Many high school students wait anxiously as the months go by before they receive their first college acceptance letter. It is a moment of great pride and joy for the students and their family members. Of course, there are times when students are met with rejection letters from colleges, and this is to be expected. When students are rejected, they generally set their sights elsewhere and hope for better. But what happens when you are neither accepted or rejected? What happens when you’re waitlisted?
According to the National Association of College Admission and Counseling, about 40 percent of colleges use waitlists. Often, waitlisting imposes a false sense of hope within the applicant. The amount of waitlisted college applicants has significantly increased over the years; however, there has not been a large yield in the students who are offered admission from these waitlists.
In 2017, Dartmouth College, one of the 8 Ivy League schools in America, waitlisted 2,021 college applicants. Out of the 2,021, a total of 1,345 students decided to stay on the waitlist in hopes of gaining admission. None of these students was eventually offered admission.
This practice of waitlisting has had significant effects on applicants, especially on low-income student applicants. Those who hold off and wait for a response from these schools often wait to the detriment of any financial assistance they may have received from the school. By the time schools reach their waitlist, many of their financial funds have been exhausted on already admitted students.
Colleges and universities should be more realistic in their utilization of waitlists. It is not fair to instill hope within students when in fact there is little to no chance of them being admitted to the school. Admissions committees should be candid during the admission process and not keep students waiting for a decision that will likely never come. There is enough anxiety in transitioning from high school to college without adding false hope to the equation.
Check Your Likes Twice
It seems like the Facebook scandal, where Cambridge Analytica received permission to millions of Facebook users’ information, is already old news. However, scientists have been revealing and studying just how valuable Facebook information is at decoding one’s identity, aside from influencing their votes.
Michal Kosinski is just one of these scientists who studies large amounts of data to determine how they represent the user. From his 2013 study, he stated that Facebook likes “‘can be used to automatically and accurately predict a range of highly sensitive personal attributes.'” Some of his results are shocking such as being able to determine whether the user was “black or white with 95% accuracy, male or female with 93% accuracy, gay or straight with 88% accuracy and Democrat or Republican with 85% accuracy.”
This chart shows how Koskinski’s algorithm determines your personality traits based on the pages you like.
Although Kosinski’s study isn’t new, he has developed his findings and tested them in a 2017 study directed toward advertisements. Most personality tests refer to the “Big Five” personality traits: Openness, Conscientiousness, Extroversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism, known as OCEAN. By categorizing the user, companies may create different ads to get every kind of customer to click.
These are examples of the ads extroverts vs. introverts clicked on.
Although you may be aware of the ways your likes create targeted ads, as you may notice when you frequent certain sites, you may not have known the way this information is compiled and for what purposes. While this information is unsettling, I have more of an issue with the ways personality tests function. I find myself behaving in drastically different ways in different social settings, which the tests do not account for. I also reject labels, though I find them useful for data collection. So, not to worry, the way data can determine “who I am” is still up for debate. Sure, my clicks can give a basic profile to a company, but unlucky for them we are more complicated than our likes, or are we?
Myanmar: Rohingya Repatriation and Puppet Presidents
This past weekend, Myanmar accepted five members of a Rohingya refugee family from Bangladesh at a “repatriation camp.” This news comes from Burmese authorities, who claim that they have provided this family with National Verification Cards and supplies.
Yet the National Verification Cards do not grant citizenship, rendering them nearly useless in the Rohingya struggle for recognition in a country where they are considered an illegal immigrant minority. There is also no way to confirm whether this family will be safe, given the UN’s warning that conditions in Myanmar continue to be volatile; after all, continued safety goes beyond physical shelter and extends to basic human rights, security, and legal power.
The Rohingya Crisis
This event is the latest episode in the Rohingya refugee crisis, in which hundreds of thousands of the Muslim minority group have crossed the border to escape Myanmar’s brutal ethnic cleansing. After a small group of Rohingya Arsa militants attacked police posts, the Burmese military responded by destroying Rohingya settlements and attacking the civilians in them. The military has been backed by Buddhist mobs in the area.
The Burmese military calls its attack a response to Rohingya militants and denies harming any civilians, with the government putting the death count at 400 and claiming that the operations ended in early September. These claims go against widespread reports and visual evidence to the contrary. Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) reports that at least 6,700 Rohingya, including 730 children under five years old, were killed in the first month of the violence. Amnesty International reports cases of rape and abuse of Rohingya women and girls. Human Rights Watch has aerial footage of burned Rohingya villages past the date operations were said to have ended.
As a result, Rohingya men, women, and children have fled to Bangladesh to escape the bloodshed. Before the attacks, there were already Rohingya refugees living in camps and host communities, but that number has nearly tripled since August. These refugees have few belongings, making them ill-equipped to survive in the harsh terrain without adequate food, water, shelter, and healthcare.
This massacre came as such a shock in August because Aung San Suu Kyi, former human rights darling and de factor Burmese leader, stood by and let it happen. Before the crisis, Suu Kyi stood as a sign of democratic hope against Myanmar’s infamous despotic military regime, suffering under house arrest and separated from her family in the name of a democratic campaign. She was even awarded the Nobel Peace Prize – which has since been revoked.
Suu Kyi cannot be president herself because she had two children with her late British husband, going against a clause in the Burmese constitution that disqualifies candidates who have children of foreign nationalities. Still, ex-President Htin Kyaw and current President Win Myint both come from a party loyal to Suu Kyi, implying that they are figureheads dancing on Suu Kyi’s puppet strings.
I certainly do not condone the violence against the Rohingya people, but I am not sure how big of a part Suu Kyi plays in it. Her silence has evoked despair, hatred, and disappointment from other world leaders and fellow Nobel laureates, yet I struggle to jump to the same conclusion.
Myanmar is a nation where the military reigns supreme. Even if Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy party claims to be free of military sway, the looming military presence at President Win Myint’s inauguration speaks otherwise. In terms of real authority, the Burmese constitution gives the army control over security forces and a quarter of the seats in parliament. Suu Kyi may have popular support, but the military commander in chief has guns.
It’s easy to single Suu Kyi out when she has betrayed the world’s faith in her. It’s harder to understand the complex dynamics at play in Myanmar’s tense political environment, especially when some of the issues have festered for decades. It’s even harder to wonder whether Western liberalism is to blame for its “messiah fantasy,” casting unrealistic expectations on human beings who can only do so much with tape over their mouths and gun barrels pressed to their backs.