Personality Scores By Race: The Differences Are Unbelievable

Although the Supreme Court striking down of Affirmative Action for college admissions is disappointing for many, there are some positives.

One positive is less stereotyping about how someone got into college. Another positive is legacy admissions is now on the chopping block. Finally, another positive is how Asian Americans now have better personalities!

From the Harvard Asian American discrimination lawsuit, we learned that Harvard University has a three-category scoring system by race: Academic, Personal, and Extracurricular. Harvard then combines the scores to come up with an Overall figure to determine a candidate's admit-worthiness.

Let's have a look at the data.

Harvard Rating System: Academic, Personal, Extracurricular

Below is a chart highlighting Harvard's rating system by race for Asian Americans, Whites, Hispanics, and African Americans.

Asian personalities

For the Academics category, all races have similar results. Everybody coming to Harvard is considered excellent, academically.

In the Extracurricular category, it looks like Asian Americans and African Americans have the highest results, while Whites followed by Hispanics have the lowest results. But the spreads aren't very large.

However, in the Personal category, Asian Americans score the lowest, while African Americans score the highest. As an Asian American, I was shocked to see how poorly Asian American applicants scored in terms of personality at Harvard. Hispanics had the second-highest Personal rating, followed by Whites.

African Americans have by far the highest Overall rating among all races, followed by Hispanics. While Asian Americans have the lowest Overall rating.

If anybody saw this data, you'd think Asian Americans, with their low Personal and Overall ratings, would be the race that required Affirmative Action the most, not the least!

And yes, I understand a Personal score is determined from applicant essays, teacher recommendations, alumni interviews, and other pertinent information in the application. But how do we objectively evaluate whether one applicant's story or personality is better, or more tragic, than another's?

Why Such Low Personal And Overall Ratings For Asian Americans?

Theory #1: A Way To Throttle Admissions Of Asian Americans

One theory as to why Harvard rates Asian Americans low in the subjective Personal and Overall scores is to help counterbalance the higher grades and test scores submitted by Asian Americans in college admissions. With lower subjective scores, Harvard can find reasons to reject more Asian American applicants.

By using subjective rating measurements that are hard to prove, Harvard also made it more difficult to be sued by students and parents who felt discriminated against based on objective criteria.

Unfortunately for Harvard and UNC, the Supreme Court ruled against Affirmative Action, and by extension, viewed this subjective rating system as discriminatory against Asian Americans.

Theory #2: Harvard Truly Believes Asian Americans Have Inferior Personalities

Another theory is that Harvard University is right and the Supreme Court is wrong.

Harvard truly believes Asian Americans have inferior personalities compared to all other races. Harvard does not purposefully lower Asian American Personal scores to suppress admissions based on objective measurements.

If this is the case, what a bummer it is to the millions of Asian American kids who are being told their personalities are inferior. I can see this hurting the self-esteem of some Asian American kids who believe they are predestined to have uninspiring personalities. In turn, this may lower Asian American personalities even further.

As a parent who is trying to instill self-confidence and self-love in my children, I'm disappointed about this Personal score by race system Harvard uses to assess applicants.

If you are an Asian American, do you really want to attend a university who believes you have the lowest Personal score out of all the races? I would think most people would be offended.

For those struggling with personality issues, I wrote a detailed post on how to develop a better personality to get into college, get a better job, and win at life.

Which Theory Is Correct?

As someone who likes analyzing data, I believe in theory #1 – Harvard used subjective measurement such as a Personal score to help justify its throttling of Asian American admissions. The test scores by race disparity are too large to hide.

Here is some admissions data by race. Even if the Asian American applicant is in the top decile, the applicant only has a 12.7% chance of getting into Harvard, the lowest among all races.

Harvard admissions by race and sex - personality and personal scores by race are used to throttle Asian American admissions to elite universities like Harvard

It was shrewd for Harvard University to come up with a subjective rating system to help justify its admissions decisions. It is a private school free to do whatever it wants unless it takes federal government funding, which it does. The only flaw was its private rating system was exposed to the public.

What people think in private can often be different from what they say in public. Don't forget how ex-LA Clippers owner Donald Sterling described his players in a private conversation!

You don't want to have the super power of knowing everybody's true thoughts. If you do, you will be thoroughly disappointed in humanity.

Reflecting On My Personality

As an Asian American, I've seldom lacked confidence in going after what I want. I guess it's just a part of my personality.

