♪ trevon martin ezel ford this is "nightline." >> tonight, college crunch time. emotions running high. but as these kids wait to find out if they got accepted, colleges across the country may be changing the rules. dozens supporting wide-sweeping reforms are we're behind the scenes at harvard and mit. will the hours of sacrifice be worth it? >> i'm really excited for college. sarah palin hits the trail with donald trump and she's fired up. >> donald j. trump! >> as the race to the white house heats up with the palin effect help or hurt trump? guess who she's blame for her son's arrest? it got big laughs at amy schumer's live at the apollo. >> i'm old school, the guys
should have to pay on the first date for sex. >> so did this from wendy lieberman's standup routine from 20 years before. >> maybe i'm old fashioned but i like it when the guy pays -- for sex. i mean that. >> the "trainwreck" firing back at claim she's a jokesy. first the "nightline 5." >> this toilet paper reminds me of a wash cloth. >> that's charmin ultra strong, so clean you could wear your underwear a second day. >> tell me i did not just hear that. >> i said you could, not that you would. >> charmin ultra strong helps clean better than the leading bar ban brand. four times stronger and you can use up to four times less. >> it cleans better. you should try it, skids. >> we all go, why not enjoy the go with charmin. >> number one in just 60 seconds.
good evening. thanks for joining us. you're about to meet two ambitious high school students who we've been following for months, drowning in course work and test prep in the mad dash towards college. but just this week 85 top schools, including the entire ivy league, signing on to try to tone down the pressure. with potentially game-changing proposals. so what does it mean for kids with big college dreams? it's an early weekend morning. and while most kids are sleeping in, chris carpavich is cramming. there's just moments to go before he takes the s.a.t. and tensions are running high. >> can you not jump out of the car? >> mom, literally it's fine, i'll go walk. mom. >> he's been very stressed out. he has a cold. and it's raining. a lot of us go, oh, high school,
that was when i had all that fun. that was when i did all those things. i hung out with my friends. he really doesn't have time to do any of that. >> reporter: but while chris and millions of stressed-out students are applying for the class of 2020, hell-bent on finding the fabled holy grail of that perfect application, a sea change is under way that threatens to revamp the very system on which admissions are based. >> in our day and age young people are too focused on achievement. we need to send a more balanced set of messages. >> reporter: richard weiss of harvard and his team publishing a new report called turning the tide, lambasting a student body obsessed with personal success over the common good. calling for sweeping recommendations to what some see as a broken college admissions system. >> everybody knows that the system's irrational, out of whack. >> reporter: parents are painfully aware of it too. >> do you feel like college admirations just chokes all of the joy out of childhood? >> yes.
i say it needs to stop. something needs to give. i can't. why not? because this is what "they" are looking for. >> reporter: chris is a senior at rye high school just north of new york city. ambitious students and a rigorous curriculum making it one of the best public schools in the nation. >> this is ap scholar national honors society. this is the youth and philanthropy award. >> reporter: checking off boxes prestigious universities say they scout for. he has near-perfect grades, captain of the cross country and debate teams. and spends countless hours volunteering at bread of life, his parents' food pantry, even creating a chapter at his own school. >> how much sleep do you get a night? >> five hours, maybe. >> he's moody. he doesn't sleep. you see fatigue. you shouldn't see that on a teenager. >> reporter: but you do, on chris and countless others. years of sacrifice, huge chunks of his childhood, he says all in the hopes of getting into his
dream school, harvard, where both his parents went. what happens if you don't get into harvard? >> then -- my other choices. hopefully it doesn't come to that. >> reporter: with competition at an all-time high it very well might. harvard university is ground zero for this reform movement. pushing to turn down the heat on the pressure cooker. >> how did the college process become so stressful? >> middle and upper-class communities became very focused on a small number of colleges are. parents start signalling to each other these are the colleges that are most important to get your kids into. >> reporter: the recommendations, pragmatic yet ground-breaking. emphasizing quality over quantity. encouraging fewer extracurricular activities. fewer ap courses. even in some cases making the s.a.t. optional. >> so this is the big moment. >> yep. >> reporter: for chris, as he's checking for his s.a.t. results, it's far from optional. his chances of getting in, he
