The Ivy Coach Daily

June 15, 2011

Multiracial College Applicants

Multiracial college applicants often find themselves in a moral quandary.

If you’re a student who is of mixed race, deciding which ethnicity box to check on the Common Application may prove a difficult task. Let’s say your mom is African American and your dad is Caucasian. Should you check off that you’re African American because you are half African American? Should you check off Caucasian because to not do so would be to deny half your heritage? Should you check African American because you know it’ll give you an advantage in the college admissions process? Well, the Common Application, due to a mandate by the Department of Education, now makes it easier for multiracial college applicants.

As stated in the “New York Times,” “Students can now choose from a menu of new boxes of racial and ethnic categories — because the Department of Education started requiring universities this past school year to comply with a broad federal edict to collect more information about race and ethnicity. The change has made it easier for students to claim a multiracial identity — highlighting those parts of their backgrounds they might want to bring to the fore and disregarding others.”

About ten years ago, Emory University admissions counselors made a judgment call if someone checked off, say, both Asian and African American. And as you might imagine, just about all of those “judgment calls” led to the Emory University admissions counselors categorizing the applicants as African American rather than Asian. It’s all about the statistics.

Do you think a student who is half African American and half Caucasian should have to check both? Do you think it should be at the student’s discretion? What if a great-grandparent is Latino? Does that make the student Latino? Let us know your thoughts on this controversial subject  by posting below.

Have a look at the “New York Times” article on multiracial college applicants by Susan Saulny and Jacques Steinberg. And check out our newsletter on minority applicants or race as a college admissions factor.

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