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Thread: Why reject Koreans? or Is admission based on country of origin affirmative action?

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    Default Why reject Koreans? or Is admission based on country of origin affirmative action?

    Vầy là một mùa apply nữa lại bò đến, và chỉ mấy tháng nữa thôi bầy đàn VA chúng ta sẽ lại chứng kiến danh sách dài dằng dặc các bạn trẻ Việt Nam được nhận những học bổng to béo để sang Mỹ cưỡi đầu Tây trắng. Cùng lúc đấy, ở phía chân trời xa xôi, có không ít các nhân tài Mỹ quốc, kẻ 36 ACT, người 2400 SAT, anh valedictorian, chị school president đang ôm đầu khóc hận trước hàng chồng thư reject. Con số perfect applicants với top standardized test scores and humanly impossible ECA records bị đá đít ở Trung Hàn Nhật lại càng thê lương hơn. Con số các siêu sao apply bị từ chối kiểu này thậm chí nhiều hơn số siêu sao apply Việt Nam sản xuất mỗi năm.

    Nhìn lại chính mình, các bạn trẻ Việt Nam có bao giờ tự hỏi tại sao điều đó lại diễn ra không nhỉ? Câu hỏi này lại càng valid hơn khi chúng ta suy tính đến việc profile của một số bạn - thẳng thắn mà nói - thì không thể nào compare với các bạn Trung Nhật Hàn bị rejected. (Yes, an applicant CAN totally have an absolute superiority over another applicant). Tại sao những bạn Việt Nam average với SAT < 2000, activities lẹt tẹt, essay chưa sửa hết lỗi ngữ pháp (thậm chí còn chưa đóng đủ tiền cho trường) lại thẳng tiến vào U.S. colleges, trong khi các siêu nhân Hàn Xẻng lại ngồi nhà ôm mẹ tự kỉ ?

    I, so far, can only think of three explanations:
    - Mid-range schools fear that top applicants will eventually end up in top-range schools, so they reject them and accept more average kids instead.
    - Schools want to promote diversity and therefore accept applicants from multiple backgrounds.
    - Schools want to promote social equality by giving opportunities to under-represented minorities, international students included.

    The first explanation is sufficiently logical. However, it would be impossible to dismiss the second and third explanation, considering how unanimously institutions of higher education have been chanting their "diversity" and "equality" rhetorics.

    The problem of an admission policy aimed to promoting diversity is, indeed, that it would lead to the rejection of bright kids who unfortunatly come from well-represented backgrounds. The Koreans mentioned above, for example, suddenly become disadvantaged just because there are many similarly bright Koreans applying. The Vietnamese applicants, meanwhile, benefit from university administrations' need for an extra bit of amusement.

    Having read until this point, some readers may point out how I overlook diversity's value. I do not. My concern for the use of diversity in dictating admission decision, however, is that diversity cannot be quantified. Because it cannot be quantified, it cannot be used as a measurement - just how do you compare a Vietnamese diversity and a Cambodian diversity? And because it cannot be used to measure, I believe, diversity does not function well as a decisive factor in the application process.

    Also, consider how some schools have admitted Vietnamese on a regular basis. What improvement in diversity will these schools achieve by admitting another Vietnamese in addition to their current Vietnamese students - some of whom sometimes come from the same high school with the froshy? Moreover, if diversity is their goal, wouldn't it make more sense for schools with a healthy Vietnamese population to admit students from more obscure countries, say, Laos, where the marginal return of diversity would indeed be greater?

    Having slighted (but not dismissed) the role of diversity, I move now to consider the need for a fairer treatment to minority. Admit Vietnamese, because their country suffered from a horrible war. Admit gays and transgenders, because they need more recognition from society. And admit blacks, because this country has for so long discriminated against them. But then, the need for fairer treaments, when used as a criteria for admission, becomes the backbone of affirmative action, a controversial policy of which morality is still being debated.

    Affirmative action is controversial because it disadvantages those whose backgrounds seem statistically more advantaged and advantages those whose backgrounds seem otherwise. It seems fair, but does not seem just. Affirmative action is not just because, unlike standardized scores or extra-curricular records, one cannot by any mean change his background. Therefore, regardless of what he aspires to achieve, an individual from a stereotypical white, middle-income and Christian family suffers an automatic handicap, a handicap that will stick with him for life. From another angle, affirmative action gives aid to underqualified applicants.

    -------------------------------

    I have rambled enough. People, if for just a moment you are not bogged down by application essays, research papers or impending finals, tell me what you think. Do you believe that Vietnamese applicants benefit from affirmative action? Do you think affirmative action in college application is fair/just?

    Have fun

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    I don't think VNM students are considered URMs, or affirmative action admitteds.
    Also, it is not that VNM students are less intelligent than 2400s, 36s, of Korea or China because test scores are not used to calculate one's successful live or intelligence. And keep in mind that Korea/China (China, b/c having so many 2400s by cheating, cannot have SAT test centers) produces professional test takers. If a Vietnamese student is surrounded in that environment, I think he can also get such high score.
    Yet I have to agree that b/c so many Korean/Chinese students are applying, they have much less % to get accepted. ANW, go Vietnam, tận dụng cơ hội, cần gì biết mình có phải URM hay không, được học ở trường VIP là chiến thôi

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    To be honest, I intuitively feel that your "pretty big" assumption is somewhat correct in a certain sense at least for now. However, the situation is changing rapidly since the profiles of many Vietnamese students who get into top US schools now are really, really strong (And I don't think that the number of Vietnameses accepted to top schools now are that great to be taken seriously by "those genius Korean kids")


    However, I have to point out that you made some really huge assumption in your post without adequate proof; and your entire post's validity depends on these assumption so you better back them up; otherwise your argument doesn't carry much weight.