I've asked out almost every girl I liked. As a result, I've always been with someone since I was 13. In high school, I was the captain of my tennis team. And when I had a day job, I got regular promotions, partly because I got along with enough people who were willing to pull for me.

My general disposition would be described as cheerful and optimistic. If I sprain my ankle, I'm grateful that I didn't break my ankle! I also think what a great time to heal my shoulder and write more articles on Financial Samurai.

So when I saw the private Harvard University data about Personal scores, I thought it was a joke. The Personal scoring by race methodology was too obvious of a way to deny qualified Asian American admissions.

Clearly, I also have many personality deficiencies, such as getting into physical and verbal fights more easily when I feel wronged. When I was growing up, I fought my bullies, which got me suspended twice.

This defiant attitude has carried over into adulthood. I enjoy standing up for myself and pointing out ludicrous things, which sometimes creates enemies.

Hard To Become A Successful Creator With A Bad Personality

But I don't feel my personality is any better or worse than the average person across all races. If you listen to my podcast interviews (Apple, Spotify), I feel the conversations I have with my guests are natural and not awkward. But you tell me!

It's also hard to write a bestselling book or grow a website to one million pageviews a month as an individual if you have a bad personality. Sure, grit and determination are necessary. But so is being likable enough.

After the Supreme Court's ruling on Affirmative Action, in a funny way, I now feel like I've gotten a personality boost! I feel more cool, like my Black friends who score the highest in the Personal ratings. Hooray!

Perhaps one solution to changing the perception of Asian American personalities is to produce more videos of us partying. Here's an example from 2010 that was particularly popular. But that was 13 years ago!

I decided to ask Asian American readers how they felt about their personalities once Affirmative Action was eliminated in college admissions. Here's what they said.

Asian American Feedback #1: Feel some relief the stereotyping has been revealed

Harvard's practice to rate Asian Americans poorly on the Personal rating is BS. It creates stereotypes that Asian Americans are just book smart and have no outside interest except for studying.

It's ironic how Harvard doesn't realize the harm it does by negatively stereotyping Asian Americans, while also pretending to be the champion of progressive thinking. But there's a reason why Asians have the highest incomes in America.

More than 4.5 billion people live in Asia. It's fascinating how the powers that be in America like to stereotype minorities and keep them in certain boxes. Visit multiple Asian countries and realize Asians are not a monolith.

Asian American Feedback #2: Never believed in the rating in the first place

Let's be honest. Harvard is a private university that believes in some ideal racial makeup of its student body. It institutes quotas to meet its objectives. Harvard did so against Jewish people in the past, and they are doing so to a certain extent to Asian Americans today.

The Supreme Court's ruling won't change Harvard's desire to limit Asian Americans in the future. At the same time, Asian Americans do make up about 30% of Harvard's incoming class.

It's comical to see the Asian American Harvard students and alumni virtue signal about how the Supreme Court's decision is such a big disappointment. Why should they care? They already got into Harvard and can benefit from legacy admissions!

To get graded on a Personal rating is like Mark Zuckberg rating women on their looks when he first started Facebook at Harvard. Maybe that's where the admissions committee got the idea for the Personal rating system in the first place.

Asian American Feedback #3: A great opportunity to work on my personality

Whether Harvard believes in its poor Personal rating of Asian Americans or not, I'm glad to know that's what some universities do and think behind closed doors. By understanding how colleges evaluate candidates by race, we can work on the areas where we are graded poorly.

If my children want to attend a top private university, it seems clear they will have to work on their personalities. But they need to also craft an identity that is unique and more appealing to college admissions.

A personal story based upon having poor immigrant parents is probably not going to be good enough anymore. They must find hardship in something else and tell their story effectively.

To win at the game, we must understand the rules of the game. Victimhood Olympics is a part of the game.

Your Personal Rating Matters

This Supreme Court case on Affirmative Action reminds us that so much about getting ahead is subjective. It's often not good enough to be smart or skilled. You must also have great soft skills in order to make people like you.

A lack of emotional intelligence is likely costing you plenty of opportunities. At the end of the day, people tend to support and help people they like and ignore the people they don't.