thinks, along with his future, hangs in the balance. >> are you nervous? my hands are getting clammy. >> the site's down. >> oh my gosh. the site crashed. >> so many kids are checking them right now that the site's actually down. >> do you ever try to tell him, honey, there's more to life than har harvard. >> i want him to go to the best school for him but he insists he's worked very hard -- out of his mouth, i have sacrificed so much, i have to get into the best school possible. >> reporter: across town the new recommendations could help students like sorca, a junior at rye high, who won't be applying until next year. behind the smile a sadness and a story that before may not have counted so heavily in the admissions process. >> i was 11 years old and my mom died. so i really -- i had to become an adult when i was still in elementary school. >> reporter: she lost her mom, an architect and professor at columbia, to meningitis. her father forced to work
multiple jobs to support four kids. sorcha helping care for her brother conner who has autism. >> people didn't know how to interact with him. we just love him all the same. this is me, seamus, conner and i -- >> reporter: she finds comfort in photographs and memories. >> this is my favorite photo of my mom. this one. people told me when i show them the photo, they say i look like my mom. >> you do look like her. >> reporter: sorcha founded a meningitis awareness club, a final promise to her mother to help others. >> i wanted to make sure that nobody in my community had to go through what i go through. >> so how is meningitis diagnosed? >> reporter: she argues it's not just meaningful work in school but it's service like sorcha's, provided at home in a time of need, which should count as community service. >> a lot of family contributions, low-income kids especially, often their
contributions don't count in the college admissions process. >> reporter: a month later, chris is busy putting the finishing touches on his harvard application. adding his near-perfect s.a.t. scores. >> i hope college s will see tht i'm not just a bunch of numbers. >> reporter: nothing left to do but wait. the ivy league and more than 50 colleges have endorsed the recommendations. though there's no sure-fire way to ensure enforcement, mit is already putting them to work. >> we added a question, how have you improved the lives of others? >> it's all happening right here? >> it's all happening right here. >> i feel the heat coming off the door right now. how carefully do you pore over all the admissions? >> we look at every -- everything that comes in on every application. we look at every application more than once. i was amazed at how thorough we really are. >> reporter: back in new york, there's only four days to go until the harvard decision. >> your mom quoted you as saying you sacrificed so much. >> i've tried my hardest to sort
of do the best that i can. >> they tell you, this is your future. that's the message he hears. >> reporter: it's not the decision they'd hoped for. chris is deferred. he'll have to wait until at least march for harvard's final decision. >> it wasn't the best outcome. >> reporter: his disappointment, a study in understatement. >> you feel like you haven't accomplished enough for someone to accept you, but in the end, i think that it gives me an opportunity to look at a lot of other schools. >> reporter: trying to keep things in perspective, some advice from his principal to help him absorb the blow. >> what's the 36-hour rule? >> if they are deferred or denied we say, 36 hours you pout, you feel bad for yourself, and you're going to start working and we're going to find another first choice. >> reporter: chris is doing just that. as he continues applying to 16 additional schools. >> there's princeton, mit, yale, cornell, u-penn, carnegie medical son, johns hopkins, stanford, university of michigan, university of
washington, brown, dart mouth, northwestern. >> reporter: a dream deferred perhaps for chris but it could be different next year for sorcha. her hours of personal sacrifice may boost her application, which in years past may not have counted so much. >> being here makes me think about my mom. >> reporter: as she walks the campus where her mother once taught she hopes her application may cap capture the fuller picture of who she is. >> a chance to start over. i'm excited about the future. up next, sarah palin is firing up the race. and why she's taking heat for casting blame on president obama. later, comedy goddess amy schumer reacts to joke theft allegations. something in the ai. but here's the thing: about half of men over 40 have some degree of erectile dysfunction. well, viagra helps guys with ed
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as yogi berra would say, it's deja vu all over again. the country it seems is once again captivated by former alaska governor sarah palin. the hockey mom turned politician is back in the limelight, this time shoulder to shoulder with gop front-runner donald trump. and the darling of the tea party is causing once again quite a stir. hires abc's david wright. >> reporter: on the campaign trail this week, a blast from the past. >> thank you so much, oklahoma! it's so great to be in iowa! we're here thawing out! >> reporter: like a champion musher from the iditarod in sarah palin's alaska, she's back. ready to drive her team over the finish line. >> the next president of our great united states of america, donald j. trump!
