Preparing for College

Should Chinese Ivy Applicant Skip Ethnicity Question?

Question: I'm Chinese but my name doesn't make it totally obvious. (My last name is Lee. I don't want to write my real first name here, but it's a common American name and similar to "Frank." ) So my full name, sort of like "Frank Lee," could really be many ethnicities. I've heard that there is prejudice against Asians in the admissions process so I am planning to leave the optional ethnicity question blank. But I do feel a little weird about trying to hide my background, which I'm actually proud of. (My parents came to this country newly married and with nearly nothing and now will pay for my college education themselves.) I'm applying to Ivies and other highly selective schools. Do you think that skipping this question is a smart idea?

This could be a slightly slippery slope. Even if your name doesn't proclaim your Chinese background, there may be other aspects of your application that will. For instance, if your parents attended a Chinese university or your résumé mentions Chinese language or cultural activities, then you may "out" yourself as Asian anyway. It's possible, too, that an interview write-up or teacher reference might note in passing that you are Chinese.

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