As the mom of a high school senior who keeps an eye on these things, I've been noticing that students of Asian background can have absolutely stellar credentials and still be waitlisted or rejected at selective colleges.
True, the competition has never been so intense, and the college admissions process will never be completely fair. I support attempts by universities to invite students from a variety of backgrounds to their campuses. But anecdotally, it seems as though Asian kids have to clear a higher barrier than anyone else.
I checked it out, and the perception is more than anecdotal. A 2004 study by Princeton University researchers established that Asian kids need to score 50 points higher on the SAT than kids of other races to have a chance at getting admitted to the so-called elite universities.
Daniel Golden, who wrote a riveting book about the inequities in college admissions, calls Asian students "the new Jews," referring to unwritten policies before 1950 that set blatantly high bars for even the brightest Jewish applicants.
The problem, says Golden, is that college admission offices assume that Asian kids are going to be robotically drilled in the maths and sciences and lack creativity and depth. One admissions dean whom Golden interviewed referred to a rejected student from a Korean-American family as "yet another textureless math grind."
May I say first of all that this country would do well do encourage math grinds. But more pertinently here, what a stereotype. High school counselors and college admissions staffers should look at Asian-American kids as the amazing, multitalented young people they are, not math or science drones.