'Appear Less Asian' to Get Into a Top College, Avoid 'Bamboo Ceiling,' Consultants Advise

ashley.rae | June 3, 2015
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College admissions coaches are encouraging their Asian clients to “appear less Asian” in order to increase their chances of being admitted to the top schools in America.

The Boston Globe reports Brian Taylor, the director for the Manhattan-based Ivy League prep business Ivy Coach, will take his Asian clients and “make them appear less Asian when they apply.”

James Chen, the founder of Asian Advantage College Consulting, also takes this approach. Chen feels as if there is an “Asian penalty” for prospective applicants who happen to, unfortunately, be born Asian.

Chen told the Boston Globe, “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.” In order to remedy the situation, Chen advises his clients take up a sport (other than badminton), play an instrument (other than piano), and express interest in certain fields (other than science).

Chen and Taylor's desire to minimize the Asian traits of their clients alludes to a concept that is often referred to as the “bamboo ceiling,” or individuals not being able to advance due to the fact that they are Asian. College admissions are not the only area in which Asians feel as if they have been subject to a barrier on account of race. According to a study by Ascend, an organization for Pan-Asian business professionals, Asians are over represented in Silicon Valley’s tech staff, but do not make it to the boardroom.

In the case of college admissions, multiple lawsuits have been filed in order to contest what is seen as discriminatory policies against Asians. In May, more than sixty Asian-related organizations filed a lawsuit against Harvard alleging racial bias in admissions policies. In 2014, a lawsuit against Harvard and the University of North Carolina claimed there were policies that discriminated against Asians in favor of less-qualified applicants of different races.

In case a prospective Ivy-attending Asian does not feel like taking legal recourse, the advice is simple: pay $100,000 to a college counseling program such as Ivy Coach to try to appear less Asian, or simply don’t be Asian.