Tag Archives: The Washington Post

Quotas for Asian American College Applicants? Yes and No

Dr. Ed Chin JadeLuckClub Jade Luck ClubFrom The Washington Post

Ed Chin is the lone voice out there that also is righteously aggrieved about the discrimination against Asian Americans who apply to elite, private colleges. Yes, these applicants are very qualified and apply in droves, yet should this mean that the bar should be raised for a minority “group?” Here’s one point of view about why this is happening. For more posts on Why You Shouldn’t Identify as Asian When Applying to Elite, Private Colleges or Grad Schools, please go here.

I happen to agree with Ed Chin that Affirmative Action is outdated, that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are very different and should not be lumped together as a group, and that admissions assistance should be doled out by socio-economic status NOT by race. What do you think?

By Jay Mathews

Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, January 25, 2005; 10:12 AM

Asian American applicants to selective colleges appear to be at a disadvantage. Nationally, they have the highest average SAT scores, and yet many African American and Hispanic students with lower scores and grades are accepted to Ivy Leagues schools while high-performing Asian American students are rejected even when their families are similarly poor and undereducated.

My Oct. 12 column (“Should Colleges Have Quotas for Asian Americans?”) discussed this, and I assumed it would attract little comment. Unfairness to that relatively small minority group is almost never mentioned by major news organizations. Outspoken advocates for change, like New Jersey physician Ed Chin who inspired the column, are few in number and mostly ignored.

As Chin noted, the percent of African American and Hispanic students in selective college freshman classes is often higher than the percent of applicants from that group, while the opposite is true of Asian Americans. In 2001, 20.3 percent of applicants to Brown University’s class of 2005 were Asian American, but only 16 percent of the acceptances were. The percent of white applicants and acceptances was about the same, 66 percent, while African Americans comprised 9 percent of the acceptances and only 6 percent of the applicants, and Hispanics had 9 percent of the acceptances and only 7.1 percent of the applicants.But I was wrong. The e-mails poured in, obliging me to share the surprising reaction I received to this overlooked aspect of the affirmative action issue.

Chin is of Chinese descent, and was raised in New York City by low-income, immigrant parents. I thought I would hear from many Asian Americans who supported Chin, while other readers would be skeptical. But I was wrong. Readers of Asian descent were as divided on the issue as everyone else. The clash of race and class, of fairness and equity in this particular debate is so complex that nobody seems to have a predictable reaction, which is fine with me.

Virginia Y. Kim, for instance, is a lawyer in Chicago who grew up in an affluent, suburban Cleveland Korean-American family with what she called “the traditional Asian education ethos.” She said she has heard complaints like Chin’s all her life and her response has always been, “Who said life was fair?”

Huy N. Tran, a San Jose State University student of Vietnamese descent, said he thought it was wrong for Chin to suggest that other cultures do not value education as much as Asian American cultures do. “I have met students of all different cultures who take a full load of classes and work several jobs to pay for their education,” he said.

Anne Soh, a Korean-American Wellesley graduate, said she agreed with Chin that it is theoretically unfair that there is a quota at the top schools that works against Asians. But she said she would not want to attend a college that dispensed with the affirmative action race-balancing policies that Chin and others find so distasteful because part of the learning experience of college is getting to know people from different backgrounds.

On Chin’s side, however, was Arun Mantri, who was born in India and has children at a very selective public school, the Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology in Fairfax County. He said it was wrong that high-quality Asian students at that school were being rejected by top colleges. “Their chances would improve dramatically if race was not used as a factor in admissions, perhaps at the cost of the white applicants, something that only a few selective schools have dared to do,” he said.

Also supporting Chin’s argument was a member of one of the minority groups that tends to get more of a break in college admissions than Asian Americans do. Paul Grandpierre described himself as “a first generation Haitian American from a really poor family who managed to graduate law school.” He said he thought affirmative action was better than doing nothing about the “inclination of the human heart to rationalize superficial differences into fundamental differences.” But, he said, “I agree with Mr. Chin that today, affirmative action should focus on the poor and not merely on blacks. . . . I can tell you that from my experience that being poor presented more powerful obstacles to my unlikely ascent than being black.”