Here are some things we can do to improve our Personal rating:

  • Listen more
  • Try to empathize by seeing the other person's point of view
  • Understand all the things that make you unique and special
  • Focus on helping others first
  • Avoid projecting your demons onto others
  • Learn another language
  • Travel to new countries and stay for a while
  • Try it yourself before you criticize another for doing
  • See failure as a learning opportunity
  • Take action to help
  • Be congruent with thought and action
  • Develop the courage to live a life that's true to yourself

Only after achieving financial independence might you stop caring about your Personal score. You can tell people to screw off if you want to. However, if you have children, you must think about their future. And having a good personality will help them get ahead.

Reader Questions And Suggestions

What do you think of Harvard's Personality rating by race? Do you agree or disagree with it? What are some ways Asian Americans can break the stereotype of being only highly academic?

How would you rate your Personal score? What are some of your areas of improvement?

If you are Black or Hispanic, please share some tips on how to develop better personalities and personal stories!

Listen and subscribe to The Financial Samurai podcast on Apple or Spotify. I interview experts in their respective fields and discuss some of the most interesting topics on this site. Please share, rate, and review!

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About The Author

45 thoughts on “Personality Scores By Race: The Differences Are Unbelievable”

  1. Personality should be weighted based on major, yes? Sales, have charisma like Ronaldo. Sitting in a lab all day, not so much.

  2. My experience with Asians in America has been that they are very hard working, low maintenance, and they don’t let their emotions get in the way (which may lead some to conclude that they are less personal). As a white male who is an accountant, you can imagine that the stereotype for my “type” might be similar to that of Asians.

    As a teenager and younger adult, I was certainly more quiet, but that has improved with age. In terms of personality being something that Harvard is attempting to assess as part of admissions, I don’t see any reason why that SHOULD reduce Asian’s chances of being admitted.

  3. Long-time lurker here. Sharing, because you asked :) I’m willing to bet that the answer lies within the data not within “personality types.”

    Are the Black kids applying to Harvard representative of the Black community in the US? One example is Barack Obama, who went to private preparatory schools before attending Harvard. That gave him a leg up. In fact, the data, suggests that Black kids in elite colleges are tracked that way from early education. It’s not necessarily that they’re rich themselves, it’s that they have adjacency.

    People gloss over how much Black families sacrificed to get an education and how painful integration is. They look only at the successes. But it was a long process. And those who make it through are not representative of the rest of the Black community.

    Do the Asian communities place their kids in such close adjacency too? Anecdotally, I haven’t seen it (private or public schools with my kids or in my generation). The stereotype is a focus on the written requirements (sports, piano, good grades, debate, chess, mathletes) but not on getting to know other kids whose parents went to Harvard and how they get in. I think there is a difference between what Harvard says it wants and what it really wants.

    It’s weird how the Supreme Court was ruling on a private university, that is known for excluding ethnicities, and made it about race. Seems like it’s going to be easier to exclude more people, e.g., women, disabled, LGBT+, proles and plebs as well as Asian and Jewish.

    I read your writings, so I can afford to not care and have my children not care. That is true wealth. And that brings noblesse oblige.

    These days, it’s easier to make it big in Sweden or Finland than it is here (at their insane tax brackets). We need to start changing things, so our kids have it easier because there’s a lot of “invisible tax” burden on parents and future generations.

    Thanks for your many words over the years. I’m a fan! You do have Black/Brown readers too.

  4. I never would have guessed that you got into fights, even for standing up for yourself! I admit that I jump to conclusions about all kinds of people I listen to on various media. Your tone of voice is so calm, reassuring and personable; it’s one of the reasons I like listening to your podcasts.

    1. Thanks for listening Cheryl. I’m sure I’ve mellowed out with age. The younger me was more feisty. The older me lets things be more often. I feel blessed to be in my situation, which also means I’m less agitated as before.

      Nowadays, I’m mainly focused on trying to be a good family man.

  5. Well, because I’m CAnadian-born Chinese and would have never considered / much less afford to attend an American university, I don’t pay attention what happens at Harvard.
    I like readin’ HB Review mag. sometimes.

    Incredibly I do have a relative who got his PhD (biochemistry) at Harvard and yes, he lived/studied there. He is biracial, my nephew now father of 2 little girls in Toronto.

    Are you aware of this University of Toronto study where researchers tested recruiters on resume selection and screened also based on last name? It is a very popular article.

    As for personality and assimilation: we know the game –big time. And unfortunately might spend abit too much benchmarking in our teens, etc. And for women, the white beauty standard.

