I will say, knowing that MIT admission officers look on in this forum, that the federal law on the subject has it right. Applicants get to decide whether or not they answer the question at all. They can decline to answer either or both questions ("ethnicity" or "race") by law. Therefore no college admission committee should make any adverse inference of ANY kind about a college applicant who chooses to exercise what is, after all, a legal right for all college applicants without exception. A college that systematically disfavors applicants who decline to answer the OPTIONAL questions on a college application is practicing racial discrimination, period. There are a lot of reasons why applicants decline to self-identify with any narrower group of humankind than humankind as a whole (in my family's case, it is because of deep knowledge of human biology, including knowledge gained from a book recently published by MIT Press), and no college has any basis in law for assuming the worst about applicants who think that their most fitting self-identification is declining to check any of the checkboxes on the form. I want to put that out there, loud and clear (I'm a lawyer), because the MIT admission office statement from last year is subject to the interpretation (which may not be the intended meaning of the MIT admission office) that applicants who exercise their legal right to leave the checkboxes blank are disfavored by the MIT admission committee. If that is so, the federal Department of Education should look into the issue, as the law is completely clear that applicants are at liberty to answer the questions or not as they choose.
Tokenadult is busy and slowly resuming participation here. For your questions about College Confidential, use the "Contact Us" link on the bottom of each page. Good luck on your applications.
I could be wrong, but my take was that checking a box/ boxes on the application does not really make much of a difference. My sense is that it is the story within the academic record, lors and essays that these adcoms are focused on.
I do think you bring up an interesting point. While I do agree with - and often cite / link to - David's post, I do think that his point here:
When I was a kid, I recall having to identify my race on all kinds of forms, including standardized tests, long before I contemplated completing an application for college admission. From my perspective, checking the box, or boxes to indicate one’s race should be as automatic as providing one’s name.
was perhaps a little oversimplified. Certainly, there may be students who have a certain ambivalence about their racial or ethnic identity, and that internal conflict may manifest in any number of interesting and different ways.
The point David was trying to get at, though, was that because we allow you to check multiple boxes, we also allow students to outline the contours of their racial and ethnic identity, and then to fill inside the lines in the essays which constitute the balance of the application. So for a student like your child, he can check whichever boxes might describe him, and then elaborate upon how he conceptualizes his own identity in the essays.
I am sorry for the delayed response, but we are just getting back from Cordoba, where we did not have access to the internet.
Thanks MITChris. I agree, perhaps his point was a little oversimplified. However, as the old saying goes, exception proves the rule. I also think David expressed a valid concern about applicants checking certain boxes to get admitted.
As far as my son is concerned, we are hoping, it is not the race boxes per se, but the fact that he also sucessfully attended public elementary and middle schools in poor Mexican American neighborhoods in TX that will get him noticed by adcoms.
sbjdorlo, So often, it is individuals who belong to the most vulnerable groups who become victims and then say the most painful things. It is people like our children who can look past the insults and still help.