    You said that many perfect SAT scores from Korea, China… didn’t get in top school? Where did you get that fact? I heard that argument many many times but that’s more of an urban legend, a myth than a fact.
    http://professionals.collegeboard.co...ite_cr_m_w.pdf
    From here, we see that there are about 5000 kids get more than 2300 SAT/year (I assume that by saying 2400 SAT, you mean a very high score, which in my opinion, more than 2300) Let’s assume that 10% of them are Koreans (Im not entirely sure) so around 500 Korean kids get very high score each year. Now let’s make another “not-so-small” assumption: all of these 500 kids are smart so they will have at least a decent list of ECA. How many of these Koreans do you know that didn’t get into any of the most selective school? (To make any generalization, you need to know that at least 10-15% of the high scorers didn’t get into the selective school because if you know only 1, 2 or even 10 cases, it’s not sufficient to make any conclusion)


    “Con số các siêu sao apply bị từ chối kiểu này thậm chí nhiều hơn số siêu sao apply Việt Nam sản xuất mỗi năm.” Where did you get this “fact” from? Your observation? Your research? This assumption is too great to be overlooked (I’m not sure this is even true).


    “Tại sao những bạn Việt Nam average với SAT < 2000, activities lẹt tẹt, essay chưa sửa hết lỗi ngữ pháp (thậm chí còn chưa đóng đủ tiền cho trường) lại thẳng tiến vào U.S. colleges” Who are those Vietnamese? Can you give me some names? (And I assume that we’re dealing exclusively with top schools (by top I mean top 50 US News. This is controversial but just to simplify the problem) since you’re talking about genius Korean students)
    Last edited by leminhduc93; 12-03-2010 at 01:33 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DUMP View Post
    I don't think VNM students are considered URMs, or affirmative action admitteds.
    Also, it is not that VNM students are less intelligent than 2400s, 36s, of Korea or China because test scores are not used to calculate one's successful live or intelligence. And keep in mind that Korea/China (China, b/c having so many 2400s by cheating, cannot have SAT test centers) produces professional test takers. If a Vietnamese student is surrounded in that environment, I think he can also get such high score.
    Yet I have to agree that b/c so many Korean/Chinese students are applying, they have much less % to get accepted. ANW, go Vietnam, tận dụng cơ hội, cần gì biết mình có phải URM hay không, được học ở trường VIP là chiến thôi
    Thật sự đến giờ mình không hiểu tại sao lại có cái rumor này hoặc có thể mình không chắc là đúng hay sai, nhưng mình đã hỏi nhiều đứa Chinese thì nó đều nói SAT bị cấm ở Trung Quốc là vì goverment muốn hạn chế hs đi du học chứ không phải là do hs Trung Quốc cheat nhiều quá. Nhưng lạ một điều là ACT thì vẫn có tại Trung Quốc.
    Dương Việt Hải

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    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    To be honest, I intuitively feel that your "pretty big" assumption is somewhat correct in a certain sense at least for now. However, the situation is changing rapidly since the profiles of many Vietnamese students who get into top US schools now are really, really strong (And I don't think that the number of Vietnameses accepted to top schools now are that great to be taken seriously by "those genius Korean kids")


    However, I have to point out that you made some really huge assumption in your post without adequate proof; and your entire post's validity depends on these assumption so you better back them up; otherwise your argument doesn't carry much weight.


    You said that many perfect SAT scores from Korea, China… didn’t get in top school? Where did you get that fact? I heard that argument many many times but that’s more of an urban legend, a myth than a fact.
    http://professionals.collegeboard.co...ite_cr_m_w.pdf
    From here, we see that there are about 5000 kids get more than 2300 SAT/year (I assume that by saying 2400 SAT, you mean a very high score, which in my opinion, more than 2300) Let’s assume that 10% of them are Koreans (Im not entirely sure) so around 500 Korean kids get very high score each year. Now let’s make another “not-so-small” assumption: all of these 500 kids are smart so they will have at least a decent list of ECA. How many of these Koreans do you know that didn’t get into any of the most selective school? (To make any generalization, you need to know that at least 10-15% of the high scorers didn’t get into the selective school because if you know only 1, 2 or even 10 cases, it’s not sufficient to make any conclusion)


    “Con số các siêu sao apply bị từ chối kiểu này thậm chí nhiều hơn số siêu sao apply Việt Nam sản xuất mỗi năm.” Where did you get this “fact” from? Your observation? Your research? This assumption is too great to be overlooked (I’m not sure this is even true).


