I always knew that the college admissions system was corrupt. If you had the money, you had a way in. And no, I don't just mean the pay-off-a-coach-to-get-your-kid-in way in.
Unfortunately, there are and always have been lots of other methods to take advantage of the system if you had the money. However, the reality of the situation is that not all of the perpetrators were Lori Loughlins or CEOs with a boatload of money. In a sense, my family, too, is guilty.
No, my parents did not bribe anyone to let me into USC, nor did they donate a fat wad of cash right before I applied. However, I did go to a college-preparatory school for 13 years. Being a private school, my grade's population never surpassed 90 kids, and my classrooms were on average around 15 students. Throughout my 13 years in private school, I acquired a solid foundation that would later give me a leg up when applying for college.
The small classroom sizes fostered my academic curiosity and intellect. This intimate learning experience benefitted me extremely, and I was able to fully utilize my academic potential. If I struggled with a concept, I could easily meet with my teacher outside of class, or ask my many questions in class. Additionally, if there was a subject that I simply didn't get (like physics, for example…) I was fortunate enough to be able to get a private tutor.
Another privilege that came with private education was the authentic teacher-student relationships I had. At my school, we called our teachers by their first names- sometimes we even got coffee with them outside of school. They were like our mentors. So, when the time came to apply for college, most, if not all, of the students had at least one or two teachers to ask for a letter of recommendation. I've heard that these letters would sometimes be the difference between a student's rejection or their acceptance. I also had a fantastic college counselor from school who wrote a letter of recommendation and made calls to colleges on my behalf. Just going to the school I went to gave me a leg up, as my school had many strong prior relationships with big-name schools around the nation.
Through my years in private education, I was prepared for the standardized testing that would come in my later high school years. Starting from kindergarten, my writing, reading, and math skills were conditioned and developed. This helped me score a high-percentile score on the SAT. And on top of this prior advantage, I also received thorough 1-on-1 SAT tutoring outside of school and also took multiple mock-exams in a proctored location through the same program. I was also able to receive therapy for my test-taking anxiety.
It could be said that the world was, and still is, my oyster. Not because I'm some extremely deserving genius, but because of the situation I was fortunate to be born, or rather, adopted, into. Because of the advantages, I grew up with, I was able to fully achieve my academic potential as a kid. This not only helped me get into my dream college but also fueled my passion for learning as well as dreaming.
So, while I may not be an Olivia Jade, I must acknowledge the immense privilege that has allowed me to reach this point in my life. And for that, I will be forever grateful. But even though our "situations" may be completely out of our control, that doesn't mean it's okay to be ignorant, elitist, or narcissistic. I wish everyone could be given the same shot as the other guy. But unfortunately, the world just doesn't work that way.
The truth is, if you have money, you will inherently have more opportunities. You will be able to get into more prestigious colleges. You will be on the path towards higher-paying jobs. And likewise, you will continue the cycle of wealth and capitalism that has existed for decades.
So while we can choose to hate or damn the wealthy, we should instead be asking ourselves, "What can I do to make the most out of the opportunities that I've been given?" Because even though some people may pay, cheat, or lie their way to the top, the honest, longer route is extremely viable and in fact, preferable. Some people will get there faster, and that's just unfortunate. But that's just the way the world works.
But this should not discourage you-- remember that there's not one way to become successful, nor is there one way to be able to lead a happy, fulfilling life. So dare to be bold. Strive for authenticity and humbleness.
You'll be amazed to see how far that will take you.
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