Suzy Lee Weiss ivy league letter causes America to reflect on the misery of getting ahead.

Suzy Lee Weiss ivy league letter causes America to reflect on the misery of getting ahead.

Suzy Lee Weiss appearing on the ‘Today show.’

High school senior Suzy Lee Weiss has created a furore after firing off a letter last weekend to the Wall Street Journal  in which she expressed her anger and discontent at being denied a slot at an ivy league school.

Her piece ‘to all the the colleges that rejected me,’ essentially posits the idea that had she been a minority or had her parents forced her to take up more hobbies she would have easily made grade with an ivy league school considering that she has a GPA score of 4.5 an SAT score of 2100 as well as experience as a U.S Senate page. All qualities that Weiss feels under normal circumstances ought to have secured her a birth at an ivy league institution.

Since her letter appeared Weiss’s situation has been dissected by the media at large with many now wondering whether she is a self entitled brat, simply disingenuous or even a racist.

Reflects the sanfrinsco chronicle which aptly regards the tenets of Weiss’ letter:

Weiss opens her piece by saying that she and millions of other high school seniors who didn’t get into the college of their dreams were all “lied to.”

Weiss writes:

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.

Weiss goes on to highlight  three things she should have done—but didn’t—that would have gotten her that welcome letter from Yale.

1) Being more “diverse.” She writes, “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.” (Note: This is the section of the essay that’s leading some people to call Weiss racist.)

2) Starting a fake charity. “I also probably should have started a fake charity,” she writes. “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.”

3) Having a Tiger Mom. “As the youngest of four daughters, I noticed long ago that my parents gave up on parenting me,” she writes. “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?

Weiss also complains that she attended summer camp instead of going to Africa and holding that suffering child for a photo oop and she never got that “precocious-sounding” internship title such as “Assistant Director of Mail Services.”

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Yet the reactions that followed as a result of Weiss’ letter perhaps says more about the vast attitudes towards ivy league education, what many perceive that it takes to make it in today’s socio economic environment and the personal prejudices that a cross current of readers have towards race, entitlement and ultimately those individuals who do in fact manage to get selected by ivy league institutions which in many ways posits the implicit belief system that one almost needs an ivy league education to make real headways in life.

Noted reactions include the following as found on the web:

As cynical as it might be, Suzy Lee Weiss makes brutally accurate assessments of college admissions.

‘Thank you for saying everything on my mind.”

‘Saying what you feel is not always easy or popular! She is going places!

She did not get in because the admissions staffs realized she was a whiney self-righteous egoist. It is disingenuous to say “it was a joke! satire! etc”, we know what she was saying. These things come through on the essay and the background. As another commentator pointed out, with 30K applicants and only 1500 admitted, the Ivy League schools feel no compunction about admitting yet another over-achieving boor into their midsts. They are working to avoid exactly this sort of character, whatever the box-ticking scores presented. And the fact that she felt the need to sound off like that is exactly their vindication – they presciently avoided having that on campus.

 

“Her gpa and scores aren’t that impressive to be honest, her achievements just weren’t competitive enough. Stop blaming mom and dad and minorities and other classes and accept the fact your best just wasn’t good enough for the places you wanted to go , kid. ” This^^^^ This is clearly an extremely privileged girl whose credentials are not very impressive. For a upper middle class kid, her stats are pretty average and with her attitude of self-absorbed narcissism and entitlement, it’s pretty obvious why she was rejected. There are plenty of kids with less advantages who have MUCH better stats and frankly are much better people.

And tellingly even Weiss reflected the following whilst on NBC’s ‘The Today show;’

‘Everyone my age, whether they wanted to get into Penn state their whole lives or Harvard is agreeing with me that it’s just a rat race nowadays and it’s such a business model as opposed to who’s most qualified should get in,’ she said. ‘It’s a crapshoot and I understand that.’

Yet perhaps the biggest irony in Weiss’ case is that although she may have failed to have landed a slot with an ivy league institution her gumption to do something that most candidates would never have thought to do (the very same qualities that ivy league institutions make a point of looking for) helped her gain entry into Pennsylvania State, Indiana, Michigan and Wisconsin—not Ivy Leagues but still prestigious. That plus receiving job and internship offers.

  • GraceWells

    I bet there are about a hundred colleges that are upset they didn’t get this kid on board. She is FUNNY, articulate and a very entertaining writer.

    As a mama of little kids, I hear her. I completely hear her. Every day, I come across two conflicting messages: 1) Do not helicopter over your children or you will ruin them for life and then 2) Better be a tiger mom, or your kid won’t get into Harvard, Princeton or the University of Down-the-Street and then you will ruin them for life.

    Well which is, damn it?

    I have not yet figured it out and I am running out of time. Personally, I run in dual danger of my kids being able to say that I was both 1) an annoying pusher and 2) neglectful in all the ways that matter. Which is to say, that while I do sign them up for violin lessons, I don’t care if they practice. So, you see, you are not the only confused. I am too.

