Discrimination Against Asian-Americans in College Admissions: Myth or Fact?

There seems to be a perception among Asian-American college applicants that college admissions committees discriminate against them, whether consciously or unconsciously. This explains why the latest trend among Asian-American applicants is to avoid checking the race assignation box on college applications.

What contributes to this perception of bias in college admissions? Certainly the intense pressure to compete for a relatively small number of openings at many elite institutions causes many to justify rejections to peers with such types of allegations. Other contributing factors include a factual history of bias in this nation against minorities and Asians in particular as well as a “disproportionate” share of Asian-American students who are qualified for admission at these elite institutions. Ultimately, many people find the college admissions process confusing and this, more than anything, contributes to misconceptions and misinformation.

Asian-Americans feel that they’re being compared solely with one another or that they’re being compared to the typical “Asian stereotype” – high-achieving, academically intense students who prefer science and math. Asian-American students who may have lower test scores but more extracurricular activities feel penalized since they may not fit the “typical” mold. Because of these misconceptions, many Asian-American students choose not to check the box. While universities deny any bias in the admissions process, it would behoove them to make the decision-making process more transparent in an effort to dispel these misconceptions.

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