    “Tại sao những bạn Việt Nam average với SAT < 2000, activities lẹt tẹt, essay chưa sửa hết lỗi ngữ pháp (thậm chí còn chưa đóng đủ tiền cho trường) lại thẳng tiến vào U.S. colleges” Who are those Vietnamese? Can you give me some names? (And I assume that we’re dealing exclusively with top schools (by top I mean top 50 US News. This is controversial but just to simplify the problem) since you’re talking about genius Korean students)

    I forgot to disclaim that many details of my post were meant to be provocative.
    Yet I can't see how my "entire post's validity depends on these assumption". My main point is that affirmative action is present in the admission process. I demonstrate it by explaining how great kids from well-represented backgrounds are being rejected to save place for average kids from less represented backgrounds. I present a zillion of examples, of course, only to attract your attention, but believe me, I should not have to.

    <B>My suggestion would be that you ignore the provocative part written in Vietnamese and focus instead on my arguments below it. Read it carefully and you will be surprised to find how uncontigent factual accuracy indeed is to the validity of this post.</B>

    At the same time, I can't help feeling amused by how much people scruntinize some irrelevant factual details. It even reminds me of some Climate Change debate on the Interweb: Al Gore says global warming is real and backs it up with a ton of scientific data, hoping that those data would impresse people. Much to his dismay, people opposing him insist on attacking just on those data and neglect the rest of his arguments. Soon enough the debate digress into one of academic honesty. Who was responsible - was it Al Gore, who presents vulnerable factual data hoping to impress, or was it the internet opponents, who rely on this vulnerability to refuse being convinced?

    Back to this post: perhaps it is bad writing on my part, I guess, because I failed to realize how easily it can be for people to entirely dismiss normative arguments because of trivialities. Take this instead for the introduction:

    I have seen enough brainless applicants from supposedly under-represented backgrounds walking around school campuses, and informal sources like College Confidential or even chit-chatings already give me sufficient awareness of bright Asian Americans getting rejected. When a just-above-average Vietnamese profile gets in while a good Korean profile gets rejected, you have to wonder why this happens.
    (I insist that we stick to talking about <i>profiles</i>, because they are all admmission offices are presented with and because of this are the main determination of admission decision. I believe in the individual awesomeness of minority applicants, but it's just undeniable that this awesomeness are rarely shown fully and correctly in the application package)

    Still, while admitting my provocation's failure to promote healthy principle-based discussion, I still need to protect myself from being perceived as a mere entertainer. That is to back my assumptions up with some sort of proof.

    - Many perfect SAT scorers was indeed utterly rejected. A good number of them come from Korea, Japan or China (which I happily pointed out). Another number are actually American citizens, some of whom are white, but many have Asian background. I did not account for these people just so that I can stick with my short and cool "Trung Hàn Nhật" generalization. Anyway what I want to say is that many applicants with perfect academic record get rejected. This is indeed confirmed by many admission officers. Either Yale or Harvard has reportedly said that the school can reject its entire class and admit the next one without the general quality being lowered. That is to show how many good applicants are rejected every year. Also, have a good look at the College Confidential's decision threads from previous years. I would like to paste links here but that would be a bit disrespectful.

    - No, Vietnam has not produced that many brilliant applicants. That, as I have seen in another thread a 22xx SAT is already considered among the top 3 in one of the best high schools here, demonstrates this point quite clearly.

    - Don't ask me to name names.

    Quote Originally Posted by DUMP View Post
    I don't think VNM students are considered URMs, or affirmative action admitteds.
    Also, it is not that VNM students are less intelligent than 2400s, 36s, of Korea or China because test scores are not used to calculate one's successful live or intelligence. And keep in mind that Korea/China (China, b/c having so many 2400s by cheating, cannot have SAT test centers) produces professional test takers. If a Vietnamese student is surrounded in that environment, I think he can also get such high score.
    Yet I have to agree that b/c so many Korean/Chinese students are applying, they have much less % to get accepted. ANW, go Vietnam, tận dụng cơ hội, cần gì biết mình có phải URM hay không, được học ở trường VIP là chiến thôi
    You are totally missing the idea here. The issue is not at all about whether Vietnamese students are actually smart, but about the fact that their profiles are more mediocre and still they get in (again, all the admission offices have are applicants' profile) thanks to what I believe to be a background advantage. It is not technically impossible for a Vietnamese students to recreate the same environment Koreans or Chinese have. But it is impossible for a Korean to be recognized not as just another Korean. Fair? Just?

    Your last line makes me think a bit. Does it concern you, just for a moment, that your success may indeed be contributed by a preferential treatment?



    And yeah, could people please try to focus on the bigger issue instead of the trivial details?

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    "Entire post's validity depends on these assumption" because to explain or discuss or do whatever with a phenomenon, you have to prove that that phenomenon actually exists (that you are arguing something real). You can’t just jump in, saying that Vietnamese students are given unfair advantage and assuming that that is a fact and go on discussing it before proving that it is actually true in the first place by citing reliable sources (I didn’t say you are wrong. I just point out how your logic needs to be improved. n a debate, you always need to back up your supposedly “fact.” Btw, you still haven’t given any “reliable” statistic. Anecdotal proofs like yours are usually pretty misleading and can’t be used to make any conclusion in a large scale)

    “Many perfect SAT scorers was indeed utterly rejected.” What do you mean by reject? Rejected from all top schools? Or rejected from some top schools? I have no trouble seeing Harvard or Yale rejected perfect SAT scores. Getting perfect SAT score doesn’t mean you will get into all top schools (the chance of getting in is really high but not 100%) Did they get into any top schools?

