Application not for sale
Yesterday, the Harvard Crimson published an editorial about the latest college admissions gimmick. WeGotIn.net sells copies of actual accepted students’ applications, allowing current students and prospies alike the opportunity to sell out for only $19.99. Somehow the Crimson believes these actions “commendable” for “leveling the proverbial playing field.” Really?
I’m all for more transparency in the college admissions process, and yes there are disturbing disparities between the information and opportunities available to students from different backgrounds. Last year at this time I was fretting away my nights wondering how I could possibly compete with students from prep school and affluent neighborhoods, students who were well traveled, who were able to take real AP classes, and who had friends with “inside knowledge.” While We Got In markets itself as a solution to some of these problems, selling applications to worried high schoolers isn’t a quick fix.
The Crimson acknowledges, then brushes aside, criticism concerning potential plagiarism, but fails to comment upon how this “resource” would actually be received by the students it’s supposedly helping. Many students, seeing all the opportunities and advantages they lack displayed on a “successful” application, could lose hope that their own would ever match up. If this experience is really desired, students can always feel inadequate by browsing sites like College Confidential. “Chance me?” anyone?
We Got In advertises its products as a way to “show you what the colleges in fact want” so you won’t be stuck “listening to someone else’s opinion…of what they think the committee is looking for.” Offers like this only feed the ridiculous culture we’ve created around the college admissions process. There’s no way to know what the colleges “in fact want.” They want different things at different times from different people. College applications are far more personal than the literal list of questions and answers on the page. We Got In and the many other similar services that cater to anxious high school students attempt to create a list of “approved” characteristics that in no way reflect the individuality of every student and every situation.
College applications are only one part of the holistic college admissions process, and the truth is no one knows “what the committee is looking for” or why we were selected to come here. So please, don’t sell your old application to empower those who “lack affluence and college savvy.” Instead of helping, you’ll only be ensuring the meltdowns of thousands of students for years to come as they, and everyone else, obsess over a process that will always defy understanding.
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