"My exchange year in France was accepted on a razor-thin decision, pushed over into acceptable range because I'd had that shoestring trip earlier. Once there, I shared how I wanted to get the French 6-year degree and work in the country. They laughed at me and said that "with [my] background, [I] would never make it. Even people with money have a hard time. Even people who marry French citizens have a hard time. You need a hard dose of reality, you cannot do that." Yep. Cannot. My defense strategies from dealing with family were helpful; a few more repetitions of "you need to come down to earth and look at your future realistically, you cannot achieve this wild dream you have" and I just stopped talking about it and did it anyway.
Last year I earned my Masters degree from a French university, which 15 years ago, was that very same 6-year degree I had hoped for (it used to have a different name; EU standards have been adopted since. I earned it with high honors, mention bien, US equivalent is magna cum laude. Anyone who's recognized me by now knows that I have lived in France for 13 years; I also spent two years teaching English and French to CEOs and managers in Finland. I did not do it by having money, I did not do it by coming from a family who took jaunts to Europe every once in a while, I did not do it by marrying a French citizen.
I did it by becoming a French citizen and the long history of hard work and independence that entails. No one predicted it but me. Not a single person. How many talented, hard-working people would be stymied by a predictive system? If I, a relatively privileged white woman who was blessed with smarts, was so very nearly given a completely different future than the one I aimed for, how will less privileged people fare?"