higher education

Smart White Girls Had a Rough Time Gaining Admission to Top Schools This Year

Wait-listed. Photo: iStockphoto

For white girls applying to the nation’s elite colleges and universities this year, it wasn’t enough to be really smart, writes The Daily Beast’s Steve Cohen. There’s a term for that type of applicant — an “unhooked white girl.”


That’s the euphemism for smart girls with really good grades and solid SAT scores, but who lack some special “hook” or positioning — for example, being a star athlete, concert pianist or first generation to go to college. They experienced a particularly tough time getting into most of the nation’s most competitive colleges. But they may enjoy a bit of peace of mind knowing everyone else did as well.

Cohen’s story also reviews the acceptance rates at hyper-selective schools like Harvard and Yale, which accepted only 5.9 percent and 6.8
percent of applicants, respectively. One source says colleges seek diversity, but that diversity is not just about race. But implicit in the discussion about “unhooked white girls” is that, yeah, race still has something to do with it.

Meanwhile the Supreme Court recently decided it would hear a case on racial preferences in admissions to public colleges, causing observers to wonder whether the court would alter a precedent established by Grutter v. Bollinger in 2003, which allows public colleges to consider race as a factor in admissions.

As for the “unhooked white girls” who struggled to gain admission to elite schools this year, they may be talented young people who would fare well at their desired school, opined Scott Farber, president and founder of A-List Education, and a test-preparation and admissions expert. However, he says, “Colleges are not looking for the well-rounded kid; they want the well-rounded class. And unless you are a superstar in some area, you’re just one of thousands of smart, all-around, but unhooked white girls. It may be unfair, but that’s life.”

Smart White Girls Had a Rough Time Gaining Admission to Top Schools This Year