#1 To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me04-17-2013, 02:22 PM
Pittsburgh high schooler Suzy Weiss has a 4.5 GPA, an SAT score of 2120 (out of a maximum 2400), and a slew of rejections from Ivy League colleges. But unlike most unsuccessful applicants, Weiss didn’t accept her rejection meekly. Instead, she penned a sarcastic open letter to those who spurned her — and got it published in the Wall Street Journal.
To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me
If only I had a tiger mom or started a fake charity.
By SUZY LEE WEISS
Like me, millions of high-school seniors with sour grapes are asking themselves this week how they failed to get into the colleges of their dreams. It's simple: For years, they—we—were lied to.
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. Then by all means, be yourself! If you work at a local pizza shop and are the slowest person on the cross-country team, consider taking your business elsewhere.
What could I have done differently over the past years?
For starters, 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.
I also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people's pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you're using someone else's misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you're golden.
Having a tiger mom helps, too. As the youngest of four daughters, I noticed long ago that my parents gave up on parenting me. It has been great in certain ways: Instead of "Be home by 11," it's "Don't wake us up when you come through the door, we're trying to sleep." But my parents also left me with a dearth of hobbies that make admissions committees salivate. I've never sat down at a piano, never plucked a violin. Karate lasted about a week and the swim team didn't last past the first lap. Why couldn't Amy Chua have adopted me as one of her cubs?
Then there was summer camp. I should've done what I knew was best—go to Africa, scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life. Because everyone knows that if you don't have anything difficult going on in your own life, you should just hop on a plane so you're able to talk about what other people have to deal with.
Or at least hop to an internship. Get a precocious-sounding title to put on your resume. "Assistant Director of Mail Services." "Chairwoman of Coffee Logistics." I could have been a gopher in the office of someone I was related to. Work experience!
To those kids who by age 14 got their doctorate, cured a disease, or discovered a guilt-free brownie recipe: My parents make me watch your "60 Minutes" segments, and they've clipped your newspaper articles for me to read before bed. You make us mere mortals look bad. (Also, I am desperately jealous and willing to pay a lot to learn your secrets.)
To those claiming that I am bitter—you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too! To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh—"The Real Housewives" is on.
Ms. Weiss is a senior at Taylor Allderdice High School in Pittsburgh.
A version of this article appeared March 30, 2013, on page A11 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me.
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04-17-2013, 03:26 PM
How true, and in the services as well...and Soldiers wonder why the Army's selection process for leadership - OCS, direct commission, ROTC scholarship, the Academy - reaps such a bountiful harvest of self-promoting assholes...
04-17-2013, 05:55 PM
Having said that, we're not as bad as academia. True, the EO process is easy to abuse, and that makes it extremely hard to weed out someone who is a poor leader/Soldier but has diversity cred (Nidal Hasan, I'm talking about you, buddy! Go ahead and report me to the EO), but for the most part, I think that our leadership stacks up well against the private sector. The real problem that we're having is that we've developed a mentality that is failure averse, and therefore risk averse. If you look at WWII, General Officers were constantly getting relieved and reassigned, but it wasn't considered the kiss of death. It was understood that someone may be a brilliant commander but a crappy staff officer, or a brilliant staff puke but a danger to himself and others when put in a leadership position. The idea was that if an officer failed in one place, he might have talents that would serve the army elsewhere, and they'd retain him until he'd proven that he was a complete tool. The most glaring example of this was Patton, who was arguable the greatest tactical commander in the army, but also the worst diplomat. His relief after the slapping incidents permitted Ike to use him in one of the greatest deception plans in history, and then bring him back to command the breakout from Normandy. This played to his strengths. The general consensus was that the system worked when it took officers from areas where they'd failed and gave them opportunities to succeed.
Today, OTOH, we have a zero-tolerance attitude towards any kind of error, and we compound it with massive temptations and exposure. Look at GEN Petraeus and GEN McChrystol. Petraeus had an affair (as did Patton, Ike and a host of other generals during WWII, but the rank and file were kept far away from females except outside of the war zone) and McChrystol's staff (not him, mind you) made rude comments about the chain of command in the presence of a partisan hack from a scurrilous music magazine. It took Obama less time to fire McChrystol than it did to review his troop request (but then, we know his priorities, don't we?). In contrast to this, Truman fired MacArthur only after Mac had undermined Truman's foreign policy, publicly stated his intent to disobey orders and then acted on it. We've put our leaders in ridiculous positions and then demanded perfection. No wonder the only ones who succeed are the ones who expose themselves to the least scrutiny.
04-17-2013, 08:03 PM
My experience with Academy grads is that the ones that understand they are memorizing the definition of leather just to be fucked with and drive out the posers are pretty darn good company grade officers and majors. Unfortunately there is a certain percentage of the grads who actually get into that BS like it really matters and think their purpose is simply to make life for the underclassmen Hell on Earth, which they then carry over into troop service...and, since the grads, good or bad, seem to develop a hypertrophied sense of duty to the ol' alma mater and other grads (I.e., over and above their loyalty to the Army or the unit) at about the O5 level, the possession of the One Ring generally ensures the dipshit element gets to stick around creating havoc and misery long after an officer with any other source of commission would have been encouraged to seek new employment horizons. I'd have to say the most ethically and integrity-challenged officers I've ever encountered were Academy grads, and perhaps that is because the system that exists does tend to keep them around long after officers with other sorts of commission would have been flushed out.
I have some experience with selection and promotion boards which gave rise to my comments, though. Nowadays it counts much more for OCS selection if the candidate was team captain, or at least a player, of anything physical for his or her school (Volleyball included, I shit you not...no matter how nominal that Captain position is in a lot of sports) than if they're actually smart, and OERs for promotion boards are crammed full of all sorts of stupid civic contributions and social engineering drivel instead of stuff that will tell you whether the candidate is a competent troop leader for that silly old 'Combat' thing, as opposed to someone who has low 'Bad' stats on DUIs, wifebeaters, etc. for reasons that in reality may be due to good leadership, but are just as likely due to OCD-level micromanagement or just plain dumb luck.
04-17-2013, 08:58 PMI also probably should have started a fake charity. Providing veterinary services for homeless people's pets. Collecting donations for the underprivileged chimpanzees of the Congo. Raising awareness for Chapped-Lips-in-the-Winter Syndrome. Fun-runs, dance-a-thons, bake sales—as long as you're using someone else's misfortunes to try to propel yourself into the Ivy League, you're golden.
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04-18-2013, 11:57 AM
The Ivy league is overrated. There are plenty of good schools outside of it, public and private.
Stanford, U of M, Ohio State, University of Chicago, Notre Dame, USC, Tulane, SMU, Baylor, etc., are all excellent schools. And there are lots more, including small colleges with excellent programs that most of us never hear of unless we live near them.
A lot of them cost a lot less than Harvard, too.
04-18-2013, 12:34 PM
The cheapest and best education still comes from the School of Hard Knocks!
Four boxes keep us free: the soap box, the ballot box, the jury box, and the cartridge box.
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04-18-2013, 07:25 PM
04-18-2013, 08:16 PM
Ivy League grads have doors opened to them that others don't.
I have a secret dream of getting my daughter into one. She has the brains. I've googled "how to get into Harvard" articles. Nowadays, unless your parent/grandparent graduated from one, or you get a $40K annual adviser, you're not getting in. Being a valedictorian doesn't get you in. Something about you has to appeal to an admissions counselor. But, I'm not a tiger mom so it probably won't happen.
04-18-2013, 10:10 PM
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