Prabhudev Konana Opinion contributor
Published 3:15 AM EDT Nov 2, 2018
Universities preach ethics. It is time they practice what they preach.
In most elite universities, Asian-Americans make up a far higher percentage of students than is reflected in the overall population. Yet that percentage could be higher. This point is illustrated by a recent investigation of Yale as well as a lawsuit targeting Harvard that is wrapping up this week. In both cases, discrimination is alleged against highly qualified Asian-American students as institutions seek to “balance” their admissions.
Unfortunately, this problem is only going to get worse because elite institutions are playing a zero-sum game.
According to the Census Bureau, the Asian-American population went up from 10.2 million in 2000 to 18.2 million in 2017, a 78 percent increase. Total college enrollment of Asian-Americans over roughly the same period rose just 33 percent, from 978,200 in 2000 to more than 1.3 million in 2016.
In the larger picture, applicants to Harvard College have nearly doubled during this time, but total admissions have remained steady. Likewise, at Stanford University, the number of those admitted has declined slightly even as the number of applicants has doubled since 2008. As the number of students from all races and ethnic groups continues to increase, the competition is expected to intensify at elite schools.
Don’t devalue Asian-American grades, scores
During the internet boom years in the 1990s and early 2000s, America attracted nearly 200,000 highly qualified individuals, mostly from Asia, each year under H-1B and L1 visas. Many of them sought to stay in the United States, and now their children are applying to colleges.
Meanwhile, international students increased from about 408,000 in 1990 to 1.1 million in 2016 — and of the 2016 crop, nearly two-thirds came from Asia. They will continue to add to the Asian-American population in the USA.
These professionals came to this country primarily because of their education. There is an obsession, in general, for high grades among these immigrant families. Scoring one point less would put them thousands of spots below in the priority list for admissions to elite schools in their home countries. That obsession is transferred to their children raised here.
More: Harvard admissions lawsuit is a threat to America’s diversity and strength
Why is Harvard discriminating against Asian Americans? ‘Diversity’ is no excuse for racial bias.
Yes, we deserve to be at Harvard: Trump’s shameless affirmative action attack
Many Asian-American parents take their children to relentless prep classes, music classes, sports, cultural programs and volunteer work on top of making them take advanced courses. There is tremendous pressure on these children; if a kid gets 99 out of 100 on math, the next question will be, “Why did you lose that one point?”
Don’t argue that elite schools don’t matter to them. Parents and students know what it means to get degrees from places that have created scientists, Nobel laureates and great intellects. They know where the founders of Yahoo, Google, Microsoft, Facebook, Amazon and so many other companies went to school (even when they dropped out). If schools don’t matter, Princeton wouldn’t be showcasing the room where Einstein taught and Cal Tech wouldn’t discuss Richard Feynman.
Today, I see a systematic attempt to discredit high grade point averages and SAT/ACT scores from Asian-American students as somehow tainted and the result of a “privileged” upbringing. The truth is their high scores are because they worked hard and not by virtue of legacy or political power. This bias has left many Asian-Americans upset despite their communities having championed and supported diversity in all walks of life.
Make admissions process more transparent
These elite universities have broken the trust of hardworking Asian-American aspirants. The objective of achieving a diverse student body is essential and desirable — but the process is so opaque and insincere that it is giving rise to anger and frustration. In some cases, universities seem to be shifting metrics from objective to subjective measures in an attempt to justify rejecting applicants.
The University of Chicago says it doesn’t care about ACT/SAT scores. Just send a two-minute video, as if videos will un-bias the system. Now, young scholars have to make sure their looks appeal to the admission folks. I recently heard someone wonder, watching a video of a prospective student, whether the applicant would appeal to recruiters. Code word — not good looking enough.
College admissions is a complex and emotion-laden topic. Leading universities must increase enrollment numbers rather than taking pride in their low admission rates. They can support both diversity and academic excellence, and be transparent about their process. They should give additional points to those who come from difficult backgrounds, but should not discount hard work, talent and motivation as somehow tainted. Admissions processes collectively should not become a zero-sum game.
Prabhudev Konana is a Distinguished Teaching Professor and the William H. Seay Centennial Professor of Business in the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas-Austin.
- ‘Fresh Off The Boat’ Series Finale: Groundbreaking ABC Family Sitcom Says Farewell, Leaving Legacy Of Asian American Representation On TV
- Coalition of Asian Pacifics In Entertainment Unveils Annual CAPE New Writers Fellowship
- The antitrust hammer hits college admissions
- Bloomberg: To Fix College, Start by Ending Legacy Admissions | Opinion
- Review: Frieze? Please. Try the upstart Felix art fair at the Hollywood Roosevelt
- Group urges court to overturn Harvard admissions case ruling
- Stuyvesant Alumni President: Calling NYC Schools ‘Segregated’ Makes Me ‘Feel Like I’m a Bad Person’
- ‘Panic’ as Radhika Jones, Vanity Fair’s New Editor, Takes the Helm
- Bill de Blasio on Trump, Cuomo, and Getting New York to Like You
- PG med admissions on: Seat matrix not out yet; EWS quota cause for concern
Asian-Americans deserve fair admissions process at colleges like Harvard have 932 words, post on eu.usatoday.com at October 23, 2018. This is cached page on Asean News. If you want remove this page, please contact us.