    Anyway, nowadays at least for Asian-American women wanting to rise and achieve, it’s a fine line on assertiveness, positivity but knowing when to hold firm based on core personal values @university and in one’s career.
    Enjoy this comedic skit: And yes, I have a sister who is a physician. I sent the clip to her. I wondered if I caused some guilt in her… I found out she took my mother’s broken sewing machine ….when it’s been broken for past 6 months.

      1. I am a Chinese American and I also don’t get the white standard beauty, from my upbringing it is more on the traditional Chinese standard beauty, plump but not fat, compassion but not weak, strong but gentle, independent but also ladylike, porcelain skin with color but not pale white etc….

  6. I’m curious as to whether any white Ivy grad has had that credential devalued in competition with an Asian Ivy grad because of the higher bar the Asian grad had to clear to get into the Ivy.

  7. “As an Asian American, I’ve seldom lacked confidence in going after what I want.” I loved your self assessment and it sounded like what I’d describe for the writer of Financial Samurai (though I only know what you present here) Do you think others would make the same assessment of your personality ? Do those assessments of you depend on their race? I am often struck by how much our biases affect our evaluations (say that asian women are meek).

    Regarding Harvard — I too was horrified by that graph but I think personal was a bad description of what that category meant — which wasn’t personality.

    1. “ Do you think others would make the same assessment of your personality?”

      Not sure. I was hoping to get reader feedback from you. Listen to some of my podcast interviews and let me know.

      In addition to personality and personal story, what else would you attribute the score to? Do you think Harvard’s assessment is correct?


  8. Hi Sam great article. In reading your post, it almost sounds like you agree with Harvard’s ranking system by asking those of other races to provide ideas for Asians to have more desirable personalities (for a higher ranking)? If Harvard’s objective is to meet a race based target then one could argue it won’t matter. Thoughts?

    1. I try to keep an open mind, and am always interested in learning from others and improving. So for my black and Hispanic readers, I would love to get some tips on how they have developed top-rate personalities according to Harvard and whether they agree with Harvard.

      My hope is that more commenters will share their advice, and they are backgrounds so we can all learn.

      So how about you? What is your background, do you believe in Harvard’s Personal Score system, and if so, any tips for how to improve one’s Personal Score?


  9. I grew up poor and mixed race from a single parent Asian (Korean) immigrant home. I attended a Cal State myself.

    I do agree with the post that Harvard is subjectively discriminating against Asians. At the same time, I anecdotally know Asians and Blacks who’ve attended Harvard that aren’t as financially successful as others I know who attended public universities or just started their own businesses out of high school/trade schools. I’ve even had analysts report to me that attended Brown and Columbia who had impressive resumes but weren’t really any better or worse than someone from a public college or had no college degree at all… I’m saying this because it’s been my observation that employers are increasingly more interested in experience or your technical interview results than they are what college you attended, if any at all. I think that’s a good thing and it’s also what the current labor market demands.

    Affirmative Action is something that has inherently good ideals but unintentionally negative consequences. For one, the low income school district I attended didn’t have the facilities, classes, or programs that I’ve discovered wealthy communities have. The public high schools in Newport Beach look like country clubs with rose bushes, state of the art facilities, etc. The rural high school I went to looked like a prison with a lot of trailers thrown around it. I bring this up because Affirmative Action helps certain disadvantaged minorities escape impoverished communities but also perhaps exacerbates the inequality between wealthy and poor school districts. If poor communities had primary and high school facilities that were as nice as wealthy communities, I suspect more students would be admitted to elite universities based on academic merit. With Affirmative Action, I suspect it takes away the incentive to do anything about our blatantly unequal schools since it manipulates outcomes without addressing the fundamental inequalities and, in my opinion, discriminatory facilities. It pacifies the outrage we should feel and should be doing something about.

    So, for more equal outcomes I think that it would be best to make sure poor communities have better facilities and schools, no different from the ones found in wealthier areas. Health insurance, paid time off, nutritional support, childcare, etc should all be things that working and lower class families have quality access to, not just the privileged. Of course, these kinds of structural changes cost a lot, require more taxes from the elite, and are just harder work to do. The easier and cheaper option is to just have Affirmative Action… It’s also the cheaper taxation option for all these elites who do attend Harvard.

  10. To be clear, the wording of the Supreme Court Decision does not block affirmative action at Harvard.

    The wording goes out of its way to strongly discourage its use at those private institutions. But its not blocked.

