How Colleges Limit Asian Americans Despite Their Qualifications

For various reasons, Asian Americans are often known for exceptional academic achievements that allow for entrance into the nation's top colleges—or so we thought. As it turns out, being good on paper doesn't mean as much if you're just another Asian. In a recent Boston Globe op-ed piece, “Do Colleges Redline Asian Americans?”, Kara Miller, a teacher at Babson College, explores why Asian Americans may still face discrimination in the college admission process. Miller suggests that despite the trend of high academic scores, exemplary extracurricular involvement and challenging life circumstances, Asian American student admissions are still limited at elite colleges.

Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade, who reviewed data from 10 elite colleges, writes in ‘No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal’ that Asian applicants typically need an extra 140 points to compete with white students. In fact, according to Princeton lecturer Russell Nieli, there may be an “Asian ceiling’’ at Princeton, a number above which the admissions office refuses to venture.”

To put it bluntly, colleges don't want to be "too Asian," as Miller describes: "Would Yale be willing to make 50 percent of its freshman class Asian? Probably not."

On one hand, it's understandable if colleges want to achieve a more diverse student body. But it doesn't justify the fact that Asian American applicants are simply lumped together as a whole, and not objectively evaluated based on their academic credibility and individuality of their character.

It's difficult to draw the line as to what constitutes "equality" in the college admission process, which has always been political—but it's still frustrating to know that no matter how hard you work and how distinguished your college application may be, you might not get in to your dream college simply because of your ethnicity.

Photo via AsianWeek