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Ivy League Admission
Ivy Coach College Admissions Blog

Asian Americans in Ivy Admission

May 27, 2015
Asians in Ivy Admission, Asians in Ivy League, Ivy League and Asian Discrimination

Harvard may have been singled out for discriminating against Asian Americans, but Harvard is not alone in this practice (photo credit: Chensiyuan).

Have we written enough about Asian Americans in Ivy League admissions of late? No way. We’ve got lots to say. Deal with it. There is a piece up on “NPR” entitled “Behind The Curtain Of College Admissions, Fairness May Not Be Priority No. 1” that we figured we’d discuss on the pages of our college admissions blog. First of all, who suggested that the top priority of the highly selective college admissions process was to be fair? Certainly not us. It all depends on what the measure of fairness is. There are students who get perfect grades and perfect SAT scores who are denied admission to Ivy League and other highly selective colleges because they present as arrogant in their college admissions essays. Or they present as boring in alumni interviews. Or maybe a teacher conveys something in a letter of recommendation that scares off admissions officers. We don’t consider it unfair that this student wouldn’t gain admission. We wouldn’t root for this applicant either. We’d root for the applicant who may not have perfect grades and perfect scores but presents as likable, as modest, as engaging and intellectually curious. And we consider that fair (as do the highly selective colleges across America, we might add).

This segment on “NPR” focuses on the hot-button issue in the news right now — allegations that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants. It’s an issue we’ve been writing about extensively this week in the hope of drawing attention to the plight of these applicants. But allow us to disagree with something said early on in this piece. As quoted on “NPR,” “Jim Jump, a former president of National Association of College Admissions Counseling, sat down with NPR’s Arun Rath to discuss the current admissions landscape — and whether Asian-Americans are being held to a higher standard. ‘I haven’t necessarily seen that,’ he tells Rath. ‘I think in general what I see is that, with any talent or quality, the more of it that there is, the less valuable it becomes in the admissions process — where the rarer something is, the more valuable it is.’ Jump adds: ‘That’s what I see — is that uniqueness is kind of the hidden currency of college admissions.'”

Uh huh. Read between those lines. And read between them once more. When so many Asian American applicants submit perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores, those perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores become inherently less valuable. While we absolutely agree that ‘uniqueness is kind of the hidden currency of college admissions’ (and we absolutely love that line, Jim!), we’d like to draw your attention to the fact that many admissions officers don’t even know they’re discriminating against Asian Americans (and Asians). They don’t even know they’re stereotyping them. But they are. And this quote by Jim Jump, a former president of an organization the Founder of Ivy Coach is a member of (NACAC), while well intended, speaks to this unintentional — but genuine — discrimination against an entire group of people.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Asians in Ivy League Admissions

May 26, 2015
Asians in Ivy Admission, Asians in Ivy Admissions, Ivy League and Asian Discrimination

Caroline Simon of “The Daily Pennsylvanian” has written a great piece on the discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans in the admissions process.

Lots of folks are discussing Asian Americans and Asians in Ivy League admissions these days. And we like that. Because there’s a problem. And it’s one deserving of the public’s attention. Indeed there’s an article in “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the newspaper of the University of Pennsylvania, authored by Caroline Simon entitled “Colleges’ focus on diversity may leave Asians at an admissions disadvantage” that we figured we’d write about. The article discusses a Princeton University study that examines how race impacts admissions decisions. In fact, the study elucidates the impact of race on admissions decisions by quantifying it in terms of points on an SAT (so it’s easily understandable).

As Simon Reports, “The study found that applying as an African-American provides an advantage equivalent to an additional 230 points on the SAT, while Hispanics received a 185-point boost. Asian Americans have a “bonus” of negative 50 points. Although the Asian population in the United States has been steadily increasing, the percentage of Asian students at Ivy League universities — including Penn — has remained roughly the same over the past two decades, according to data provided by the National Center for Education Statistics.” This data seems to be quite telling. If you’re African American, you get an SAT boost when applying to colleges. If you’re Latino, you get an SAT boost. If you’re Asian, you get an SAT handicap. That’s right. A handicap. It’s not right. It’s not fair. It’s high time that action be taken.