Chin also had support from non-Hispanic white readers. Jeff Werthan said it was paternalistic and patronizing for me to suggest that “a hard-working and brilliant Asian student and his or her family . . . should be satisfied with the other admittedly good schools out there if they are otherwise deserving of admission to Harvard or Yale.”

A white reader, who declined to let me use his name because he does not want to offend the university that employs him, said his experience as an admissions officer confirms Chin’s sense of unfairness. “What scares the top colleges is what their campuses might look like, racially speaking” if they followed Chin’s suggestion and rejected middle-class African American and Hispanic students in favor of higher-scoring, low-income Asians. They fear, he said, “the sort of intense heat they’d take for the presumed drop in ‘diversity.'”

Chin’s argument does, however, rest upon sophisticated analysis of test scores and a willingness to emphasize averages, rather than the many individual cases that do not support his point. Many readers saw that as a weakness.

Mike Martin, a research analyst with the Arizona School Boards Association, warned Chin against putting so much weight on test scores in determining who is being discriminated against, particularly when looking at the narrow band at the very top of the SAT scale. “So if you accidentally mismark a question, or misconstrue a question, only one question, you could drop out of the 1600 club,” he said. “In W. Edward Deming’s preaching about corporate management he warned about making decisions based on differences that were within normal variation.”

Michael J. McCabe, whose children have attended the challenging D.C. private school, St. Anselm’s Abbey, noted that white kids are also rejected by selective colleges for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of their applications. His older son graduated in the top five of his high school class, had a 1470 SAT, was an Eagle Scout, captain and founder of the school’s Science Bowl team and co-captain of its “It’s Academic” team. Yet he was rejected by Dartmouth, Rice and the University of Virginia. McCabe thinks U-Va. had reached its quota for students from D.C. private schools, not an unreasonable theory given the way such colleges fill their classes.

So now, McCabe said, his son is thriving academically at Carnegie Mellon, but he and his roommate, who is from China, often complain about “the large proportion of Asians in the engineering and computer programs and the limited interaction they have with students of different socioeconomic backgrounds.”

Most of the people who responded to the column appeared sympathetic, however, to Chin’s view that colleges should make less of race in their admissions decisions and look more closely at family income. A student who had overcome difficult circumstances to compile an impressive high school record was likely to appreciate what a great university had to offer.

If the system is to change, and worthy Asian American students are to get what they deserve, they are going to need more advocates than just Ed Chin and the few other civil rights and admissions experts who have raised these issues. Shellye McKinney, a former college admissions officer, said that “affirmative action was created because people fought for it” and those who think it is hurting students of Asian descent are going to have to struggle in the same way to make themselves heard.

As I usually tell Chin when he rails against the American media in general and me in particular for not giving his concerns enough attention, there has to be dramatic evidence of support for his thinking before editors and news directors will get interested. Street demonstrations, boycotts, major conferences, bills in Congress — all those things would help.

The press tends to pay attention to those who are shouting the loudest, and so far the people Chin is trying to help have been very quiet.


How Asian Americans Are Portrayed in U.S. Media. Who Should Be the Next Asian Old Spice Guy?

Asian Americans Portrayal in Media TV Commercials JadeLuckClub Calgon Ancient Chinese Secret Laundry Service Dry CleanersThank you to children’s author of the excellent The Great Wall of Lucy Wu Wendy Shang for sending me this link. And yes, we both grew up “Asian Spotting” on TV because … there just weren’t many Asians on the small screen. We were never in ads of any kind and I remember what a big deal it was when Margaret Cho got a TV sitcom that lasted about two episodes.

“Growing up in the 1970s and ’80s, Jeff Yang, a New York-area marketing consultant, used to engage in “Asian-spotting” while watching TV and movies or looking at advertising. “If you saw an Asian in any role, it was remarkable,” he says. “Even if it was trivial or offensive, you felt that it was somehow better than being invisible.'” The Washington Post

And, I TOTALLY remember this ad:

“The few depictions of the 1960s and ’70s trafficked in gross stereotypes. In a famous early 1970s commercial for Calgon water softener, a laundry proprietor named Mr. Lee confided an “ancient Chinese secret” for cleaning shirts to a Caucasian customer. ” It actually didn’t bother me because there was FINALLY an Asian in a commercial without an thick accent.

