a year ago
Admissions Advice

Holistic Review

Hello. How does holistic review work and how does ethnicity factor in? Let me know. Thanks!

@Liltroopera year ago

There are serious undertones making overtly racist comments in your inquiry here. In spite of being a low-income candidate, you exude a sense of entitlement just because you work hard. I feel no humbleness in your tone. Most low-income applicants understand that it's a matter of luck and privilege to get full financial grants to attend such schools but your argument is that other people don't deserve to be in the same line because they are Black B students with 1300 SAT scores.

[🎤 AUTHOR]@Jonathan520a year ago

Thank you for your help, although you did misunderstand my tone. I just want a fair meritocracy. Sorry for seeming arrogant.

@Liltroopera year ago [edited]

Yes, it is arrogant to ask why Black students who might have 1300 SATs and B GPA averages have a similar chance of getting accepted into top colleges like Princeton or other top schools. The poster said they were low-income and Asian and felt that affirmative action goes too far in helping said Black applicants when they personally work harder. Perhaps even being more deserving of the spot.

@Liltroopera year ago [edited]

The poster claimed to have worked much harder than their peers at HS. Poster is involved in Jr. ROTC, and wanted to pursue a military career, Eagle Scouts. Their thesis is that Asians like them are being unfairly discriminated against in the College Admissions Process merely because of their race. Affirmative Action has gone too far in helping undeserving under-represented minorities like Blacks.

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2 answers

a year ago

Hi @Jonathan520!

It's better to think of holistic admissions as a multi-step process rather than all applicants being evaluated at once. Falling behind at any stage in the process (like having lower-than-average grades) might not condemn you to rejection, but it does mean you will have to compensate (or get lucky) in the later stages.

A good way to think of it is that all applicants are sorted into "buckets," ranging from most to least likely acceptance (based on grades, test scores, extracurriculars). At the same time, applicants are also assigned categories based on race, intended major, athlete status, etc.

You can read more on how admissions works here: https://blog.collegevine.com/how-does-a-college-admissions-office-work/

And here for affirmative action specifically: https://blog.collegevine.com/what-is-affirmative-action/

Admissions officers are not looking to create a class of well-rounded individuals; rather, they are looking to create a well-rounded class, with each student offering a spike of some sort. After selecting the best candidates from Bucket A (those with the best resumes), they will then seek to fill out each of the various categories that make up a well-rounded class. They will do this in preferential order, going from Bucket A to Bucket D, until they've found enough acceptable candidates to make up each category.

So in short, it's not that individual students get their SAT scores bumped up and are then compared against other students with initially higher scores. Rather, the college is setting aside space for students of a particular background (sometimes race, sometimes economic), and accepting students from within that smaller pool. The differences between each group often reflect broader socio-economic status (access to test prep, school district, etc.), but the college is deciding that various forms of diversity are worth the cost and still sees potential in these individual students.

Hope that helps! Let me know if you have any other questions.

a year ago[edited]

Short answer: Your 1530 is a 99% percentile SAT score. How can you complain about that when there is NO college in America that will deny you admission based on a 99% SAT score regardless of RACE. If you get rejected, it will be because of lackluster essays, recommendations, course rigor, lack of evidence of intellectual vitality, lack of leadership positions, lack of spike activities, and doing poorly on interviews and supplemental essays and answers. You scored 99% better than everyone in America that took the SAT so there are people spending hundreds of hours cramming and thousands of dollars who will never even break 1400 or 1500. Since the SAT score is only 1 singular component in a holistic evaluation process and is not even required because all the best schools are test-optional, you are complaining about the wrong question. Rather than find blame for why someone with a 1530 SAT score has to compete with a marginalized applicant, you should be jumping with joy that you got 1530!!!

And now my very long and well-researched answer is not only for you but for all Asians who think they are being unfairly discriminated against because of their race in college admissions.

Let's clear the air and make a statement that everyone can agree on before I answer your inquiry. COLLEGE ADMISSIONS IS NOT MERITOCRATIC! So let's just accept that as a truth. When you are born you don't get to choose your name, your ethnicity, your eye color, your skin color, or your genetic disposition which increases or decreases your mortality and penchant to acquire serious diseases, and conditions because of hereditary faulty genes. But how you come out of your mom's womb definitely chances potential outcomes for you in a generalized way. If you are born black, Latina, or indigenous will in generalized terms mean that you will have more difficulty fitting in and finding support in a country founded by White colonialists who either originally enslaved your ancestors or simply killed them off through genocide and took their lands. (e.g. all indigenous Americans and Mexicans that used to live in 1/3 of the lands of America known as former Mexico). I'm just going to assume that you are intelligent and didn't pay attention to the important chapters in your US History or AP US History classes. Asians in America have a different history which is different from how affirmative action treats Blacks, Latinas, and Indigenous folk. It's true that many Asians like "Boat People" came to the US as refugees because of the Vietnam War, and many people around the world still come to America because of civil wars in their own country or other bully oppressors forcing them out. For example, the Uyghurs (Muslim Chinese), Syrians, Ukrainians, and the list goes on. But your typical first-generation Japanese, South Korean, Chinese, Taiwanese, Pakistani, or East Indian immigrant family travels to the US not because they are facing death in their own country but for the potential of economic prosperity. Simply, they yearn for a better life and a chance to their idea of what the American dream is.

