In class we’ve often talked about affirmative action, and the positive effects that can come out of considering race for college admissions. However, in certain cases looking at race or ethnicity can cause discrimination due to the stereotypes, but not in the way you would generally expect.
When you first think of a racial stereotype in regards to education, you would probably think “this group of people doesn’t do well in school and therefore will not be admitted to college”. However, in the case of Asian Americans it seems to be the opposite of this situation, is seems that admissions officers hold Asian American students to a higher standard than white students.
The article I read describes the difficulties of Asian students to get into colleges with high standards, despite meeting the requirements, because of their being Asian and being held up to a higher standard. The article describes that many students to avoid being held up to as high an expectation don’t mark the Asian box under race. The article describes many students who have one Asian parent and one white parent choosing white as the race, not because of their identification and feeling white, but rather to avoid the discrimination and expectation of being better in academics while being “boring”. One of the students interviewed, Tao Tao, jokingly said:
“My math scores aren’t high enough for the Asian box”
This reflects the stereotype of Asians having to excel in school. The same student earlier in the article said that the stereotype of the “tiger mother” is grounded in truth, for her, since she felt the pressure to excel from her parents. This student also says that she sees the same academic focus in other immigrant groups, not just Asians. This may reflect the want of new immigrants for education for their children in order to excel in America and fit in to educated, middle class, American society. While this student says American students are “generally spoiled”, reflecting that white American students don’t have to work as hard due to privilege and a different mentality toward education.
The article also showed statistics that reflect that schools that have race-blind admissions, such as the California institute of Technology, have a significantly greater percentage of Asian students, showing that some Asian students in other schools were probably turned down due to not having high enough scores comparing to other Asian students, not just the general applicant pool.
This is a case that could lead us to the question “what does it mean to be white?” or “what does it mean to be Asian?”, since the schools to which the students are applying can’t tell them they’re not white or that they must mark down Asian if some part of their heritage is Asian. This is likely to change the admissions process or the student demographics of schools if more potential applicants choose to identify with the White category in fear of discrimination, or simply choose not to answer.