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Are Asian American Students Suffering from Diversity Admission Policies?

Are Asians being discriminated against as a whole in the admissions process of American universities? A column in the Wall Street Journal invited student readers to express their views on "Are American colleges discriminating against Asian applicants." What are the thoughts of these students who went through the admissions process themselves?

A history major at Amherst College said Asian-American students feel discriminated against in the application process at top colleges, in part because Asians are more likely to apply to those colleges than other ethnic groups. Based on the law of supply and demand, perhaps Asian Americans should consider alternative paths to a successful life. Attending vocational and technical schools, such as military schools, lead to futures that are just as bright. But at these colleges, Asian students have been chronically underrepresented.

The chart below comes from a research report on education from Georgetown University. The first two bars show that among the applicants with a 1300+ SAT score, 65% of Asian American students are reaching for the most competitive colleges. This ratio, for all ethnic schools combined, is 50%.

(Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce)

A business student from New York University said Asians have the strongest academic record of any ethnicity. In 2019, National Center for Education Statistics reported that Asian Americans had an average GPA of 3.26; the group with the second highest average GPA is White (3.09). Asian American students are also leading in SAT scores. Such performance also means that they are disadvantaged in the university's "diversity" admission policy. These policies are aimed at increasing racial and ethnic diversity. Meanwhile, Asians are being squeezed out because of "diversity." Many studies have confirmed this observation. Despite the growth of the Asian Americans population, the proportion of Asian American students at Harvard have stayed roughly the same for more than two decades. These evidences suggests that Asian Americans are discriminated against when applying to top colleges.

Another student from the University of Wisconsin also brought up the Harvard case, arguing that the truth is in the data. The documents submitted in the Harvard discrimination case show that among all applicants, the academic performance of Asian students are in the top 10%, with an acceptance rate of 12.7%. Meanwhile, the acceptance rate of white students is 15.3%, Hispanic students 31.3%, non-American students American students, a whopping 56.1%.

The most popular computer science major at UC Berkeley has also been struggling with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) admission policies, especially in increasing the proportion of female and minority students.

The figure below is from a personal information analysis report of EECS students. In the past 20 years, the proportion of Asian applicants has stayed steadily within the 40-50% range, with rapid growth in the past few years. Conversely, the percentage of white student applicants is overall on a downward slope.

Although Asian students still make up the largest ethnic group admitted into UCB EECS and CS majors in the 2020-21 academic year, it doesn’t mean this group’s has a high acceptance rate overall.

The following chart is based on data on the gender and ethnicity of those admitted as computer majors. The darker the color of the block, the higher the acceptance rate of the particular group, and thus the easier for those in the group to get in. Among all applicants who reported their gender, Vietnamese, Hispanic, and African-American female students show higher admission rates, with Japanese female students (lower right corner) showing the highest acceptance rates.

On the contrary, regardless of ethnicity, male students seem to show much lower acceptance rates than female students. It is the hardest for international male students to be admitted, followed by white, Chinese, South Asian (including Indian, Bangladeshi, etc.) male students.

Some students also mentioned in the Wall Street Journal article that instead of discriminating against Asians in American college admissions, it is better to decide who to admit by merit (meritocracy).

The average income of Asian-American families is relatively high, and they are also quite invested in their children's education. Among over 20 Asian-American groups analyzed by The New York Times, the vast majority of them have a higher annual income than average.

(Source: New York Times)

Asian Americans also rank among the highest in college graduation rates. Nationally, only 34% Americans over the age of 25 have graduated college, while the Asian population over the age of 25 shows very high college graduation rate: the college graduation rate of descendants of Taiwanese immigrants is as high as 83%; Indian, 79%; Malaysian, 68%; mainland Chinese, 60%.

(Source: New York Times)

Whether Asian American students are discriminated against in the admission process or not, the brutal internal competition among Asian American students is an undebatable fact. In this case, effectively distinguishing yourself as an applicant is crucial for prospective STEM majors and non-STEM majors alike. At Enlighteens, we know for a fact that every student possesses something special and unique, and our team always strive to make sure that uniqueness help student stand out, be it in their college applications and in the long run.

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