College Essays Ethnicity

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In November, a group called Students for Fair Admissions filed a suit against Harvard University for admissions policies that allegedly discriminate against Asian Americans.

The group cited the 2004 Princeton study and other sources that offer statistics about Asian Americans’ test performance.

An acceptance letter from a prestigious college is often the only acceptable return on an investment that stretches over decades.

Lee is the co-founder of HS2 Academy, a college prep business that assumes that racial bias is a fact of college admissions and counsels students accordingly.

At 10 centers across the state, the academy’s counselors teach countermeasures to Asian American applicants.

The goal, Lee says, is to help prospective college students avoid coming off like another “cookie-cutter Asian.” “Everyone is in orchestra and plays piano,” Lee says. Everyone wants to be a doctor, and write about immigrating to America.In the San Gabriel Valley, where aspirationally named tutoring centers such as Little Harvard and Ivy League cluster within walking distance of high schools, many of them priced more cheaply than a baby-sitter, it didn’t take long for some centers to respond to students’ and parents’ fears of being edged out of a top school because of some intangible missing quality.Helping Asian American students, many of whom lead similar lives, requires the embrace of some stereotypes, says Crystal Zell, HS2’s assistant director of counseling.That perspective has pitted them against advocates for diversity: More college berths for Asian American students mean fewer for black and Latino students, who are statistically underrepresented at top universities.But in the San Gabriel Valley’s hyper-competitive ethnic Asian communities, arguments for diversity can sometimes fall on deaf ears.She sends affluent students to volunteer in poor neighborhoods.Branch out from tennis, or chess club, or taekwondo, she tells them. Avoid writing your essay about your parents’ journey to America.It uses the term “bonus” to describe how many extra SAT points an applicant’s race is worth. African Americans received a “bonus” of 230 points, Lee says. “Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points.” The last column draws gasps. The answer is yes,” Lee says.“Zenme keyi,” one mother hisses in Chinese. College admission season ignites deep anxieties for Asian American families, who spend more than any other demographic on education. S., Asian Americans form a larger share of the student body than they do of the population as a whole.Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points — in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission. And increasingly they have turned against affirmative action policies that could alter those ratios, and accuse admissions committees of discriminating against Asian American applicants.You can’t get in with these cliche applications.”:: Like a lot of students at Arcadia High School, Yue Liang plans to apply to University of California campuses and major in engineering — or if her mother wins that argument, pre-med.She excels at math, takes multiple AP courses and volunteers, as does nearly everyone she knows.


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