Monday, March 16, 2015

Girl gets accepted to Tulane... can't afford it... complains in an essay in the Washington Post...

So today, I happened across this essay on the Washington Post's Web site.  A young woman named Crysten Price from La Place, Louisiana wants to go to Tulane University.  She applied for a spot and got accepted.  Unfortunately, she can't afford the tuition.

Ms. Price is clearly a very intelligent and accomplished student.  She writes that she and another black female student at her high school are both vying for the honor of valedictorian.  She claims her race is important because no other black student has been valedictorian or salutatorian at her high school since it was founded in 1970.  For some reason-- unless I read it wrong-- she did not mention this on her application to Tulane.  She hoped for a full scholarship to Tulane and was denied.

So she's written an essay claiming that the high price of tuition has the effect of "shooing away" her and other bright but poor students.  I didn't see any indication that she had applied to other schools or for financial aid.  Based on her essay, it sounds like she applied to Tulane confident that she would get a full ride.

I do understand her disappointment.  It surprises me, though, that she didn't work closer with her guidance counselor to get a more realistic idea of what her dream school would cost and how she would get the money to pay for it.  I am also surprised that a young lady as bright as she is apparently hasn't looked for scholarships from other sources or... dare I say it?  Loans.  Many people who want to go to college end up with them.  I sure did.

She could do what Bill did.  He got a ROTC scholarship and went to a private junior military college (now defunct) and then transferred to American University.  American is a very expensive school, but he managed to get through with minimal debt because he joined the Army.

Or... she could go to a cheaper school and transfer...  or just plain go to a cheaper school.  When it comes down to it, in the long run, it's likely that no one is going to care where she went to school five years after she finishes.

I posted her article on Facebook and immediately got quite a few comments.  Most everyone was saying that she was coming off as entitled.  I also wrote that I think her writing is very affected and I'm surprised no one at the Washington Post helped her edit it.  Don't get me wrong.  She writes fine for someone in high school or even in college.  It's just that somewhere along the way, I think she was taught that using fifty cent words and pretentious language makes her seem smarter.  While I know she's a smart person, I'd be surprised if she speaks the way she writes.  It comes off as disingenuous.

When I first read the article, I noticed that there were seventeen comments, most of which were critical.  People were telling her to "stop whining" and take out loans.  One person said that she should leave her race out of her commentary about her achievements.  A woman who wrote that she was Ms. Price's sister left a comment shaming people for being "mean" to her little sister and reminding everyone that she's still a "child".

Maybe Crysten is still technically a child, but if she's a senior in high school, she will likely be an adult very soon.  She will need to get used to criticism.  It's not an easy thing to do; I still struggle with it myself.  But when you write something and put it out there for public consumption, you run the risk of being criticized, judged, and misunderstood.  The very fact that something she wrote got posted on the Washington Post's Web site indicates that she has a lot of potential.  And honestly, the comments I did read were not that bad.  Only one person flat out told her she needed to "quit crying".  Most of the other critical comments were fairly constructive.  I would expect someone her age to have been exposed to criticism before.  The world is a harsh place and you're not always going to get hearts and flowers when you express yourself.  It looks like Ms. Price was unprepared for criticism, though, because the existing comments and ability to leave new ones are now gone.

It's not news that college is very expensive these days.  I don't doubt that Ms. Price had big dreams of attending Tulane and was sure she'd get in.  What I don't understand is why, if she had such big dreams of going to her dream school, she didn't apply for more scholarships and loans.  And really, if she's as bright as she obviously is, why did she not apply to other schools that were more in league with what she can pay?

The United States is not Germany or Denmark.  We don't send a small number of very bright young people to university for free.  Whether or not you go to college and where you get to attend has as much to do with how much money you have as how much potential you have.  I think Ms. Price is learning what many people before her have learned; college is very expensive and requires sacrifices beyond study and scholarship.  Her situation is not dire, though.  She will have many options... as she matures, I hope she will understand that sometimes life throws you a detour as you work to achieve your dreams.

If all else fails, she can always claim God wants you to pay her tuition...

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