We came across a “Dear Therapist” letter in “The Atlantic” that we just had to share with our readers. In a letter to Lori Gottlieb, Lisa from Mendham, New Jersey writes, “My son is in the middle of the college-application process. He has very good grades and very good SAT and ACT scores; he is an Eagle Scout and a captain of the cross-country team. He is also white, male, and upper-middle-class—and that is the problem. According to all of the statistics and reports, he should be accepted at Ivy League schools, but he has not been. He will eventually get into a ‘good’ school, but it is my guess (based on what we are seeing with his peer group) that he will be overqualified for the school he ends up at.” And we of course are disgusted by the writer’s concerns.
Ivy League Schools Don’t Want Well-Rounded Students
Lisa, you wrote that your son has not been accepted at Ivy League schools, presumably deferred or denied admission in the Early round. You then write that he has very good grades and scores and you list that he’s an Eagle Scout and runs cross country before citing his white race and stating “that is the problem.” Oh but we beg to differ. In fact, if your son presented himself in his college applications in a way similar to how you’ve presented him in your letter to “The Atlantic,” we’re quite confident why he hasn’t earned admission to an Ivy League school.
Ivy League schools aren’t seeking out Eagle Scouts. They’re not seeing out cross country runners unless those student-athletes are fast enough to get recruited by the university’s cross country coach. If not, this activity only serves to make an applicant well-rounded and, as our loyal readers know oh so well, highly selective colleges like the Ivy League colleges haven’t been seeking to admit well-rounded students for decades. Rather, they wish to admit singularly talented students, students who excel in one particular area that will help the admitting college.
There’s No Such Thing as ‘Qualified’ for Admission to the Ivy League
Lisa, there is no such thing as being “qualified” in Ivy League admission. Tons of applicants with perfect or near-perfect grades and scores are denied admission year after year. Harvard could fill an entire incoming class — and then some — denying students with perfect or near-perfect grades and scores. To suggest that your son is qualified for admission is nonsense. Admission to America’s elite universities is a holistic process. Qualified? Eradicate this word from your vocabulary when it comes to your son’s case for admission.
Misconceptions About Ivy League Admissions Can Lead to Racist Leaps of Logic
You see, Lisa’s assertions are based on misconceptions about the highly selective college admissions process, misconceptions perpetuated by students, parents, school counselors, private college counselors, and others. But then when she takes the giant leap by asserting that her son’s white race is “the problem” — it’s utterly mind-boggling. If she wants to believe as much, she has that right. But it would have been nice if the therapist responding to the letter in “The Atlantic” called her out on her misguided sense of the college admissions process rather than contribute to the vicious cycle by perpetuating this misconception.