Tiger Mom Amy Chua’s daugher, Tiger Sophia bragged on her blog that she checked “Asian” on her Harvard application because she knew that the standard was higher:
Q: There was a recent article that said Asians are less likely to check the “Asian” box when applying for colleges due to fear of discrimination. Some half-Asian/half-white applicants only indicate their white ethnicity. What are your thoughts on that, and how did you answer that question when applying to colleges?
A: I checked Asian. I had heard it was harder to apply as an Asian, so as a point of pride, I had to say I was Asian. Would you feel good about yourself knowing you lied to get in on lowered standards?
Well, I have two things to say about that:
1) Tiger Sophia, you may have checked Asian which does have a “tax,” however you also got big bonus points for being a legacy many times over. The upshot is that you had help getting in unlike these Asian Americans below who live at the poverty line and don’t have Ivy League parents with deep pockets.
2) By checking Asian when, actually, you are of mixed race, you have taken a spot away from those who don’t have the benefit of applying to a less competitive race slot. Thanks to you, someone who life could be completely changed did not get a spot.
I am not berating you Tiger Sophia; you are a cub, after all. But I wanted to highlight the complexity of the Asian American and Pacific Islander conundrum when it comes to high stakes college admissions. And, as it is diligently spelled out and heavily researched, “Disaggregated data by AANHPI subgroups are urgently needed.” In normal English, this means 2nd/3rd/4th generation Asian American from wealthy suburbs who are mostly of Japanese/Chinese/Korean/Southeast Asian heritage should not be in the same category as those Asians (Hmongs/Cambodians/Vietnamese/Laotians) who live in poverty. These two groups should not be competing for the same resources, namely jobs and spots at highly competitive colleges. Yes, this is obvious but it’s exactly what is happening RIGHT NOW!
Read on more more details. And please chime in!
California has the largest and most diverse Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (NHPI) population in the nation. This report on the state of AANHPI education in California highlights the achievements and challenges in public K-12 and public postsecondary education (especially the limitations in available education data on AANHPI subgroups), and provides recommendations for policymakers and community advocates
SUMMARY OF MAJOR FINDINGS
1. Particular AANHPI* subgroups have disproportionately high rates of dropping out of high school and do not have high school diplomas.
- Hmong have the largest proportion (45%) in the state (25 yrs and older) with less than a high school diploma among all racial/ethnic groups.
- About 40% of Cambodians and Laotians (25 yrs and older) have less than a high school diploma, which is double the state rate.
- Pacific Islander students in grades 9-12 have high dropout rates, with about one-fifth estimated to drop out over a four-year period.
2. Poverty and/or limited English proficiency heighten the risk for dropping out of high school and college/university. Most Asian American subgroups are limited English proficient, and specific AANHPI subgroups have very high poverty rates
- Over 40% of Vietnamese, Koreans, Hmong, Cambodians, Taiwanese, Chinese, and Laotians report limited English proficiency, which is double the state rate.
- A quarter of Hmong and Cambodians live in poverty, about double the state rate, and about one fifth of Tongans live in poverty, more than one and a half times the state rate.
3. The proportion of AANHPI professional educators is less, and in some cases, far less than the proportion of AANHPI enrolled students in the public K-12 system and postsecondary institutions.
- Asians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders are 5%-7% of all K-12 personnel in the state, but Asians, Filipinos, and Pacific Islanders are 12% of K-12 student enrollment.
4. Financial aid is vital but not sufficient for student retention and success for AANHPI college students. Data on financial aid were not available by AANHPI subgroup or for the California State Universities, making comparisons difficult if not impossible.
- At the University of California, Asian students are the largest group among all racial/ethnic groups with parent income less than $45,000, but though they receive similar dollar amounts in grants as other students, smaller proportions of Asian students receive scholarships compared to other racial/ethnic groups.
1. Disaggregated data by AANHPI subgroups are urgently needed.
2. More data and analysis are needed to determine the obstacles to retention, success, and graduation for AANHPI subgroups.
3. Pipeline programs to higher education need to target AANHPIs.
* Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander (AANHPI)