    Everyone of the things you said rang true: I know “those kids” the ones with the tutors, educational advisors, self-started charities and mission trips to wherever and while I am sure they are very nice kids, I don’t entirely buy it either that they deserve a slot ahead of you. Don’t worry, though, they may have won this round, but the battle is far from over. My money is on you for the next round!!!

    Thank you, young lady for reminding EVERYONE that we are raising humans and not just educational resumes. Whatever your parents DID do was right on the spot. Maybe I am not so bad after all—and maybe I should go make my kids practice after all. ;-)

    Best of luck you and never stop being an original!!!

  • delijdewolfe

    “Yet perhaps the biggest irony in Weiss’ case is that although she may have failed to have landed a slot with an ivy league institution her gumption to do something that most candidates would never have thought to do (the very same qualities that ivy league institutions make a point of looking for) helped her gain entry ”

    Her sister was an Op-Ed assistant for the Wall Street Journal. She asked her sister to write the essay and then pulled strings to get it published. Her gumption didn’t get her into those schools. Her sisters credentials with the largest circulated newspaper in the U.S. did it.

    The biggest irony isn’t that she failed to enter an ivy but was able to gain entry to other top universities based on what they were looking for. The biggest irony is that she got in based on one of the very points she rails against. In her case it’s the benefits of nepotism.

  • Joe
  • alicja77

    Harvard, et al., are all private institutions. They have no real or imaginary quotas to meet because they’re not public institutions. In a sea of other equally or better qualified, less whiny candidates, one over-privileged brat blends into the next. Nothing special about this one and she seems to have a bit of an attitude problem. Next!

    Her response, writing this op-ed and using her sister’s connections to get it published, both reveal more about her character than even a thorough read of her stats, essay, and letters of recommendation ever could. She might be bright and capable, but she’s a spoiled little viper. Good call, Harvard.

    I went to a private university; the dearth of white people is a figment of her imagination. The sheer over-load of completely normal, straight people is staggering; what set them apart from someone like Miss Weiss is that they DID extend themselves with volunteer work, took part in different activities, and managed to learn and grow through both. Miss Weiss sneers about people who have made these efforts which reveals a certain lack of discipline and intellectual curiosity on her part.

    Setting aside the obvious value to be had via, for instance, community service (or music, or sports, and so on), there’s the simple fact that for better or for worse, you need to show you have a pattern of successful learning experiences when you apply for college in general; it’s doubly important when applying to elite schools. If Miss Weiss is as bright as she claims to be, she surely must have been aware of this fact. That also means her choice to not apply herself as much as other applicants under the assumption that what, her charm (such as it is), would be enough to get her in the door was hers and hers alone. She bears the responsibility for not making the extra efforts in her scholastic and extracurricular activities that would very likely have allowed the admissions people to overlook her feelings of entitlement.

    Her inability to accept responsibility for her own short-comings and failure is appalling. If she can’t learn from an early set-back like this, life is not going to be terribly pleasant for her.

  • alicja77

    @Grace–No, what it is, is that she knew she was going to have to push herself harder and she didn’t. Now she wants to shift the blame to the school.

    When she writes about “diversity” and such, she’s conveniently forgetting that since Harvard and the other Ivy League schools are all private colleges, they don’t have to give a you-know-what about diversity (and they don’t–there are PLENNNTY of white kids who are perfectly normal but ridiculously smart on that campus).

    When a kid wants to make a shot for an elite school, he or she is informed very early on what will be expected of them, especially if the kid is at a very good public or private high school. There is no way she didn’t know what was expected of her. She made some bad choices. Let’s hope she learns from her failure and takes some responsibility for herself.

    All you can do for your kids is the best that you can do. Nothing is guaranteed for you or them in this world. We all have to roll with the punches and not get so set on one school or one possible career path that we result to petty, vindictive behavior when things don’t work out.

  • incognitoast

    wow. she blames just about everyone but herself. very very entitled, spoiled, etc. I wouldnt have let her in either. Sh’s acting like a brat and should NOT be on the news. I read the article and it didn’t belong in the WSJ.

  • http://www.facebook.com/landrea.martin Landrea Martin

    My mother saw this story and felt sorry for this girl and told me to log on to see it when I got a chance. So, I logged on expecting to see some brilliant high school student who really got shafted by the Ivy League institutions such as Princeton, U Penn, etc.
    After seeing the story I agreed the young lady was smart however, had a 4.5 GP (inflated but okay) a SAT score which was pretty up there, 2170 or 2000, however with the millions of high school students pushing themselves, taking AP courses and excelling at these classes, getting involved in their high school whether it be on the debate club, the newspaper, Honor Societies, sports, other extracurricular activities, volunteering, community service, and let’s not forget those Leadership Conferences or People to People that high students take advantage of, Suzie needed to take note that these students have all of these attributes and this is exactly what colleges and universities are seeking in well rounded students who will thrive on their campus!
    Perhaps she should have applied to Cornell, Dartmouth, Brown, Columbia and not the top#1 school like Princeton because she was not the Valedictorian or the Salutatorian
    and therefore should have been rejected to those schools her numbers were not there.