe written one about how, as a male, it’s so *not fair* that as a female she’ll be able to take advantage of gender-specific scholarships and internships. I mean, gosh, it’s not like women don’t get to have all the cool stuff already, like babies and inequality and glass ceilings. *eyeroll* Last thought: as a white male, I’ll never get (in a truly to-my-bones sense) how offensive she is to those who are not white, but as a gay man I know how her flip comments about coming out made me feel. No human should be this ignorant about life at her age.

  • 10100111001
  • violetstars

    This piece only felt “satirical” in the last paragraph. Which makes me wonder if that graf was added as an insurance policy against possible backlash. Because she seems pretty sincere in the majority of the thing. And it’s all to believable that someone would a) feel this way and b) actually publish that feeling in a national newspaper.

    Also, the line about wearing a headdress to school might just be the most racist thing I’ve read all week. And that’s saying something.

    • TX2Hi

      Insurance policy? This piece was honest as hell and backed up with examples.

      • Wendy Ashmun

        Pretty sure violetstars is referring to Weiss’s WSJ piece.

  • O is for Odium

    Oh my god. You just went to WORK in this blog. I am high fiving you so hard right now.

  • elikit

    Does this entitled little snot not realise that when she wishes for a Tiger Mother to have pushed her to achieve all those impressive things, she’s basically just announcing to the world her complete lack of drive, ambition, inspiration, etc.?

    Like, hey affluent white girl, if you had it in you to do that shit, you’d have just done it. But here you are whining in national forums that no one did it for you.

    And I’m sick of this offensive idea that diversity is killing the dreams of sad white girls. How brown is Harvard? Or any of the Ivies? Get back to me when it’s more than 50% brown and maybe then I’ll give a fuck.

  • Madison Alexander Moore

    : THIS

  • Krissa

    Holy cow, thank you for writing this. As one of the privileged white girls a generation older than this batch, I can’t believe the petulant entitlement that makes my generation look like Depression urchins eating stale bananas on trains. Sack UP, y’all. I happen to know a few hardworking 18 year olds who understand that the world owes them nothing and this vocal privileged minority is ruining for them.

    Listen, when I applied to colleges, I took a good hard look at my mediocre-but-creative presentation, and applied to the full complement of liberal arts colleges who value that presentation; I didn’t even consider the Ivy League. (I hied myself to Sarah Lawrence, where mediocre creativity is a way of life, but that’s another story.) Hasn’t it ever occurred to these kids to look at the odds and lay their bets accordingly? That’s it’s not causally someone else’s fault that they didn’t get the Trophy for Participation? Whose fault is this?

    Suzy Lee Weiss will be fine. Gawker Media can hire her and let her snarkily whine about everything around her, forever, without ever having to roll up her shirtsleeves, get sincere, and change the world around her by just being a bigger person than she is now.

  • Dan Edmonds

    Speaking as someone who deals with college admissions professionally, I’d love to sit down with both these young women and explain to them all the various reasons why they didn’t get into the schools of their choice. It’s abundantly clear that Suzy Weiss didn’t have the goods for an Ivy League school (does she really think a 2120 is a stand out score for the Ivys? And I love that she only talks about her composite when schools only care about the individual scores; I would bet good money that either her Math or Reading subscore was 650 or lower). She sounds like a dime-a-dozen candidate at those schools, not particularly outstanding in any way.

    It’s tough. I get it. You go through high school hearing how special you are. She probably got bad advice from a couple of people who told her she had the goods. But she didn’t. And guess what, Suzy: what really defines you is how you react to failure. Based on your reaction, the schools that rejected you made the right choice.

    • lauraraborealis

      I agree that the biggest problem here is the environment these girls are growing up in. Who is telling them that they deserve an Ivy League education, and if they don’t get into top schools, that it’s not their fault. As a white girl who wanted to go to Stanford, my mother was always telling me that I should expect to not get in. Not because I was white, but because those schools are difficult to get into. This year Stanford accepted less than 6% of applicants. Less than 6%! I’m sure that tons of strong applicants from all racial backgrounds got denied simply because there wasn’t enough room. In this day and age students have to be realistic about their chances of getting in to top schools. I work as a college counselor now and I’m always telling top students that they can’t assume that they will get in anywhere. All you can do is try your best and do everything you can with the college options you are given.

