|By Edison427 (Edison427) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 11:14 am: Edit|
My mom is Polish and my dad Egyptian, and i speak both Polish and Arabic fluently. Will this benefit me at all if i put down that i am biracial, as i am applying to Columbia ED? My friends, including my guidance counselor, are urging me to put down african american (because egypt is in north africa), but i noticed that columbia asks for my parents birth place, and i know they would question me as to why i only checked african american. My SATs are decent - 1360, wil be taking my IIs in october, very good leadership positions and EC's, working experience and three years of a varsity sport, have a sister who graduated from Barnard, very good rec's and essays, unweighted gpa 3.7 out of 4.0, and i have taken many honors and AP courses. i just wanted to get some feedback from you guys. Thanks a lot!
|By Theali00 (Theali00) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 01:52 pm: Edit|
hey im egyptian also, (full though), so can we really say african-american?
|By Edison427 (Edison427) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 02:04 pm: Edit|
hey, yeah im pretty sure you can. what do you think would be the best bet for me?
|By Theali00 (Theali00) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 03:51 pm: Edit|
keep in mind the question is something like "how do you *wish* to describe yourself", but i would say something like half african-american, half caucasian, cuz biracial kids are also considered URM's.
|By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 05:19 pm: Edit|
Egyptians are considered to be Caucsian, not of black African descent.
"African-American" means people who have ancestors from black Africa. Thus, people whose ancestors came from India, and emmigrated to South Africa would be considered Asian-American.
I know it's confusing, but that's the way things are due to the US's history of racial segregation.
You could write an interesting essay about being Egyptian and Polish. However, describing yourself as being "African American" simply would be considered not the truth.
Pleading ignorance about the US racial classification system would also not hold water. Colleges are not stupid. They can figure out when people are stretching the truth to get some kind of perceived advantage.
I also am making the assumption that until now, college application time, you've always considered yourself white, and that after you get into college, if someone were to talk about your being "African American" and perhaps wanting to join a student or professional group for African Americans, you'd look at the person like they were nuts.
I do know that there are Egyptians who are of Nubian descent and who clearly are of black African descent. If this applies to you, then, yes, it would be appropriate to say you are "African American." If, though, you normally would be considered white in the US, then don't suddenly decide to be considered African American (i.e. "black")
|By Edison427 (Edison427) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 07:30 pm: Edit|
that is very true northstarmom...ive always conisdered myself white, and now i know that all because a country is in africa doesnt mean you are african american (i.e. black). its kinda sad how stupid i was to give into my guidance counselors dumb comments. i was a bit hestitant of putting african american and probably wasnt going to do it anyways, but now i have a solid reason not to. thank you very much for your help.
|By Theali00 (Theali00) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 09:16 pm: Edit|
i have to disagree somewhat w/ northstar. In terms of nubian-egyptians, they are exactly the same as the rest of egypt in terms of culture and *ethnicity* (which is what colleges ask for). i also know that cornell and upenn choose to explicitly define north africans as caucasian, yet other colleges dont. Im sure if a school like columbia wanted to make the distinction, they would have already. Additionally, if colleges wanted to specify the term just to "blacks", then they would have simply written "black" (which is what most official forms ask for like social security, etc)., yet they write african-american / black, meaing the term is not just left for "blacks". And in terms of stretching the truth, the question explicitly asks how do you *wish* to define yourself, so yes, in the indian scenario the fact is that they are not african due to their ancestry, but north africans' ancestors are purely african. Nowhere is it said that your heritage must be "black" african. Regardless of being given a URM status (in which the UR part certainly applies to north africans), edison, you should definitely define yourself as african-american.
|By Northstarmom (Northstarmom) on Saturday, September 25, 2004 - 11:39 pm: Edit|
Imagine this scenerio. The OP writes down that he's "African American." The info is included on the info that Harvard sends me, an African American (really!) alumna interviewer. (I don't know what Columbia sends its interviewers, will let you hazard a guess.)
And, yes, if applicants designate race, it is included on the info that the alum interviewers get. The other info the interviewers get is : high school, address, phone number, e-mail, and possibly the student's projected major and some ECs that the student mentioned on their app.
