There’s a terrific article on “The Huffington Post” today about Asians and college admissions. The article focuses on the plethora of high-achieving Asian students applying to highly selective colleges. These high-achieving Asian applicants – who often boast perfect or near-perfect grades and SAT scores – regularly compete against each other in the college admissions process. The fact is, highly selective colleges seek a diverse incoming class and a diverse incoming class does not mean an all Asian class. So Asian students do indeed compete against each other.
Does that mean that an Asian American student shouldn’t check off “Asian American” on their college application? Not necessarily. A student should check off the ethnicity that they’re most comfortable with, the ethnicity or ethnicities that they most closely identify with. But what the article on Asians and college admissions on “The Huffington Post” doesn’t say is that college admissions counselors are going to suspect that Henry Chang is Asian whether or not Henry Chang checks the box. But that doesn’t mean Henry can’t do something about differentiating himself from other Asian American applicants.
This is something we’ve been saying for years. Check out our post on Chinese applicants to the Ivy League. The same principles that hold true for students from China differentiating themselves as they apply for admission to the Ivy League hold true for Asian Americans differentiating themselves from other Asian American applicants. Don’t just be the math kid with perfect scores who competes in Mathletes. Don’t just play the violin. Do something that many of the Asian American kids in your class aren’t doing. If you like history, show that passion both inside and outside the classroom. If you love debating in mock trial, show how this is your passion. Whether or not the following is PC, it’s also true: What you want to do is distinguish yourself from any perceived stereotypes. That goes for all applicants. If a football player is applying for admission, he should demonstrate that he is indeed literate.