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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

October 15, 2007

Written by C.N.

New Research on Asian American College Students

The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA has just released a new study entitled “Beyond Myths: The Growth and Diversity of Asian American College Freshmen, 1971-2005” that challenges the “model minority” notion that virtually all Asian American college students enjoy universal success. Instead, it points out that there are still many cultural and socioeconomic factors that still stand in the way to success for many Asian American students:

More Asian American students now come from low-income homes with limited financial capacity to pay for college, and fewer are attending their first-choice institutions than in past years. In 2005, 51.8 percent reported attending their first-choice school, a significant decline from the 68.0 percent reported in 1974. . . .

In 2005, Asian American freshmen were more likely than the national freshman population to come from families with household incomes of less than $40,000. Nearly 31 percent of Asian Americans came from such backgrounds, compared with the national average of 22.7 percent — presenting these students with an obstacle to success in higher education. . . .

Over the past 35 years, entering Asian American students appear to have become better prepared for college, although nearly 20 percent in 2005 believed they would need special tutoring or remedial work in English. This percentage is similar to that for incoming Latino students (20.9 percent) and is higher than that for all other racial groups, underscoring a critical remediation need for colleges and universities.

One interesting finding from the report is the statistic that 51.8% of Asian American college applicants got into their first-choice school, compared to 68% from in 1974. At first glance, this might suggest that Asian American applicants are being discriminated against and being unfairly rejected at higher rates than before, perhaps as a consequence of affirmative action in favor or “less qualified” applicants.

The research on the effect of affirmative action on Asian Americans is still ongoing and hotly-debated. Nonetheless, while I haven’t read this particular report yet, while there may be some level of discrimination against Asian American applicants going on, my guess is that most of this trend is explained by larger numbers of Asian American applicants since 1974 and fewer admissions spots available per applicant, more competition in general among all college applicants, and Asian American applicants applying to more selective schools.

While this report may or may not shed any more light on affirmative action, at the least, it promises to be a useful resource for those who wish to better understand the basic economic and cultural issues that many Asian American students face these days. Along with that, it should go a long way toward helping to shatter the generalized image of Asian Americans as the model minority who don’t have any problems or face any challenges anymore.


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Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "New Research on Asian American College Students" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <http://www.asian-nation.org/headlines/2007/10/new-research-on-asian-american-college-students/> ().

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