Asian and Asian American parents have a special affinity for the Ivy League. If you’re a regular reader of our college admissions blog, you know that we’re often very critical of statements and articles about the highly selective college admissions process in the press. We’re critical because there is an enormity of inaccurate information out there about this process and we aim to correct this. Today, we came across an article by lawyer and author Allison Singh (who also notes that she was a rejected college applicant in spite of the fact that she ended up attending one of the finest — if not the finest — university in the nation) that is not in the least inaccurate. While this may come as a surprise to many, we have only praise for this May 14th piece on “The Huffington Post” entitled “College Admissions and the Asian-American Parent.”
In the piece, Ms. Singh discusses how Asian American parents are all basically culprits of using “The List.” “The List” consists of “The Ivies, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, Berkeley. Maybe Duke, if all else fails…maybe.” We would add a couple of other schools (have you ever walked around UCLA?) but Ms. Singh is spot on. Chinese American parents — and even more so parents in China whose children will be attending university in the United States, rarely stray from “The List.” They are obsessed with brand recognition and they consider the “US News & World Report” rankings “The Bible.” It’s all about status, as Ms. Singh writes.
Are there Asian and Asian American students at highly selective liberal arts colleges like Williams College, Amherst College, and Wesleyan University? Sure. But these universities aren’t on the same playing field for this group of parents, unfortunately. Amherst College — in spite of offering one of the greatest educations in the world — just doesn’t make “The List.” It’s not Harvard. It’s not MIT. The fact is that brand recognition matters. Universities invest millions to build their brands. They employ folks just to bolster their brands. The day that Asian and Asian American parents stray from “The List” is a day we don’t foresee happening anytime soon, though our Asian and Asian American clients always stray a little (though they quite often also apply to “The List” schools too).