Written in Ink
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For a cool $100k, college consultants tell Asian kids: Not so Asian!

From the Boston Globe: [John] Chen founded Asian Advantage College Consulting 20 years ago in response to what he considers bias against top Asian students in elite college admissions. His firm, which is based in Alameda, Calif., also has clients on the East Coast, he says, including Boston.

“The admissions officers are seeing a bunch of people who all look alike: high test scores, high grades, many play musical instruments and tend not to engage in more physical sports like football,” Chen says.

If students come to him early in high school, Chen will direct them to “switch to another musical instrument” or “play a sport a little bit out of their element.”

And for the college essay, don’t write about your immigrant family, he tells them: “Don’t talk about your family coming from Vietnam with $2 in a rickety boat and swimming away from sharks.”

One of Chen’s New York clients is a girl who attended a top public examination high school in the city, where more than half the class is Asian. She got a perfect score on her SAT, was valedictorian, class president, and captain of the badminton team.

Her father, who asked that the family not be identified, told the Globe that he contacted Asian Advantage when his daughter was a sophomore. He and his wife emigrated from China, and their daughter was born here. “In general, we have the impression that it’s not easy for Asian Americans to apply to college,” he said.

Chen said that he worked with the teenager to “deemphasize the Asianness in her resume.” She played the piano, but he encouraged her to participate in musical theater. Badminton was a no-no on her college app: Too many Asian students play racquet sports. Ditto for Asian Club. And she was to avoid saying that she was interested in biology or wanted to be a doctor.

“She put down social sciences,” Chen says.

She was accepted early admission into Harvard.

At Ivy Coach, much of the advice Taylor offers his clients echoes that of Chen. Be careful, he tells them, to avoid appearing like a “grade grubber”: “Schools don’t want students who care too much about their grades. They want kids who love learning.”

Ivy Coach offers an “unlimited package” for students for $100,000, which includes helping them throughout high school with all aspects of their college applications: testing, essays, letters of recommendation.


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