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Tuesday, July 21, 2015
The Problem with Asian Students
This topic is nothing new. The stereotype of the Asian mathlete who's been doing tae kwon do and piano since the diaper days is well-branded into the American psyche. Relative to their numbers in the U.S. population, Asian students have comprised large percentages of college student bodies for decades.
Which is why the recent lawsuit against Harvard University, filed on behalf of 64 separate Asian-American groups, raises some interesting questions about race in college admissions. The lawsuit, filed in federal court by a group called Students For Fair Admission (SFFA), isn't as simple as it might seem on its face.
The gist of the complaint is that Harvard unfairly discriminates against Asian students in its admissions process. The plaintiffs claim, in essence, that Asian students have to work harder and score higher than students of other races in order to get in.
Like many of its ilk, this lawsuit is, for legal reasons, filed on behalf of a rejected student who will likely have graduated from college by the time the suit is resolved. Arguably, the suit also fails to speak for "all Asians". Put simply, the suit is an attack on affirmative-action policies, which many Asians wholeheartedly support.
With around a 5% acceptance rate at Harvard, it will be difficult for the plaintiffs to prove that race alone is the reason more Asian students are not admitted. In fact, most people of any race are not admitted to Harvard.
Nevertheless, it is well accepted in the college consulting industry that many Asian students are stereotyped by admissions committees. Arguably, they may be forced to try hard to look less Asian in order to stand out from their Asian competition.
The multi-layered problems with race and college admissions affect different groups in distinct ways. This conversation may be precisely what SFFA's lawsuit will start to unearth. Whether it makes college admissions any easier for Asian students is something that remains to be seen.
Labels: The Problem with Asian Students
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