4 days ago
Admissions Advice

Regarding impact of essay if I remove race

Hello everyone! So a little bit about me before I jump into my question. I'm a half Chinese and half Russian American who is super into politics and government.

A college essay asked me about my identity and how it shaped my life. In the essay, I talked about being half Chinese and being a protestant. I lived in China as a kid for 2 years, and to worship, I literally had to go to an "underground church," and only those who had foreign passports were allowed to enter. To summarize, this event was critical to forming my interest in politics and government. It was the first event that caused my 6-year-old self to wonder about the differences between the Chinese and American governments. I honestly really like my essay, but my mom told me to change it since "being half-chinese hurts my chances." If I change "being half-Chinese" to "being extremely interested in all things related to China" in my essay, would my story make less of an impact?

Thank you for reading this!

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Accepted Answer
4 days ago[edited]

My dad is 1/2 Japanese, 1/2 Russian, and I'm 1/4 Japanese, Russian, German, Italian.

You can't pretend to be something you are not, you are who you are. And all your experiences from the time you are born to present define who you are.

It's true that being Chinese is not the best demographic for applying to top schools because 1. There is a disproportionate amount of intelligent and accomplished Chinese students in Ivys, Elites, and Top Liberal Arts Colleges. 2. Being Chinese holds you and your peers to a higher standard of GPA, Test Scores, ECs, and other criteria, and 3. There is a backlash from politicians and Silicon Valley companies, Biotech, Pharma, and anything STEM-related because some Chinese take all their research and experience back to China after they complete their studies in the US and become direct competitors with the US government, academic institutions, and companies that directly or indirectly supported them and permitted the opportunity to happen in the first place.

That being said, I respect your mom for protecting you and trying to improve your chances. Honestly, you are not that Chinese STEM candidate who wants to study CS or Physics at Berkeley or MIT or RICE.

First of all, you are bi-racial which is not the same thing. Secondly, your narrative and academic interests are in the realm of politics and government or international studies. Both your racial background and your experience living as a bi-racial child in Chinese defying STATE rules about religious practices make you who you are. A very interesting person. My dad lived in Japan when he was a toddler through kindergarten as a bi-racial kid, and I have to say that experience living as an ex-pat or a perceived outlier in a homogeneous country has a profound effect on you because you have 1 foot in and 1 foot out. Your mom doesn't really know how that feels and either does your dad. But you lived it and continue to live as a mixed-race person.

America's two biggest threats and two biggest potential allies are China and Russia. Not Japan and Poland, not S.Korean and the Czech Republic. But China and Russia. You are China and Russia. You are the kind of applicant all schools of government whether it's Georgetown or the Harvard Kennedy School want in their class. The only way America and engage more effectively with China and Russia is to have someone who understands all 3 cultures to sit at the negotiating table and have honest, accurate, and genuine conversations on how to fix our foreign relationships so we can all stop building the nuclear war machines and be more collaborative.

I respect your mom but I vehemently disagree with her objection to your essay and I haven't even read it yet.

You will do yourself a huge disservice if you do not submit an essay using your voice talking about things that define you and are meaningful to you.

I get her point, if you are applying as a CS major to Carnegie Mellon, 40%+ of the class might be Chinese so minimizing that might be good advice. But that's doesn't apply to you.

Good luck okay. Be brave. You only apply to college once in your life.

4 days ago

Hi, while I personally do not have experience with this topic, I can offer you my view/opinion, and hopefully, it will help you! I would say first off if anything, your race will not cause you any discrimination in your college applications. Think about it like this— colleges like to admit so many individuals from each demographic, especially those with a minority background. So if anything, this could help you to stand out, especially with such a strong essay topic! This leads me to my next point. I am in love with your essay topic. It is real, raw, and SO original. How many other people are going to be able to say that they had to go underground in order to follow their heart with their religion? That is going to make you stand out to so many schools, and make them remember you! I think that changing your essay would unfortunately make it have less of an impact. While I completely understand your mom's concerns, I feel as though your essay would be so great that it would be worth leaving your background in. I hope that I was able to help you somewhat, best of luck to you!!


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