As we’ve written before, we’re not sure what will come of the complaint filed against Harvard College by various Asian American groups. It’s certainly not the first time a complaint has been filed against universities for alleged discrimination against Asian and Asian American applicants. But, as we’ve long asserted on the pages of this college admissions blog, when more and more folks lift their voices to criticize the practice of discrimination against Asian and Asian Americans, change can be accomplished. These groups are discriminated against in the admissions process. This is fact, not fiction. The Princeton University study is quite simple and indeed it’s telling. These numbers share the true story. And this isn’t only the case at Harvard. To single out Harvard as the sole culprit would be unfair as it’s the case at every highly selective college across America. It’s high time this changed. Maybe — hopefully — that time is now.

While you’re here, read our post on Asian Quotas in Ivy League Admissions. To be clear, there are no quotas. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t discrimination. Because there is.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Pro Bono College Admissions Help

May 25, 2015
College Admissions Help, College Admission Help, University Admission Help

At Ivy Coach, we are deeply proud to be in the service of our American service-members.

On this Memorial Day, we found ourselves emailing our students who served in the American military, students who earned admission to their dream schools this year as well as in years prior. We thanked them for their service. We thanked them for the tours many of them completed in Iraq and Afghanistan and in other parts of the world. It is our great privilege to work with some members of our military each and every year on a pro bono basis to help them achieve their dreams of attending one of America’s finest institutions. For years, our pro bono college admissions help was offered to students from low income families, to American veterans and members of our military, and to other underrepresented groups. But this past year, we began offering our pro bono college admissions help exclusively to veterans and members of our military. Because so many of them need assistance and our resources, at the end of the day, are finite.

We take great pleasure in helping members of our military gain admission to their dream colleges each and every year. Those phone calls and emails when they get in (and so many of them are shocked because they didn’t think they would get in!) are some of our most memorable experiences each year. While it is of course so meaningful for us when our non-military students earn admission to their dream colleges, these particular phone calls and emails have a little extra kick to them. In all candor, they quite often leave us teary-eyed.

At Ivy Coach, we are proud to be in the service of American’s service-members. We are proud to help them achieve their dreams. We are proud to hold their hands through the highly stressful admissions process. We are proud of our body of work, of the dozens of American service-members who’ve since graduated from some of America’s most highly selective universities. They are a big part of our life’s work. To America’s veterans and current members of our military, today, we wish you a most special Memorial Day. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts to you and yours for your service. And if you’re interested in our pro bono college admissions help, please write in. We are here for you.

Categories: College Admissions Tags: , , , ,

Divide Among Asian Groups in Admissions Complaint

May 25, 2015
Divide Among Asians in Admissions, Ivy League Asian Discrimination, Ivy League Asian Divide

There is divide among Asian American groups with respect to the complaint filed against Harvard with the U.S. Department of Education.

We came across a piece up on “BuzzFeed” by David Noriega entitled “Asian-American Groups Split Over Affirmative Action Complaint” that quite intrigued us and so we figured we’d share it with the readers of our college admissions blog. The piece offers insight into the support among Asian American groups across the United States for the complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education against Harvard College, alleging discrimination against Asian Americans in the university’s admissions practices. As Noriega writes, not every Asian American group is onboard with this complaint and, of course, this should come as no surprise. But what we found interesting was that many of the groups behind the complaint are comprised of Chinese immigrants whereas many of the groups that oppose the complaint are second, third, and fourth generation Americans.

As Noriega points out in his piece, “Most of the groups who filed the federal complaint are newer organizations comprising foreign-born immigrants, largely from China. The groups who led the opposition to the complaint tend to be older civil rights groups with American-born leaders and long-standing relationships with black and Latino activist groups. ‘From a sociological standpoint, that makes sense,’ C.N. Le, a professor at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, told BuzzFeed News. More recent immigrants, he said, ‘are coming from an idealized image of American society as a meritocracy where everybody should have an equal chance … So, from that point of view, they see affirmative action as this mechanism that discriminates against Asian-Americans.'” An idealized image of American society. Very interesting indeed!

