“He wrote about his genitalia, and how he was under-endowed,” Motto told me. “He was going for something about masculinity and manhood, and how he had to get over certain things.”
Motto, who was an assistant director of admissions at Yale from 2001 to 2003 and evaluated applications part time from 2007 to 2008, said that essays as shocking as those two were a small minority. Other people who have screened college applications or coached applicants through the admissions process echoed that assessment.
But they also noted, as he did, an impulse in many essay writers to tug readers into the most intimate corners of their lives and to use unfiltered frankness as a way to grab attention. In some of the essays that students begin to draft and some of the essays that they actually wind up submitting, there are accounts of , sexual abuse, self-mutilation, domestic violence, , . Sally Rubenstone, one of the authors of the “Panicked Parents’ Guide to College Admissions,” has called this “the -ization of the college admissions essay,” referring to the host of one of the TV talk shows best known for putting private melodrama on a public stage.
Stephen Friedfeld, one of the founders of AcceptU, an admissions consulting firm, told me that in the essay of a student he and his colleagues worked with this year, he encountered a disorder he’d never heard of before: cyclic syndrome. And Friedfeld and his colleagues huddled over the wisdom of the student’s account of his struggle with it. Would it seem too gross? Too woe-is-me?
Their solution was to encourage the student to emphasize the medical education that he’d undertaken in trying to understand his ailment. They also recommended that he inch up to the topic and inject some disarming humor. Friedfeld said that the final essay began something like this: “In my Mom’s car? Yep, I’ve done it there. As I’m waiting in line to eat my lunch in school? Yep, I’ve done it there.” The “it” was left vague for a few sentences.
Right now, during the summer months between the junior and senior years of high school, many kids who’ll be putting together their college applications in the fall start to sweat the sorts of essays they’ll write. And as they contemplate potential topics, some of them go to highly emotional places.
“Being a little vulnerable can give great insight into your character,” said Joie Jager-Hyman, a former admissions officer at and the president of College Prep 360, which helps students assemble their applications. “I’ve had successful essays on topics like ‘my father’s alcoholism’ or ‘my parents got divorced because my dad is gay.’ ”
She’ll shepherd students through four or more drafts. Michele Hernandez, another prominent admissions counselor, runs one or more sessions of an Application Boot Camp every summer in which roughly 25 to 30 kids will be tucked away for four days in a hotel to work with a team of about eight editors on what she told me were as many as 10 drafts of each of three to five different essays. The camp costs $14,000 per student. That doesn’t include travel to it, the hotel bill, breakfast or dinners, but it does include lunch and a range of guidance, both before and during the four days, on how students should fill out college applications and best showcase themselves.
Hernandez, Jager-Hyman and others in the booming admissions-counseling business try to steer students away from excessively and awkwardly naked testimonials, which can raise red flags about students’ emotional stability and about their judgment.
“Admissions officers pay as much attention to students’ choice of essay topic as they do to the details in their essays,” Motto told me.
He added that admissions officers can sniff out an essay that a student got too much help on, and he told me a funny story about one student he counseled. He said that the boy’s parents “came up with what they thought was the perfect college essay,” which described the boy as the product of “an exceptionally difficult , with many ups and downs, trips to the hospital, various doctor visits.”
“The parents drafted a sketch of the essay and thought it was terrific,” Motto said. Then they showed it to their son, “and he pointed out that everything mentioned happened before he was born.” He ended up choosing a topic that spoke to his post-utero life as a math lover who found a way to use those skills to help patients at a physical rehabilitation center.
THE blind spots and miscalculations that enter into the essay-writing process reflect the ferocious determination of parents and children to impress the gatekeepers at elite schools, which accept an ever smaller percentage of applicants. Students are convinced that they have to package themselves and communicate in entirely distinctive fashions.
“We argue that one of the ways to help your case is to show that you have a voice,” said André Phillips, the senior associate director of recruitment and outreach at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. “But in that effort, sometimes students cross the line. In trying to be provocative, sometimes students miss the point.”
Motto said that one Yale applicant “actually described himself as one of the world’s great Casanovas” and said that his amazing looks inspired envy in other boys and competition among girls vying for his affection.
In response to several essays about emotional trauma, Motto contacted the students’ secondary schools to make sure that the applicants were O.K. He said he called the guidance counselor at the school of the girl who had urinated on herself, expressing concern about the essay and about whether she might be sabotaging her own application. He said that the counselor was aware of the essay and as baffled by it as Motto was.
