Don’t Check the Box

When I was applying to Andover in October 2012, I briefly went to an SSAT prep program in Hong Kong. After taking the test and scoring in the overall 98th percentile, my SSAT tutor advised me not to specify my race in my application to Andover. Because I scored “only” in the 98th percentile, if I specified my race as Asian, I would be compared against other Asians who received perfect scores. My tutor then told me that if I scored this way on the SAT as well, I should not include my race on my college applications as to avoid being compared to the countless Asian students with better scores. By checking off that I was Asian, I would be compared to other Asian students by my scores and grades, rather than compared to an entire applicant pool by my identity. Through stereotypes and assumptions, Asians are looked upon not as many individuals that happen to be of the same race, but instead as a group of academically skilled, all identical geniuses. This perception completely eliminates the individuality each Asian person feels and has. In the eighth grade, my entire class took a math placement test to be able to compete in the city-wide math competition. My test score was a mere two points less than what was needed to go to the competition. When asked whether or not I would participate in the event, I responded to my non-Asian peer that I had been a couple of points off and that I would not be able to go. My peer responded by saying that I was a “fail Asian.” Because I had not achieved the highest-of-the-highest math score, my peer immediately labeled me as a failure. I was only considered unique from other Asians because I was a failure. Asians today are also expected by colleges to have perfect GPAs and test scores. “USA Today”’s studies show that Asian Americans meet top colleges’ admission standards “far out of proportion to their 6 percent representation in the US population.” Because so many Asians have incredible academic records, individual Asians often need tests scores that are “hundreds of points higher” than applicants from other ethnic groups to have an equal chance at admission. The difficult standards placed on Asian students by society puts immense pressure on us, both in school and in the college application process. Because of the enormous pressure Asian students receive from not only their parents but also society, they are required to meet the “Asian standard.” By this standard, they often lose their individuality and uniqueness that separate them from others. And because many Asian students applying for top colleges have ridiculously impressive academics, Asians are lumped together by the belief that they should all fit this standard of academic excellence. Asian students are now being led to believe that it is beneficial to not identify as their own race on applications in order to raise their chances of acceptance to top universities. Every human being and every Andover student, regardless of his or her race, has individuality and uniqueness. One should not be judged based on his or her ability to conform to stereotypical expectations. Asians are a race, not a label.