In the past few months, there has been a lot of discussion about college admissions at “elite” universities, especially after The Myth of American Meritocracy – How corrupt are Ivy League admissions? was published in The American Conservative and a follow-up by the New York Times on Statistics Indicate an Ivy League Asian Quota. The Cornell Daily Sun had a recent piece discussing the issue:
“A.T. Miller, vice provost for academic diversity, said that in his experience, Asian Americans are not held to a higher standard during the admission process at Cornell. “We don’t have specific Asian-American admissions. We don’t admit by identity,” Miller said. In fact, the percentage of Asian Americans in the incoming freshman classes has increased over the past three years. Asian Americans comprised 14.9 percent of the Class of 2014, 16.4 percent of the Class of 2015 and 16.9 percent of the Class of 2016, according to the University’s Institutional Research and Planning.”"
Having graduated from Cornell, I hope the vice provost is correct. Of course, only a full disclosure of the how college admissions process at Cornell works could provide a definitive answer. And I am sure admissions is more of an art, than a science, since excellent academic accomplishments alone will necessarily get you admitted.
But just because Asian American enrollment is slightly increasing doesn’t mean that in fact, there possibly should be even more being admitted and enrolled. The chart below in The American Conservative shows the explosion in Asian American college age population and the steady rate of enrollment – even though those academically qualified are rising on about the same par as represented by population growth (as the data is detailed in that American Conservative article)
Caltech is sort of used as a baseline since they have an explicit stated admissions policy that does not take race into any admissions criteria and solely admit on academic merit (definitely not athletic talent!). The college admissions process in many Asian countries is solely based on an entrance exam, which I don’t think is better, but at least it is very transparent as to what the criteria for success is.