Discuss as:

Teen's lament over college rejections draws detractors, defenders

Suzy Lee Weiss, the sassy high school teenager who told off all the universities that rejected her in a controversial Wall Street Journal essay, says she was just having some sarcastic fun with the piece.

“It was a joke,” she said Thursday about her controversial op-ed that takes a swipe at diversity, volunteering, overseas service trips and even her parents. 

“It’s a satire. That’s the point. Just like ’30 Rock’ is a satire, which pokes fun at things that are politically correct. That’s what I was trying to do,” Weiss told TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie.

Weiss said she penned her essay after getting numerous rejection letters in a single day. Despite a 4.5 GPA, an SAT score of 2120 and a stint as a U.S. Senate page, Weiss was rejected by Princeton, Yale, Vanderbilt and the University of Pennsylvania.

“Like millions of teenagers out there, I was crying to my mom and she said ‘I cannot hear about this any more, just go talk to someone else,’ so I called my sister,” she said. “I was crying, but she was hysterically laughing, and she said, ‘Go write this down.’ So I did and this is what came out of it.”

Weiss' sister is a former assistant editor at the Journal.

In her March 29 op-ed, Weiss writes: “What could I have done differently over the past years? For starters, had I known two years ago what I know now, I would have gladly worn a headdress to school. Show me to any closet, and I would've happily come out of it.”

Weiss also blames her parents for failing to force her to take up hobbies. And she laments not attending summer camps in Africa, where she could “scoop up some suffering child, take a few pictures, and write my essays about how spending that afternoon with Kinto changed my life.”

The piece drew fierce reaction from detractors and supporters. Some applauded Weiss for shunning political correctness, describing her as a truth teller. But others dismissed her as a whiny, self-indulgent child throwing a tantrum.

On TODAY, Weiss said she has no problem with diversity, calling it “a wonderful thing,” but said colleges need to take a more holistic approach in their selection process.

“In this day and age, we’re being judged on things that we cannot control as opposed to things that we can,” she said.

Weiss also said she holds no grudges against people who volunteer.

“I’ve done a ton of volunteer work, and let me tell you, it wasn’t just to get into college,” she said. “But I do think there’s a lot of resume padding going on right now, just to get into these amazing schools.”

Weiss said she has only received positive feedback from her peers, who have told her how much they can relate to her frustration. Weiss also has received offers for jobs and internships.

“Everyone my age, whether they wanted to get into Penn state their whole lives or Harvard is agreeing with me that it’s just a rat race nowadays and it’s such a business model as opposed to who’s most qualified should get in,” she said. “It’s a crapshoot and I understand that.”

 

Read more: 

"The Gatekeepers": How top colleges make their choices

Video: How to help your teen find the right college

Girls, stick to it and you'll battle boys in math