Asian Americans face discrimination in highly selective college admissions. We’ve been saying as much from atop our soapbox in college admissions for as long as we can remember. It’s wrong. It needs to end. But let us be clear: Asian Americans don’t face discrimination in highly selective college admissions simply for being Asian American. Rather, Asian American applicants face discrimination when they present a — dare we say — template profile to admissions officers. Admissions officers, you see, are human beings and when presented with so many profiles of applicants that are oh so similar, well, they’re bored. In college admissions, on the job market, in life — it always pays to be different. Too many Asian American applicants miss the mark in how they choose to present themselves when applying to elite American universities. Michael Wang, the poster child of Asian American discrimination in admissions, is a prime example of an Asian American applicant who missed the mark when applying to our nation’s best schools.
Michael Wang Has Been Made the Poster Child of Asian American Discrimination
As Hua Hsu begins his piece today in a piece for “The New Yorker” entitled “The Rise and Fall of Affirmative Action” (a piece in which Ivy Coach is referenced), “In 2012, Michael Wang, a senior at James Logan High School, in the Bay Area, was confident that he had done enough to get into one of his dream schools: Harvard, Yale, Stanford, and Princeton. He had the kind of G.P.A.—4.67—that looks like a typo to anyone older than thirty-five. He had aced the ACT and placed in the ninety-ninth percentile on the SAT. But Wang didn’t want to be seen merely as a bookworm—he was an accomplished member of the speech-and-debate team, and he had co-founded his school’s math club. He played the piano and performed in a choir that sang with the San Francisco Opera, and at Barack Obama’s first Inauguration.”
Hsu goes on, “The following spring, Wang was rejected from all the Ivy League universities he had applied to, except the University of Pennsylvania. (He made the wait lists at Harvard and Columbia, but was eventually turned down at those schools, too.) He was devastated, and wondered what more he could have done. Then he started thinking about all the impediments that no amount of hard work could overcome. Some of his classmates who had got into these schools, he thought, had less impressive credentials than his. But they were Hispanic and African-American. Had he been rejected because he was Asian?”
Michael Wang Should Not Be the Poster Child of Asian American Discrimination
We ask our readers to read Michael Wang’s profile and then read it once more for good measure. Note how Michael Wang presents himself as well-rounded; he excels in speech and debate, math club, and piano. Heck, he sang at President Obama’s inauguration. But, as our loyal readers know oh so well, our nation’s most elite schools haven’t been seeking well-rounded students for over a quarter of a century. Rather, they’ve been seeking singularly talented students, students who excel in one particular area that can be of benefit to the admitting college. Together, these singularly talented students form a well-rounded class. What they don’t want is the well-rounded individual — that’s so pre-1990’s. It’s 2018: it’s time to get with the program.
Worse yet, we happen to believe that Michael Wang isn’t a good writer. Why do we believe as much? He comments quite a bit on our blog. Let’s just say that if Michael expressed himself in his college admissions essays in any way similar to how he has expressed himself on our blog, well, that didn’t serve his candidacy to these elite institutions. So Michael, in spite of great grades and scores, presented as well-rounded to colleges and likely didn’t submit particularly compelling admissions essays. But he didn’t get in because he happens to be Asian American? No. Michael Wang didn’t get in because he likely presented as unlikable. Because he likely presented, as he does in the piece in “The New Yorker,” as good at lots of things but a master of nothing. Because he likely doesn’t know how to write well.
Yet Michael Wang will continue to insist he didn’t get in because he’s Asian American. Our readers…they know better. Our students at Ivy Coach who happen to be Asian American don’t receive the string of rejections like Michael; our students so often earn admission to their dream schools. They don’t present as well-rounded. They don’t present as unlikable. And they write well. Is that making students less Asian American? No. It’s making them more interesting. Whether a student is African American, Latino, Asian American, or any color under the rainbow, it always helps to be interesting.