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Acceptance by Ivies doesn’t remove stigma

George Curry | 4/14/2014, 11:26 a.m.
George E. Curry, former editor-in-chief of Emerge magazine, is editor-in-chief of the National Newspaper Publishers Association News Service. He is a keynote speaker, moderator and media coach. Curry can be reached through his website, http://www.georgecurry.com. You can also follow him at http://www.twitter.com/currygeorge.

(NNPA) – You would think that news of a high school student from a family of African immigrants getting accepted into all eight Ivy League universities would be met with universal celebration. If you thought that, think again.

First the news:

In the next month, Kwasi Enin must make a tough decision: Which of the eight Ivy League universities should he attend this fall?

A first-generation American from Shirley, N.Y., the 17-year-old violist and aspiring physician applied to all eight, from Brown to Yale.

The responses began rolling in over the past few months, and by late last week when he opened an e-mail from Harvard, he found he’d been accepted to every one. School district officials provided scanned copies of acceptance letters from all eight Monday. Yale confirmed that it was holding a spot for Enin.

The feat is extremely rare, say college counselors – few students even apply to all eight, because each seeks different qualities in their freshman class. Almost none are invited to attend them all.

The Ivy League colleges are among the nation’s most elite. (USA Today)

Comments posted on the news website Reddit leave little doubt that even with all of Enin’s accomplishments, many people will never see beyond his race. The comments show appalling ignorance not only about race in the United States, but about the college admission process itself.

A person with the sign-in name of Hairlesswalkingchimp wrote, “I’m gonna get real with you reddit; no matter how pissed this makes you it doesn’t change the fact that he would not have had this absurd success if he was a white kid.”

A writer identifying himself as Jetusan asked, “Are you just as pissed that 30% of admissions at Harvard are legacies? How many are less qualified white people, I wonder?”

That’s a point most critics miss. Universities, including Harvard and Yale, admit a certain number of students in each class based on whether a parent attended the Ivy League institution. They call them “Legacy Admissions” and that’s how George W. Bush got admitted into Yale, following in the footsteps of his father and his father’s father. Other students are admitted because a parent made a major donation to the university.

“I am surprised that no one has mentioned that for the seven other schools he chooses not to attend, 7 students will be chosen from the schools respective wait list, and let’s be realistic, odds are they are white.”

Overlooked in some of the posts is the fact that college admissions deans try to construct a balanced class, not robotically picking applicants based on grades and SAT scores.

“Ivy Leagues don’t want well rounded applicants, they want a well rounded class,” wrote house_music_420. “It’s much easier to get in if you do something out of the ordinary and are really good at it instead of being pretty good at many things. I’ve talked to college admissions people and they all say that they are trying to build a well rounded class.