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Sunday, May 26, 2024

Personality Ratings By Race: The Differences Are Unbelievable

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

One such positive is less stereotyping about how someone got into college. Another positive is that 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.

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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.

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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 consists of personality plus experiences tied to the applicant’s personal story. But how do we objectively evaluate whether one applicant’s story is better, or more tragic, or harder 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, Harvard also made it more difficult to be sued its chance of getting 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.

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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 because who is to say one personality or personal experience is worse or better than another’s.

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.

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!

For more nuanced personal finance content, join 60,000+ others and sign up for the free Financial Samurai newsletter and posts via e-mail. Financial Samurai is one of the largest independently-owned personal finance sites that started in 2009. 

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