3 months ago
Admissions Advice

Should I mention my race and country in the demographics section of the Common App?

I'm an Asian and from India. It's a no brainer that Asians (Specially from China and India) have the hardest time when it comes to college acceptance. Should I include my race and country in the demographics section and is there any benefit of not including it?


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3 answers

Accepted Answer
3 months ago

I can't tell you how many times I have thought about this question myself. Using the CV chancing simulator, we get higher chances of admission at colleges if we choose "prefer not to say". Most college admissions officers will tell you to include that information so that they can build a well-rounded class.

However, if you feel like you don't want to share your race for whatever reason, you can choose not to (that is why the "prefer not to say" option is there on the Common Application). If you are an international student, they will know where you are from so not including it wouldn't help. The same is true if you have a distinctively Indian name. If there is a way for the admissions officers to tell you are Indian from other parts of your application, I would include my demographic info. Otherwise, it's your personal preference.

3 months ago

Many of these responses have correct information, especially @helpful is on the right track by recommending that you use the chancing engine to guide your decision-making, but not necessarily be the decision-maker.

For additional input, because you are an international student, you will be categorized in the "international student" demographic bucket during the initial phases of the admissions process, not necessarily the "Asian" demographic bucket. This means that if you come from a large international school then you will be compared against other large international school students from around the world, such as Brazil, China and Australia. If you are from a smaller school or private school then you will be compared against other students from your country, India.

If you want more information about these demographic buckets I suggest that you check out this livestream's section about demographic influences on the admissions process:


Hope this helps!

3 months ago

In all seriousness, I don't know how you would successfully have your application go under the radar and avoid detection, unless your physical appearance is genuinely White, Black, or Latina passing and your name is Dave Anderson, Treyvon Lewis, or Manny Rodriguez and your parents work at Amazon, Citibank, or Apple.

Since India is fairly heterogeneous in population, unless you are a member of an ex-Pat group such as a son/daughter of an American corporate executive working in India or someone whose parents are non-Indian working in various diplomatic functions such as embassies, consulate offices, or someone of mixed race (50% non-Indian), then I wouldn't consider playing games with the college applications demographics questions.

In the US, colleges employ Affirmative Action policies which are voluntary. These permit private colleges like Ivy league schools to decide for themselves if they wish to add more Blacks, Latina (Hispanics), Indigenous (Native American), or other Ethnic groups to their class mix because they feel these groups show evidence of being marginalized or not offered the same educational opportunities as Caucasians and Asians.

I'm unaware if countries like India have similar sort of private policies at private colleges or not. It's a risky endeavor for a college applicant to say they are Black when they are passing as White and their DNA test shows less than 3%. I think that is why colleges revert to using a holistic approach. For example, conversely, someone could be 100% Black or Latina and say come from an extremely wealthy family and attend the top boarding school and have a plethora of elitist ECs like sailing, water polo, fencing, skiing, attended expensive summer programs, 99% test scores, etc, and they may not be given the benefits of affirmative action based on race or skin color. Someone at Tufts might say, well so and so is going to get a 100% full ride at Harvard or Princeton so, we are going to pass on them and give up the seat to Jane Middleton, a middle-class White girl from Montana. This kind of yield protection game is also part of the admissions process.

If you appear to belong to any of the traditional Indian groups, religions, dialects, and have the appearance of being Indian and have an Indian name, and attend an Indian HS taught in Indian, it may serve you best to be as transparent as possible.

Any of the top colleges these days can easily get 10,000 international applications. 20% are more than likely originating from India. Behind China, India has the next highest amount of students attending college in the US. Some applicants you are competing with may come from your school, school district, same town, or province so you may consider the consequences if your classmate's file is read by the reader of the same admissions officer.

Good luck.


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