    "And yeah, could people please try to focus on the bigger issue instead of the trivial details?"
    This is actually hilarious. Do you think it is reasonable if I go around and say that the world is coming to an end in 2012 because many people said so and keep arguing that we should all travel to the moon to avoid the disaster? And when people say that I need to back up my claim that the world is coming to an end, I say that’s trivial and we should focus on find a way to survive.
    Last edited by leminhduc93; 12-04-2010 at 02:03 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    "Entire post's validity depends on these assumption" because to explain or discuss or do whatever with a phenomenon, you have to prove that that phenomenon actually exists (that you are arguing something real). You can’t just jump in, saying that Vietnamese students are given unfair advantage and assuming that that is a fact and go on discussing it before proving that it is actually true in the first place by citing reliable sources (I didn’t say you are wrong. I just point out how your logic needs to be improved. n a debate, you always need to back up your supposedly “fact.” Btw, you still haven’t given any “reliable” statistic. Anecdotal proofs like yours are usually pretty misleading and can’t be used to make any conclusion in a large scale)
    hehe, em ơi khi philosophers debate thì người ta chỉ use purely normative judgments thôi i.e. hem dùng facts mà. Cái anecdotes trong post này chỉ serve as a bridge connecting a normative issue into normal life, to make philosophy more easily digested for common people thôi. Còn thì mình vẫn muốn giữ cái discussion này based on values hơn. have fun nhé

    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    “Many perfect SAT scorers was indeed utterly rejected.” What do you mean by reject? Rejected from all top schools? Or rejected from some top schools? I have no trouble seeing Harvard or Yale rejected perfect SAT scores. Getting perfect SAT score doesn’t mean you will get into all top schools (the chance of getting in is really high but not 100%) Did they get into any top schools?
    Dĩ nhiên là perfect SAT scorers ở đây là có assume ceteris paribus khi compare với profile của under-represented minority applicants rồi.
    Quay lại issue thì nếu perfect profile bị rejected còn mediocre profile from under-represented background được accepted thì ở H Y hay là trường nào cũng là vấn đề chứ, right? Injustice ở đâu thì cũng là injustice mà.
    Of course là H-Y rejected cả đống brilliant applicants mỗi năm, nhưng không phải trường hợp nào cũng là vì there are better applicants. The main point of concern here is not that some top candidates are rejected, but is that some less brilliant kids are getting in thanks to their background. We both agree that some brilliant applicants are rejected. And the presence of apparently mediocre minority kids on HYPSM campuses proves that not all of the brilliant kids are being rejected so that more brilliant ones get in. (Sometimes you even know these minority kids personally, are confident that they are smart people and good friends, but just can't help wondering how they managed to convince the admission office with their mediocre profile.)

    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    "And yeah, could people please try to focus on the bigger issue instead of the trivial details?"
    This is actually hilarious. Do you think it is reasonable if I go around and say that the world is coming to an end in 2012 because many people said so and keep arguing that we should all travel to the moon to avoid the disaster? And when people say that I need to back up my claim that the world is coming to an end, I say that’s trivial and we should focus on find a way to survive.
    Again, my post was not at all about finding a solution or convincing people to believe it something. It was posing a purely value-based question that needs an answer, an answer that might not be of any practical value.
    Last edited by snafu; 12-04-2010 at 04:46 AM.

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    Interesting.

    I have read this kind of arguments before regarding MIT admission, which states that the traditional white middle class American kids face the toughest competition with general admission rate of 1-2% while Asian American and URMs have it way easier. Or something along the line.

    BUT, lets set that aside, assuming that your theory of affirmative action against the super star Koreans is true, that is to say that it really exists in the first place, my question to you is so what?

    Secondly, you yourself admit that it is fair and isn't it fairness that this whole world is struggling to achieve? It may be unjust, as you accuse, but it is justified nevertheless by the notion of fairness. On this point I actually think that you should elaborate more on your definition of just and fair to make clearer argument as these are subjective terms depending on your moral perspectives and standards of equality. I personally would think that affirmative action is just but not fair, in the sense that 'just' implies a moral obligation to help the *relatively* underprivileged/minority and 'fair' implies equal opportunity with regards to one's merits.

    Also, I think that it's safe to point out one of your underlying assumptions that Vietnamese are NOT URM but Lao(tians?) are. I will not argue on this point and take it as the inherently true basis for your argument. However, I insist on the relativity of the term URM. It may be true that there are a lot of Vietnamese now in US Colleges but it is also necessary to also acknowledge that there are even more Koreans, and thus Koreans are a lot more well-represented as compared to Vietnamese, who in turn are of course also a lot more well-represented than Laotians. Now doesnt your very same argument against Vietnamese apply to the Korean too since the marginal return in term of diversity by admitting a Korean is a lot less than admitting a Vietnamese? Yes, if it is all about the utilitarian viewpoint of increasing diversity, I agree that an average Lao student should be admitted instead of a Vietnamese star, but that also implies that an average Vietnamese student should also be admitted instead of a Korean superstar.

