Recently, a federal judge ruled that Harvard’s admissions process passes constitutional muster. But that same judge, in her decision, made clear that just because it passes constitutional muster doesn’t mean there isn’t room for improvement — particularly with respect to addressing discrimination against Asian American applicants. In a piece today for NBC News, a piece in which Ivy Coach is cited, Chris Fuchs examines how certain Asian American students are rethinking their approach to the college application process in light of the recent ruling. Of course, we’ve long been urging Asian American applicants to rethink their approach so as to avoid discrimination in admissions — irrespective of the ruling in favor of Harvard.
Asian Americans Can Overcome Discrimination in Admissions
As Fuchs writes in his piece for NBC News entitled “After Harvard affirmative action decision, Asian American students rethink college applications,” “Brian Taylor, managing director of Ivy Coach, a college admissions consulting firm, said he believes Asian American applicants are discriminated against — though not because of race. ‘They’re discriminated against on the profile they present the college,’ he said. ‘When people are presenting the same profile over and over and over again, it makes people uninteresting and less personable,’ Taylor explained.”
Fuchs continues, “Taylor, of Ivy Coach, said no matter whether Harvard won or lost the lawsuit, his advice for completing the college application is the same — make yourself interesting. ‘It’s not like Asian Americans are less personable than are people of any other race,’ he said. ‘That’s ridiculous.’ If a college counselor gives students or their parents a form to fill out to help with their recommendation, Taylor advised against just listing achievements such as getting straight A’s or excelling in math leagues. ‘If you’re going to make the argument against Asian American discrimination, don’t present a profile that makes you a stereotype,’ he said.”
Knowing One Needs to Differentiate and Actually Differentiating in Admissions Are Two Different Things
But, you see, it’s one thing for Asian American college applicants — and all college applicants for that matter — to understand that it’s important to differentiate oneself. And it’s quite another for these applicants to achieve this feat. In fact, it’s a huge part of our secret sauce at Ivy Coach. We help differentiate our students; we help showcase their inner weird. Yes, you read that correctly.
You see, in the NBC News piece, a student speaks of attempting to differentiate himself: “[Syed] Fatmi, a senior at Alief Kerr High School and a national debater, is hoping to stand out with his personal statement. Having scrapped his first essay on identity, he said he wrote specifically about how after his father suffered a stroke, he was expected to step up as ‘the man of the house’ even though his older sister was capable — the gender dynamics coming as a result of living in a traditional Pakistani home.”
But this subject for a Personal Statement is never one we would recommend. Invariably, the applicant will be writing about his father…and his father’ stroke. And admissions officers want to hear about the student, not the father. An applicant also doesn’t want to come across as though he’s trying to pull on the heartstrings of admissions officers, because such a strategy is, well, transparent.