Stop Asking People to Prostitute Their Experiences for You


As college admissions become ever more competitive, with the most elite schools admitting only 4 percent or 5 percent of applicants, the pressure to exaggerate, embellish, lie and cheat on college applications has intensified, admissions officials say. The high-stakes process remains largely based on trust: Very little is done in the way of fact-checking, and on the few occasions officials do catch outright lies, they often do so by chance.

How about we stop making it heartwarming that people basically have to beg in public for everything now? A good education, a way to get to and from work, cancer treatment, meds for a sick baby or grandmother, these are all occasions for these “sweet” stories in which people donate because they’re moved by the personal circumstances, which means people have to strip their sleeves and show their scars in public.

Should we take into account people’s life experiences? Absolutely. But there’s something vaguely gross about having to have a dead mom (or talk about the dead mom you have) in order to gain college admission. It’s gross that this kid did this, of course, because there are actual orphans and, you know, incredibly talented and overlooked students generally, out there applying too.

It’s grosser that this is considered an effective strategy. It’s not okay to substitute that kind of pressure to self-exposure for a social safety net and a society in general that protects everyone and gives everyone a chance to succeed. Without them having to “prove” anything, dead mom or no.


2 thoughts on “Stop Asking People to Prostitute Their Experiences for You

  1. This post NEEDED to be written, Athenae. Thank you so much for covering this angle.

    All the hoop-jumping, dog agility course-running, and kill-or-be-killed deathmatch-fighting students of all ages need to do to have a chance of pleasing the Masters of the Universe Gatekeepers who run the Academic Hunger Games is obscene, unhealthy, and counterproductive to ACTUAL education and learning. Not to mention living.

    One shouldn’t have to single-handedly start a program that saves Third World villages from starvation, while receiving chemotherapy for melanoma, and patenting several technological and pharmaceutical products as a hobby, just to have a chance of getting wait-listed at Eilite College #s 6,9,11,12,15, and 20.

    The admissions system itself is disgusting and the whole thing needs a complete overhaul
    to increase fairness, and to reduce, if not eliminate altogether, the need for padding and prostitution.

  2. Many application essays ask for applicants engagement in helping [poor people], which, in principle, sounds fine, until you hear that the kid which could drop a few thousand on air fare to [feed poor refugees in Africa or similar] was accepted, and lauded in the college’s newspaper.
    In medical school applications, the question is always, what did the applicant do, and what does he/she plan to do during/after med school to help ‘under-served communities.’
    Again it seems that paid experiences (‘service trip’ to volunteer in a developing country;
    raise your own air fare and possibly bring some supplies; unpaid volunteering, ‘shadowing’ a doctor ) is helpful for admission.
    Considering the student debt one accumulates, even students of good will to help others, may feel constraint to look for the best-paying jobs instead. Student debt is an efficient method of social control.
    And ‘outreach’ seems largely an effort to increase the application numbers, so a larger number of applicants can be rejected and the ‘selectivity’ score improved.

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