    I mean, after all, affirmative action is just an urban legend. Nobody knows for sure whether a perfect applicant whose background is typical would be rejected instead of someone with more unique background but more mediocre stats. But then again, even if it is true, then so what? Is it unfair? Well this whole world is unfair. You go to college and kids in Africa die at 3 cos of HIV AIDS? Is it unjust? What is just anyway when morality is subjective and the basic rations for affirmative action are justified?
    Last edited by daxynkus9; 12-04-2010 at 05:01 AM.

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    Okay, so ignoring your lack of factual foundation, or your shortage of attention to details, let's just get straight to your main points, using - in your words - normal judgments and common sense. The whole point of your argument is that Vietnamese and a few other types of applicants are getting unjust advantages in the admission process, because of "affirmative action" or colleges' unwarranted need for diversity right? If you argue that this is the wrong course of action for colleges, or if it's unfair, I would counter with several points like these:

    1. Colleges select applicants based on prediction about how well they will do in the future, not in the past. In predicting the applicants' future motivations or achievements, colleges look at their historical records, but it's only logical and sensible to examine these records NOT in absolute sense (eg how high the SAT score is) but in relative to the applicants' background. One from a wealthy background in New England who goes to a prep school can fairly easily get 2300, but that doesn't mean his motivation for the future is higher or even on par with another kid who grows up in a Chicago slum, has parents who are drug dealers/pimps, but who gets 2100. It's stupid to evaluate an applicant on an absolute basis of their past achievements. That's why the American college way of admission - which personalizes the process for each unique applicant and seeing one in her entirety - is far superior than the Vietnamese/Chinese way, for the lack of a better example, that just gives everyone a single stupid test, on the same footing.
    This judgment means it's fine and good to admit 2100-SAT applicants who have lesser background while rejecting a 2400 one.

    2. Regarding affirmative action in the US, mind you, it's not that easy for college to exert affirmative action in their admission process. The legal side of this is very complicated, and should affirmative action be real, every admission officer still have to tread within their boundary. For more details please google Grutter v. Bollinger. Given this, it's fairly reasonable to assume the effects of affirmative action, if any, should be minimal and most applicants are treated based on their merits, not their racial origins.

    3. Regarding the admission policy for diversity, there have been statistical research (not "judgment") that shows how diversity enriches the intellectual/social life of a community. This is why throughout America, not only colleges but top corporations are all aiming for diversity. As such, in pursuing the best interests of their campuses and student bodies, colleges may target a portion of seats for applicants from diverse, non-traditional backgrounds (7% international, for example). This may limit the space for traditional applicants, but there is nothing unjust for them. If these applicants finance and own the college, then yea maybe they should get their way. But for now, the mission of a college is to serve its student body, not this specific type of applicants.
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    Quote Originally Posted by daxynkus9 View Post

    BUT, lets set that aside, assuming that your theory of affirmative action against the super star Koreans is true, that is to say that it really exists in the first place, my question to you is so what?
    That's really what I need to find out

    Secondly, you yourself admit that it is fair and isn't it fairness that this whole world is struggling to achieve? It may be unjust, as you accuse, but it is justified nevertheless by the notion of fairness. On this point I actually think that you should elaborate more on your definition of just and fair to make clearer argument as these are subjective terms depending on your moral perspectives and standards of equality. I personally would think that affirmative action is just but not fair, in the sense that 'just' implies a moral obligation to help the *relatively* underprivileged/minority and 'fair' implies equal opportunity with regards to one's merits.
    At the moment (i.e. for the past 5 minutes) i have been thinking that "fair" means equal opportunities and "just" means a merit-based consideration. But honestly I am not so sure about that.

    One thing I am quite sure is that both of us recognize that affirmative action raises a conflict between "helping the underprivileged" and "promoting merit". How about we start from there - ignoring the unhelpful labels of "just and "fair" altogether - and tell each other our opinions on the issue?

    Personally, if I am to act as counsellor for any Vietnamese applicant I would be grateful that affirmative action is in place. I would tell my applicant to exploit this by, for example, talking more about his special circumstance and under-represented background.

    Still, when I force myself to be morally unbiased - which I am doing now - I tend to support a more background-neutral admission policy.

    Also, I think that it's safe to point out one of your underlying assumptions that Vietnamese are NOT URM but Lao(tians?) are. I will not argue on this point and take it as the inherently true basis for your argument. However, I insist on the relativity of the term URM. It may be true that there are a lot of Vietnamese now in US Colleges but it is also necessary to also acknowledge that there are even more Koreans, and thus Koreans are a lot more well-represented as compared to Vietnamese, who in turn are of course also a lot more well-represented than Laotians. Now doesnt your very same argument against Vietnamese apply to the Korean too since the marginal return in term of diversity by admitting a Korean is a lot less than admitting a Vietnamese? Yes, if it is all about the utilitarian viewpoint of increasing diversity, I agree that an average Lao student should be admitted instead of a Vietnamese star, but that also implies that an average Vietnamese student should also be admitted instead of a Korean superstar.
    Exactly what I meant when I discredited diversity's goal as the determinant of admission policy: if schools were to base their applications largely on diversity, they would - in their best interests - admit students from many countries, but each country shall have just 1 student. In that way the number of countries will be maximized, and so will the total return of diversity. (This assumes "country" as the unit of measurement for diversity)

    Clearly it isn't the case. Schools like Mt. Holyoke, DePauw, Drexel, Colgate, are already admitting a lot of Vietnamese students. "Big names" like Harvard, Princeton, MIT or Yale follow the same practice.

