A Rambling About College Admissions

a poorly written and unedited flow of thoughts about getting into college. somewhat redundant at moments.

The way i see it, the formal education job market, thus social mobility, is all about membership and gatekeeping.

I’m not going to get into the research and data of whether or not SAT scores actually predict first year college “success”. (that’s all it was ever designed to predict). It hardly matters. it’s fraudulent.

Having gotten through every level of academic admissions and even sitting on the interviewer side of it, I can tell you that so much of it is arbitrary. Especially college/undergraduate access. There’s so much research that shows the multitude of things—multiple factors that impact grade point average— are outside of student’s control. Parent’s income, race, nutrition, support system, mental health, blah blah blah.

When you consider all colleges and universities as a single entitiy and all applicants trying to get in, there will be large amounts of people who don’t get accepted. It will literally be due to nothing significant except the fact that the universities simply cannot contain everyone. They’re not intended to.

When you boil down to one institution and just those who apply, again those who do not get accepted are simply on the wrong end of the cut off line. Everyone can’t get in. You might think a school is looking for those students who are the best fit and most likely to succeed, those made of the right stuff. Again, beloved, all that is fraudulent. 

Every year schools accept students who will without a doubt flunk out, those who will leave/quit for whatever reason. If you ranked all the students, and look at the cut off point, the difference between the student right above and right below the cut off line could be anywhere from insignificant to nonexistant. It’s just that the cut had to be somewhere. Everyone couldn’t get in.

it just says a lot less about the applicant’s abilities. it’s all about membership. it’s all about having the right connections (resources) to unlock the path and please the gatekeepers. it’s about a seat at the table and there’s simply NOT enough room for everyone. if you look at the education machine as a unit and across time, you’ll see that it was only meant to prepare and pass through certain people. They’ve added on some components and some strays get through but those it was meant for still flow through quite nicely.

the machine slowly eliminates people.

 admittance to bachelor degrees programs is about having the right resources and a bit of a numbers game

what i mean is, applicants should give far less weight of their denial to their own efforts and who they are. applicants should realize that there’s far more at play, and after doing their part, it’s just chance and preexisting prestige.

plus, i’ve been on the otherside. the shit means little to nothing. i’ve met morons in college. there were mediocre students in college. i’ve met ppl who got into school after the application due date and acceptance dates because they happen to meet or know the right person. i’ve met people with great scholarships who probably shouldn’t have been invested in so heavily. i’ve met people who squandered their opporutnity.

i’ve met misogynist, racist, rapist, antigay people, classist people. all kinds of deplorableness make it through. sometimes all the way through PhD programs. A lot of crap makes it to and through. And I say, those who don’t shouldn’t internalize that. They ought to pick up the dice and roll again.

my current understanding of college is that if there was a spot for everyone somewhere then what’s the point of college? it seems inherently competitive in its reflection of the north american economy and job market. everyone can’t be CEO, or regional manager. Everyone can’t be the principal, everyone can’t be partner at a law firm or senator. someone has to drive the mail truck, someone has to collect the recycling, someone has to operate the train, someone has to make my waffle fries. 


sometimes it just takes knowing the right person. sometimes it takes the reviewer of the app to be in a certain headspace or with the right temperament. i don’t believe it’s consistent nor that it truly means something. it seems like a lottery. - i imagine a night club or any club really where access is limited, only a few can be members. the cut off mark, at great scrutiny, is inconsistent. it gets individualistic and you can focus on what you perceive as your right to get in and the unfairness that someone seemingly less qualified than you got in. but this is using a fine tooth comb to find consistent logic where most definitely isn’t any. 

access to college and beyond is all about membership. the collegiate machine simply can’t take everyone. it’s also not meant for everyone. Even still, everyone can’t make is through.

everyone can make it into A school, maybe. making it into the school of your choice is harder. Did you have the right combination of resources growing up? Did you meet well connected angel helping you get through? Did you go to a decent high school with decent college prep resources? Do you have a strong network of supportive and engaged adults? Did you eat well?

the more “prestigious” your school is and the more “selective” it is means that a lot of people apply there and that the cut off is more arbitrary.

a lot of people make it into these more elite institutions who really shouldn’t have. getting into college and even a specific college can say far less about you than you think.

Honorable Mentions

So, The Point