A newly released study by researchers at Georgetown University’s Center for Education has found the argument that Asian American applicants face discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process holds little water. And while we don’t agree with the study’s findings since the study fails to address, for instance, instances of implicit bias (e.g., the handwritten notes on the applications of Harvard University applicants as revealed through the discovery process in the Students for Fair Admissions v. Harvard University case), the study, “Selective Bias Asian Americans, Test Scores, and Holistic Admissions,” does put forward some interesting data that is certainly worth sharing.
As Cheryn Hong reports for The 74 in a piece entitled “New Study Finds No Asian American Discrimination in Admissions at Elite Colleges,” “The study, ‘Selective Bias Asian Americans, Test Scores, and Holistic Admissions’ found the current holistic admissions system, which looks at many aspects of a student’s application beyond their GPA and test scores and is used at many selective colleges, benefits Asian American applicants more than an alternative test-only system. Critics have claimed holistic admissions and affirmative action conceals illegal practices of racial quotas and as a result, Asian American applicants are being denied to maintain a range of other ethnic groups. But the study found that at the nation’s 91 elite colleges, Asian American enrollment has remained stable for the last 20 years. The study also found that only a small number of Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) would be admitted under a test-only system. Under the holistic admissions system, AAPI students typically gain nearly 14,500 spots in a year, while a test-only system only results in a mere 3,000 student gain. The study explained the higher rate of Asian American students being rejected as a result of the higher proportion of Asian American applicants who apply to selective colleges regardless of their test scores.”
We can’t help but scratch our heads a bit over the findings of this study. You see, we don’t dispute the findings but we fail to see how the findings suggest Asian Americans don’t face discrimination in the highly selective college admissions process. Just because the number of Asian American students admitted to these school has remained relatively stable over the years does not mean members of this group don’t face discrimination. Just because a test-only admissions system would produce only “marginal” gains for Asian Americans in the admissions process does not mean Asian Americans don’t face discrimination. Just because Asian American students are more likely to apply to highly selective colleges than are members of other racial groups does not mean they don’t face discrimination. They’re interesting findings, sure. But we fail to understand the rationale for their conclusion based on the study’s results.
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