Asian Discrimination in Admissions Process

Asians and College Admissions, Admission Discrimination for Asians, Asian Discrimination in Admissions Decisions

Contrary to the well-intentioned suggestion of a former admissions officer at Cornell, as quoted in a piece in “Business Insider,” Asian Americans who leave the race section blank on the Common App. aren’t pulling a fast one on admissions officers, even though they might think they are.

There’s a piece up on “Business Insider” by Abby Jackson entitled “Ex-Ivy League admissions officer reveals why it’s sometimes tougher for Asian kids to get in” that follows on the heels of a spring in which just about every article on highly selective college admissions focused on the discrimination that Asian Americans (and Asians) face in the process. This piece isn’t full of the kind of insight that other articles on the topic of Asian discrimination in the admissions process have been, including several Ivy Coach has been featured in. And we’d like to make one critique of a quote given by a former Cornell admissions officer.

While certainly the former admissions officer had good intentions, his quote in this “Business Insider” piece is a bit misleading. In reference to Asian American applicants who have relatively lower ACT scores, the former Cornell admissions officer says this: “In your context your score of 28 is relatively low compared with Asian applicants to some of the more selective schools. I will let you read between the lines here and come to your own conclusions about whether or not you wish to report your race. I would also mention that if there are ways in which you stand out from others within the context of your demographic grouping then it would be smart to highlight those ways in which you stand out.” We absolutely agree that Asian American applicants need to find ways to stand out from the many other Asian American applicants. That goes without saying. But the suggestion, as it comes across in this piece, that simply not reporting your race can help your case for admission is incorrect.

Admissions officers at highly selective colleges weren’t born yesterday. When Sam Chen applies for admission to Cornell, they don’t think Sam Chen is Irish. They don’t think Xiao Park is Greek, either. Not reporting your race isn’t the solution that this former admissions officer seems to suggest. In fact, not reporting your race doesn’t do anything in these cases. But there is a whole lot that can be done. Asian Americans, and Asians, can counteract this discrimination in the admissions process. It’s part of our secret sauce at Ivy Coach.


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