>> reporter: along with that black led are jacket also reprising some of her winningest lines from her run with john mccain. >> drill, baby, drill. >> it's time to drill, baby, drill. >> reporter: the only maverick out there who can match her when it comes to going rogue. >> going rogue left and right, that's why he's doing so well. >> reporter: the reality show star -- >> you're fired. >> reporter: turned politician -- >> we're going to make america great again. >> reporter: turning to the politician who became a reality star. >> this is really the first time in this campaign that we're seeing donald trump kind of take a back seat to someone else. see really stole the spotlight and the headlines. we saw it in that body language. he stood behind her and seemed to be uncomfortable as her speech went on, as if saying, hey, i want to be the one in the spotlight. >> reporter: trump is clearly hoping that palin's endorsement can help push him over the top in those early primary states. >> she waded into south carolina, new hampshire, and iowa and endorsed candidates in
the last few years and all three of those candidates won. >> reporter: but the return of the palins to the national stage also brings with it a certain amount of drama. >> guess it's kind of elephant in the room. >> reporter: this week it was her 26-year-old son track, a combat veteran arrested in alaska after allegedly punching his girlfriend in the face. track palin pled not guilty the same day his momn joined trump. governor palin found a silver lining to the scandal. >> when my own son is going through what he goes through, some ptsd, and it makes me realize more than everyone that we have that commander in chief who will respect them and honor them. >> reporter: but at least one nonpartisan veterans group was quick to caution against turning ptsd into a political chew toy. >> i think a lot of vets are outraged she's using that as an excuse for his behavior. if he has ptsd, he's still accountable. he shouldn't be beating up his girlfriend, he shouldn't be a
violent person in the community. we hope he goes forward and gets help. >> reporter: not all pain lin's fans are happy about her endorsement. on her facebook page more than a few complaints. unhappiest of all perhaps, ted cruz, who hoped for that endorsement himself. >> not this but the last -- >> reporter: cruz spoke with george stephanopoulos ahead of tomorrow's "good morning america." he insists no hard feelings when it comes to trump. >> i like trump. i'll sing his praises. >> still like him? >> he is bold, he's brash, he's an amazing marketer, an entertainer and marketer par excellence. and so i'm not going to attack him personally. >> reporter: the latest polls show trump pulling well ahead of cruz in iowa. on the democratic side bernie sanders pulling
way out in front of hillary clinton there too. today the sanders campaign released this upbeat new ad. ♪ they've all come to look for america ♪ >> reporter: the music, simon
and garfunkel. the song, a hit nearly 50 years ago. back when hillary and bill clinton were in law school. ♪ they've all come to look for america ♪ >> reporter: that golden oldie -- ♪ it's time for me to take it not going to fake it ♪ >> reporter: a huge contrast to the soundtrack of the clinton campaign. today clinton had demi lovato on the campaign trail. >> you ready for a better future? >> reporter: in iowa, katy perry has lent her voice too. ♪ you're going to hear me roar >> reporter: even that famous roar hasn't been enough to help clinton win over young voters. >> it's a lot less believable than bernie sanders and simon and garfunkel, but what
hillary clinton is trying to do is trying to bring over younger voters, millennial voters, that are critical for her campaign because bernie sanders is getting them in such large
numbers. >> reporter: the 74-year-old sanders with simon and garfunkel crushes clinton and her posse of young pop stars by a margin of nearly 4-1 among young voters in new hampshire. he beats her soundly among young iowa voters too. keep in mind young voters are the ones who made such a huge difference for barack obama in the iowa caucuses back in 2008. >> if you compare the data, the polling data, with younger voters with the bernie sanders campaign, hillary clinton's campaign, he has a big advantage. she's really trying to tap into that in these final days. >> reporter: now as we head into iowa, the two anti-establishment candidates are defying the odds. in the catbird seat, front and center, trump and sanders, angry men both. as sarah palin reminds us, inauguration day is just one year from today. >> i want you to rye try to pic this. it's a nice thing to picture. exactly one year from tomorrow,
former president barack obama -- [ cheers and applause ] he packs up the teleprompters and the selfie sticks and the greek columns and all that hopey changey stuff and he heads on back to chicago. >> reporter: the question is, can you imagine either of them taking the oath of office a year from now? right now, against all odds, they seem to have the momentum. i'm david wright for "nightline" in new york. up next, the "trainwreck" star caught in a comedy scandal. the comedian now firing back at joke-stealing claims. [loud engine revving] powerful. ♪ mic checka by das efx by design. ♪
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amy schumer stole the spotlight this year. snatching up awards, hosting shows, and the jokes just seemed to roll off her tongue. but tonight, why the comedy star isn't laughing. here again is abc's david wright. >> it's probably a mistake. >> reporter: today the world's hottest female comedienne is defending herself from a potential train wreck, accused of stealing jokes from other funny women. take this bit from her new hbo special "live at the apollo." >> i'm very old school. i think the guy should always pay on the first date for sex. >> reporter: not unlike this gag from wendy leadman's standup routine 20 years ago. >> maybe i'm old fashioned but i like it when the guy pays -- for sex. i mean that. >> reporter: or there's this skit from schumer's comedy central show about a new diet
and exercise plan. >> then before you can say slap shaft they knock it out of your stupid mouth. >> reporter: compare that to kathleen madigan. >> you have enough money to pay a man to stand there and literally slap [ bleep ] out of your hand before you put it in your mouth. >> reporter: we asked but no comment from madigan's camp. liebman told us, i believe it was an honest mistake. but in the comedy world, accusations of joke-stealing are no laughing matter. >> they're very self-policing sort of community of artists. and your jokes are your krurncy. >> reporter: schumer is defending herself online and on the airwaves on the jim norton advice show podcast. >> i'm being accused of stealing jokes. and i wanted to come and talk to you about it and clear my name. because i would never, ever do that. and i never have. >> reporter: she's even vowed to take a polygraph and air the results on her show.