One of the core objectives of our college admissions blog is to debunk commonly perpetuated misconceptions about highly selective college admissions. We’ve been debunking these misconceptions for many years, but misconceptions on this particular topic are like mold. You think you’ve gotten rid of the dangerous mold inside your walls but when the mold remetiators start telling you that now there’s only good, healthy mold left over, you know it’s never really going away. And so, on the topic of mold, we read an answer on the question-and-answer site, Quora, that discussed how famous students are evaluated in highly selective college admissions. The answer couldn’t be, well, more wrong.
Aaron Jantzen, who deems himself a former metaphysicist (perhaps he should stick to metaphysics rather than college admissions), has expressed his two cents about how he thinks Malia Obama earned admission to Harvard. As he writes, “Malia Obama didn’t have to fill out an application and walk to a mailbox to send it anonymously to Harvard admissions with stamps affixed, where the application would mix with and touch those of ordinary people, or transmit it on a public unsecured internet line where it could be intercepted by (gasp) Russian spies.” Actually, Aaron, nobody submits applications with stamps affixed anymore to America’s highly selective colleges. Nobody goes to mailboxes to send out applications. Welcome to 2017, Aaron. But Malia sure did have to submit her application via the Internet (though we’re sure if she submitted it from the White House, it wasn’t on a public unsecured Internet). We get the point that you’re making a joke here but you’re incorrect in your larger assertion that Malia Obama didn’t have to apply to college like every other student.
Aaron then goes on to write more inaccuracies when he states, “After indicating interest, [these famous applicants] are assigned to a specific admissions officer as a point of contact. They fill out a standard application, but not much else would be required. What would be the point of demanding documentation of Emma’s extracurriculars or getting references from the Secret Service on Malia’s study habits?” No, Aaron. The activities section is a part of the Common Application — which Malia Obama filled out just like every other applicant to America’s highly selective universities. And you don’t think she had letters of recommendation? Of course she did. We’ve worked with many famous applicants (along with the children of famous folks) over the years and they applied to highly selective colleges and they completed their applications just like everybody else.
Now keep in mind it was Ivy Coach that raised the conspiracy theory — and we have always called it a conspiracy theory only because we don’t know this to be the case for sure — that Malia Obama was Z-Listed by Harvard. But whether she was Z-Listed or not, Aaron Jantzen couldn’t be more off the mark. Do the children of famous people or famous people themselves (like Emma Watson) have a major advantage in highly selective college admissions? Of course. We’ve never denied that. But they have to apply to these schools like everyone else and if they don’t have the grades or scores for a school like Harvard, well, that’s one of the reasons Harvard has a Z-List. Was Malia Obama Z-Listed? We don’t know. And neither do any of the news publications who ran articles about her potential Z-Listing after we raised the conspiracy theory. But it’s possible. Because famous applicants aren’t guaranteed admission as this metaphysicist seems to believe. He should stick to metaphysics.