This is a funny post from Ivy Gate Blog, How To Get Into An Ivy League School: A Step-by-Step Guide Featuring Testimony From a Real, Live Silver-Spoon Legacy and a Racial Minority! by Maureen O’Connor, but many a truth has been said in jest.
- i. Non-Asian Minorities: List your race in the section provided for it and devote at least one essay to race-related “grappling.” If possible, join an organization (preferrably a charitable one!) that focuses on your ethnic background and/or related backgrounds: Not only does this allow you to bring up your race more than once, it’ll help with all that grappling! Since you’re an Ivy-aspiring young’un, you should already be introspective and caring enough to do these things on your own. But if you’re among the dispassionately aggressive multitude that manages to take every Ivy League class by storm, you’ll be wise enough to fake it.
- ii. White folk: You have two options. The first option is to be honest, check off the “White/Caucasian” bubble, and move on. The second option might make you go to hell, but if you want to go to Harvard, you’re probably into fiery torture, anyway. So: Fudge the truth. This could mean checking off the “Other” bubble. (Race is a social construct! We’re all “out of Africa,” anyway!) Alternately, you could take advantage of that one great-great-grandmother who might have been part Iroquois because she had the most gorgeouscheekbones. We spoke to a white, US-born child of Apartheid-era South Africans who identified himself as “African-American” on his application. No word on whether it ever came up. Of course, we’ll never know if it mattered, or if he got in on merit.
- iii. Asians: You’re screwed. It’s not the negative-50 SAT points that will get you, it’s the nebulous world of underhanded anti-Asian discrimination that upper education can’t quite shake, of late. Part I of our guide saw an admissions officer snorting at “another Asian math genius with no personality.” This time, let’s try the account of a Yale student from the West Coast:
My interviewer complimented me as a breath of fresh air because he sees a lot of really smart Asian fellows come in with absolutely no personality, who just do well in school, and he laments that they don’t seem to have lives outside of school, making for really boring interviews. The funny thing is that I was pretty much exactly that throughout high school (except of Mexican heritage), but he just happened to catch all the wrong, “not-an-academic-recluse” signals from me.
While interviews are generally irrelevant (see #4) the sentiment is startlingly pervasive. Asians who want to beat the odds can decline to name their race, but it’s not like they won’t notice if your name is, say, Jian Li. If you feel like going to hell, try the fudging techniques listed in section ii. (As a mixed-Asian girl with a white name, I should probably note that race denial can turn its subjects into depressed, addled un-people and probably isn’t worth it. Then again, the sandblast of time may have dulled my memory of how it feels to be a desperately ambitious, upwardly-mobile eighteen-year-old, so my risk/reward calculus could be off.)
The entire post is here. All posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to College are here.