ic S/general/checkmark circled Thanks for subscribing! Be on the lookout for our next newsletter.
ic S/general/checkmark circled
Saved to Favorites. View my Colleges
Articles / Applying to College / Should We Check the "Asian" Box on Applications?

Should We Check the "Asian" Box on Applications?

Sally Rubenstone
Written by Sally Rubenstone | July 19, 2007

On the Common Application and many others, there is a check box for identifying the applicant's ethnic group. We have been told that Asian applicants should omit this response since top colleges have so many Asian applicants already. However, it is very easy to tell that we are Chinese simply from our last name. Therefore, if we skip that question, would admission officers think we are not honest?

You are absolutely correct. If you child does not check the "Asian" box on the application, admission officials might suspect that you are trying to "game" the system. As in most things in life, honesty is the best policy here.

Moreover, despite what you read or hear about a glut of outstanding Chinese candidates at top colleges, if your son or daughter has especially strong ties to your Chinese roots, this may even be an advantage in the admission process. For instance, if your child has some expertise on a little-known aspect of Chinese history or culture or, perhaps, participates in an unusual Chinese tradition, this may be good fodder for an atypical essay. It might show admission officials that he or she will bring "diversity" to campus. Even if the applicant pool is already rife with other Chinese hopefuls, this can make YOUR child stand out in the crowd.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

More on Applying to College

See all

Letter of Continued Interest: What is it, What Should You Include, When Should You Send One?

Have you been waitlisted or deferred by a college you wish to attend? If so, you are not alone. Thousands of college hopefuls are…


The Architecture Portfolio That Got Me Into My Dream School

The portfolio is one of the most critical aspects of your application when applying to architecture school, but there is a limite…


How to Get More Out of Your College Tours

College tours are schools’ best opportunity to convince potential students that they’ve got everything you could ever want to suc…


UChicago Admissions Q&A: ED/EA Ask Me Anything Recap

Last week, we were privileged to hear from a UChicago admissions director in an Ask Me Anything forum event to get exclusive tips…


NYU Early Decision Ask Me Anything Q&A Recap

This month we were able to hear from New York University admissions representatives in an exclusive Ask Me Anything event hosted …

Need Help Paying for College?
VIew Offers