    The decision will likley end it at “public institutions”, but that has happened at most of the competitive ones already (CA State schools). Then where it has happened at the state level, it doesn’t matter as much because those schools have the capacity to take on more students if they applied and met minimum standards.

    Lastly…..there is a major falacy with the Supreme Court Decision. If “diversity” doesn’t matter, however you definite it, and you should only take the most qualified candidate…..Why did the decision go out of its way to say ~”this ruling does not apply to Military Universities” ie West Point/Annapolis?

    Because the military strongly believes that having a diverse fighting force is good for the unit and the country, for multiple reasons.

    1. Yes, I don’t think things will really change. It’s just fascinating to see how the powers that be use subjective measures to craft what they want.

      Folks have to learn how to play the game if they want to get ahead. And when you’re financially independent, you can then do what you want.

      Thoughts on the Personal Scores by race? Why is there such a huge difference in your opinion?

      1. Sam, asking your viewers to provide an opinion regarding why personal scores are lower for some races would be a guessing game given the criteria is defined by Harvard and not transparent to us. Would it be more productive to pressure Harvard and other universities for more transparency? Arbitrary speculation is just that. Overall, we could all benefit to be a better version of ourselves so no challenge there. Btw – I enjoy your blog!

        1. Sounds good. I know it is difficult to share opinions sometimes out of fear, uncertainty, or ridicule. I am also thinking about not sharing my opinions either and just writing more plain vanilla content. Easier, especially with AI!


  11. I’m curious as to how “personal” becomes “personality” in your view? What if it is a measurement of “personal” circumstances: ie. Raised by a single mother growing up in government housing weighed more favorably than someone who lives in Atherton and has attended elite prep schools? Either way, I think we need to see more real data as to what went into these components before jumping to conclusions.

    1. It’s all encompassing. Personal story, unique background, hardship background, personality, leadership, charisma, etc.

      What is your view on the Personal scores by race? Why are the scores for Blacks and Hispanics so high and Whites and Asians so low?


      1. I think you kind of answered your own question. The scores for Whites and Asians are lower because those two groups are statistically among the most “advantaged” in metrics such as income/net worth compared to Blacks and Hispanics. In the case of Asians specifically, the US consort is largely self-selected from among the most talented/wealthy of their countries which allowed them (or their parents/grandparents) to come to the US via H1B visas etc. Thinking back on the sizable consort of Indians I went to school with at Northwestern, almost all were coming from highly successful families of immigrant parents of Drs and Engineers. This is contrasted with Black families which still faced segregated schools well into the late 60s and 70s, and grandparents who were not allowed to attend state colleges or live in certain neighborhoods. I think academic merit should play the biggest role in school admittance but when looking at similar applicants, I can see coming from an adverse background and succeeding as carrying some weight in the admissions process. Along those lines, all of the focus is on affirmative action but legacy and athletic admissions deserve an equally critical eye IMO (this coming from a Northwestern legacy admit).

        1. Congrats on being a legacy admit! Do you think you would’ve gotten if you were not legacy? Given the cost of the school, it’s logical it would attract a greater percentage of wealthy students.

          What are you doing now and what race are you? Northwestern is nice, but so expensive for those who have to pay full freight.

          And specifically, do you think Asians and White people truly have inferior personalities than Blacks and Hispanics? If so, wouldn’t it be more logical to try to now start helping those who have inferior personal scores instead?

          I think it’s really hard to get ahead and anything if one has a sub optimal personality. It’ll be great to hear more perspective from parents who have great school children who may eventually go to college.

  12. Jen Jannsen

    My son, who has a perfect GPA, 34 ACT, 32 college credits (4.0 GPA in all of them), all conference tennis, all state academic for sports and activities, and stellar community service and leadership (including national and state level), got rejected from every elite college he applied to. His friend who has a lower GPA, lower test scores, zero community service and leadership, got accepted into the same schools my son got flat out rejected. The difference? He checked a box. How am I supposed to convince my son that hard work and merit will bring success? He even asked if we could explore a 23 and Me DNA test to see if he could check a box and have a better chance at getting in. This is what affirmative action has done – made kids look for a race edge rather than working hard and earning their admission.

    1. It’s a good lesson about life, luck, and randomness.

      With a good foundation, there’s a great chance your son will do OK no matter what.

      But yes, once we understand how colleges game admissions, it’s only rational for students to figure out how to game the application.

