Have we written enough about Asian Americans in Ivy League admissions of late? No way. We’ve got lots to say. Deal with it. There is a piece up on “NPR” entitled “Behind The Curtain Of College Admissions, Fairness May Not Be Priority No. 1” that we figured we’d discuss on the pages of our college admissions blog. First of all, who suggested that the top priority of the highly selective college admissions process was to be fair? Certainly not us. It all depends on what the measure of fairness is. There are students who get perfect grades and perfect SAT scores who are denied admission to Ivy League and other highly selective colleges because they present as arrogant in their college admissions essays. Or they present as boring in alumni interviews. Or maybe a teacher conveys something in a letter of recommendation that scares off admissions officers. We don’t consider it unfair that this student wouldn’t gain admission. We wouldn’t root for this applicant either. We’d root for the applicant who may not have perfect grades and perfect scores but presents as likable, as modest, as engaging and intellectually curious. And we consider that fair (as do the highly selective colleges across America, we might add).
This segment on “NPR” focuses on the hot-button issue in the news right now — allegations that Harvard discriminates against Asian American applicants. It’s an issue we’ve been writing about extensively this week in the hope of drawing attention to the plight of these applicants. But allow us to disagree with something said early on in this piece. As quoted on “NPR,” “Jim Jump, a former president of National Association of College Admissions Counseling, sat down with NPR’s Arun Rath to discuss the current admissions landscape — and whether Asian-Americans are being held to a higher standard. ‘I haven’t necessarily seen that,’ he tells Rath. ‘I think in general what I see is that, with any talent or quality, the more of it that there is, the less valuable it becomes in the admissions process — where the rarer something is, the more valuable it is.’ Jump adds: ‘That’s what I see — is that uniqueness is kind of the hidden currency of college admissions.'”
Uh huh. Read between those lines. And read between them once more. When so many Asian American applicants submit perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores, those perfect or near-perfect grades and test scores become inherently less valuable. While we absolutely agree that ‘uniqueness is kind of the hidden currency of college admissions’ (and we absolutely love that line, Jim!), we’d like to draw your attention to the fact that many admissions officers don’t even know they’re discriminating against Asian Americans (and Asians). They don’t even know they’re stereotyping them. But they are. And this quote by Jim Jump, a former president of an organization the Founder of Ivy Coach is a member of (NACAC), while well intended, speaks to this unintentional — but genuine — discrimination against an entire group of people.