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After years of fighting, the fate of affirmative action, or the use of race-based quota systems, has officially been decided. The US Supreme Court has ruled against the use of race in college admissions, citing the systems being used at Harvard University in Massachusetts and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill as unconstitutional.

While this news has sent shockwaves around the USA, international students, especially those hailing from top high schools in Singapore, should not be super concerned with this domestic issue.

While affirmative action decision doesn't affect most applicants from Singapore, it might make essays about your race and cultural identity even more important.

While affirmative action decision doesn’t affect most applicants from Singapore, it might make essays about your race and cultural identity even more important.

This is because most schools do not include international students in their diversity statistics. “College administrators frequently code the race/ethnicity of foreign nationals simply as ‘foreign’ without specifying a race group.” Meanwhile, ethnicity in context for affirmative actions relates to those listing as African-American, Native-American, or Hispanic-American or Asian-American – not those hailing from other countries.

It’s also important to consider that just because the law has changed, it doesn’t mean universities do not have agency and ability to address the issues in their application. From the Supreme Court decision:

“At the same time, nothing prohibits universities from considering an applicant’s discussion of how race affected the applicant’s life, so long as that discussion is concretely tied to a quality of character or unique ability that the particular applicant can contribute to the university.”

The Supreme Court decision merely states that schools must stop using a domestic “quota system” that ensures a certain number or a certain race gains access to the school. Thus, we can see that schools do have a lot of freedom to reevaluate their admissions standards to be able to gain more insights into the race and cultural identity of students through essays.

States like California have already gotten rid of affirmative action in 1996. Using the University of California system as an example, we can see how they have moved away from standardized tests, and now have four major essays and an extended activity sheet that offers much more space and freedom for students to share their actions during high school.

Students in Singapore, just like before, are competing mostly against other international students, specifically from Singapore and the Asian region in general for a place in top schools. Typically most US universities have an international student population somewhere between 10-20% with some very diverse schools going higher, which will most likely continue as most schools are keen on keeping their student body diverse, global and innovative.

Singapore applicants are competing mostly against other international students. Your competitiveness comes from your multi-cultural background.

Singapore applicants are competing mostly against other international students. Your competitiveness comes from your multi-cultural background.

When applying, students in Singapore should keep in mind how they can present themselves as unique and diverse in their perspective, experiences and outlook in their own communities. At Prep Zone, this is one of our specialties to help students craft essays and activity sheets that will make their profile stand out.

USA Universities with Highest International Student Enrollment Percentage

  • University of Rochester: 25%
  • New York University: 24%
  • Boston University: 22%
  • Carnegie Mellon University: 22%
  • Cardinal Stritch University: 21%
  • Brandeis University: 20%
  • Florida Institute of Technology: 19%
  • Emory University: 17%
  • University of California San Diego (UCSD): 16%
  • University of Chicago: 16%

Universities hosting the most international students in the United States in 2021/22

  • New York University, NY: 21081
  • Northeastern University – Boston, MA: 17836
  • Columbia University, NY: 16956
  • University of Southern California, CA: 15729
  • Arizona State University – Tempe, AZ: 15293
  • University of Illinois – Urbana-Champaign, IL: 12833
  • Boston University, MA: 11798
  • University of California – San Diego, CA: 11279
  • Purdue University – West Lafayette, IN: 11198
  • University of California – Los Angeles, CA: 10990
  • University of California – Berkeley, CA: 10664
  • University of Michigan – Ann Arbor, MI: 9349
  • Pennsylvania State University – University Park, PA: 9313
  • University of Washington, WA: 8682
  • Carnegie Mellon University, PA: 8196
  • Georgia Institute of Technology, GA: 8040
  • John Hopkins University, MD: 7893
  • University of California – Irvine, CA: 7888
  • University of Texas – Dallas, TX: 7741
  • University of Wisconsin – Madison, WI: 7686

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With a team of experienced consultants who are graduates from top universities around the world and an impressive track record, Prep Zone Academy is the perfect choice for aspiring students who want to secure their placement at top universities in the US and UK.

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Tyler J

Author Tyler J

Tyler attended the University of Minnesota, where he later worked as an interactive technology grant-funded researcher for three years after graduation. While living in Asia for 12 years, he has worked at Prince of Songkla University in Thailand, helping non-native English-speaking professors publish abroad while teaching academic writing and citation courses. Meanwhile, he collaborated with startups in Shenzhen and Shanghai, working on college applications for eight years. To support his students, he explored creative nonfiction writing within courses at UCLA to gain an academic understanding of personal essays. He has mentored students to get accepted to top schools like Cornell, Penn, Columbia, JHU, Duke, Vanderbilt, Cambridge, Oxford, London Business School, Emory, Rice, UCLA, UC Berkeley, Carnegie Mellon, NYU, USC, BU, Harvard, and The University of Chicago.

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