Why Is It Not Worrisome Admissions Discrimination When It's Against Asians?
The notion that a college should be as mixed as a box of Crayolas is ridiculous and unfair -- especially to high-achieving Asians. Carolyn Chen writes in a December op-ed in The New York Times that if you are Asian, your chances of getting into the top colleges and universities will almost certainly be lower than if you are white:
Asian-Americans constitute 5.6 percent of the nation's population but 12 to 18 percent of the student body at Ivy League schools. But if judged on their merits -- grades, test scores, academic honors and extracurricular activities -- Asian-Americans are underrepresented at these schools. Consider that Asians make up anywhere from 40 to 70 percent of the student population at top public high schools like Stuyvesant and Bronx Science in New York City, Lowell in San Francisco and Thomas Jefferson in Alexandria, Va., where admissions are largely based on exams and grades.
In a 2009 study of more than 9,000 students who applied to selective universities, the sociologists Thomas J. Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Radford found that white students were three times more likely to be admitted than Asians with the same academic record.
Sound familiar? In the 1920s, as high-achieving Jews began to compete with WASP prep schoolers, Ivy League schools started asking about family background and sought vague qualities like "character," "vigor," "manliness" and "leadership" to cap Jewish enrollment. These unofficial Jewish quotas weren't lifted until the early 1960s, as the sociologist Jerome Karabel found in his 2005 history of admissions practices at Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
In the 1920s, people asked: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Jews? Today we ask: will Harvard still be Harvard with so many Asians? Yale's student population is 58 percent white and 18 percent Asian. Would it be such a calamity if those numbers were reversed?
To me, the people who need help are those who are financially disadvantaged, not those who are disadvantaged because they're not as smart and/or didn't work as hard.
Oh, and by the way, she makes this very good point:
It is noteworthy that many high-achieving kids at selective public magnet schools are children of working-class immigrants, not well-educated professionals. Surnames like Kim, Singh and Wong should not trigger special scrutiny.