While we support the fact that this complaint has raised awareness about the discrimination against Asian Americans in the admissions process to highly selective colleges, we can’t help but feel deep down that nothing will come of this particular complaint. It’s just not an inciting incident to launch a civil rights movement. It’s not what Seneca Falls was to the women’s rights movement. It’s not what Stonewall was to the gay liberation movement. The great American civil rights advances rarely play out in legal complaints. They play out when more and more folks lift their voices in support of change. If this complaint encourages folks to lift their voices, we’re all for it. But we can’t help but empathize with the Asian American groups that didn’t back this complaint as well. It’s not as though these groups don’t want the discrimination to end. But they also don’t want to alienate other minority groups and halt so much of the progress that has been made over the past decades.

Where do you stand on the divide among Asian American groups with respect to the complaint filed against Harvard College? We’re curious to hear your thoughts so be sure to post a Comment below.

Categories: China University Admission, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Another SAT Scandal

May 24, 2015
SAT Scandal, SAT Cheating, SAT Cheaters

Valerie Strauss of “The Washington Post” has become the Woodward & Bernstein of reporting on SAT cheating scandals.

We’ve been writing quite a bit about SAT cheating scandals that have occurred in Asia this past year. Well, the pandemic has spread. An SAT scandal has now hit America with a major security breach on the May 2nd administration of the exam. The day prior to the administration of this SAT, a respected education reporter for “The Washington Post,” Valerie Strauss, as well as FairTest, an organization that is against exams such as the SAT, both received different versions of the SAT that was to be administered the following day.

As Strauss articulately reports in her piece in “The Washington Post” entitled “New allegations of an SAT security breach, this time on a U.S. test,” “The exams were purported to be the tests American students were to take across the United States the following day, on May 2, and possibly by some students in Asia. It is not known definitively if what was sent was an entire “live” form of the test, but FairTest, or the National Center for Fair and Open Testing, has since confirmed that many of the questions on the versions we received were on the May 2 test given in the United States. Bob Schaeffer, public education director of FairTest, said that while it is unclear how many students had access to the test beforehand, ‘anyone who used that document to prep for the May 2 test would have had a leg up due to prior knowledge.'”

It’s absolutely fascinating to us that Valerie Strauss received the test the day ahead of time. Strauss, as we noted, is an education reporter for “The Washington Post.” But, more importantly, it should be noted that she has done the vast majority of the reporting on the SAT cheating scandals in Asia. She has led this coverage not just for “The Washington Post.” She is the news authority on this subject. And, of course, “The Washington Post” has a reputation for bringing scandals to the public’s attention (hello Woodward & Bernstein and Watergate!). Nobody seems to be quite sure how these tests got into circulation or how Strauss and FairTest got versions of the SAT, but it does call into question the validity of the administration of the exam. We’re curious to see how College Board and ETS respond in the weeks ahead to these allegations. It’ll be interesting to see to say the least.

Categories: SAT / ACT Prep Tags: , , , ,

Low Income Ivy League Students

May 23, 2015
Low Income Ivy Students, Ivy League and Vineyard Vines, Lower Income Ivy Students

Not everyone at Ivy League colleges wears Vineyard Vines and it’s important to know that.

There’s a piece up on “CNN Money” by Emily Jane Fox entitled “Poor Kids, Rich Schools” that we figured we’d comment on. The piece focuses on how many students at highly selective colleges come from middle or low income families — many of whom are the first in their families to attend college — and it’s often a culture shock for these students when they enroll at universities such as Harvard and the University of Chicago, among many other highly selective institutions such as the other seven Ivy League institutions (in addition to Harvard). As one sophomore at Harvard, Ted White, puts it, as referenced in the piece: “One day, four men in a class of 12 students came in wearing Vineyard Vines button-ups and loafers,” [White] said. Vineyard Vines and Top-Siders are indeed rather ubiquitous on Ivy League college campuses. There’s no denying this. And a story such as the one that White recounts is by no means unusual.

