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Warnings for those considering to attend WashU as a low-income student; summer programs inaccessible

mustardhutmustardhut 1 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
Underrepresented minority group. First generation. Low-income. Pell grant eligible. Female. Five major aspects in my application that likely got me into WashU. Five facts about me that the admission's office saw and immediately realized how accepting a student with these characteristics will improve their demographics so that they will not come under fire in the public eye as they did when this article https://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/16/upshot/washington-university-aims-to-attract-low-income-students.html came out in 2015. This NYT article used data from the class of 2013. WashU just graduated their class of 2019. WashU aimed to increase their "undergraduates with Pell grants" to 13% by 2020 and they will likely achieve that as they are a need-conscious school. Whether or not the low-income student is accepted for their academics or their socioeconomic status? Dunno. I am glad WashU accepted me and gave me a full ride due to my financials, but I absolutely loath the fact that WashU is accepting low-income students at an exponential pace yet not having the proper resources in place to assist their transition. WashU has doomed many low-income students to 4 years of financial hardship on a campus where mental and academic resources are still catered to the wealthy. This article https://www.vox.com/policy-and-politics/2019/6/17/18647250/privileged-poor-university-admissions-anthony-abraham-jack uses Harvard as the reference and explains the concepts very well.

Student Financial Services (SFS) did not have policy in place that allows them to fund expenses outside of tuition and housing. WashU has finally stepped up by doing this https://source.wustl.edu/2019/02/university-launches-grants-for-low-income-first-year-students/ . It shows that WashU knew there were some things SFS could not cover and has allowed many classes of low-income students to deal with these financial burden themselves. WashU did not have the resources in place to help me financially.

Last February, I got accepted into a summer study abroad program. Low-income students PLEASE NOTE that SFS will not cover the cost of you attending WashU summer school nor any study abroad programs; SFS only offers loans. I picked the summer study abroad program I picked because the host university is covering my housing and tuition costs. Usually, summer programs cost $7,000 and there is an additional $5,000 for flights, food, local transportation, luggage, passport, visa fees, etc. As the host university was covering this $7,000 part, I only had to cover the $5,000 part. I did have $5,000 in my bank account, barely; I managed to save $5,000 over 8 years by working multiple minimum wage jobs in the past summers and saving bits from the 2 jobs I worked during the academic year. These were my life savings and the last of it got spent this past May when I booked my flight to the host university's country.

My entire life came crashing down in mid-June (this month), when the director of the Overseas Program and the engineering study abroad advisor kicked me out of the summer study abroad program because my 2.99 cumulative GPA raised a red flag to them and my most recent semester's GPA (2.6) was WAY below their 3.00 cumulative GPA requirement. I was confused as the advisor previously told me she's allowed students with a 2.95 cumulative GPA and above to attend because it was "close enough." I work extensive emails to them explaining:

1) how WashU had not put better financial support in place for low-income students, such as myself, so I have been destroyed mentally, physically, and academically due to my jobs. My 2 jobs were during the weekdays, I wouldn't return to my dorm until 2am. Sometimes I needed to skip classes to get to work on time. The jobs prevent me from attending a lot of TA hours, professor office hours, help sessions, or study group meet-ups so I got a semester GPA of 2.6

2) it is unfair they were using a semester GPA as the reason for using the "not meeting cumulative GPA minimum". They are saying a semester GPA was not meeting the cumulative GPA requirement and conveniently ignoring the fact that I have more semester GPAs above 3.00 than below 3.00

3) the actual program only offers humanities/social sciences. The Overseas Office was using the fact that I toke 18 credits of high-level engineering courses while working 35 hours a week that resulted in a 2.6 semester GPA to predict that I will not succeed in taking two social sciences class while not be working any part-time jobs. I told them that if they are going to start nit-picking on my semester GPAs than I am going to start nit-picking on individual classes and started breaking down how I got A+ in 300/400 level anthropology classes while my B/C grades are from STEM courses, so I am pretty well suited to take humanities/social sciences abroad

4) their excuse that WashU has better academic and mental resources than the host university so they are "worried" I will fail is BS because they know that I only need a C in study abroad program's 2 social sciences classes to get the transfer credit and statement (3) reasoning explains why I will not fail to do this

5) they kept on telling me that if I improve my cumulative GPA (by 0.01 haha) throughout the academic year, that I still have a chance to go abroad next summer. This is another excuse generated from the one-dimensional administration. Their minds have not caught up with the fact that I cannot "just reapply" next year when I raise by cumulative GPA by 0.01 because I have already spent my life savings on this program for this summer. I will not be able to financially recover fast enough to pay all those costs again for next summer.

6) they knew I cannot attend WashU summer school due to the costs, only option I have for summer school in my hometown is a 2 hour commute. They knew that SFS only gives loans, so low-income students often do not have access to summer school opportunities. It is too late to apply for internships or any academic programs. They prefer I mentally and physically degrade working a dead-end job rather than use their discretion to give me the opportunity of the lifetime.

7) they are treating this like it's a cut-throat program. The host university has a requirement of B- for the summer program, so it's not ultra prestigious. WashU enacted 3.00. This is not a Ph.D program, medical school, a Google internship, a coveted job at Goldman Sachs. This is a non-intense, leisurely paced summer study abroad program, where half the time the host university has scheduled cultural excursions while the other half of the time is loosely filled with class/study blocks.

8) this was my only chance to leave the continental United States, my only chance to gain first-hand experience of a different culture, and the Overseas Office toke that away from me... for a bunch of BS reasons. WashU was supposed to open doors and offer me opportunities I could never obtain in my hometown. Yet all I have gotten is doors shut in my face and actions that just tell me to just "stop being poor."

Again, the director of the Overseas Programs and the advisor did not care about the financial burdens this has caused me because "it was not their problem" as I was the one who bought the material. As true as this is, it nauseating to see how little sympathy administration has for low-income students. As administration has shown me, it is all about the numbers. It is all about the GPA. I wish I could go back in time and attend a state school. There would definitely be more considerate administration, 3.00 GPA is easier to come by, cost of living is cheaper since there is not an overwhelming amount of 1%ers saturating the local market, and, in the end, graduate school and jobs don't give much preference for WashU graduates over public state universities. If you think you could get better grades in a state school, than please do not make the same mistakes I have made.
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Replies to: Warnings for those considering to attend WashU as a low-income student; summer programs inaccessible

  • mustardhutmustardhut 1 replies1 postsRegistered User New Member
    (this did not fit in original post)
    The director of the Overseas Programs and the advisor treated me like a number. They failed to consider how my financial situation, necessary jobs, and engineering course load gives me a different educational experience compared to a wealthy IAS student. They use a 3.00 cumulative GPA as a blanket requirement for all study abroad programs so a Spanish major has the same expectations as a pre-med/engineer for study abroad qualifications. If they are going to do this, those administration that reject people based solely on GPA can just be replaced by a computer program like this:
    String[ ] studentsName = new String [ ]; // student's names (Last_First)
    int[ ] studentsApplyingAbroad = new int [ ]; // student going abroad? yes = 1, no = 0
    for (int i = 0; i < studentsApplyingAbroad.length; i++) {
    if (cumulative GPA < 3.0) {
    if (lastSemesterGPA < 3.0) { // student not going abroad, NO EXCEPTIONS
    studentsApplyingAbroad = 0;
    System.out.println(studentsName + " is NOT going abroad, sorry not sorry ");
    }
    else {
    studentsApplyingAbroad = 1;
    System.out.println(studentsName + " is going abroad");
    }
    }
    else {
    studentsApplyingAbroad = 1;
    System.out.println(studentsName + " is going abroad");
    }
    }
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