A Misinformed Ivy League Applicant

Misinformed Ivy Applicants, Misinformed Ivy League Applicant, Misinformed College Applicant

Michael Wang should regret statements he made to “Business Insider” if he had any hope or intention of succeeding with his complaint against Yale, Princeton, and Stanford.

There’s a piece in “Business Insider” entitled “A perfect ACT score couldn’t get this student into Yale, Princeton, or Stanford, and he says it’s because he’s Asian-American” by Abby Jackson that we figured we’d comment on. The piece focuses on Michael Wang, a student with a perfect ACT score who didn’t get into the colleges of his dreams, two Ivies and Stanford. Because of this, Wang has chosen to file a complaint with the U.S. Department of Education against Yale, Princeton, and Stanford. We at Ivy Coach have been quite vocal over the last several weeks about how Asians and Asian Americans do indeed face discrimination in highly selective college admissions but we also believe that Wang’s complaint against the U.S. Department of Education to be frivolous.

The piece in “Business Insider” states the following: “He [Wang] also stressed that he was not just academically driven, but also a well-rounded applicant who maximized his extracurricular activities. He competed in national speech and debate competitions and math competitions. He also plays the piano and performed in the choir that sang at President Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration.” The regular readers of our college admissions blog are likely jumping out of their seats right now because they know that highly selective colleges don’t want well-rounded students. We’ve been saying it for a couple of decades now! Wang is marketing himself — and he likely presented himself in his application this way — as well-rounded when that is the precise opposite of what schools like Yale, Princeton, and Stanford seek.

Wang didn’t educate himself on the highly selective college admissions process. Had he read our blog, he’d know that making such a statement to “Business Insider” reflects a lack of understanding of the admissions process and it can serve as a key argument against the applicant by these three institutions should anything ever come of this complaint. But we suspect nothing will come of this complaint. Yale, Princeton, and Stanford may have very well rejected Michael Wang because the young man walks his talk of being well-rounded. And that’s not an advisable walk to take. We at Ivy Coach firmly stand with Yale, Princeton, and Stanford against the frivolous complaint of the misinformed Michael Wang.


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  • Jessica says:

    This was a great read. I didn’t get into any of the ivy league schools when I was in high school (although I didn’t have any extracurricular activities) (per se) and I cried a lot.
    I think what happened to me was that I wasn’t taking challenging courses and went easy on myself. I did get a 2080 on the SAT and a 34 on the ACT (supposedly but I never actually remember taking the test). This guy is obvv talented and took some very challenging courses during high school if I was a freind who could give him some pep talk I would tell him that he is super talented more than what I did and he’ll look back and be very proud of himself.
    God help him I feel so sorry for the guy. I hope he’s doing well at Williams College.

  • If I was Michael I would focus less on where I didn’t get in and more on getting an education–since he ended up at Williams he’s probably happier anyways being in a smaller college environment. Head to Harvard for graduate school. But not if you sue them!

  • Michael Wang says:

    Why that’s hilarious. Would I have even gotten into Williams if I read your blog? I like active civil engagement in debates, not frivolous ad hominem attacks. But to each their own. I’ll engage this debate at my levels and standards.

    • Ivy Coach says:

      It was your complaint against Yale, Princeton, and Stanford that was frivolous, Michael.

      • Julia T. says:

        He was a well-rounded applicant, but he did have a spike–and that was chorus. Performing on the international stage is quite a feat.

        • Ivy Coach says:


          A complaint constitutes the first step invoking the judicial process. Secondly, performing in chorus — even on the international stage — does not in itself constitute a “spike” as you call it. Nor would we consider that “quite a feat.”

          • Michael Wang says:

            well I am quite sorry for inform you that working in the legal field myself, complaint and invoking the judicial process are two very different things. Filing complaint and actually filing a lawsuit involve very much different information and vastly different resources. A filing of an actual brief in accordance with Local Federal Rules is necessary for a lawsuit as compared to a complaint. Sure, a complaint can lead to a lawsuit, but this is by no ways invoking a lawsuit. Are there are any official hearings before a judge? No, this is simply a request for an investigation. If I felt there was clear wrongdoing, I would have filed a lawsuit a long time ago. Also, since you believe I clearly filed a lawsuit, it shows your lack of understanding of this case and the entire story in which in all my interviews, I have never said the words I filed a lawsuit. If you want to put words in my mouth, that show your lack of understanding in this area. Given you are a for-profit organization, I can understand that you want to promote yourself and your company into getting students into these institutions. But if you’re level of research and understanding is not even complete, I begin to question things.