      We have politicians who did it by claiming to be Native American, who got way ahead, others think why not me too.

  13. Truthseeker

    Look, Harvard keeps its classes fixed to keep things exclusive, not inclusive. And its students are predominantly from wealthy families across all races.

    It’s good the lawsuit has shed light on this rich and powerful schools and how they DIVIDE America, not unite.

    “A 2017 research study by The Equality of Opportunity Project (now Opportunity Insights) found that Harvard’s student body has about as many students from the top 1% by income as the bottom 60%. This information, coupled with Harvard’s racial diversity, gives sense to education policy expert Richard Kahlenberg’s 2018 finding that 71% of Black, Hispanic, and Native American students at Harvard came from the top socioeconomic fifth of their respective racial groups nationally. Kahlenberg noted that this percentage gets even higher for Asian and white students.

    Considering that Harvard’s “diversity” is predominantly composed of affluent minorities, it’s not a surprise, then, that Harvard’s admissions program failed the Supreme Court’s standard of judicial review with race-based classifications. The Court noted that the “opaque” nature of Harvard’s admissions and diversity goals counters the school’s ability to be “broadly diverse.” And while losing race-based affirmative action is a big setback to equity in education, sure to cause generational complications, the issue with college admissions goes deeper than race—it’s about how race interacts with class.”

    The statistics don’t lie about how wealthy families are who send their kids to Ivy League universities.

  14. I agree with Harvard and this might be an unpopular opinion.

    I’m Asian American. I consider myself detail-oriented and have learned that, in general, your personality has a lot to do with your upbringing.

    Again in GENERAL:
    Many Asian parents value obedience, education, discipline, respect, focus = kids that may be smart, quiet, shy, etc.
    Other cultures, give or take, also value things above, but additionally creativity, socialization, questioning the norm = kids that have a broader personality, developed social skills, more curiosity.

    I grew up shy, but quickly realized the value that a more established and outgoing personality can provide, therefore learned to adapt.

  15. Assuming that they were actually assessing personalities, and that is a big if, this all seems like an unnecessary war on introversion. I can only speak from personal experience but many of the East Asians I have met have been shy and quiet. Much more so than Southeast Asians, Latinos, and African Americans. African Americans and Hispanics, in particular, place a much stronger focus on personal expression whereas East Asians, as my friend used to say, believe that the nail that sticks down gets hammered down. Anyway, business schools at the graduate level tend to prize applicants that are charismatic and communicate well but I don’t see why it is necessary to create a personality score at the undergrad level. That only hurts anyone who isn’t outgoing.

    1. It’s the nail that sticks UP gets hammered down.

      What is your race and how would you assess your personal / personality score?

      Maybe you encountered first generation Asian Americans who may still be adapting to culture and language. I know that if I can’t speak another language, fluently, I tend not to be as outspoken.

      Hopefully introversion is not penalized.

  16. What I get out of this is that you cannot trust, elite private universities to follow a code that is fair for all people. Clearly, the revelation of the personal score is racist and completely biased.

    Let’s see what happens with legacy admissions. But I’m sure these private universities will continue to try find ways to fulfill what they want their incoming classes to look like. But it sure helps to be rich doesn’t it!

  17. What exactly goes into Harvard’s Personal score? Is it a measure of how extroverted you are?

    1. Harvard’s admissions officers determine personality ratings from applicant essays, teacher recommendations, alumni interviews and any other pertinent information in the application. According to Harvard, personality ratings do not directly consider race, but experiences tied to an applicant’s race can be a factor.

      Getting rid of stereotypes and this left wing cahoots is important. How many Asian Americans are not getting a fair shake due to high school counselors with white guilt and wokeness?

      Harvard can put all these variables they want to make up the Personal Score, but at the end of the day, Harvard inputs the personal score to throttle Asian American admissions.

