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Teen's lament over college rejections draws detractors, defenders

April 3, 2013 at 10:00 AM ET

College acceptance and rejection letters have poured into mailboxes, physical and electronic, for weeks now. Many disappointed high school seniors will keep their deepest feelings to themselves or a small circle of friends. But not Suzy Lee Weiss.

The Pittsburgh teen expressed extreme annoyance over her numerous rejection letters (she doesn’t disclose how many) in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that's creating a sensation. Weiss stereotypes minority students and overachieving teenagers in her letter “To (All) the Colleges That Rejected Me.” She also takes a swipe at everyone she blames for failing her, especially her parents.

Some applaud Weiss for shunning political correctness, describing her as a truth teller. But others have dismissed her as a whiny, self-indulgent child throwing a tantrum.

In her op-ed, Weiss wrote: “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 lifestyle website TheFrisky.com criticized the March 30 op-ed, saying it reads like an April Fools’ Day joke. Colleges, it points out, “are no different than the general population: They don’t like a----.” The site chided Wiess for throwing “the world’s biggest pity party” while her classmates hustled to secure internships and get themselves to volunteering and after-school activities.

“Maybe, Ms. Weiss, you were rejected because your piss-poor attitude of entitlement and privilege seeped out of every word you wrote on your college application,” said a response to the op-ed. “No one ‘lied to you’ about what colleges want. They want you to ‘be yourself,’ as long as the “you” in question isn’t a smug jerk who believes you’re entitled to get everything you want just because you want it.”

Twitter reaction was just as fierce, although the platform also offered Weiss a fair number of defenders.

“I have no idea who Suzy Lee Weiss is, but her op-ed piece on college rejection in today’s @WSJ was spot on,” one fan wrote.

“Here’s to Suzy Lee Weiss. She may not have made her college of choice before, but she has her pick of the litter now,” another supporter wrote.

Author and Silicon Valley entrepreneur Guy Kawasaki called the essay “maybe the best piece I’ve ever read in the Wall Street Journal.

“Drop everything and read this if you are going through the college-application process,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Others weren’t sure how to take her sarcasm: “I don’t know if you’ve made yourself more appealing or more appalling to the admissions committees, and to future employers.”

In the end, even Weiss poked fun at criticism she apparently anticipated.

“To those claiming that I am bitter — you bet I am! An underachieving selfish teenager making excuses for her own failures? That too!” she wrote. “To those of you disgusted by this, shocked that I take for granted the wonderful gifts I have been afforded, I say shhhh — ‘The Real Housewives’ is on.”

Read more:

"The Gatekeepers": How top colleges make their choices

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