            Also, if my complaints were as frivolous as you say, why did you bother making not 1, but 2 blog posts, one from today actually about my complaint and my involvement in affirmative action?

            Clearly, all these media interviews and thus the reason for your 2 blog posts indicate one thing, my effort was anything but frivolous. If you still believe that complaints are frivolous, tell that to the many complaints filed in regards to discrimination. If there’s one good thing our nation has, it is the right to free speech. It is the right to question what is fair and not fair.

            I don’t know who runs this blog, but this sentence in your recent post “We all stereotype. Every. Last. One. Of. Us. But if we can help Asian American students overcome these stereotypes and in turn overcome the discrimination that they face in the college admissions process, well, then we’ve proudly done our job and we’ve done it well.” So your insinuating that racism is institutionalized and that nothing can be done about it? That’s brave of you to say.

          • Ivy Coach says:

            To our readers, this commenter, Michael Wang, who is currently a student at Williams College, is at the center of the United States Department of Justice’s investigation into the use of Affirmative Action at Harvard. Thank you for reading our blog, Michael.

            Michael, we’re happy to publish your reply to our post. Just because we believe your complaints against the college admissions process to be frivolous — as we do — doesn’t mean we don’t deem them newsworthy. And it doesn’t mean we don’t believe there is Asian American discrimination in college admissions. There is. It’s wrong. And it should change. We just happen to believe the way you’ve chosen to go about changing this process is also wrong, though we’re absolutely open to hearing your perspective.

            If you’d like, we’re happy to conduct an interview with you so you can share your perspective on why you chose to lead the charge against Affirmative Action. We don’t agree with much of what you’ve said above but you are a newsmaker. Let us know if you’d like to set this up.

  • Adrian says:

    I’d like to quote bellow link to the readers of this blog:

    Michael is an Asian-American student who graduated 2nd in his class with a 4.67 weighted GPA, perfect 36 ACT and a portfolio of extra curriculars ranging from singing at Obama’s inauguration to competing in national debate competitions. Michael was rejected by every single Ivy League school he applied to except for one.
    Now let’s take a look at the polar opposite, the case of Kwasi Enin. Kwasi is a Black student who graduated 11th in his class, scored a 2250 on his SAT, was a varsity athlete, sang acapella, and volunteered at his local hospital. Kwasi was accepted to all eight Ivies.

    • Stacey says:

      If Michael’s grammar is an indication of how he presented himself on paper to his target universities then it’s obvious why he failed to get accepted. Another reason may be there was no mention of volunteer work or community involvement in his list of accomplishments. At top tier universities High SAT/ACT scores and grades only get your application looked at, you need to set yourself apart to be considered for admission.

      Take this example of a recent graduate of Princeton
      These were his stats when he applied:
      SAT: 2290
      GPA: 4.45 weighted
      9 AP classes, scored all 5’s
      On the swim team for 4 years
      Alter sever at church 8 years
      Student government- senior social chair
      Member of elite modern dance group
      Choreographed for the dance group
      Started a program to teach computer literacy to seniors
      Started a program to teach dance to children who lived in a recovery home with their mothers.
      Intended major computer science with a minor in dance.
      Cuban American

      This student was accepted at Princeton but not at Stanford.

      This is just one example of how elite universities use a holistic approach for admissions. He is just one student among many qualified students. comparing any 2 qualified students is never going to be an apples to apples equation. Top universities build a class each year. Not just for ethnic diversity but diversity of talent as well. Unfortunately for Micheal choir and debate are common extra circular activities. Despite his grades and test scores he didn’t do anything to set himself apart.

  • sabine says:

    I wish I could have read Michael Wang’s essays, and interviewed him as well . I want to see his personal growth. his ability to empathize with his fellowmen. his long term acts that show his concern in improving the environment and humanity, in easing the burden of the less fortunate, less gifted. Has he ever encountered real adversity, and I want to see how he tackled it, how he became a better person because of it. I want to know if he can laugh at himself too. Where is his sense of humor?

    A resume of achievements, unfortunately, can fail to show the portrait of the real person, whether in college admissions or in job applications. At best, it is only a starting point. It is a shame, even with the holistic approach, there is no better selection process available. It will always be hit and miss despite all efforts to make it fair.

    I am sorry that Michael Wang did not get his wish to go to an Ivy as an undergrad. Many Ivy rejects later go to these schools for their graduate education. But if Michael Wang only wants to attend them for “connections,” I am not surprised why he was rejected. The Ivies may have been a good fit for him but he was not a good fit for them.

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