4 years ago
Admissions Advice

Is writing about being an Asian-American a bad thing for college applications?

I’ve done some research into affirmative action for colleges, but the case with Asian-Americans is particularly taboo. A lot of different sources say a lot of different things. Some places tell me not to check the box on the Common App that states your ethnicity, while others say race isn’t a big deal. Being Asian-American is an important part of me, but I don’t want it to ruin my college chances. I’m currently drafting a supplemental essay about my ethnicity and my struggles but I don’t know if it’ll come off to app readers as overdone. So do you think I should be low-key about my race on my college app to stand out more?

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3 answers

Accepted Answer
4 years ago

Hi there! To answer your questions:

1. Not checking the ethnicity box generally has little impact on your application for Asians. Admissions officers will know your ethnicity by your last name, or your parents' last names, unless you're biracial and have a non-Asian last name, as do your parents.

2. Writing about your struggles with your ethnicity is a cliche essay topic, and it's especially recommended that Asian-Americans avoid this, as it will only draw further attention to their ethnicity when they already have a harder time getting into college. If this aspect of your identity is incredibly meaningful to you, you can still write about it, but you should try to do so in a way that is more unique.

For instance, rather than generally talking about your struggles, you might focus on one aspect of your Asian identity - a South Asian might discuss colorism in their community and their experience with that, for instance. You could also subvert expectations and use the cliche storyline, but then add a twist - i.e. "I struggled to fit in, felt torn between my cultures and languages, so that led to my passion for studying foreign languages, as there was no expectation for fluency in a language not tied to my culture, and that was freeing."

You might find this article helpful: https://blog.collegevine.com/cliche-college-essay-topics/

Hope this helps, and let me know if you have more questions!

4 years ago

The whole application is to showcase who you are as a person, so if your race is a very important part of who you are, write about it. One tip would just be to focus less on the struggles and more on how they affected you & how you grew from them. Hope this helps!

4 years ago

So depending on your name it will not matter what ethnicity you are if you have a blatant name.

As for an essay about being an AA I’m of the opinion of high risk high reward. Some AOs may not like it but others will love it. If you talk about struggles it may be cliche but as an AA I’m unsure. Ask yourself is the essay so unique no one else will have this essay? If so the AA may be a nice difference than the struggles of growing up in a Hispanic area as that is approaching cliche.

Hope this helps and please comment if you need clarification as I’d be happy to help clarify!

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