Crysten Price, who hopes to attend Tulane University (Photo by Romaguera Photography.)

Crysten Price, a high-school senior in Louisiana, writes about the harsh reality she sees in college admissions:

This is why I applied to Tulane University.

I was raised within a society reeking in social protocols so unique and defining of the region I currently reside, it is hard to believe that any other place exists.

LaPlace, La. is generally a cute little suburb of New Orleans.

Everyone’s place is known, and life continues that way to this day.

This is why I applied to Tulane University. Within my parish, a college education is suggested, but nevertheless not as intensely promoted as it is outside of my community. A decent percentage of students either join the workforce or hop on the vocational technical school train.

Propelled by my disgust with the conformity of my classmates to this appalling tradition of shying away from academic challenges, I decided to apply to a school I believe reflected the hard work I put forth during my high school career.

My parents aren’t Southern royalty; there isn’t a string that can be pulled or a political favor to be whispered that will snag me a full ride to any of the big universities in Louisiana.

I believed earning an acceptance to Tulane on my own would grant me acceptance to the social elite following my undergraduate career.

Since the beginning of my freshman year of high school, I’ve worked to create a name for myself by earning an academic scholarship to my private school and ascending to the top of my senior class.

I am one of the top two prospects for valedictorian at Riverside, the opposing student is an African-American female and scholarship student as well.

With silent fervor and diligence, together we worked to rise to become the top senior ranks.

History will be made graduation day; our high school has yet to rear an African-American valedictorian or salutatorian since its opening in 1970.

I believe this to be an extraordinary achievement, considering the politics of our community, the region we live in, the current year, and the odds stacked against us.

I withheld this information from my Tulane scholarship application: the history of my school and this historical achievement, and my passionate desire to obtain a full ride to college and prove that the kids from my small town are worth much more than the homogeneous aspirations our community drilled into us.

To my dismay, I was denied the full scholarship to Tulane.

Although being accepted is a pretty astounding achievement, somehow I feel the point I’m desperately trying to prove disintegrated completely.

Yes, the middle and lower classes have a place at universities such as this, but when it comes to funding we are on our own.

It’s almost as if being let in the door to take a brief look around, but shooed off outright.

I’ve heard it repeatedly, on a loop; Louisiana is where the industry is. Plants, energy, the rest of it…but what of the writers and thinkers?

What of people like myself, who want something more than a booming industry or banking on a ‘guaranteed’ career after high school?

There is obviously no shame in pursuing a career within an engineering field or learning a trade; however, funding an education at big private universities shouldn’t be so difficult for those who obviously don’t have the assets.

The families who are financially well off can attend these schools and barely meet admissions requirements, and the individuals who are extremely unfortunate receive substantial financial aid—as for the middle class, we’re pretty much on our own…

Plenty of other students attend universities at the expense of their parents, unless they avoid college altogether in the fear of being robbed for four years. Families with multiple college-age children are burdened heavily by loans and pressured to look for alternative routes to four-year schools.

But why should everyone have to abandon their first-choice school?

Why settle for less when we’ve clearly demonstrated we are capable of more?

I want a voice. I want to prove that I am not a product of my hometown’s low expectations.

I want the college education that I worked so hard for yet cannot afford.

I want the rest of the students within my community to leave, to branch out, and to thrive.

I want the destructive system crippling my community to fall.

I want equality of outcome.