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Articles / Applying to College / Should Son Disclose Pakistani Roots?

Oct. 29, 2013

Should Son Disclose Pakistani Roots?

Question: My son is applying to colleges and we’re wondering if it makes sense for him to identify his Pakistani heritage? He’s 25% Pakistani and while born in the US, a grandparent was Pakistani. We realize schools are swamped with Asian students but does it make sense to offer this information as consideration? And, does this information make any difference to top schools such as Stanford, Notre Dame and Vanderbilt?

Although elite colleges are indeed swamped with Asian applicants, admission officials often still have a soft spot for “mutts.” Students who hail from more than one ethnic or racial background can sometimes be good “bridge builders” in a college community.

Because your son is only one-quarter Pakistani, his heritage may not affect his outcomes at all. Certainly at Stanford, where applicants hail from every conceivable background … and from many combinations thereof, it won’t make a ripple. But Vanderbilt and ND aren’t quite as diverse. So it can’t hurt for your son to include a mention of his Pakistani roots and it might even help at least a little.


Frankly, “The Dean” longs for the day when questions like this aren’t asked and when race and ethnic “strategizing” isn’t part of the admissions process. But, for now, it IS, so you might as well try to use it to your son’s advantage.

 

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.

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