    I mean, after all, affirmative action is just an urban legend. Nobody knows for sure whether a perfect applicant whose background is typical would be rejected instead of someone with more unique background but more mediocre stats. But then again, even if it is true, then so what? Is it unfair? Well this whole world is unfair. You go to college and kids in Africa die at 3 cos of HIV AIDS? Is it unjust? What is just anyway when morality is subjective and the basic rations for affirmative action are justified?
    hehe đây chẳng phải là cái kết luận mà tất cả các morality-based debates đều dẫn đến sao
    I am not attempting to propose a universal concept of morality or to convince people to follow mine. Just believing that it would be cool to hear people's thought. The question of which answer I would love to hear more is the same question as one I posed to DUMP in the post above: what does your morality say, if today you know that your successful admission is also the result of some preferential treatment?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    Okay, so ignoring your lack of factual foundation, or your shortage of attention to details, let's just get straight to your main points, using - in your words - normal judgments and common sense. The whole point of your argument is that Vietnamese and a few other types of applicants are getting unjust advantages in the admission process, because of "affirmative action" or colleges' unwarranted need for diversity right? If you argue that this is the wrong course of action for colleges, or if it's unfair, I would counter with several points like these:
    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    1. Colleges select applicants based on prediction about how well they will do in the future, not in the past. In predicting the applicants' future motivations or achievements, colleges look at their historical records, but it's only logical and sensible to examine these records NOT in absolute sense (eg how high the SAT score is) but in relative to the applicants' background. One from a wealthy background in New England who goes to a prep school can fairly easily get 2300, but that doesn't mean his motivation for the future is higher or even on par with another kid who grows up in a Chicago slum, has parents who are drug dealers/pimps, but who gets 2100. It's stupid to evaluate an applicant on an absolute basis of their past achievements. That's why the American college way of admission - which personalizes the process for each unique applicant and seeing one in her entirety - is far superior than the Vietnamese/Chinese way, for the lack of a better example, that just gives everyone a single stupid test, on the same footing.
    This judgment means it's fine and good to admit 2100-SAT applicants who have lesser background while rejecting a 2400 one.
    You're totally right! In principle it is totally moral and reasonable for colleges to look into each applicant's potential instead of their raw achievements. That would, as you correctly argued, require an assessment of applicants' background.

    However, in practice it is really hard for schools to possess anything beyond an assumption of each student's background. I actually looked at the Common Application today, and found out that it does not provide enough information for schools to determine whether a student is truly disadvantaged earlier in his life. The Common Application does not let schools know the applicant's parents' income group. It requires applicants to put in their schools' name, but we all know in Vietnamese schools the kind of background an applicant may have can vary tremendously. It lets schools know a student was living in Hanoi when he applies, but does not leave room for him to talk about his earlier years in life, an information that can be very important in determining an applicant's background. Also, as occasionally happens among the Vietnamese applicants circle, people lie.

    My point is that, when it comes to determining the effect a student's background has on his achievements, schools are largely blind. They have to, in most cases, resort to assuming and stereotyping. The process is indeed it is rational - after all assumptions and stereotypes can have very solid statistical support, and by betting on these schools can make statistically correct guesses. But there are, of course, exceptions - people who on paper belong to a background but just do not. This, as I have said before, is dangerous because there is just no way a student could change his background, and thus the incorrect stereotype sticks. Of course it's easy to say that this is still a statistically effective treatment, but I would say that the moral cost remains huge.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    2. Regarding affirmative action in the US, mind you, it's not that easy for college to exert affirmative action in their admission process. The legal side of this is very complicated, and should affirmative action be real, every admission officer still have to tread within their boundary. For more details please google Grutter v. Bollinger. Given this, it's fairly reasonable to assume the effects of affirmative action, if any, should be minimal and most applicants are treated based on their merits, not their racial origins.
    In fact I started this thread after a read on Grutter v. Bollinger, and I was typing the previous answer to daxynkus9 in a constitutional law lecture by Ronald Dworkin, who touches a bit on affirmative action in admission policy. The problem with Grutter v. Bollinger (and, if we would like to discuss other aspects of affirmative action as well, Gratz v. Bollinger, or Board of Regents v. Bakke) is that they deal with affirmative action as related to the U.S. Constitution (they have to, or else the case would not be presented to the Supreme Court). What we are aiming for, however, are suggestions and ideas for moral issues bound not by the text of a document. Indeed I find our discussion more fitting of a legislative rather than judicial context.

    Another point I have to point out is that it is very easy to put on affirmative action the camouflage of "diversity". Amorphous and relative, diversity cannot be quantified and therefore can be used as a very effective excuse for affirmative action.