      The fact that these girls feel that it is their god given right to attend an Ivy League attests to how poorly they were raised. The fact that they feel the need to take their anger out on highly accomplished students just because their skin is a different color attests to how racist their home environment must be.

    • Emilia Platas

      “…what really defines you is how you react to failure.” This!

  • Elton

    What, exactly, makes an Ivy League or name brand school “better than” another school? Exclusivity?

    Mousetraps are exclusive, too. They only let one in at a time.

    The Millennials were told that going to college and following our passions would make all of our dreams come true. With more pressure to succeed at younger ages than ever before, we studied and competed our childhoods away. Now we’re graduating in the middle of a recession and waking up to reality. We did everything right, but we’re punished with massive student loan debt and unemployment. Yet we still have blind faith in college, so tuition continues to skyrocket.

    Having a degree, especially a liberal arts degree, is meaningless. What really matters is what you do with your degree (if you even manage to graduate). What good is it to sell your soul to Sallie Mae only to work for Starbucks?

  • Janan Graham

    I’m perplexed because she (and others on the thread) are claiming that the piece was done in jest. However her statement, whether satirical or not, reflect the opinions of a lot of people who feel like they didn’t get a job, scholarship or admission to an university because a minority took their place.

  • Carol H. Hood

    AMEN! I am very frustrated with watching these children perpetuate their parents ignorance, and a girl like her gets rewarded for it.

  • Phire

    I’d love to sit Weiss down and ask her what she thinks about the de-facto discrimination against Asian-Americans at brand name schools, despite superior academic performance. That’s a less satisfying narrative for the WSJ’s audience’s persecution complex, though, so I don’t expect much self-reflection in that regard. (Why hello there, ugly racial stereotypes, so nice to meet you again.)

  • CrazyFor Kate

    On behalf of white girls everywhere, I apologize for the dumbshits who pull this kind of crap. I got into my university of choice (the system is less competitive in Canada), but there were times I didn’t get something I wanted in life. After maybe a minute of pouting about it, I grew the fuck up and got on with my life. Just because you’re not in an Ivy League school doesn’t mean you’re never going to have another opportunity – and though people like to blame rejection on others for the problems it caused them, in reality they have no one to blame but themselves.

  • Shona

    Excellent article! Personally, I never had any aspirations for Ivy League schools (they are almost all in the Northeast…I wanted to head south!). But even so, I don’t understand the big hangup over not getting into the school of your choice. Just be grateful for what opportunities you have, then make them work! When I transferred, I missed the application deadline at my intended school of choice. So I just picked another school of similar size and course offerings…and still relatively close to home. My “choice” turned out great for me in the end.

  • hilbuk

    This is really awesome and I fully agree with it. As a white girl who did not get into my first choice schools back in the day. 😉

  • Kat

    Thank you, Ms. James, for posting this thoughtful and balanced commentary on such an emotional issue. When I was a high school senior a decade ago, I thought my stellar GPA and SAT scores, piles of leadership positions and extra-currics, and letters from adoring teachers (who I was *sure* would write rave letters of rec) would stand on their own, but competition was stiff, and I didn’t get into any of the ivy league schools I applied to (and the few top-tier private schools I did get into offered absolutely no financial aid, which made them off-limits). However, what really affected me was not so much the rejection–many of my well-qualified friends didn’t get into their top choices that year–but the different treatment of students of different races.

    When a white friend of mine was deferred for her top ivy choice, her teachers rallied and got the admissions office to reconsider because it was a *travesty* that someone that intelligent didn’t get exactly the university she wanted. Comparing this reaction to the letters of recommendation that these same teachers wrote for their Brown, Black and South-East Asian students–many of whom were performing better or being praised verbally more than their white counterparts–I saw that the white students were endorsed more emphatically and genuinely in ways that could have made a real difference for students on the cusp. After being wait-listed for a couple of universities, I was informed that they weren’t accepting anyone off the wait-list. No biggy, I thought; given how competitive it was that year, it wasn’t surprising that most of the students they accepted decided to go there. However, another (white) colleague mentioned that she got off the waiting list at one of the schools; either that school lied to its applicants, or her well-connected daddy pulled some strings. In fact, all of the students on sport scholarships from my high school that went to the highly competitive schools in my top ten were white (and frankly, many of them were not academically qualified) except one–and African-American woman who was the top athlete in her sport in the state and was in many of my honors classes and generally performed well academically.

