The College Admissions Game, Part 2: Race and School Selection

“I don’t want to go there – it’s too Asian!”

That is the last thing I wanted to hear from the Daughter. Doesn’t she know I write for a blog on Asian American issues, and now she is going all Alexandra Wallace on me? Then again, that is a sentiment that I have heard from other Asian Americans. Just how did she come up with that opinion? Did it come from some kind of Asian self hate or something else?

It’s not like she isn’t used to being around lots of Asian Americans. Her K-8 school was about 70% Asian American, and while her high school had no ethnic majority, Asian Americans were the largest group. When I suggested she check out UC Irvine, she said that there were too many Asians there.  I argued that all Asians American are not alike and that they there is tremendous diversity within that classification, but like with many (most?) attempts to use logic and reason on a teenager, that failed. I added that the UCs are excellent schools, and that line of reasoning failed too. (Note that this conversation happened before we made our final college choice decision.)

“I wouldn’t send my kid a school that was so heavily Asian.”  – overhead comments made by Asian American parent about a heavily Asian high school

That is an opinion that some people, including some Asian Americans,  have about schools with high percentages of Asian American students.  I can understand that one can learn a lot from other students and people from other cultures, origins, and viewpoints (assuming you actually interact with them), but many people ignore the diversity within the Asian American umbrella. At the same time, The Daughter definitely didn’t want to go a college that had little variety. After visiting one college campus, and her comments were that “It’s so white, and I felt like everyone was staring at me.”

You might wonder how race considerations affected Number One son’s high school choices. The local public high schools, including the one we would have attended by default and the one that everyone lies about their address in order to go there, have Asian majorities just like his K-8 school. The private schools that he was looking at had white majorities but were still fairly diverse with large numbers of Asian Americans. He really didn’t care or just didn’t think about it the subject.

So what did I think that motivated The Daughter’s attitude toward heavily Asian schools I think that some of it was self-hate. It’s hard to escape having societal attitudes toward race sink in, including that of Filipinos with their own colonial mentality toward color. I find that pretty sad. I feel that the biggest factor is that after going to heavily Asian schools for the past twelve years, she wanted a change. I can understand thatl.

How did this all end up? After all of that arguing about the subject of too many Asian Americans, the majority of her friends in college, judging from her Facebook photos and who seems to be visiting when we Skype with her, are Asian American. Sigh.

Tune in for Part 3:  An Admissions Officer Speaks.

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About Jeff

Jeff lives in Silicon Valley, and attempts to juggle marriage, fatherhood, computer systems research, running, and writing.
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