Your Son Didn’t Get Rejected Because He’s White

Ivy League Admission, Race in Admission, Race in Ivy Admission
We are frustrated by a leap of logic in a letter to “The Atlantic.”

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.


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  • Veritas says:

    Look, race is a factor in college admissions. Lesser qualified minorities are admitted over better qualified white and Asian students for diversity reasons. You may have heard Harvard is being sued about this.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Of course race is a factor in admissions. How exactly does that counter our points in this post?

      • Michael Conte says:

        Your response is more dismissing and quite hypocritical vs having any substance. Your rebuttal she can think race has something to do with it but it doesn’t. You then respond to a comment by saying it does matter. However, that is a relatively small point to the lack of substance in your response. Your main point is Ivy’s aren’t looking for well rounded students but more singularly specialized which is at best silly because if one has perfect scores or close they excel in everything. In my experience when my daughter applied the only part I agree with is there are more students with these scores not getting in then are accepted. However, to claim it’s utter nonsense in one breath while then answering it matters in another is typical these days. I have know problems with their process I wouldn’t want my kid in the Ivy’s.

    • Ryan says:

      Thank you

  • elizabeth says:

    As usual, you hit the nail on the head Ivy Coach.

  • leslie rene says:

    it’s not abou “ why a college should admit you”, it’s about what you have to give. Maybe if the Track runner, spent a good portion of his time running races for charity and raised a significant amount of money for a cause or said he loves running and wants to use his time and talents to develop prosthetic legs for people that can not walk,
    or uses his experience as a runner to aid marathon runners with disabilities , the applicant would come across as someone who empathizes with others and has some humility. Anyone can get good grades and get good test scores , but very few see the bigger picture

    • Brad says:

      You clearly did not see the part about him being an Eagle Scout

      • Ivy Coach says:

        Comment of the week!

      • Lilah says:

        Brad – EXACTLY! That is no easy feat as it takes years of commitment – I have the highest respect for kids who make Eagle. It’s not “staged” or something a college counselor recommended in middle school. Kids start this process at a very young age, AND it’s NOT easy to complete. You don’t just put in the time, quite the opposite.

    • James L Jones says:

      That is why wealthy families hire coaches who arrange for the student to engage in activities that show he “empathizes with others and has humility” It has been said the most liked trait is sincerity. And when you can fake that you’ve got it made! If the student practically lives in a lower income gym teaching students basketball for free and also studying with them you have a winner.

      But if he attends only to hand over a large check from the family charitable trust you have a faker!

    • Lilah says:

      Leslie Rene – SeriouslY? How many 17 year olds and younger are all about helping the world? That’s the problem with this ENTIRE PROCESS. EVERY KID feels they have to stage their application. Can’t a kid just love a sport and want to excel?

  • R Videla says:

    Disgusted by the writer’s concerns?
    What an obnoxious reply, Ivy Coach, dripping with elitist arrogance and haughty disdain for anyone who still believes that those who work their tails off in High School are actually qualified to be admitted to, and to attend, an Ivy. Highly intelligent, hard-working students who also participate in sports and other extra-curriculars are absolutely qualified, even if they are….god forbid….caucasian, or straight, or from the east coast, or not a bassoonist. You Ivy Elites should reconsider what truly makes a person “qualified.” You’ve twisted the admissions game into a mockery of hard-work in an effort to create a culture of diversificlusion. The long-term ramifications of this game will reap a generation of mediocrity.
    Oh, and Ivy Coach, I’d hazard a guess that you are a childless but oh, so woke millennial who toasts the day no earlier than 9 am with an overpriced latte. When you’ve matured and have the audacity to breed, perhaps you’ll have a slightly less arrogant opinion, watching your progeny’s talents be rejected by someone who you once were. That would be assuming you’d have the ability to produce intelligent and Ivy “qualified” progeny, which is unlikely in itself.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      Thank you so much for writing in! You’re a hoot!

    • James L Jones says:

      Back to my previous comment. Did you R Videlia contribute to the food bank, church or other charity during the past month? If so, tell how that helped both the recipients and you. I have no advice for you if you didn’t.

