Racist Rants Reverse Harvard Acceptance: Your College App Essays & Work Up in Smoke

Consider your vocabulary & your attitudes

For a student whose recent life has been rocked by tragedy and high drama, a little more drama has just come his way. From The Hill this morning:

“A survivor of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting said Monday that Harvard University has rescinded his acceptance after recently surfaced screenshots showed him using racial slurs a few months before the 2018 massacre in Parkland, Fla.

Kyle Kashuv, 18, who was admitted to Harvard earlier this year, wrote on Twitter that he had been made aware of ‘egregious and callous comments’ he made when he was 16 years old.” TO READ THE REST CLICK HERE.

I have no interest in debating whether Harvard was “right or wrong” to rescind this young man’s acceptance. The point is that Harvard has the right to do that, just as an employer has the right to fire someone for unacceptable behavior.

I have written about students’ social media lives before on my blog – and it’s time to write about it again. But in this case, the matter is about PRIVATE statements this student made to friends — who did screen shots and reported them! I am speaking now as a college essay and application coach and as a concerned citizen of the world; sometimes these two roles overlap.

It shouldn’t be complicated, but I’m going to break the matter down into the simplest statements I can. Others may put these statements in a different order of importance. The order is not important but the messages are:

  1. Nearly everything you write these days, including emails and your social media feeds are public or can easily become public. Colleges routinely check social media accounts in assessing your application and suitability for their institution.
  2. Do not use words you wouldn’t use talking to your school principal in your electronic communications. That doesn’t mean you have to wipe out your personality, but it means you have to be aware of your vocabulary and the intention of your statements, even when you think they are private.
  3. If your social media feeds currently contain any of these words, DELETE THEM.
  4. Freedom of speech is enshrined in the U.S. Constitution. “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech….”  You DO have freedom of speech, but colleges and universities, like companies that hire employees, have their own standards of what kind of behavior and expression are acceptable for belonging to that community.
  5. If you are accustomed to using words that demean people or that are considered racial, religious, sexist, and/or homophobic epithets, it may be wise to examine your vocabulary, your attitudes, and your ambitions.
  6. Applying to college is a complex, time-consuming, and expensive undertaking. Don’t let offensive speech ruin your hard work and your dreams.