Bradshaw College Consulting

Wednesday, July 26, 2017


Dear Mr. Bradshaw,

My son is a junior in high school and I am concerned about ethnic "quotas" for admissions at top colleges. He is Asian-American, and my friends tell me that many top colleges have quotas. They said that some Asian students who have been rejected had nearly perfect test scores and grades. How can my son escape the same fate when he applies in August?


Concerned Parent

Colleges searching for creative, well-rounded students



Dear Concerned Parent,

It is often said that ethnicity-based affirmative action admission standards — implicit or explicit — exist at many top colleges. The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights has examined complaints that Ivy League schools have discriminated against Asian-American undergraduate applicants. But, with the present composition of the Supreme Court it would appear that any affirmative action challenges will be turned down in the name of "diversity." In a New York Times article, a Harvard official was quoted as saying that their applicant file reviews are "highly individualized and holistic" and that they "give serious consideration to all of the information they receive and all of the ways in which the candidate might contribute to our vibrant educational environment and community." Princeton University "treats each application individually and we don't discriminate on the basis of race or national origin." That said, many Asian-American parents still worry their children might not be able to stand out among a group of highly qualified students.

In the application process, your son must present himself to be more than just a "well-rounded" student. More than 2,500 students with perfect academic records will have applied and many will be rejected.

He will have to convince top schools such as Harvard that he is going to make a name for himself — and Harvard — by being a brilliant student if he is admitted and that he has certain qualities that will make him stand out in the career of his choice once he has graduated.

Please understand that as a college admissions consultant I deal with "quota issues" every day. The cards are not only stacked against Asian students but also against other groups (including Caucasian) from the standpoint of making it to top schools on brains alone.

While there will always be disparities in college admissions standards, my job as a counselor is to help students feel comfortable when talking about themselves, so that they stand out when their applications are considered. A great many admissions rejection letters come because brilliant students who have won all kinds of academic accolades rehash these accomplishments over and over again in boring application essays. I ask that my clients take the opposite approach and that they open up and talk honestly about themselves and how they see the world. An applicant's personality needs to jump off the page. The only way to beat the competition is to show admissions officials who you are as an individual. While top students today often have terrific test scores, top grades and a list of extracurricular activities that would shame a Harvard graduate from 20 years ago, it is more often the intangibles that "sell" an applicant — like evidence of leadership and organizational skills, and writing and speaking abilities.

My advice is to take advantage of the extracurricular opportunities your high school has to offer, especially if those activities suit your career aspirations. Colleges are looking for creative, well-rounded students with critical thinking skills and leadership experiences.

Tags: Colleges and Universities Princeton University Gerald Bradshaw is an international college admissions consultant with Bradshaw College Consulting in Crown Point.

SKYPE: geraldbradshaw
Colleges and Universities, College Consulting, International Students

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