College applications force mixed-race teens to color outside the lines

College applications force mixed-race teens to color outside the lines

The Mash: For teens, by teens

Steffie Drucker
Niles North High School, Skokie, Illinois

Josh Kalamotousakis
John F. Kennedy High School, Chicago, Illinois

The Mash is a weekly newspaper and Web site that is here to serve you, the Chicago-area teenager.

The paper is distributed for free each Thursday at Chicago-area high schools and is written largely by high school students. Our student contributors influence most of the paper’s coverage, so it’s a publication and Web site created for you, about you and, most important, by you.

The college process is filled with questions. First, students must ask themselves what type of school they want to attend and narrow down schools to only a short list of places to apply. The process can be confusing enough since schools ask for different essays, transcripts or letters of recommendation.
Unfortunately, there’s one question students are asked that should be simple to answer but isn’t always: to identify their race and ethnicity.

For some students, identifying themselves is hard because they don’t fit into a single box. And they’re not alone—according to 2010 census data, more than 9 million people in the U.S. identify themselves as being two or more races, up from about 6.8 million in 2000.

Matthew Ibrahim, a senior at Niles North who considers himself Assyrian because his family’s roots are in the Middle East, falls into this category.

“I don’t feel like I fit into a box,” he says. Ibrahim usually checks white since that’s his skin color or Asian since the Middle East is technically in Asia. But, he says, “It makes me feel dishonest.”…

…Sally Rubenstone, a former college admissions officer, author of “Panicked Parents Guide to College Admissions” and a senior advisor at the college process advice site, sympathizes with multiracial students who say they’re torn between checking different boxes. “Kids are becoming more and more mixed,” she says. “Not everyone identifies with one race or another.”

Kennedy senior John Gonzalez, who identifies himself as Mexican and white, feels that being multiracial is to his advantage since each race has its perks. “I know that if I put down Mexican, I’ll have a better chance getting into some schools than if I would say I’m (only) white.”

Rubenstone does believe that being multiracial has its advantages—though not for the same reason as Gonzalez. “Colleges like (the diversity brought by mixed race and ethnicity students) because they can get a Puerto Rican kid and a Greek kid in one student,” she says. “It makes the student (body) a bit more interesting.”…

Read the entire article here.

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