Enough with other students fraudulently claiming my identity
I am a low-income first-generation student at Brown University. As, in fact first generation and low income. Not in the appropriate way “Let me check a box indicating minority status that does not describe me so that I get special consideration in admissions”, but in the appropriate way “My school’s annual tuition is more seven times higher than those of my mother. in a year “. Much less glamorous, I know, but at least it’s real.
During my college application cycle, I saw classmates “joke” about lying to admissions officers about their parents never receiving a college education while writing from the comfort of their $1.5 million home about their “experiences” with financial troubles. If anything was poor here, it was not their financial situation.
While a suspicious number of self-proclaimed low-income first-generation college students spent time horseback riding in high school, I balanced two part-time jobs and continue to do so in college. And while these students were rafting, I was starting a business to pay for my various educational programs that my family couldn’t afford. Before my second semester in college started, I had sent my family hundreds of dollars to fix the car, pay for groceries, or whatever needed to be done that week. I had to refuse medical treatment for co-payments not covered by insurance and rushed to pay college fees for necessary things like laundry and printing services.
Students displaying supposed traumas and difficulties are an all too popular trend in today’s cutthroat world of college admissions. A 2021 survey by Intelligent.com asked 1,250 white applicants over the age of 16 if they had claimed to be from a racial minority in their applications. An incredible 34% said yes. It’s even easier to claim poverty or first-generation status, with different schools having different interpretations of what those terms actually mean, and as candidates found benefits in defining themselves as disadvantaged, they went to shameful lengths. to take advantage of a system that just wasn’t designed for them.
In January 2022, Mackenzie Fierceton, an accepted Rhodes Scholar and student at the University of Pennsylvania, rejected her acceptance of the prestigious scholarship and possibly even her master’s degree following questions about her status as a self-proclaimed low-income first generation. raised. Investigations concluded that Fierceton – whose grandfather was a college graduate, attended a private high school while being raised in an upper-middle-class household by his radiologist mother – had been ‘grossly dishonest’ in his job applications. both at Penn and Rhodes Stock Exchange. .
Fierceton wasn’t the first, and won’t be the last student to cling to this complex identity — what’s anomalous is that she had her allegations investigated. In an interview with The chronicle of higher education, Fierceton said she identifies as a low-income, first-generation college student “based on Penn’s own definitions,” and she has a serious point about that. At the University of Penn, low-income first-generation students are considered those who are “the first in their families to go to college and or who come from low-income households.
Ambiguities – starting with and or– hidden in this seemingly simple definition invite manipulation. Because there are no examples of what low income means, students can tackle Penn’s honor system, similar to New York’s HFDC housing program for low-income people. income has become a subsidy for young people with little income but abundant family wealth.
It’s not just Penn. At Cornell University, FGLI status is available to applicants who “believe that previous academic and social experiences have been limited due to socio-economic status.
The universities are at least as much at fault here as the candidates who lie to them. How can you expect people to follow a rule that was never established? Short answer: you can’t.
At Brown, the first generation includes students who “identify as not having been exposed to or unfamiliar with navigating higher institutions such as Brown, who may need additional resources.” The university rejects establishing a rigid formula to define this unique identity, instead providing vague suggestions that leave things open to individual interpretation or manipulation. Is any first-year student become familiar with the academic culture of his university? The fear of the unknown is not reserved for the poor, thank you anyway!
Attending an Ivy League college as an Ivy League student was shocking. It shook up my perception of the world and changed the way I perceive the people around me. At the end of August, I participated in a pre-orientation program hosted by Brown that aimed to provide students with guidance on transitioning to college, educate them on the issues faced by marginalized communities in the United States, and encourage them to think critically about their own identity. Called “The Third World Transition Program” and run by the Brown Center for Students of Color, the program grew out of “protests led by women and black students in 1968 and 1975 [that] demanded that the university provide them with better support and resources,” according to Brown’s website.
For a program originally designed to provide resources to underserved people of color, the program consisted of an incredibly large number of wealthy, white, and heritage students who introduced me to the wildest understandings of identity I had. never heard. One boy told me he was first generation because his mother had gone to college outside the United States. His mother went to Oxford. Another girl told me she had a low income because her dad made $400,000 a year, and that’s “poor New York.” Every time another student made thoughtless remarks about their past, I remember standing in front of them, eyebrows raised and jaw dropped, grateful for the mask hiding my utter, utter disbelief. It was almost like clockwork: meeting a new classmate, asking about the new classmate’s background, finding out that the new classmate doesn’t understand or recognize their privilege, freaking out, moving on thing.
The reality of life as a low-income, first-generation college student is not something I would wish on anyone. It’s certainly not something schools need to kickstart by effectively engaging students to use their storytelling gifts to make their stories fit that identity. Giving underfunded students a chance is a redistribution of privilege, not a bonus for applicants to play or a way for schools to signify diversity without actually working to create it.