The intense competition among Asian-American students in college admissions is now creating an Asian disadvantage at the top colleges and universities. The disadvantage, though, is not simply because they are Asians, but because they actually do lead similar lives. As one of the prep academy advisors told the students (and their parents) “Everyone is in orchestra and plays piano, everyone plays tennis. Everyone wants to be a doctor, and write about immigrating to America.”
These kids lead similar lives because their immigrant parents shaped their children’s lives to match what elite colleges want. This is hopeful because if the elite colleges actually reward different kinds of experiences for these ambitious families, the parents will change what they encourage their children to do. Diversity of experience and character is, after all, the kind of diversity that colleges should be seeking.