When it comes to college applications or simply applications in general, many African Americans and Hispanics are already up on the “I choose not to disclose” game when it comes to identifying race out of fear of being discriminated against, but now it seems many Asian students are having to go this route as well. Many students of Asian descent from one or both parents, whose last names don’t give away their heritage, have found that when it comes to gaining acceptance into America’s top schools like Harvard and Yale, there is only one boxed to be checked for race: white.

According to an article by the Associated Press:

For years, many Asian-Americans have been convinced that it’s harder for them to gain admission to the nation’s top colleges.

Studies show that Asian-Americans meet these colleges’ admissions standards far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the U.S. population, and that they often need test scores hundreds of points higher than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance of admission. Critics say these numbers, along with the fact that some top colleges with race-blind admissions have double the Asian percentage of Ivy League schools, prove the existence of discrimination.

The way it works, the critics believe, is that Asian-Americans are evaluated not as individuals, but against the thousands of other ultra-achieving Asians who are stereotyped as boring academic robots.

Now, an unknown number of students are responding to this concern by declining to identify themselves as Asian on their applications.

While many students say that they are comfortable with their choice to essentially deny a part or all of who they are, a choice supported by their parents, other students aren’t as comfortable with the decision. The AP spoke with Jodi Balfe, a Harvard freshman who was born in Korea and came here at age 3 with her Korean mother and white American father, and against the advice of her high school guidance counselor, teachers and friends declared herself Asian on her college application. For Balfe the choice was easy, “I felt very uncomfortable with the idea of trying to hide half of my ethnic background. It’s been a major influence on how I developed as a person. It felt like selling out, like selling too much of my soul. I thought admission wouldn’t be worth it. It would be like only half of me was accepted.”

Have you ever had to deny your race? What are your thoughts on denying your race when applying to schools or jobs?

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  • African Mami

    To deny my race, to be accepted by the majority would be denouncing my history. Never! When one door is closed, another one is flung open. Guess what, if both are closed, there is always a crack on the wall enough to let me through!

  • Timcampi


    “Do you actually think half of those white students that are there really have more credentials than the black students in law school?”

    No. I don’t. But I don’t have time to elaborate on my views right now… btdubs I went to an elitist school as well. BUT I do believe that race-based placing hurts minorities more than it does white students. 7.9% is hardly an alarming rate… but it is a significant figure I was simply stating that it is UNFAIR– no matter what race– for students to be placed in an institution based on their race rather than credentials. Hence why I said further above we should get rid of race selection on applications.

    That is all.

    • Timcampi

      Also Kudos on the upcoming law degree. I wish you success.

    • B

      Lol. I meant for my comment to show up down here.

    • Timcampi


      Mm no problem! I also believe the SATs are racist as ish (well, it’s gotten better). There are several things in an admission process that can be used to ‘out’ your race. Sometimes it starts with your name, sometimes your diction (in the case of an interview), sometimes it’s the salary your parents make… whether they’re divorced, the jobs you’ve held, the area you lived in. My college counseling office made us read a few would-be applicants and it was VERY EASY figuring out which person belonged to which race. It’s really sad. That’s why I always put my mostly white hometown in Pennsylvania instead of Irvington, NJ.

      But yeah I agree with you… I just hate being told ‘you’re only in here because you’re a minority’ ugh. It’s discouraging.

  • chanela

    i wouldnt be surprised if asian people had no problem denying their race on applications. most literally worship the ground caucasian people walk on.(and vice versa)

    i’m sure many brag to their friends about it and their friends reply with “wow how lucky you are that you can say you’re white on paper!”

  • chanela

    i hate when applications ask for your race. wtf is the point? what does that have to do with my academics or (for a job) my qualifications?

    i never put my race down.