During the Supreme Court case against Harvard and the University of North Carolina, Asian Americans were at the center of the lawsuits. The plaintiffs claimed that high-achieving Asian Americans lost out to students who were less academically qualified due to race-based admissions. The Supreme Court handed them victory, holding that the two colleges’ admissions policies violated the 14th Amendment and the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The court determined that race could no longer be considered in deciding which students to admit to a school.
Despite this ruling in their favor, Asian-American immigrant parents told the Los Angeles Times that they feel “desperate and in the dark” about how to get their children accepted into elite universities and worry that the court’s decision won’t stop universities from rejecting their applications based on race.
A recent National Bureau Of Economic Research study found that the Supreme Court’s ruling against affirmative action will not end the advantage granted to white students during college admissions.
An analysis of almost 700,000 college applications from white and Asian students found that selective colleges favor privileged applicants who are disproportionately white. Essentially, the report reinforces the idea that Asian American applicants may suffer open bias. Based on the findings, it is likely that Asian American applicants will continue to be admitted to selective schools at lower rates than similarly qualified white applicants even without affirmative action.
Some Asian American families are reportedly spending thousands of dollars on consultants to help their children navigate the college admissions system. One consultant told the Los Angeles Times these families need to be cautious when applying for colleges “to avoid anti-Asian discrimination.”
Sunny Lee, who immigrated from South Korea in 2006 and now lives in Southern California with her three sons, recalled women she knew having “mental breakdowns” because of the stress of their high-achieving children not being accepted into top-tier schools, she told the Times. According to Lee, neighbors employed athletic coaches and academic advisers for children as young as elementary school.
“A student known as a genius at San Marino High ended up going to Pasadena City College,” Lee told the Times. “Moms were having a mental breakdown.”
Sam Srikanth is a high school senior and second-generation American concerned about her chances of getting into a top college despite stellar grades and achievements. The student told the paper her “hopes got a little bit higher” after the Supreme Court decision, but she still fears her race will be used against her because of her last name.
“You actually fill out the application and realize there’s no way colleges won’t figure out what race you are,” she said. Her older sister had similar accomplishments and was rejected from 18 of the 20 schools she applied to five years ago. “I can’t be let down if my expectations are already so low,” Srikanth told the Times.
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