So, on one hand, you have a set of marginalized folk to whom ZERO reparations were made by the government and who have been not been successfully integrated into the White Colonialist capitalist system, and on the other hand, you have a set of intelligent, hard-working Asians who have skills willing to prove themselves day in and day out. So ask yourself, whose problem is this to sort out in terms of creating a level playing field in higher education? Does the buck stop at the President? or the US Government? or the Department of Education? or the State Governments? or the City Governments? or the Private and Public colleges themselves either as a group or individually.

Well, another truth you must know is that colleges are trying to create a level playing field that is aligned with their institutional goals and their budgets to enact them.

Take a quick look at America and you'll find 59.3% White, 18.9% Hispanic, 12.6% Black, 5.9% Asian, 2.3% multi-racial, 0.70% indigenous, and 0.2% Hawaiian/Pacific Islander.

Some very intelligent people would say that college admissions should reflect the composition of the general population so there is fair equity, diversity, inclusion, and accessibility to all Americans. They also feel our government representatives should reflect this composition as well. I don't think that's a bad policy but you might disagree.

Other people would say that its the moral and ethical duty of colleges regardless of whether they are Private or Public to admit only the smartest students based on grades, test scores, intellectual vitality, course rigor, ECs, community service, leadership roles, talent, and work experience. And in no terms should colleges give a boost to recruited athletes, legacies, children of faculty, or wealthy donors who fund buildings and pay for research grants and departmental chairs. These are hardliners that feel that higher education is only there to ensure that kids with the best resumes get access to the best education and that nothing else matters. So which countries use this kind of meritocratic filtering mechanism to determine who gets in and who doesn't get in? Well, it's pretty much China, Japan, S.Korean, Pakistan, India, Taiwan, and some European/Latin countries. So the follow-up question is then why don't these countries that predominantly use black-and-white meritocratic cutoffs for college admissions produce the highest number of Patents, Nobel Prize Winners, Field Medal Winners, and other geniuses? The simple answer is that diversity in higher education matters and its better to have a blended mix of people from different backgrounds, religions, races, and socio-economic backgrounds to create the best learning environment.

The historical answer is to say that higher education is quite messy and rooted in the British commonwealth model (Oxford and Cambridge) that is 800-1000 years old and our American system is closely modeled after the Oxbridge system because it's worked for almost 400 years here in Ameria.

Here is Harvard University's Demographics for their undergraduate and enrollment. You can clearly see that Black, LatinA, Indigenous groups are still under-represented and that Asians are over-represented by a factor of 3.7X versus their % demographic in the US population. And being White penalizes you by a factor of 2 if you apply to Harvard.

Nonresident aliens 934 13.05%

Hispanic/Latino 831 11.61%

Black or African American, non-Hispanic 665 9.3%

White, non-Hispanic 2533 35.4%

American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic 16 0.2%

Asian, non-Hispanic 1555 21.74%

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic 7 0.1%

Two or more races, non-Hispanic 532 7.4%

Race and/or ethnicity unknown 80 1.1%

Total 7153

Here is Stanford University's Demographics for their undergraduate enrollment. You can clearly see that Black, LatinA, Indigenous groups are still under-represented and that Asians are over-represented by a factor of 4.3X versus their % demographic in the US population. And being White penalizes you by a factor of 2 if you apply to Stanford.

Nonresident aliens 818 10.7%

Hispanic/Latino1339 17.5%

Black or African American, non-Hispanic 547 7.16%

White, non-Hispanic 2139 28%

American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic 67 0.87%

Asian, non-Hispanic 1917 25.07%

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic 21 0.2%

Two or more races, non-Hispanic 778 10.4%

Race and/or ethnicity unknown 19 0.2%

Total 7645

Here is Columbia University Demographics for their undergraduate enrollment. You can clearly see that Black, LatinA, Indigenous groups are still under-represented and that Asians are over-represented by a factor of 3.6X versus their % demographic in the US population. And being White penalizes you by a factor of 2 if you apply to Columbia.

Nonresident aliens 1,083 16.14%

Hispanic/Latino 1,047 15,6%

Black or African American, non-Hispanic 557 8.3%

White, non-Hispanic 2,014 30.01%

American Indian or Alaska Native, non-Hispanic 30 0.4%

Asian, non-Hispanic 1,429 21.3%

Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander, non-Hispanic 8 0.1%

Two or more races, non-Hispanic 448 6.7%

Race and/or ethnicity unknown 94 1.4%

Total 6,710

And at UC Berkeley Asians makeup 35% of the undergraduate population which is nearly 6 times as many as represented in the US Population. And at UCLA it's 29% or nearly 5 times the US Population.

In conclusion, Asians are not under-represented in Top American colleges. I strongly feel that Blacks, Latinas, and Indigenous folk remained under-represented, and kudos to all the Top 100 colleges in the US that are trying their best to give them access to quality education.

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Unweighted GPA: 3.7
SAT: 720 math
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