HomeAsian AmericansStudy Suggests There isn't an 'Asian Penalty' in College Admissions

Study Suggests There isn’t an ‘Asian Penalty’ in College Admissions

A new report has found little evidence to suggest there is an “Asian penalty” in college admissions, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently released a report titled, “Selective Bias: Asian Americans, Test Scores, and Holistic Admissions.”

Over the past few years, Asian American students have filed lawsuits against top universities like Harvard and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, claiming admissions policies discriminate against Asians. Many Asians believe that Asian applicants must have higher test scores and grades than other students who get accepted.

The Georgetown study examined whether there is an “Asian penalty” in college admissions at selective colleges.

“We do not find compelling evidence of a significant ‘Asian penalty’ under the current holistic system,” the study stated in its conclusion.

The study noted that Asian Americans did have lower acceptance rates at selective colleges than other groups. However, Asian Americans are also more likely to apply to selective colleges regardless of test scores.

Among students who scored 1300 or above on the SAT, 65% of Asian American students applied to one of the 91 most selective colleges in the U.S. Only 50% of non-Asian who scored 1300 or above applied to those selective colleges. Around 12% of Asian American students who scored below 1300 still applied to selective colleges, whereas only 5% of non-Asian American students who scored below 1300 did the same.

Some Asian Americans believe that the holistic admissions process hurts Asian Americans. Other critics of the college admissions process have suggested that an admissions process based solely on test scores would eliminate a potential “Asian penalty.”

The Georgetown study, however, found that test-score-only admissions would only increase the number of Asian American applicants at selective colleges from 12 to 14 percent.

“This possible difference of 2 percentage points is a far cry from the dramatic changes implied by affirmative action critics, who point to the selective University of California system, in which more than one-third of undergraduates are Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders,” the study states.

The report also found that the holistic review process also helps Asian American applicants. If selective colleges were to move to a test-score-only admissions process, 21 percent of Asian American students as well as 39 percent of non–Asian American students would lose their seats to students who had higher test scores. The Asian American students who would be displaced were also twice as likely as the displaced non-Asian students to have the lowest scores among the selective college applicant pool.

“While critics are using Asian American students to argue for elimination
of affirmative action, the evidence suggests that some Asian American students are gaining entrance to selective colleges specifically because of race-conscious holistic admissions,” the report states.

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