But it’s nice to see that colleges are doing more to help put students from low and middle class backgrounds on more of a level playing field with their upper-crust classmates. As Fox writes, “In recent years, students have formed groups like UChicago’s Socioeconomic Diversity Alliance, Columbia’s First-Generation Low-Income Partnership (FLIP) and Harvard’s First Generation Student Union (FGSU) to inform other students and work with administrators to ease some of the burdens. Harvard’s FGSU, for example, successfully campaigned to keep two of the school’s dining halls open during spring break. Before, students were left to ‘either go buy expensive food in Harvard Square or starve,” sai’ Ana Barros, the group’s president.”

It’s important for low and middle income students to know that they are not outsiders at highly selective colleges. Yes, of course there are lots of students who come from Greenwich, Connecticut and Bellevue, Washington. Yes, of course there are students at these schools whose last names are on the facades of buildings. But as this article correctly points out, at Harvard “20% of parents earn less than $65,000.” So these middle and low income students need to know that they’re not alone, that not everyone at Harvard owns Top-Siders and sports Vineyard Vines. Or Patagonia for that matter.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Asian Quotas in Ivy League Admission

May 22, 2015
Asian Quotas, Ivy League Asian Quotas, Ivy League and Asian Quotas

An editorial in “The Wall Street Journal” that refers to Asian Americans as “the new Jews” of college admissions might make for good copy. But it misses the mark.

There is an editorial in “The Wall Street Journal” by Jason L. Riley entitled “The New Jews of Harvard Admissions: Asian-Americans are rebelling over evidence that they are held to a much higher standard, but elite colleges deny using quotas” that we’ve got a strong opinion on and it’s one we wanted to share. Over the last quarter century, there have been few more vocal critics of discrimination against Asians and Asian Americans in the highly selective college admissions process. It is downright wrong that Asians and Asian Americans are held to different standards than are other applicants to these very universities. It is unjust. It is loathsome. And any defense by a university that they don’t discriminate against Asians and Asian Americans is transparently untrue. Because the data and our years of experience suggest otherwise.

But to label Asian Americans “the new Jews of Harvard admissions” is equally as loathsome. It is equally as unjust. It is equally as inappropriate. The reference is of course to the discrimination that Jewish students previously faced in the admissions process, including in the 1940’s when heinous crimes against humanity were being committed against the Jewish people across the European landscape. As Riley writes (and he’s referencing the complaint filed by numerous Asian American groups, so it’s not his poor choice of comparison but rather theirs), “The complaint announced on Friday, echoing a lawsuit filed by another group in November, accuses Harvard and other elite institutions of holding Asian-Americans to far higher standards than other applicants, a practice used to limit the number of Jewish students at Ivy League schools in the first half of the 20th century.” But while discrimination against any group is wrong and it should be ridded out at all cost, there actually were quotas back then for Jewish students. There are no quotas now for Asian applicants. That doesn’t mean there isn’t discrimination (there absolutely is!) but mark our words: There are no quotas for Asians and Asian Americans. Let’s repeat that. There are no Asian quotas in Ivy League admission or at any of America’s highly selective colleges.

Students aren’t flunked out of colleges because they’re Asian. Don’t think that happened with Jewish students at highly selective universities back in the day? Do your homework. We’ve written about what transpired at Emory University many years ago. And Emory was by no means alone. Including at institutions such as Harvard, there were fixed limits on the number of Jewish students allowed at these schools. In some cases, like at Emory’s dental school, Jewish students were asked to identify on their applications if they were Jewish and if they answered in the affirmative, Emory’s rogue dean barred them from getting in. These quotas were, in some cases, even statewide law. At some institutions, Jewish students weren’t allowed at all or their numbers were limited. Numerus clausus was indeed code for outright anti-Semitism. And highly selective colleges like Harvard and the other Ivies weren’t alone. Many of their feeder institutions, the famous preparatory schools of the Northeast, had the same such clauses. If these students weren’t allowed (or their numbers were limited) into the feeder institutions to the Ivies, Jewish applicants were going to face the same problem with the Ivies. It’s only logical.