    Now, I realize that this is all anecdotal, and my admissions year had several unique elements in terms of reduced incoming class size, but most discussions regarding higher education and ethnicity only seem to point at structural inequalities, as if when you remove those, well-qualified minorities will earn their way in on their own merit–and, related, that white students no longer have exclusive access to certain channels to prestigious universities. Neither of these points is true.

    In retrospect, I am so grateful that I went to a public university, especially after interacting with colleagues from ivy’s in grad school, because I know that being different (not in terms of how I look like–I’m a light-skinned brown girl–but in terms of my cultural background, the way I talk, the experiences I have had up to this point) would have made me feel isolated and would have eroded my confidence in my own abilities. However, it still hurts that the same teachers who commended my efforts and abilities wrote lackluster recommendations, attributed my achievements in group work to the white students, and only gave scholarship and departmental awards to the white students. I recognize that saying all of the above may make me seem bitter and entitled, but Ms. James’s admission of her own pseudo-hubris and subsequent analysis has encouraged me to ignore that anxiety with the hopes that more dialogue might open the discussion of affirmative action past “minorities that aren’t good enough getting in anyway.”

    • cray_on

      Having recently read applications for underrepresented minority applicants to a summer program for college students, I just wanted to say you’re not crazy: this stuff is real. The letters of recommendation were all positive, but some of them were a little racist and some of them were horribly racist. White students don’t have to worry about getting letters of recommendation like that. It’s only logical that this would extent into how hard schools fight for their students. And it doesn’t end with applying to college. It continues with summer programs, and probably at the grad school level. I know it continues past grad school, as I once saw a letter that was written for me. When I started reading those applications, my brain almost exploded, really. It was painful, realizing that even when someone is supposed to be helping these students get ahead, they are getting screwed, and it’s all private, so the students never even know what happened to them.

  • Emily

    Thank you. This was brilliant. I’m embarrassed for Suzy Lee Weiss. I remember what it was like to be an entitled high school student, but her complaints would have never crossed my mind. Then again, Oberlin was my first choice, and I got to go there. I would have hoped that a rejection wouldn’t have led to such ridiculousness or racist outbursts.

  • Kevin Johnson

    It’s so bizarre how when Affirmative Action is brought up, it more often then not ALWAYS leads to this specific dichotomy between the capable white person vs. an incapable minority – and it’s always this comparison. The white person is the capable one passed over for the incapable minority. They never mention the nuances, company concerns, differences in the admissions/hiring process (the person interviewing the white person might be different that the person interviewing the minority), the excessive competitive job market, and so on. It’s the minority vs. the white person, and it’s always unfair.

    As you clearly allude to, no one seems to bitch about favoritism or nepotism, two other serious problems concerning access to certain positions (meritocracy is but a pipe dream), but policies concerning opening up avenues for minorities is clearly the problem. It’s a load of crap.

    Definitely gonna quote you for my upcoming blog piece. This quote – “By your logic if a white girl with your background doesn’t get into an
    Ivy League college it’s because there weren’t enough spots for white
    students that year. But if a non-white girl with an identical profile is
    rejected who do they blame? No one. They don’t have the excuse; they
    simply weren’t good enough” – is the nail on the head.

    • Kiffani Irby

      You’re spot on! I work in college admissions and when a student doesn’t get admitted and they want to blame something they accuse us of considering race, which we don’t, but they see no hypocrisy in legacy points. Let’s be clear- if a white students get a point for his grandfather going to a school that my black grandfather wasn’t even allowed to apply to, isn’t that an unfair advantage? The chick who sued the University of Michigan not only wasn’t a good student, but she wasn’t denied, she was wait-listed because they were concerned about the number of in-state students. If she had sent back the reply card from the wait-list she would have been admitted because they took everyone who did that year. Instead, she sued.
      I was taught that if someone starts their affirmative action with an assumption that if a minority took their space they must have been less capable or somehow inferior, it means they’re white supremacies and believe there is no way a non-white person could ever be as good or better. Affirmative action has always been about giving an opportunity to those of equal qualification. I laugh when white women allege bias though because they have benefitted more from affirmative action programs in the US than every single minority group put together. White privilege is alive and well.

    • Sharon Joseph

      Ms. Weiss needs a little history lesson. Gender is covered under the Affirmative Action Executive Order and white women have benefitted immensely from that last minute addition to the decree. Someone needs to tell this young lady that she is not a special little snowflake that has been grievously wronged by undeserving, unqualified “diverse” people.