“The Secret to Getting In”

IMG_1878 Photo by Carli Kovel Jacob Pharoah Starting in late March, a few of you might have made the journey to your local movie theater to watch “Admission.” As if the prospect of yet another glorious Tina Fey movie didn’t inspire our excitement enough, the movie had an overwhelming relevance for many of us. Whether you’re a, perhaps, over-zealous freshman dreaming of your future college plans, or a senior faced with the reality of actually going to college next year, thinking about college in high school is inevitable. The movie follows Tina Fey, a lovable Admissions Officer at Princeton University, as she gallivants around the Northeast giving information sessions, befriending students, and falling deeply in love with Paul Rudd… or John Halsey as he’s called in the film. On top of this, Tina also has to decide who makes the cut for Princeton’s class of 2016: “the most remarkable freshman class in Princeton history.” After a series of twists and turns in the story, the day of reckoning finally comes for the applicants, and the Admissions officers sit around a table, laden with orange folders, to decide the fate of thousands of students. To add a comical effect, rejected students fall through a trapdoor, but as I heard the screams of students with “lacking” test scores or GPA’s as they plunged through a hole in the floor, the mood of the scene changed for me. From this display, it appeared like a student’s GPA and test scores outweighed skills, personality, and interests to an alarming degree. The film seemed to bring up an interesting question: are colleges looking for a specific formula when they look at candidates? Every accepted candidate had a GPA easily above a 4.0 in the movie and lackluster SAT scores simply did not cut it. With all of this in mind, I couldn’t help but think of the talented kids who didn’t fit this category, were they not “remarkable” too? Back in the real world, out of all the applicants that applied with a GPA of 3.5 or below to Princeton last year, only 2.7% of them got in. That said, with the reassuring words of our College Counselors in hand, I’m aware that this is an extreme depiction of the admissions process, and that we aren’t merely a page of numbers in an application pool. Ms. Lieberman comments that having to conform to a system is a “perception that students have, but many people are able to find ways to be creative in their applications,” and that many “people who apply to college with great success don’t have all A’s.” We all know that the fervor of the race to college creates myths and distorts information, but has it all become too much? Many of you will have heard of Suzy Weiss, who, upon being rejected from her top college choices, proceeded to write an article about it in The Wall Street Journal. Weiss claims that the secret to a dreamy college admissions experience is having “nine extracurriculars, six leadership positions, three varsity sports, killer SAT scores and two moms.” Although she looks at the process from a different angle, she touches upon similar questions that arose from the movie. The article got a whopping amount of coverage nationally, which has made many people feel like the obsession with college admissions has gone too far. As Ms. Lieberman put it “if only we, as a society, spent this much time and thought on issues that are really troubling… like leveling the playing field between the “Haves and Have Nots” or helping students actually graduate from college.” It seems like the admissions process has been glamorized to the point that the realities of attending college, such as paying for it, are being largely disregarded.  ]]>