The “prejudice” surprise in Chicago Trib

Headline in recent (Aug. 15) Chicago Tribune: One group definitely faces prejudice in college admissions. It’s not who you think.

I didn’t know who to think because everyone I think of has already been thought of by someone.

So let’s cut to author Jonathan Zimmerman’s answer: It’s introverts.

This hits me hard since I’m an introvert and I’ve spent my entire life trying to deal with this. To my mother—also an introvert and a domineering influence in my self-concept—this was my greatest flaw that had no name.

I had thought that my problem was that I was consistently somewhat depressed as a child, but I didn’t even know the word to describe my biggest crime against humanity, introversion.

Now after a few unsatisfactory experiments with antidepressants, I’ve come to think I don’t have a chemical imbalance. I simply am what I am, and as today’s article once again proves, what I am sucks. At least, it sucks here in the USA.

Bet you thought the discriminated-against group is Asians

The article talks about them too. It’s because there’s significant overlap between being Asian and being introverted.

Lots of Asians have the test scores and grades to get into Harvard, but they flunk the personality evaluation. One Asian American, for instance, was described as a “’hard worker,’ but ‘would she relax and have any fun?’”

Admittance to Harvard is for those who will have more fun? Really??

I would think that for a prestige institution, studying would come first

Maybe Harvard and its ilk aren’t so great scholastically. Yes, they have Nobel winners and such, but these stars probably don’t work much with undergrads. Are Biology 101 and Psych 101 at Harvard much different than at other colleges?

It appears these institutions lead primarily in offering networking opportunities. What with wealthy grads, well-connected current students, and institutional name recognition, they need grads who can contribute to the interaction more than they need high placements on the GREs.

Apparently what counts is leadership

I’ve got my doubts about how genuine some of this leadership is and whether it’s all that beneficial to these institutions and to society.

Kids must establish themselves at such a young age to prove themselves worthy of admission in time for senior year of high school. I wonder how much of their leadership in humanitarian and other endeavors is substantially the work and financial investment of their parents.

Running a lemonade stand and donating the profits to Jerry’s Kids doesn’t cut it. Teens have to self-brand their projects and generate media coverage to validate their leadership.

Attending these colleges must be exhausting

Students must prove continually that they are natural leaders to justify their admittance. Hanging out and living communally must be miserable as they all try to be the Big Cheese. There’s no prestige in compromise or worse yet, being a follower in any way. Or in confiding in each other’s problems and quietly helping others.

Why do I care about this?

I care about this because I am an introvert (and there’s an element of sour grapes too). No way would I make it into a renowned university regardless of my grades. In my teens I was committed to visible accomplishments, especially class rank and extracurricular events, but I did not have enough of a sense of what I cared most about nor my highest strengths to set myself apart.

I also care from a broader perspective. We read a lot about the upper 1% economically speaking. It is a concern, but at least theoretically, we can enter this elite group at any point in our lives.

However, we can never enter the education elite past a certain point in our lives that I have definitely passed.

It’s a bummer that a country that considers itself to be so democratic, open to career success for all, is so restrictive.

This is a topic I have written about in the past: Is Ohio State good enough?

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