Show You- Character and Its Place in Applications

Originally poster on April 22nd on an older version of this blog

Hello,

I am so sorry I haven’t written a post in so long. April is a very hectic month for me as far as student group performances and finals and papers and projects and just life haha. But recently there have been a couple of stories that have peaked my interest when thinking about social justice and keeping my theme of impartiality going I was curious to see if I could write on the story of one Suzy Lee Weiss.

Suzy Lee Weiss on Good Morning America

For those who have not heard the story that garnered her a spot on Good Morning America, feel free to watch the video and you can find the link in the next paragraph for her article.

I’ll start with her side. I can not find very much information on Suzy Lee Weiss (probably best). From what I can find she is a child from a well-off family and a high school senior graduating and apparently attending the University of Michigan in the fall, if the end of the GMA video is any indication. So keeping what I do know out of mind, I went back and re-read her op-ed titled “To (All) the Colleges that Rejected Me” in the Wall Street Journal.

When trying to do so I found out very quickly that that would be next to impossible; she writes the articles based on the stereotypes she feels she lacks. She writes in the article “If it were up to me, I would’ve been any of the diversities: Navajo, Pacific Islander, anything.” Her entire article is about how who she is has kept her out of her dream schools. I can understand where Suzy is coming from, however. She worked hard throughout high school- academically at least- and has some amazing numbers behind her to prove it. She apparently has also done some community service according to her interview. College admissions to these tops schools- and just in general- have become increasingly competitive and if that is what Suzy was trying to evaluate she did do that-although how she did it seems to be the problem and where her logic was flawed.
Now, onto the other side. In her article, Suzy using some very emotional language. She says things such as:

“I also probably should have started a fake charity.” “I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would’ve happily come out of it. “Diversity!”

No wonder people are making a fuss; perhaps it is because of the tone of the writing. Suzy notes in her interview that she wrote this piece at the advice of her sister (who just so happens to have worked for the WSJ) the day she was “in tears” over her rejection from numerous schools. I believe that could be the problem. It doesn’t seem like this is a satire. It is more like an emotional outrage of her trying to demerit anyone who had characteristics she felt she didn’t that got them into the school instead of her. That is what can be best gathered from the tone of her article (the worst being that she is a racist. Let’s not go that far).

The admissions process and decisions for every school in this country are different. Thousands of students- some with those criteria she mentions and the numbers she has- get rejected. The thing to remember is that all the numbers and activities are not quotas to be filled. There aren’t a certain number of spots for kids who did band, or choir, and black kids that did 4 extracurricular, etc. There are just open seats and college leave them open to students who they feel will add to their environment- in any way. Diversity has more meaning than just ethnically. It is attitude, geography, socioeconomic status, and many other things can be considered diversity and finding the right blend of diversities is what college strive for so that they can become these microcosms of learning and understanding our fellow men through interaction at great institutions of learning.

Perhaps that is where Suzy was confused. When the colleges said “Just be yourself” they didn’t mean be you. They meant show you. Show them who you are through your extracurriculars, through you’re heritage, through your charity, through anything you can show us, show us your character and how you define yourself and shape the world around you. She shouldn’t be angry because some students found ways to describe themselves- show themselves- and build that character that she so easily showed she lacked.
In my research (read: Googling) I ran across one article response that truly spoke to what I believe logically follows from this topic. In the article its author, Kendra James, writes

In an ill-advised appearance on The Today Show, Suzy argues that the necessity of diversity means that colleges are judging applicants using factors (read: race) that the applicants have no control over. “Anyone can relate to this,” she says. Actually Suzy, no, they can’t. I mean, we could start with fact that most of us don’t have the luxury of being able to cry over our failings publicly in a nationally published papers where our sisters just so happened to work once upon a time. Plus, in singling out diversity as your issue, you’re eliminating half the college applying population from your debate. By your logic, if a white girl with your background doesn’t get into an Ivy League college, it’s because there weren’t enough spots for white students that year. But, if a non-white girl with an identical profile is rejected, who do they blame? No one. They don’t have the excuse; they simply weren’t good enough. We don’t get to make ourselves feel better by engaging in a smear campaign against the fictional Cherokee girl that took our Ivy League slot.

Another of Suzy’s quotes is

Diversity is a wonderful thing. I think all colleges should have a holistic approach to every college applicant. I do, however, think that in this day in age we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can.

The err in logic here is that we can control who we are and how we will represent ourselves and out impact on society. Even if it is in the smallest of ways- how those experiences build our character is what colleges want to know and what Suzy lacked. Her story speaks to a common misconception about how we see achievements in the United States. You aren’t being judged on what you did when applying to college, or to anything for that matter. You are being judged on what those things did to you and who you have become as a result of your experiences.
That’s Where I Stand.
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