How Houston's rich kids game the system (Spoiler: with their parents' money)

Abigail Fisher. Photo: Reuters

The Supreme Court recently sided with UT Austin's use of affirmative action. That plaintiff Abigail Fishers simply lacked the grades for admission was part of the case's many numbing ironies. But it's not a joke, according to Jia Tolentino, who tutored Fisher in the art of gaming the system. It's a way of life for second-rate kids in first-class families.

Years ago, I helped Abigail Fishers get into college in Texas. That was my job: I “tutored” entitled teenagers through the application process. Specifically, and ominously for my later life, I taught them to write a convincing personal essay—a task that generally requires identifying some insight, usually gained over some period of growth. And growth often depends on hardship, a thing that none of these 18-year-olds had experienced in a structural sense over the course of their white young lives. Because of the significant disconnect involved in this premise, I always ended up rewriting their essays in the end. My students were white, and without exception. Their parents were paying me $450 per session, and this was Houston; of course they were white.

Entitlement is deep-seated. It is impervious...

I have heard so many Abigails tell me that UT’s policy is reverse racism. I sat across from white girls in oversized T-shirts, white boys in basketball shorts, sweet kids with good hearts and sleep still in their eyes, who told me—either very nicely or very snidely, never anything in between—that it was harder for white people to get into college now than anyone else, because of affirmative action. They said this as their parents wrote me $450 checks to “edit” their essays. They said this to me, the living proof that there is still so much to be compensated for—the minority literally paid to help get them into school.