We suport Asians and Asian Americans lifting their voices against the discrimination they face in the admissions process. We believe that the more students and parents and organizations that lift their voices, the better. We believe this is how change happens. But while “The New Jews” might make for good copy, we take exception to it and call on these Asian organizations that filed this complaint to reconsider their wording going forward.

Categories: China University Admission, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Jobs in College Essays

May 22, 2015
Employment in College Essays, Jobs in Admission Essays, Jobs in Ivy League Essays

Ron Lieber has a great piece in “The New York Times” on how few college applicants 1.) write about work experience or 2.) have any work experience to write about.

There was a piece in “The New York Times” yesterday by Ron Lieber entitled “Essays About Work and Class That Caught a College’s Eye” that we figured we’d draw to the attention of our readers. It is a very good piece that focuses on how so many applicants are either reluctant to write about their jobs and work experiences or they simply don’t have work experiences to write about. We’ve found that the latter case is especially true. Indeed we’ve been writing on the pages of this college admissions blog for years how having work experiences can indeed help one’s case for admission. And yet so few students have such real-world experience when applying to college.

As Lieber writes in his terrific piece, “Of the 1,200 or so undergraduate admission essays that Chris Lanser reads each year at Wesleyan University, maybe 10 are about work. This is not much of a surprise. Many applicants have never worked. Those with plenty of money may be afraid of calling attention to their good fortune. And writing about social class is difficult, given how mixed up adolescents often are about identity. Yet it is this very reluctance that makes tackling the topic a risk worth taking at schools where it is hard to stand out from the thousands of other applicants. Financial hardship and triumph, and wants and needs, are the stuff of great literature. Reflecting on them is one excellent way to differentiate yourself in a deeply personal way.”

There is a misconception out there that attending a fancy summer enrichment program at a highly selective university is how students should be spending their summer months. There is a misconception out there that the student who works at McDonald’s to help out her parents with their mortgage payments and finances is hurting her chances for admission to highly selective colleges. Indeed in a segment with “Huffington Post Live,” Ivy Coach Founder Bev Taylor properly corrects the moderator when he suggests that schools like Harvard and Yale aren’t looking for middle-class kids. They are looking for middle-class kids. They are looking for kids with real work experience. They are looking for kids who will be the first in their families to attend college. Schools like Harvard so very much want these students.

It’s time to put this misconception that work experience hurts one’s chances for admission to highly selective colleges to bed. Parents should save the $10,000 they would otherwise spend on sending their children to fancy summer enrichment programs. Instead, students can make a few thousand dollars. They can learn about hard work and the power of contributing to their family’s finances. It’s a valuable life lesson. And it’s a life lesson that admissions officers at highly selective colleges do indeed appreciate. Even though so many folks think they don’t. For students considering writing about jobs in college essays, you’ve got our green-light. Now, it’s all going to come down to execution.

Categories: College Essays Tags: , , , ,

Importance of Summer Plans in Ivy Admission

May 21, 2015
Summer Plans in Ivy Admission, Summer Plans and Ivy League, Summers and Ivy League Admissions

Sure, give $10,000 to Leland Stanford’s university (maybe it’ll help them commission a new portrait of the fellow). But if you think it’ll help your child’s case for admission to top colleges (including even Stanford), you are misinformed.

Summer plans matter big time in Ivy League admissions! To paraphrase Dr. Seuss (who, it should be noted, attended Dartmouth College), “the time has come, the time is now.” No, this reference in the context of this blog has nothing to do with Marvin K. Mooney and everything to do with what high school students should be doing right now. Not tomorrow. Not next Tuesday. Now. And that’s planning out how they’re going to be spending their summer months. Because how high school freshmen, sophomores, and juniors spend their summer months proves to be very important in the highly selective college admissions process.