    • Hyena says:

      Lets call it what it is, many of these writers want the old system back. A system in which if your white you are automatically qualified for an ivy league school. Notice the language and assumption….all non white students are there due to diversity and not hard work. The problem is entitlement. Everyone thinks their child is the best ( i dont fault you for this but is at times not steeped in reality) and the brightest and this is how parents set their children up for failure because guess what? The world is competitive and they arent the only ones in it. Appreciate their smarts but dont foster entitlement because there is always someone smarter.If we were operating on the premise used by these commenters then all the ivy leagues would only have asian students.Because after all”they are the smartest.” Elitist? But these are the same private elitist clubs that you are trying to be a part of. Thats like you thinking just because you made a million your entitled to hang with Buffet and Gates, no you made a million but you are a dime a dozen. Buffet and Gates are 1% so therfore they can afford to be choosy and set the rules of whois in their private club. Imagine how blacks feel when they would qualify or be over qualified and not get oppurtunities based on race. OF course by your logic no miniority ever qualifies. Not so nice is it?

    • lilah says:

      Agree with R Videla!

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Thank you for displaying a complete understanding of the topic up for discussion, R Videlia. It’s refreshing to finally get some push back, I love your deliberate change of spelling, diversificlusion is priceless!

  • Valerie D. says:

    “You’ve twisted the admissions game into a mockery of hard-work in an effort to create a culture of diversificlusion. The long-term ramifications of this game will reap a generation of mediocrity. ” Wow couldn’t have said it better R Videlia. My son is about (if the two next week come in similarly) to be rejected from every school he wanted and applied. He takes qualified to the extreme, and I understand it’s an extremely competitive process. Mr Ivy, I, in fact, contributed today to gofund me to the Asian lady attacked in NYC, and shop for my church food panty at least monthly (with the son who also volunteers there, cantors, plays bells,etc.). We are hoping one of the two foreign schools takes him. They don’t decide until AFTER the May 1 US decision date however. But yes, after he did everything right, to be rebuffed is demoralizing. He knows he didn’t cure cancer, so his chances were slim. The system needs to throw out legacy, athletes, and just state minimum qualifications, then work on a lottery basis with those that make the minimum qualifications. Also, my son thinks all the tests are too easy, SAT, ACT and all the AP tests. Doesn’t understand why anyone finds them difficult, or why any college would be “test optional” or “test blind”. That is the only valid way to separate the students. Surprisingly, it works quite well in other countries. You work hard, you make the test scores, you are in a the top college. The students don’t waste time playing on their phone, but doing the hard work it takes to succeed. The US admissions game makes a mockery of hard work, as R. Videla said. When you are right, you’re right.

    • amongus says:

      sussy bakaaaaaa

    • Reform School says:

      Separating students by a test like the SAT, Act, or the AP test is the worst way of trying to find the right student. The whole education system in America needs to change and not go to the old way but improve differently. Just because a kid doesn’t score well on a test doesn’t mean that the kid is dumb everyone learns different and there are some intelligent students I know who just cant do well on tests. If you think standardized testing and being competitive and working hard works to make a student good. No a student can work as hard as they can but still fail. If you don’t believe me look at Finland’s education system, They are the best in the world. What’s the difference between U.S. and Finland – later school starts, no standardized testing, high wages for teachers, less average time spent in school that’s just a few key differences. If Finland can called with the best education system in the world, why don’t we follow and adopt some of there plans to fix our education system? look at the PISA results if you don’t believe.

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Well said…

  • Andrew says:

    Well out son is white and he was rejected by a top 20 school while others less academically qualified in his class were accepted. (they were not white and not Asian) I don’t have a problem with schools taking less qualified students based on their race. That is up to the school. But applicants do get rejected because they are white or Asian. To suggest otherwise, as this column does, is simply a denial or deception.

    • Martin John Pulley says:

      Minorities don’t like it when the script is flipped. If a black student scored well above average on his or her standardized testing, was a good athlete, contributed time to charitable organizations and were denied admission, boy, wouldn’t there be an uproar! Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, the ACLU and the local chapter of the NAACP would be close to trading blows to grab a microphone and make sure they looked good on television. Tell me I’m wrong. When something happens with a white person and a black person the race card is the very first thing to help build a soapbox. Our society has gone completely off the deep end when it comes to being inclusive and that premise holds true on college admissions as well. It doesn’t feel too good when a white family finally stands up and is not afraid to say they are white and part of an injustice.

  • Ryan says:

    R Videla, I would just like to say, thank you.

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