Having been a mother of two who have gone through the college application process, including the testing, interviews, campus visits and admission, I think that I can safely say that I am hip on the current procedure. And my opinion is that the entire thing is utter and complete bullshit. However, since Bloomberg was once again so kind as to provide fodder for me, I’ll pick a bone with a few of the issues regarding Amherst, the currently-ranked #2 liberal arts college in the US, and the admissions department.
First of all, unless your hands are damaged, or you are dexterously inept, you do not “feel badly”, Mr. Dean. Second, one divides “our” applicants, not “are” applicants, Ms. Dean. And then, I realize this is nit picky, but what is with the use of “got”? I understand that it serves as a catch-all in casual conversation, but when you are representing a top-tier school, judging who is to be admitted, and being filmed and interviewed with the POV of an elite group who has the tough job of gleaning the few exceptions from the gathering of superb, the standard for your communication really must be indicative of the standard by which you judge others.
But most important is that there is a crisis in this society where people are rewarded for overcoming what is fairly typical social conditions. Alcoholism is not so uncommon as to make someone truly exceptional if they’ve had to endure a parent with the disease while ambitiously steering their way through school. And financial woes? All but a few have not had those, so once again, economic struggles hardly make one unique. It was sickening to see how these kids (and I am certain they were encouraged, as my son was, by their school officials), to highlight their sad and pathetic situations, playing the emotional card as if hardship is a criterion for admission.
I absolutely believe that overcoming adversity and striving for excellence, despite circumstances that are not ideal Petri dishes for growing flawless product is wonderful, but ideal doesn’t exist within humanity anyway. Everyone has problems and issues. However, this insistence that “out-of-the-box” means “misfortune” is going to do a terrible disservice to the students, their peers, and those who are not admitted because their mom wasn’t an alcoholic, nor dad a speculator who lost his shirt. The good news is that those who are truly exceptional and “out-of-the-box” will reject the mediocrity and create something better. I want those kids on my team.