  18. I say this as kindly as possible, but you are obviously biased here (as we all are when confronted with issues of identity and feeling that our particular group is being judged/mistreated/denied something etc). You have based your idea of Asian personalities on your own experience. You may be outgoing, not shy and not awkward but that doesn’t seem to be the case for many Asian people. Also “Asian” is so broad! Japanese culture is so different from Filipino culture or Vietnamese culture or Indian culture etc. All of these folks get lumped into “Asian”. I would argue that a lot of the “lack” of personality has to do with how Asian folks are socialized to focus on the group as a whole vs the individual. The focus is not on one person so why would that person develop a shining personality? The tendency is more of put your head down, do your work and blend in and not make too many waves. Don’t brag but also don’t bring shame. But good but also humble. Also do Asian people share hardships? Would they have written about their struggles or kept those things to themselves so as not to share private details of their family or bring shame or look weak? Even your choice of sport-tennis. It was an upper class sport, that relied heavily on etiquette, class and grace. It was not a sport to be loud and brash and colorful. On the other hand Black and Latino cultures have been using humor as a coping skill for generations. The culture is loud and colorful and their is a focus on bringing your individual razzle dazzle to situations. Blending in is not an option so be bold and unique. The culture often focuses on dance, music, athletics, and fashion. There is a little less shame on sharing your struggle. I think this is what probably was conveyed in essays and extracurriculars. Joy Reid recently went viral with a video about her experience of Affirmative Action and I think she articulated it very well. I too am happy legacy admissions will get attention. As someone who once worked in the admissions office of a university and also attended class with legacy students-let’s just say they are not the best and brightest.

    1. I can only speak from my perspective, which is why I’d love to hear other people’s perspectives.

      What race are you? And how do you rate your personality compared to others? There seems to be a lot of generalizations in your answer. So understanding your background would be very helpful.

      And to clarify, you believe in Theory #2, that Harvard is right and it isn’t using a subjective measure to throttle Asian Americans admittance due to objective academic measures?

      Asians got some humor and dazzle dazzle too.

      1. Of course we all only have our personal perspectives and first hand experiences unless we have a window into the lives of others. I am a Black American woman. I have been with my Mexican (from Mexico) husband for 26 years. I grew up on the border with Mexico. I have lived in both the US and a Mexican border town. This influences my perspective. I had a diverse friend group in HS (mostly Mexican, White, Filipino) and my mom was Buddhist and congregated with mostly Japanese people weekly and I accompanied her. I also studied International Relations and gravitated to the International students. I worked at an International school for one year. I worked in a US college Admissions for one year. I worked as a counselor at a very distinguished High School. I am currently a mental health therapist and am privy to hear the things that most people do not share with others. All of this to say yes, there are generalizations but they are based on my 20+ year career of interacting with people and my 40+ years on this planet. I shared my observations. I don’t think the Asian “lack” of personality that Harvard put forth (or if anyone else puts forth that idea) is a “bad”. It was obviously used in a bad way but simply observing that there are differences is not bad. I don’t agree with Harvard and I do not disagree with Harvard. I simply had not studied enough to know either way. You asked what people could do to bring out their personalities more. I think a lot of the extracurriculars Asian families choose because they are distinguished (piano, orchestra instruments, tennis, etc) are excellent but do not lend themselves to “personality” per se. They are classy and refined, which is great but they also tend to be more subdued. I think letting young people pursue things they are truly passionate about will help them shine. You can totally tell when someone loves something by the way they gush about it vs doing something they were made to do because it looks good on paper. How many Asian parents would balk at their child majoring in English or History or Fashion Design because they want their student to major in Math, Science, Engineering. I think Asian folks absolutely have razzle dazzle but they often have to go out on their own and get a little older and a little bit more comfortable doing their own thing and expressing themselves vs doing what either their parents want them to do or what they think they should be doing. This can be said for a lot of high achieving kiddos regardless of race or ethnicity- their parents want them to choose a career with good salary, good job prospects etc. We always hear the parents who want a doctor, engineer, attorney, scientist. My parents were initially very disappointed I didn’t go into medicine and married someone who didn’t go to college. It all worked out, but there were definitely raised voices and tears.

        1. Thanks for sharing your background. Very helpful to understand where you’re coming from.

          “ I think a lot of the extracurriculars Asian families choose because they are distinguished (piano, orchestra instruments, tennis, etc) are excellent but do not lend themselves to “personality” per se. They are classy and refined, which is great but they also tend to be more subdued. I think letting young people pursue things they are truly passionate about will help them shine. ”

          What are some activities you recommend Asian families encourage their children to pursue that will help them build better personalities?

          For me, I loved softball when I was overseas, basketball, and tennis. And I even told my PE teacher that one of my goals was to make the basketball team. But in the end, I chose Tennis because I was better at that sport and I liked it.