The girl didn’t get into Yale, Motto said. Neither did the boy who mulled his genitalia. And neither did Casanova. There were apparently limits to the reach of his legendary sexual magnetism, and the Gothic spires and ivy-covered walls of a certain campus in lay beyond them.Continue reading the main story
the school to prison pipeline
- Length: 1989 words (5.7 double-spaced pages)
- Rating: Excellent
The school to prison pipeline is a phenomenon that refers to the practices and policies that have pushed school children, especially the most at-risk children, out of classrooms and into the juvenile justice system. This disturbing occurrence indicates the prioritization of incarceration over the education of children. Most alarmingly, many of the children being targeted have learning disabilities or histories of poverty, abuse or neglect. Instead of being targeted, these children would much rather benefit from additional counseling and educational services. Moreover, the knowledge acquired in this course will be incorporated in this paper and used to explain the points made. In this term paper, what will be discussed is the expansion of the zero tolerance policy, the different views on the policy, who is mostly targeted, the effects on the juveniles and any alternative solutions that could diminish this dismaying occurrence for becoming a larger problem.
There are various reasons why many juveniles are ending up in the juvenile justice system unjustly. The pipeline commences with inadequate resources in public schools. Many children are locked into second rate educational environments in which they are placed in overcrowded classrooms, insufficient funding, lack of special education services and even textbooks. This failure to meet the educational needs of children leads to more dropout rates which could also increase the risk of later court involvement. Surprisingly enough, some school may even encourage children to drop out in response to pressures from test-based accountability regimes which create incentives to push out low-performing students to increase overall test scores.
Another major reason why juveniles are ending up in the juvenile justice system is because many schools have incorporate the zero tolerance policy and other extreme school disciplinary rules. In response to violent incidents in schools, such as the Columbine High School massacre, school disciplinary policies have become increasingly grave. These policies have been enacted at the school, district and state levels with the hopes of ensuring the safety of students and educators. These policies all rely on the zero tolerance policy. While it is understandable that protecting children and teachers is a priority, it is not clear that these strict policies are succeeding in improving the safety in schools.
Furthermore, educational institutions are suppose to emphasize learning and teaching- it is children grow and learn more about the world each day. However today's educational institutions mostly rely on punishment, violence, and misbehavior. Guided by the mass increase of school shooting and reports of increase in school violence, schools around the world have recently adopted revolutionary solution and prevention methods.
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Although something should be in regards to school violence, the route that most educational institutions are taking is creating more problems than solutions. The zero-tolerance policy is a strict suggestion that emphasizes fixed rules for students and faculty to follow. There is no in between solutions, if a policy is broken, the consequences are extreme. There is no learning from a mistake, or second chances, once a child breaks a school policy, they usually face suspension or expulsion.
Although, the use of the zero-tolerance policy has resulted in positive outcomes from some institutions, the negative outcomes proved to be greater. These policies automatically impose severe punishment regardless of circumstances which has lead to unjust and ridiculous punishments for many juveniles. Under these policies, students have been expelled for merely bringing scissors to school and the rates of suspension have augmented dramatically in recent years. Moreover, the children who are suspended or expelled are often left unsupervised and without any formative and constructive activities, there is a greater likelihood that these children get mixed up with the wrong crowds or participate in wrongful activity which increase the chances of court involvement.
Furthermore, as harsh penalties for minor offenses become more prevalent, educational institutions are increasingly ignoring due process protections for suspensions and expulsions. Also, placing increased reliance on police rather than educators to maintain discipline has resulted in various under-resourced schools in becoming pipeline gateways for many juveniles. Many school districts employ officers to patrol school hallways, often when these individuals have little to no training in working with juveniles. As a result to this, juveniles are more likely to be subject to school arrests even though the majority are usually for non violent offenses such as disruptive behavior. The unfortunate rise of school based arrest most directly exemplifies the criminalization of school children. It has become the quickest route from the classroom to the jailhouse.
Firstly, there are advocates of zero tolerance policies who emphasize positive changes in school security, ways of punishment, and change in student behavior. These individuals believe that the school and student behavior has improved because of the practice of this policy. One positive change in reinstated safety in schools. This gives educators, administrators and parents a sense of security enabling them to feel more at peace when working at schools or sending their children to school. Advocates believe that schools should be a place of learning without any safety concerns which is why they firmly believe the zero tolerance-policy is efficient. Also, they believe this policy promotes fair punishment, eliminating racial or socioeconomic discrimination.
On the opposite side of the debate, those who oppose the zero tolerance-policy believe it should be eliminated because it lacks logic. Those who oppose believe that the zero tolerance policy for being too extreme and inappropriate for schools. They believe that this policy punishes without reason and it it usually an exaggerated means to an end. They argue that the lack of logic is catalyzed by overreaction and an unnecessary hype for additional security. Also, punishing and criminalizing a juvenile so quickly can do more harm then good. Labeling the youth will not enable them to improve their behavior, however it could reinforce it. Taking drastic measures and Criminalizing a child for actions that are not severe could confuse children and it could enable them to believe they are in fact, criminals. It has also been seen that this policy is discriminatory and how it targets specific individuals more than others.
