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Asian-American College Enrollment Creates An Interesting Problem

Asian-Americans face a unique problem when it comes to college enrollments. While there is always a push, or at least talk of a push, for minority representation on elite college campuses, Asians and Asian-Americans are finding themselves the brunt of discrimination because they are over-represented on those campuses compared to their numbers in the general population. In a sense, they are being discriminated against for being too academicaly successful.

The percentage of Americans of Asian descent in the United States is 4.8 percent according to the 2010 Census. At UCLA Asians and Pacific Islanders account for 34.8% of the students. At Stanford they make up 24% of the student body. There is even a charge that the Ivy League schools have an unspoken "reverse quota" on Asian student enrollment, limiting the numbers of Asians and Asian Americans on their campuses so that the numbers are not too skewed. As it stands now, Asian-Americans account for 16.5 percent of Ivy League enrollment, still approximately four times their U.S. numbers. Of course, these schools all deny that they purposely limit Asian enrollment, but statistics seem to indicate otherwise.

Of course admissions offices aren’t the only ones having to deal with this interesting issue. On campuses, the tension between students, some of whom apparently resent the large Asian and Asian-American numbers, has led to an increase in hate crimes against Asian students.

Makes you wonder what Asian-Americans are supposed to do - purposely not do well in high school? The bottom line is that in America we have always prided ourselves on being built on the principle that hard work pays off for everybody. That is not always true, but it is certainly where we hang our hat. Asians and Asian-Americans should not be discriminated against simply because they are academically successful as a whole (which is not to fall into that other stereotype that says all Asians are geeks or are academically gifted).

But college admissions are a complicated thing. In this age of diversity and a shrinking world, it is completely fair to say college shouldn’t just be about who has the highest grades or test scores. As one USC counselor put it once, that would make for a very boring university experience. But how to achieve the best college experience and not discriminate is an issue that we have yet to resolve. Asians are just the newest group to have to deal with it.

Like college testing, unfortunately there are no easy answers to this problem.


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