Poison Ivy League

This is a text I just finished about an hour ago for one of my English classes. Any comments are welcome.

Poison Ivy League: A Guide to Admission

Having studied at one of America’s prestigious universities sure looks good on one’s résumé, be it Ivy League or any other of the elite institutions (e.g. Stanford, Duke, or Berkeley). It is a goal many young people, American or not, would like to achieve. The sole question that has concerned generations of potential (and maybe lost) masterminds is, "How, for the love of God, do I get accepted?" Well, here’s the deal:

A) You are as smart as Leonardo da Vinci, Albert Einstein, and Stephen W. Hawking combined and your SAT score is a clean 1,600. This would of course mean that you are a wunderkind and would not have to worry about being admitted to any of the aforementioned. No, recruiters from these universities would actually come to you when you are still attending prep school and they would be courting you. Very much like the minnesingers did with the damsels, back in the good old days. Being courted by so many universities has one disadvantage though, you actually have a choice. Or,

B) Your daddy is neck-deep in cash. Let’s face it, this is probably the easiest way of them all. Just make sure your parents donate a sum that has at least seven figures in front of the decimal point several months before you apply. Or why not have them endow a whole chair? That way you will be personally acquainted with your future professor and nothing can stand in the way of your academic career, not even your own stupidity. Or,

C) You are as dumb as a bag of straw but, by God, you know how to kick and toss that football into the end zone. Don’t like football? No problem, pretty much any sport will do. Basketball, lacrosse, hockey… Recruiters from the athletic teams are courting even more than those on the lookout for the brainy guys. One might actually say they are sucking up. A good college basketball or football player is almost as valuable as a Nobel laureate. After all, an NCAA title really brings in the money and that’s why, as an athlete, you get a full athletic scholarship to top it all off. Sadly enough, this is also the only way an underprivileged teenager from the "projects" can get into the big leagues. Even if he (or she; not so much though, since women’s college sports are by far not as popular) is smart.

Brains, cash, or being a jock are the three major ways through which you might want to consider applying to an elite university. One way or the other, you will get in, provided you are supreme in one or more of the above. And once you are in, nothing else matters. None of your future bosses will care how good (or bad) your grades were at Harvard, Yale, or Columbia. The mere fact that you went there will get you the job, unless, of course, you are applying for a chair at your alma mater.

Inspired by Michael Wolff, "Show Them the Money," The New York Times Sunday Book Review, September 17, 2006, and,
Dorothy Wickenden, "Top of the Class,"
The New Yorker, September 25, 2006 (online), October 02, 2006 (print).

This essay, of course, is not to be taken too seriously. I would love to attend one of those "elite" universities myself.

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