What is perplexing is the fact that it has been most dramatic for children of racial minorities and children with disabilities. For instance, African-Americans make up for about 18 percent of students, however they account for 46 percent of those suspended more than once. Juveniles with disabilities are also disproportionately represented in the pipeline despite the enhanced protections expended to them under law. It has been found that while 8.6 percent of public school children have been identified as having disabilities that affect their ability to learn, these students alarmingly make up 32 percent of youth in juvenile detention centers.
Moreover, these measures can have serious consequences on the juveniles who are affected by these harsh policies. Juveniles who are severely punished for minor offenses like disruptive behavior are often criminalized. These children are treated like prisoners and, all too often, actually end up behind bars. If a child is not given an opportunity to actually discover his/her potential and is treated like a criminal because of a minor occurrence, the children will actually believe he or her is a delinquent and that can lead to the child becoming what others labeled him or her. In many instances, labeling children often leads to the self-fulfilling prophecy.
Following this further, a self-fulfilling prophecy is when a statement may alter actions and therefore become true. So labeling children delinquent or criminalizing them so severely impact their behavior and their perception of themselves. Also, because of this children who are penalized under zero tolerance policies are more likely to find their way back into the juvenile justice system. It is important to give children the opportunity to understand that they have the same rights and opportunities than others. However, if individuals are so quick to criminalize and label juveniles, it is not surprising if they actually live up to those certain expectations.
Another disadvantage juveniles have is that those who become involved in the juvenile justice system are often denied procedural protections in the courts. Students who commit minor offenses could end up in secured detention if they violate probation conditions which forbids them for activities like ditching school or disrespecting their educators. The odds are stacked up against the juveniles who are incarcerated and at times they are not given the opportunities they have a right to. Unfortunately, the lack of knowledge makes this far too often.
Following this further, there are disciplinary alternative schools, in which some juveniles who have been suspended or expelled have no right to an education at all. In others, these juveniles are sent to disciplinary alternative schools. Unfortunately this is a growing problem and these shadow systems have no accountability standards and may fail to render educational services to the individuals who are in need of it the most. As a result, struggling juveniles are permanently locked into inferior educational settings, or are funneled from alternative schools into the juvenile juvenile justice system.
Its crucial for individuals to understand that there are better alternatives to just pushing children into the prison pipeline. Educators need a lot more support and training for effective discipline and schools need to utilize their best practices for behavior modification to keep the children where they belong which is school. Keeping at-risk children can be tough for educators under the pressure of meeting accountability measures, however these educators are in a unique position to deviate juveniles from falling into the school to prison pipeline. Educators know their students and this puts them in a position in which they can keep try their best attempts of keeping students in the classroom. When educators take a more responsive and less punitive approach, juveniles are more likely to react positively as opposed to just punishing them for minor offenses under the zero tolerance policy.
It's important for schools to prevent the school to prison pipeline. A few ways in which this could occur are, there should be an increase in the use of positive behavior interventions, there should be a compiled annual report on the total number of disciplinary actions that push students out of the classroom based on gender, race and ability, schools could also create agreements with police departments and court systems to limit arrests at school and the use of restraints, such as handcuffs. Another crucial way that could decrease this trend is for schools to provide simple explanations of infractions and prescribed responses in the student code of conduct to ensure fairness, to Create appropriate limits on the use of law enforcement in public schools and most importantly to Train teachers on the use of positive behavior supports for at-risk students.
In conclusion, the school to prison pipeline is a very controversial topic and although there are various views on the subject matter, it is important to understand that incarceration should not topple education. Every child should have the right to an education and when individuals prioritize other factors, that can become a bit complicated. Understandably, the reason why these policies are heavily exercised is to provide the utter most safety to the staff and children. However, when these policies become too rigid and extreme, they could end up doing more harm then good. If a juvenile is criminalized over petty acts of misbehavior and extreme measures are taken such as suspension, that can take a toll on the individual. Although individuals have a right to feel safe, they also have a right to second chances and to learn from their mistakes. However, this does not become possible if they are reprimanded when punitive measures as extreme as expulsion are taken. If anything, criminalizing and labeling individuals can lead the individuals to live up to those labels and expectations. If the zero tolerance program is installed in the educational system, schools must decide when and how it should be enforced. Zero tolerance policies can limit misbehavior, however it could also negatively impact the juvenile's future.