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The Ivy Coach Daily

November 1, 2015

Asian American College Applicants

There are misconceptions about the discrimination that Asian Americans and Asians face in highly selective college admissions (photo credit: David Keddie).

There have been a number of articles over these last few months on the topic of the discrimination that Asian American applicants (and Asian applicants) face in highly selective college admissions. Ivy Coach has been featured in several such pieces. Some of these articles have salacious titles like “College Admissions Advisors Work To Make Asian Kids Less ‘Asian'” and while we get that bold titles like these reel in readers, we’d like to address two misconceptions.

1. That title makes it seem like Asian American and Asian applicants need to essentially ‘whitewash’ themselves, as in they need to make themselves appear more white and less Asian. That is false. Totally false. It’s a yucky word and Asian Americans and Asians just don’t need to do this. Not at all. Asian American and Asian applicants do not need to summer on Block Island, shop exclusively at Vineyard Vines, and their parents should not regret not naming their sons Preston and Connor. That’s absurd. Just because it would behoove Asian American and Asian applicants to highly selective colleges not to emphasize their prowess at the violin, piano, and Mathletes doesn’t mean they need to ‘whitewash’ themselves.

If everyone does the same thing, nobody is interesting — no matter your ethnicity. If everyone plays the violin, it will elicit a snore. Maybe even a long slumber in between reading applications. You may laugh. But it happens. We promise. Just as students participating in Key Club — irrespective of one’s ethnicity — is boring (collecting keys doesn’t sound all that exciting, does it?). Ok, we know Key Club isn’t about collecting keys but come on. It’s lame. You know it. Our point is made. So it’s not that Asian Americans and Asians need to ‘whitewash’ themselves (again, it’s a word we hate but that’s essentially what ‘making kids less Asian’ implies). These applicants don’t at all need to deny their Asian heritage. They can be proud of it. And they should be! But just because you’re proud of your heritage doesn’t mean you have to be boring. The two are not inextricably linked. Get the idea?

2. It’s not only Chinese and Korean Americans and the Chinese and Koreans who face such discrimination in highly selective college admissions. It’s Indian Americans and Indians too. The discrimination Indians and Indian Americans face doesn’t get nearly as much publicity but that’s because Indian American organizations aren’t filing (so far fruitless) complaints with the Department of Education. Perhaps organizations representing Indian Americans have a better strategy in mind. Only time will tell.

We’re certainly not shying away from discussing a controversial subject here so we’re eager to hear from our readers. Agree? Disagree? Don’t like what we have to say? Don’t like what we have to say but know in your heart of hearts that we’re right nonetheless? Let us know your thoughts by posting a Comment below.

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