Indian students and the Ivy League. It’s what so many Indian parents wish for their children and it’s what so many Indian students dream of for themselves. Many of the students we work with happen to be Indian and a good portion of our Indian students’ parents were born in India. In the 20 years that we’ve been in business, we have noticed that many of our Indian students happen to participate in very similar extracurricular activities. This is not uncommon across cultures. It’s true for Chinese students applying to Ivies as well, many of whom play the violin, run track, and have a passion for math and science. It’s a stereotype, yes, but the stereotype is based on some truth. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t exist argues authors like Robert Cialdini and Malcolm Gladwell.
So what do Indian students tend to do? Well, a number of our Indian students also play the violin in orchestra. They volunteer at hospitals or shadow doctors. They play tennis or track. They participate in debate and maybe even Indian dance. When they’re in elementary and middle school, they learn in Kumon enrichment programs. When they’re in high school, they tutor in Kumon enrichment programs. And they have academic interests in math, the sciences, and engineering.
On college applications, it’s important to distinguish oneself. This isn’t only true of Indian students. It’s true of all students. People stereotype. It’s a fact of life. When college admissions counselors are reading thousands of files, an applicant should want to stand out and not be classified as another Indian kid who shadows doctors once a week. In the competitive college admissions process, being like everyone else is never the answer. So if you’re an Indian student and your parents are trying to convince you to shadow a doctor rather than spend time drawing as you so enjoy, we hope this blog can give you some firepower to fight back. Tell your parents that drawing may in fact be your ticket to the Ivy League. Imagine their reactions.