If your daughter is a rising high school senior, were you planning on sending her to a summer enrichment program at a prestigious university like Stanford? If so, you are not a regular reader of our college admissions blog because a regular reader of our blog would know better. And they’d have saved the $10,000 that these fancy summer enrichment programs — programs that not only don’t help students gain admission to top colleges but indeed can hurt their candidacies — cost. There are way better ways to spend the summer months and depending on a students’ interests, academic passions, and extracurriculars, we regularly help students shape their summers so that they can have a leg up in the admissions process to Ivy League colleges and other highly selective schools. It’s not a one size fits all. Like the Taylor family that heads Ivy Coach, it is all tailored to the individual student. You like what we did there? Ok, that was lame. We’ll own it.

But don’t waste another week. The time has come, the time is now. Some of the ideas that we’ll have for how your child should spend his or her summer will take a little bit of work and planning but it’s all still doable even as we approach June. So if you’re interested in planning out how your son or daughter will spend the summer months, set up a free consultation today by filling out this form (which you can also find by clicking on our orange button). We’ll go over our services with you offer more specifics on our one-hour evaluation in which you can hear our advice that is specific to your child. We look forward to hearing from you.

Curious to hear what Ivy Coach Founder Bev Taylor has to say about summer plans for high school students? Watch the segment below on “Huffington Post Live” and you’ll see where our tell-it-like-it-is approach all comes from. Note how the direction of the entire conversation changes once Bev offers her opinion. Everyone was all about these summer enrichment programs. It’s exactly the kind of direction change we’ll help implement for your child with his or her summer plans.

Categories: High School Summer Plans, Ivy League Tags: , , , ,

Ivy League Acceptance Story

May 20, 2015
Ivy League Story, Ivy Acceptance Story, Ivy League Admission Story

We have an Ivy League acceptance story to share with our readers, one that comes with a valuable lesson for prospective Ivy League applicants.

Gather round. We have an Ivy League acceptance story to share. We believe that by sharing stories of students who have gained admission to Ivy League colleges, our regular readers will learn some very valuable tips. Although, we should note, we never put our best secrets on the pages of our college admissions blog so when folks tell us they read our blog and they know it all so they don’t need our help, we can’t help but secretly roll our eyes. Oh nuts. We gave away that particular secret. Those secrets are part of our secret sauce and they’re reserved for our clients. But back to our Ivy League acceptance story. How we meander from our main point! Oy vey.

A couple of years ago, we had a student who gained admission to Harvard and Princeton, among some other universities. He gained admission to all of these universities in the Regular Decision round. He didn’t apply in the Early round because he was a procrastinator and first approached us as a client after the Early round was over. We always encourage all of our students to apply Early Decision or Early Action. You’ve got to commit to one college eventually so why not commit in the Early round when the odds are in your favor? “May the odds be ever in your favor. And happy Hunger Games!” We did it again. We meandered. Back to our former student. This student got a little shall we say self-confident after getting into Harvard and Princeton and he was convinced that he’d be hearing all good news from the other schools in the hours and days ahead. We told him not to count his chickens because he knowingly didn’t heed all of our advice. And one piece of advice we shared with him was to visit every school he wished to get into. Visit. Every. Last. One of them.

Because colleges want to be loved. They’re insecure like that. They want to know that you’ll matriculate if admitted. There is no advantage to them of admitting a student they think will get into Harvard. That’ll hurt their yield rate and indirectly hurt their “US News & World Report” ranking. No college wants that. It’s the holy grail! So we told this student not to count his chickens because he didn’t visit these other schools and his application we knew was good enough to get into schools like Harvard and Princeton. A less selective university is going to realize that. There are smart folks who work at these universities. They weren’t born last Tuesday.

So to all prospective applicants to Ivy League schools, be sure to visit any school you hope to gain admission to. But visiting, of course, is not the only way of showing interest. It’s one of many ways, ways we’re happy to share with our students. So fill out our free consultation form today to get started. A few years from now, we can then make vague, unidentifiable references to your own Ivy League acceptance story and if you still read our college admissions blog by then, you’ll likely giggle.

Categories: Ivy League Tags: , , , ,