Continuing with the hypothetical situation that I get to interview the OP. When I interview the student, I notice that not only does the student not appear physically to be African American (as that term is used in the US), but the student seems to be very uncomfortable thorughout the interview.
I don't think it's unreasonable to imagine that a student who considers himself "white," yet calls himself "African American" on his application might be very uncomfortable if he is interviewed by an alum who is obviously African American.
And even if I did not ask the obvious -- whether or not he is African American, I can imagine that even the most routine questions such as "Tell me about your family" might make the applicant even more uncomfortable, so uncomfortable as to bomb the interview. One could imagine such an interview tipping an applicant into the rejection pile.
Theali0, no matter how you try to justify it, I can't imagine anyone who has lived in the US long enough to be an American Harvard applicant who would fail to understand what "African American" means in the US.
In addition, if the OP has the typical Ivy applicant SAT scores, if he really thought he was "African American," he would have self identified that way on the PSAT, and presumably would also be on the list of National Achievement scholarship semi-finalists. Probably the majority of black American Harvard applicants are on that list. Many also get recognized as National Merit commended students and National Merit Scholars.
Anyway, adcoms might wonder about someone with very high test scores who gets, for instance, National Merit finalist, but isn't among students listed on the National Achievement finalist list.
The most important question the adcoms would be concerned about wouldn't be the applicant's race but the applicant's honesty and integrity.
|By Theali00 (Theali00) on Sunday, September 26, 2004 - 06:40 pm: Edit|
Northstar, I see your point, but your argument lies completely in self-perception. If a north-african student considers himself white, then so be it. I know of many north africans who consider themselves african-americans, not in terms of physical appearance, but strictly in terms of culture and ethnicity. I for one would feel even more comfortable with an african-american interviewer, as I for one know that many african-americans consider me (and other north africans) to be african-american. It's not a matter of honesty and integrity - it's a matter of how *I* percieve *myself*. Yes, it would be fallacious somewhat for someone who's been living the "white" life his/her whole life to decidedly change his/her ethnicity come college admission time, but thats why the question asks how do you *wish* to describe yourself. Someone who's been living his/her life believing that he/she is african-american because of his/her ancestry and culture would feel absolutely no nervousness during said interview.
On a second note, let's keep in mind that the purpose of affirmative-action is to balance the hardships and segregation encountered by URM students. Such hardships of black/hispanic students have been repeated even more so for north-africans and arab-americans in the past.
So no, I dont consider myself African-american in terms of skin color, but in terms of ethnicity, culture and segregation, (and the continent of *Africa*) then yes, i do.
Leave it to the adcoms to decide what "race" you are, but if someone believes him/her self to be african-american then it wont take twice to convince someone of it.
|By Tallyrand (Tallyrand) on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 11:02 am: Edit|
How the American system loves to box people! I personally feel that Arabs and Arab-Americans should have their own box to tick, because even if they are racially Caucasian they aren't white, as white is defined in the US. White is not just a race, it's a culture, of sorts. Some Middle Easterners and North Africans don't even look white. I know a few Saudis who I would sooner classify by appearence alone as South Asian or even black rather than white. What they do is check "other," as many people of their background do. That's what I'd advise Theali00 and the OP to do.
Northstarmom said ""African-American" means people who have ancestors from black Africa." With this I would have to respectfully disagree. There are many people of African descent who have no connection with the United States of America, and therefore are not African-American. African-American is not a synonym for black.
|By Siavash8p (Siavash8p) on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 01:37 pm: Edit|
I am from Iran, and I check other and described myself as PERSIAN.
|By Garland (Garland) on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 02:28 pm: Edit|
>>>>>"Northstarmom said ""African-American" means people who have ancestors from black Africa." With this I would have to respectfully disagree. There are many people of African descent who have no connection with the United States of America, and therefore are not African-American. African-American is not a synonym for black. "
I agree with Northstarmom. It is customarily understood that on college applications, "african-americans" means black Americans; many use the designation "black/Af-Am" to include those who fit into the first category but are not American.
To use this designation for anyone else is plainly deliberately misreading what the schools mean. Thus, it's dishonest.
|By Ivyman1 (Ivyman1) on Thursday, September 30, 2004 - 10:46 pm: Edit|
I refused to answer the question. I think it is insulting.
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