Paul Farhi’s article asks a good question, “[Why] There’s no Asian American equivalent of the Old Spice guy, the hunky leading-man type played by an African American actor, Isaiah Mustafa. In fact, Asian American men rarely play romantic roles on TV or in American-made movies.” The article points out that there are basically two roles  for Asian Americans: techy and smart which is, I have to say, better than nerdy but still a small slice of who we really are.

“Even into the 1990s, marketers still depicted Asians as either martial arts experts or nerdy submissive types too shy to speak in public, Yang says.”

“‘When Asian Americans appear in advertising, they typically are presented as the technological experts — knowledgeable, savvy, perhaps mathematically adept or intellectually gifted. They’re most often shown in ads for business-oriented or technical products — smartphones, computers, pharmaceuticals, electronic gear of all kinds.”

And here’s the kicker:

Scholarly research shows that Asian American consumers accept the “model minority” advertising stereotype about themselves. In a study conducted last year, Yoo, the University of Texas researcher, showed panels of Asian Americans two sets of mock ads for mobile phones, the first featuring Caucasian models and the second with Asian models. Then, she repeated the experiment with ads for a “non-tech” product, cologne, alternating ads with Caucasian and Asian models.

Result: Asian American consumers were more favorably disposed toward the tech products when they were endorsed by the Asian models. They also liked the non-tech products more when they were endorsed by Caucasian models.

Yoo theorizes that this is a reflection of the “match up” theory: Asian American panelists have bought into the same cues and stereotypes as other Americans thanks to years of cultural exposure.”

In all fairness, the Best Buy Geek Squad ad below only depicts one Geek as Asian … among other ethnicities. I don’t think it’s offensive at all! What do you think of this ad and how Asian Americans are portrayed in general?

If there was an Asian American equivalent of the Old Spice Guy, who would you pick? My vote would be for Russel Wong.

Russel Wong Cute Hunky Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubRussel Wong

Philip Moon Hunky Asian American Actor JadeLuckclubPhilip Moon

John Cho Hunky Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubJohn Cho

Kal Penn Cute Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubKal Penn

Daniel Dae Kim Image cute hunky Asian American actors JadeLuckClubDaniel Dae Kim

Ken Leung actor cute asian actors JadeLuckClubKen Leung

B D Wong cute hunky handsome Asian American Actors JadeLuckClubB D Wong

James Kyson Lee hunky asian american actor JadeLuckClubJames Kyson Lee

Daniel Wu hunky handsome hot Asian American Actors JadeLuckclub next Asian Old Spice guyDaniel Wu


Tiger Children: Getting into College Even Harder Because Asian Kids are So Damn Qualified

asians and difficulty of getting into harvard ivy league top colleges jade luck club jadeluckclub http://JadeLuckClub.com Celebrating Asian American Creativity

Read up on the plethora of programs available from University of Phoenix online at DegreeScout.com.

When I went to Harvard a million years ago, or in the late 1980’s, my incoming class was about 9% Asian. At the time, I believe the U.S. population was about 4% Asian. I vaguely remember thinking that Harvard, while stating that they wanted to duplicate ethnicity percentages along the lines of the general population, actually doubled the Asian population in my incoming class. But what I didn’t know was the percentage of Asians that applied. I still don’t know, but I suspect that the rejection rate as a race is higher than for other groups.

I did a little research and found this article in The Washington Post

“Chin said ‘Chinese and ALL Asian Americans are PENALIZED for their values on academic excellence by being required to have a HIGHER level of achievement, academic and non-academic, than any other demographic group, especially Whites, in order to be admitted to Harvard, the Ivies and the other Elites in this zero-sum game called admissions based on racial preferences.’

