Journalist Perpetuates Misconceptions About Elite College Admissions Process

A journalist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram penned an article that, in our book, is journalistically unsound as it perpetuates misconceptions about the elite college admissions process. It also unnecessarily ignites racial and socioeconomic tension.

Oh this frustrates us! A piece in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram opines on the student featured in a recent Wall Street Journal article who struck out in the admissions process at many of our nation’s elite universities this year. In the piece in The Fort Worth Star-Telegram by Nicole Russell entitled, “Did middle-class roots keep this high-achieving Texan out of Ivy League schools?,” the young woman is described in the opening lines as “a white, middle-class star student” who “has been stressing out about her grades for years” and is “a self-described perfectionist.” This description is followed by this gem: “The well-rounded student also performed and directed about 30 plays, sang in the school choir and held down a part-time job — among other accomplishments. But she didn’t get into any of the top Ivy League schools she applied to, much to her disappointment. If she can’t, can your kid?”

First of all, whenever parents or journalists or the local handyman begin a sentence about highly selective college admissions with a mention of the student’s white race, we always have an instinct of the tired argument that will follow. All too often, the student’s white race is used as the excuse for why he or she didn’t earn admission to elite colleges. And that’s ridiculous! Because if this journalist for The Fort Worth Star-Telegram did three minutes of appropriate research before penning her piece, she’d know that elite colleges don’t want well-rounded students who do plays, choir, and half the activities under the sun. They don’t want self-described perfectionists. They don’t want students who stress out about their grades.

Rather, they want singularly talented students who are entirely likable and love learning for learning’s sake — not to scores great grades. To attribute this student’s disappointment surrounding the highly selective college admissions process to her race or middle-class background is, frankly, journalistically unsound since every point the journalist made to support the strength of her candidacy was actually a well-documented weakness in elite college admissions. Heck, we’ve been writing that elite colleges haven’t wanted well-rounded students since the early 1990’s — back when 90210 was playing. The original.

Shame on The Forth-Worth Star-Telegram “journalist” Nicole Russell for her entirely lazy reporting and for more or less implying that a student didn’t get into the colleges of her dreams on account of her race or socioeconomic status when in fact the real reasons she likely didn’t get in were right there in plain sight — in the opening lines of Ms. Russell’s article. Before igniting fires of racial and socioeconomic tension, perhaps Ms. Russell would have been better served to spend a few more minutes looking up what elite colleges actually want — and have wanted for decades. All she had to do was a simple Google search and her answer would have been right there in plain sight. Shame, shame, shame on her!

 
 

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1 Comment

  • Natalie Song says:

    But if she was well rounded and an under-represented minority she very may well have been accepted. Everyone knows this. As an Asian female, I saw this firsthand at Harvard.

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