Asians Need Not Apply at Top Colleges

Affirmative action shuts out Asian students

Harvard Union / Wikimedia Commons

Affirmative Action advocates often argue that race aware admissions policies in higher education benefit minorities. However, many in the Asian American community are saying the opposite is true for them, the Los Angeles Times reports.

African Americans received a "bonus" of 230 points, Lee says.

She points to the second column.

"Hispanics received a bonus of 185 points."

The last column draws gasps.

Asian Americans, Lee says, are penalized by 50 points — in other words, they had to do that much better to win admission.

"Do Asians need higher test scores? Is it harder for Asians to get into college? The answer is yes," Lee says.

"Zenme keyi," one mother hisses in Chinese. How can this be possible?

College admission season ignites deep anxieties for Asian American families, who spend more than any other demographic on education. At elite universities across the U.S., Asian Americans form a larger share of the student body than they do of the population as a whole. And increasingly they have turned against affirmative action policies that could alter those ratios, and accuse admissions committees of discriminating against Asian American applicants.

Asian American students approaching college age say they face an unfair bias thanks to race based admissions policies.

Lawrence Leonn, 16, is grateful for the help. He doesn't think race or ethnicity should matter, but he believes it will.

"I don't want to be racist or anything," Lawrence said. "Everyone works hard and struggles. But there's this feeling that it's going to be harder for us."

Some are now taking action against the policies they see as discriminatory.

Complaints about bias in college admissions have persisted since at least the 1920s, when a Harvard University president tried to cap the number of Jewish students. In November, a group called Students for Fair Admissions filed a suit against Harvard University for admissions policies that allegedly discriminate against Asian Americans. The group cited the 2004 Princeton study and other sources that offer statistics about Asian Americans' test performance.

At the University of Texas at Austin, an affirmative action policy that allows admissions committees to consider the race of prospective applicants has been argued all the way to the Supreme Court. (The policies were upheld by a lower court, but that court's decision was voided by the Supreme Court. Another court upheld the policies and another appeal is pending.)