This may not be intended as a quota system, but Chin says it sure looks like one. He notes that in the 1980s some colleges, particularly Stanford and Brown, looked hard at their admissions decisions and discovered they were turning down many Asian American applicants while accepting white applicants with virtually the same characteristics.”

So what happens when admissions are color blind? The University of California system is a good example. Numbers from 2008:

  • U.C. Berkeley 43% Asian.
  • U.C.L.A. 40% Asian.
  • U.C. San Diego 50% Asian.
  • U.C. Irvine 54% Asian.

This provokes an argument for Affirmative Action for Caucasians in the U.C. system but what would happen if private colleges remove race as an admission criteria (which they would never do in a million years!)? Can you imagine the Ivy Leagues 50% Asian? But if you look at what happened at the U.C. system, arguably some of the best schools in the U.S. and maybe THE best schools judged by quality AND price, then it’s not a big leap to say that this could happen if elite private colleges ever decided to admit color blind.

This is the article that my friend sent me that started me down this train of thought … that while competitive public schools in N.Y. are color blind — the article is about Stuyvesant with its 72% Asian population — and how colleges (specifically elite private ones) have a way of correcting this imbalance. Reactions?!

p.s. Here are stats from the U.S. Census bureau on Asian Americans.


From New York Magazine, Paper Tigers

Entrance to Stuyvesant, one of the most competitive public high schools in the country, is determined solely by performance on a test: The top 3.7 percent of all New York City students who take the Specialized High Schools Admissions Test hoping to go to Stuyvesant are accepted. There are no set-asides for the underprivileged or, conversely, for alumni or other privileged groups. There is no formula to encourage “diversity” or any nebulous concept of “well-­roundedness” or “character.” Here we have something like pure meritocracy. This is what it looks like: Asian-­Americans, who make up 12.6 percent of New York City, make up 72 percent of the high school.

This year, 569 Asian-Americans scored high enough to earn a slot at Stuyvesant, along with 179 whites, 13 Hispanics, and 12 blacks. Such dramatic overrepresentation, and what it may be read to imply about the intelligence of different groups of New Yorkers, has a way of making people uneasy. But intrinsic intelligence, of course, is precisely what Asians don’t believe in. They believe—and have ­proved—that the constant practice of test-taking will improve the scores of whoever commits to it. All throughout Flushing, as well as in Bayside, one can find “cram schools,” or storefront academies, that drill students in test preparation after school, on weekends, and during summer break. “Learning math is not about learning math,” an instructor at one called Ivy Prep was quoted in the New York Times as saying. “It’s about weightlifting. You are pumping the iron of math.” Mao puts it more specifically: “You learn quite simply to nail any standardized test you take.”

And so there is an additional concern accompanying the rise of the Tiger Children, one focused more on the narrowness of the educational experience a non-Asian child might receive in the company of fanatically preprofessional Asian students. Jenny Tsai, a student who was elected president of her class at the equally competitive New York public school Hunter College High School, remembers frequently hearing that “the school was becoming too Asian, that they would be the downfall of our school.” A couple of years ago, she revisited this issue in her senior thesis at Harvard, where she interviewed graduates of elite public schools and found that the white students regarded the Asians students with wariness. (She quotes a music teacher at Stuyvesant describing the dominance of Asians: “They were mediocre kids, but they got in because they were coached.”) In 2005, The Wall Street Journal reported on “white flight” from a high school in Cupertino, California, that began soon after the children of Asian software engineers had made the place so brutally competitive that a B average could place you in the bottom third of the class.

Colleges have a way of correcting for this imbalance: The Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade has calculated that an Asian applicant must, in practice, score 140 points higher on the SAT than a comparable white applicant to have the same chance of admission. This is obviously unfair to the many qualified Asian individuals who are punished for the success of others with similar faces. Upper-middle-class white kids, after all, have their own elite private schools, and their own private tutors, far more expensive than the cram schools, to help them game the education system.


So readers, here’s my question. When applying to private colleges when Asian, what happens if you DON’T check the box for race identification? Does it improve your chances? Do they check your box anyway when you appear for an interview? What if you are only partially Asian? Hmmm… things to research more deeply!! What do YOU think? Please share!!!