          My parents didn’t ball at my sister and majoring in English. They are also not disappointed that she is an artist now and writing children’s books. Instead, they let her do whatever she wanted, and I think they are very proud of her.

          I want to encourage you to be careful about speaking in generalities about Asian Americans. That’s how stereotypes are formed. I see people as individuals who have different passions, interests, and desires.

          1. Absolutely about generalizations and stereotypes. As I shared, I spoke from years of first hand conversations with students and clients sharing with me. I hope things are changing and young people are able to choose what makes them happy and what they will enjoy doing for years to come. I don’t have any additional suggestions. I just wanted to possibly help account for why “personality” may not have come through on paper (if that was the case). It sounds like you and your sister were lucky to have supportive parents who let you choose and empowered you to do what you felt was best for you as the individual.

        2. RG, as a Black person do you think your personality is judged differently by white people than by other Black people? Or FTM by any non-Black people?

          I’m wondering if part of the reason for low personality rating of Asians is that the ratings were largely done by white people, judging the personality of Asians based on their white perspectives. Would white people, as a group, be rated lower in personality if the rating was done mostly by Asians?

          OTOH, I think it’s pretty clear that the biggest reason for the low personality rating of Asians is otherwise they’d need to admit a lot more Asians.

  19. Interesting post.
    What puzzles me a bit is why the races are categorized to be only “American centric”: Asian Americans, Whites, Hispanics, and African Americans.
    I am an MBA graduate from a “top tier US business school” (not Harvard, but point stands as well), and I can see some plausible manipulation on subjective metrics to meet desired “quotas”. In fact, I think our class had some groups as Asians that seemed to be underrepresented if you want to have a class that combines diversity and global representativity among top performers, taking “objective metrics”. I mean, to be specific, the Asian group in terms of number of students in my class was about the same size than the Latin American group (which I belong to), and if you look for “objective measures” such as academic/gmat scores OR population for example (if you want a “globally representative class” you could argue that you might want to assign more % of the class to a group that represents a larger percentage of the global population).
    But going back to my point, it strikes me that the 2 groups I mentioned are not really within the measured categories. A japanese student is not Asian AMERICAN, he is just Asian. Same with the “hispanic” or “African AMERICAN” terms. They seem to be leaving out part of the base. Or, they are really not properly categorizing them.
    An African student born and raised in Africa is not represented by any of these groups necessarily. I think this may be an additional problem with the whole process.
    I believe that there are efforts being made to eliminate race stereotypes to avoid biases and problems such as the “personality adjustment” to meet pre-defined outcomes.
    But it’s also hard to apply these tags if the schools don’t even get right the variety of “races” and groups together apples and bananas.

    1. The data shows Harvard accepts, many wealthy Africans and West Indies, in lieu of American Blacks, the main race Affirmative Action is trying to help. I’m not sure why there is no greater uproar.

      As a Latin American, can you share some tips on how to develop a better personality? You’re rank number two on the personal score. Are used to live in the “Spanish house“ at the college of William and Mary and our language instructor was from Cuba. Francisco had a great personality.

  20. I am still peeved there is no affirmative action in the NBA, NFL because the players don’t reflect the community around them? Why no outrage here?

  21. Alvin C Taylor, Sr

    The greatest travesty of our nation’s college admission practices is that it uses a “divide and conquer” strategy. Our universities have decided to reject applicants that ARE qualified to be admitted, but somehow, has convinced the applicants, not to get mad at the universitites, but to get angry at other people who are also applying to these universities.
    What we should be asking is; why can’t we EXPAND the services of our universities to accomodate more applicants?
    When Amazon or Microsoft got an influx of new customers, they didn’t start a weeding out process. They EXPANDED their services.

    1. Such a great point. And the answer is that these colleges want to maintain their share of prestige and exclusivity.

      As you say, if they really want to educate more people and lift people out of poverty, they would simply increase the number of spots for incoming students.

      It’s important we understand how the colleges act versus what they say. This way, we ourselves contact accordingly, and not be surprised when there is incongruency.

    2. Wow I never thought about it that way but you are absolutely right. Not a fast and easy thing to do but it seems very logical to me.

    3. A lot of universities, including Harvard, have expanded to accommodate not just more applicants, but more students as well.

      Harvard’s undergrad class sizes now are about 50% larger than they were 30 years ago. They recently built a new engineering campus, so I expect to see their class sizes continue to increase.

      Yale and Princeton have both recently increased their undergrad class sizes.

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