    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    3. Regarding the admission policy for diversity, there have been statistical research (not "judgment") that shows how diversity enriches the intellectual/social life of a community. This is why throughout America, not only colleges but top corporations are all aiming for diversity. As such, in pursuing the best interests of their campuses and student bodies, colleges may target a portion of seats for applicants from diverse, non-traditional backgrounds (7% international, for example). This may limit the space for traditional applicants, but there is nothing unjust for them. If these applicants finance and own the college, then yea maybe they should get their way. But for now, the mission of a college is to serve its student body, not this specific type of applicants.
    Again I agree with you. Indeed when I question the presence of the Vietnamese community in the U.S. I think of diversity as the right answer. A Vietnamese student is preferable to an American with a similar profile because he would enrich the intellectual/social life of a community. I also find it perfectly sensible and rational for schools to admit on this basis, as much as I would find schools sensible and rational to pursue affirmative action if they believe it is morally right.

    Still, wouldn't admission based on diversity, if not a disguise for affirmative action as I have previously raised concern about, remain a preferential treatment given to applicants for something they do not achieve? And in some sense getting admitted to promote diversity can be more disturbing than getting admitted as part of an affirmative action policy: the applicant degrades into some sort of addition to the other parts of the school. At best he can see himself as trading his diversity in exchange of education; at worst he is no different than a new fancy set of furniture - which enrich intellectual/social life at the expense of someone's college experience.



    P/S: This discussion is really getting more interesting. I was asking myself when daxynkus9 would show up, and then Fallorchid replies as well. I would love to address you two more appropriately but that would make this so much less fun, wouldn't it? (Fallorchid, you probably know who I am already^^)
    Last edited by snafu; 12-04-2010 at 09:03 AM.

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    thấy cái post chả có vị gì kiểu dỗi hơi tự dưng nhảy vào phán 1 bài rất là mang tính "nóng hổi" và "đáng tranh cãi" vào một thời điểm rất là "nóng" xong để mọi người nhảy vào cãi nhau. Nguồn nghiếc cũng chả có, chả hiểu chủ topic viết ra làm gì nữa.

    PS: hơ, tôi đang ở trường cũng khá là top ở Mỹ nè, thấy đống Trung Quốc cả Hàn Xẻng bao nhiêu, VN có một mẩu. Đi ăn là thấy mấy cái China town ở nhà ăn luôn, chả hiểu bảo bọn nó ko đc nhận là như nào nữa. Với cả đối với trường top, bọn TQ cả Hàn giàu hơn, đóng được nhiều hơn, apply nhiều hơn nên bị reject nhiều cũng đúng (kiểu nó apply 1 năm 2000 đứa, 200 đứa bị reject => nhiều, VN app 1 năm 100 đứa, reject 20 => ít), hs VN contribution có tầm 10k thì 1 là ko app top, 2 là app top và xin rất nhiều, thế nên các trường nó thấy 1 bạn VN contribute 30k và stats cũng ổn ổn thì nó chả nhận ngay.

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    I didn't have time to read the replies so I'll keep it short and quick. Japanese and Korean kids are almost innately trained to study abroad. At least that is what my friends from these countries say. They are raised with the ideas that they have to study in the US, oppressed by their parents to work hard for GPAs, EACs... which could have started in elementary schools. Adm officers know that! And while they do make decisions based on qualifications and diversity (?), there are many other "invisible" materials that makes an offer.

    P.S: everything you guys said here, in the end, are still your assumptions. We only see the admission process on the surface and I don't think we know how it actually and comprehensively works. My school used to reject 2 kids. They were really into my school and had good profile (I can say much better than me). They ended up in other schools and later, successfully transferred to Brown and Yale. Dah!
    "It's hard to tell the world we live in is either a reality or a dream."

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    Cái topic to đùng đoàng đến độ để mà trả lời được cặn kẽ thì phải break down thành hàng vài chục yếu tố nhỏ hơn. Mỗi yếu tố nhỏ hơn đấy đủ để viết 1 chapter book với đầy đủ statistical data, thử google scholar thì thấy ngay. Bàn luận trong khuôn khổ ngắn ngắn của forum thế này dễ sinh ra cãi nhau mất thời gian vì không thể giải thích hết ý, tốn thời gian trong mùa final căng thẳng.

    Bây giờ mấy ai đo độ thông minh của bọn Hàn bằng SAT và GPA nữa, phải đo bằng APM của Starcraft2. Thằng Korean nào có APM >= 200 thì được tuyển thẳng vào college

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    Quote Originally Posted by unamed View Post
    Cái topic to đùng đoàng đến độ để mà trả lời được cặn kẽ thì phải break down thành hàng vài chục yếu tố nhỏ hơn. Mỗi yếu tố nhỏ hơn đấy đủ để viết 1 chapter book với đầy đủ statistical data, thử google scholar thì thấy ngay. Bàn luận trong khuôn khổ ngắn ngắn của forum thế này dễ sinh ra cãi nhau mất thời gian vì không thể giải thích hết ý, tốn thời gian trong mùa final căng thẳng.

