I know an older Jewish man who works in the medical field but was never able to become a doctor because of the quota system that was imposed for Jewish students. The quota system has since gone the other way with affirmative action designed to bring in students by racial statistic, a tactic that also ends up discriminating against capable students from minority groups by making admission conditional on race, rather than merit.
The quality of American graduates has worsened as the result of racial quotas, and in an American Enterprise Institute article, Charles Murray asks whether the old-fashioned kind of quotas may still be around and in use against Asian students.
It has been documented for some time that Asian applicants to the Ivies face a stiff test-score penalty in the admissions process—Asians have to get higher SAT scores than members of other races to have an equal chance of admission. But it’s one thing to have a higher bar for Asians. It’s still worse to have an Asian quota.
From 1980 through the early 1990s, Asian enrollment increased at all the Ivy League colleges. It subsequently continued to rise at the schools with the lowest Asian enrollment, Dartmouth and Princeton. Elsewhere, Asian enrollment hit its peak in 1993 for Columbia and Harvard, 1995 for Cornell, 1996 for Brown and Yale, and 2001 for Penn. What’s more, Asian representation at all eight of the Ivies has converged on a narrow range. In the most recent five years, the average percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has been 15.7%, and the difference between the highest and lowest percentage of Asians in the eight Ivies has averaged just 3.7 percentage points. Call it the 16±2% solution.
We can be sure that the reason for the convergence on the 16±2% solution does not reflect a plateau in Asian applications. As Unz notes, America’s Asian population has more than doubled since 1993. In The Power of Privilege, Joseph Soares documented that Asians are about twice as likely to apply to elite schools as students from other races. It is certain that the Ivies have seen skyrocketing Asian applications over the last twenty years. Not only that, they have been swamped with more and more superbly qualified Asian applicants.
Caltech is acknowledged to have the most strictly meritocratic admissions criteria in the country. During the same period from the mid 1990′s when the Ivies converged on the 16±2% solution, Asians at Caltech rose from 28% to 39% of the student body.
The Ivies would have us believe that their holistic admissions policies limit Asian admissions because Asian applicants tend to be one-dimensional, obsessed with academics to the exclusion of all those wonderful other personal experiences that the Ivies value so highly. I submit that this is nonsense. An abundance of Asian applicants have punched all the right extracurricular and community-service tickets to go along with their sensational academic credentials, and there’s no reason to think that Asian young people are, on average, any less compassionate, charming, industrious, or otherwise of good character than applicants of other races.
But actually I think there might be something to do that. Asian parents are generally practical and much of the growth in America’s Asian population comes from immigration.
The Asian students I knew were under heavy pressure to use education as a stepladder to a high paying job. And that meant medicine, engineering or some other branch of science. I knew some who did not go along with what their parents wanted and the children of second and third generation immigrations were usually under less pressure, and sometimes were living in what were becoming conventionally liberal families, however Asian students overall appear to aim for practical employment.
Colleges are less interested in practical applications than ever. Schools have trended toward the party circuit and the diversity magnet, toward uselessly prestigious faculty and light courses that teach nothing except how to analyze terminology. The state of our educational system is poor and Asian students don’t fit into it as well as they would have 50 years ago.
And there’s another non-racial issue here. Student debt. Asian students take on less of it and are smarter about paying it off. And colleges have a vested interest in getting students deep into debt because colleges themselves are deep in debt and are selling their students down the river to a variety of financial services companies, the least toxic of whom are the ubiquitous credit card companies pitching cards with snowboarders on top and insane interest rates on the inside.
That’s the national educational system in a nutshell. It’s a clip joint with fancy degrees that mean nothing when you exit through the gift shop.