The Eighth Page

Phillipian Satire: CCO Exclusive: How to Tell Unachieving Legacies the Bad News

This is always the most difficult part of my job. I start to sweat a little, and I loosen my tie. I have to tell Donald Ation, quadruple Harvard legacy, that his family’s tradition of overpriced education and elitism in Massachusetts ends with his graduation this year. It will not be an easy discussion, but it is my job to inform him that he has failed to meet the absolute bare minimum requirements for legacy students, and no amount of dinner parties his father has with the President of Harvard will save him. He walks in, polo shirt elegantly untucked. He’s only 45 minutes late, and it looks like he’s been awake for at least 20 of those minutes. I’m impressed by his relative punctuality, but I have to rip the bandaid off and tell him the news.

“Don,” I say nervously, “I’m afraid you won’t be going to Harvard next year.” He looks at me, slack-jawed. Either he’s devastated or the brownies just kicked in.

“What do you mean I’m not going to Harvard? I have the perfect application!”

I let him know as gently as possible that, while his Junior Varsity lacrosse performances are impressive, and he is quite an active member of the Crypto Club, these two things do not make up for his 2.1 GPA.

“But my great-great-great-great-grandfather was friends with John Harvard!” It’s true, Don’s ancestors were close with Harvard’s creator, John Harvard. And it’s also true that his father already funded a new dorm at Harvard with Don’s name on it. But times have changed, and Don’s impressive 180-day absence streak and his college essay having been written in crayon apparently gave the admissions department the impression that this was a joke application, and they placed it in with all the Asian-American applications. Outraged, Don stormed out of my office and back to his dorm, presumably to go back to sleep. I sat back in my chair, relieved it was over. It’s always hard to tell kids that they won’t get what their parent’s money worked so hard to achieve for them, but it’s a part of my job nonetheless. Besides, as an avid skier, I’m sure he’ll have a blast at SMU.