    Bây giờ mấy ai đo độ thông minh của bọn Hàn bằng SAT và GPA nữa, phải đo bằng APM của Starcraft2. Thằng Korean nào có APM >= 200 thì được tuyển thẳng vào college
    cho cái name, vừa mua đĩa luyện đc mấy hôm, lập team chơi phát( sr ngoài lề

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    Please, people. I know a lot of you are reading this thread, and a lot of you have things to say. I know many of you who have been visiting this thread almost personally and I know you guys can really throw in some really good arguments here. All I want is just a healthy discussion on something that actually require brains to work - for far too long this board has only been filled with random drama shit, so long that many come here only expect to see noisy quarrels, and thus becomes but defensive towards posts like this. Again, the provocative introduction (I maintain that it's not too far from the truth) serves only to bridge the discussion into one based more on values and less on facts, a discussion that may not be tangibly productive (i.e. may not go anywhere) but in the end will at least be mildly stimulating to the brain.

    I shall lay my issues here once more time:
    - Is the admission of minority applicants with relatively mediocre profiles, including but not limited to some Vietnamese applicants, which inevitably results in the rejection of relatively stronger profiles from applicants from well-represented backgrounds, an evident of affirmative action/preferential admission policy?
    - What is your moral stance on this issue.

    By appealing for a resumption of this discussion on this board, I am hereby betting all my expectation, belief and confidence that the members of this community care as much about some brainwork as they do about application season dramas. I could certainly bring this topic somewhere else and get some healthy discussion there, but just let me be presumptuous enough to claim that things like this would actually benefit this forum.

    (I also hope that final season is treating people as well as it's treating me.)
    Last edited by snafu; 12-06-2010 at 06:44 AM.

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    Haha okay Mr. Favoring Soap-Drama-Provocation :p

    1. In continuing this discussion, you can see that there needs be a better term than "affirmative action" for the phenomenon you are describing. In my understanding, affirmative action was a term coined to describe policies applied by the United States government to favor and encourage the living qualities / education of African Americans. This is specifically to rectify past discrimination aimed at African Americans, which supposedly has dampened their educational / social status in the US so far.

    Coming back to your discussion of college admission, firstly private colleges (not public ones) shouldn't be categorized as one part of the US gov. Secondly, if affirmative actions are meant to rectify past mistakes, then policies favoring Vietnamese (if any) can't be alleged as such, because seriously dude, you would make people laugh to say that American private institutions are literally taking responsibility for the Vietnam War. I don't believe Americans are kind enough to initiate such policies by themselves lol, unless some of their future strategic interests lie there.

    So we shouldn't call this affirmative action. At most you can say the phenomenon (if it exists) is some kind of diversity recruiting.

    2. On whether this phenomenon actually exists, I would doubt it if you specifically narrow down to Vietnamese applicants. Vietnam already ranks in the top 10 countries of origins for int students in the US, so why would there be specific need for Vietnamese compared to other foreign countries? However, if you say international students as a whole, I would concur diversity recruiting exists, and it's common at numerous colleges.

    3. On whether this is wrong (morally or in other aspects): I have recently read a college professor's opinion, which is that college admission is NOT a reward for past achievements (even if you include backgrounds, relative aspects in). College admission is extended based on a mutual fit, which means how the college can benefit from the applicant's presence on campus. If diverse-background applicants add value to the college, their SAT and other achievements may not be as stellar, but in the whole picture, their added value might still outweigh that of traditional applicants. Likewise colleges accept them and reject someone "less interesting" who has higher stats. Fair and square.
    In such case, how would you describe this as unfair then?

    On the topic of affirmative action & diversity recruiting, you can see numerous examples outside college admission: the finance industry in the US would prefer a female over a male, ceteris paribus, because females are currently underrepresented. For tests in elementary and high schools, folks in several districts can pass with lower bar than others, and this is a public fact, well-documented with abundant statistics. If you can only guess about what happens in college admission, for these tests you can see the numbers. Very obvious. But would you describe it as "immoral" or "wrong" or anti-meritocracy?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    Haha okay Mr. Favoring Soap-Drama-Provocation :p

    1. In continuing this discussion, you can see that there needs be a better term than "affirmative action" for the phenomenon you are describing. In my understanding, affirmative action was a term coined to describe policies applied by the United States government to favor and encourage the living qualities / education of African Americans. This is specifically to rectify past discrimination aimed at African Americans, which supposedly has dampened their educational / social status in the US so far.

    Coming back to your discussion of college admission, firstly private colleges (not public ones) shouldn't be categorized as one part of the US gov. Secondly, if affirmative actions are meant to rectify past mistakes, then policies favoring Vietnamese (if any) can't be alleged as such, because seriously dude, you would make people laugh to say that American private institutions are literally taking responsibility for the Vietnam War. I don't believe Americans are kind enough to initiate such policies by themselves lol, unless some of their future strategic interests lie there.

    So we shouldn't call this affirmative action. At most you can say the phenomenon (if it exists) is some kind of diversity recruiting.
    Agree. We need better terminology. I too don't see any reason for private schools to take responsibility for what the government did in VN.

    Still I do not think that diversity is the primary issue here. As I have said in one of the above posts, if diversity were the primary determinant here, then probably it would make more sense for schools to admit like 1 student per country, so that they would maximize the level of diversity. This clearly isn't the case

    Quote Originally Posted by me
    Exactly what I meant when I discredited diversity's goal as the determinant of admission policy: if schools were to base their applications largely on diversity, they would - in their best interests - admit students from many countries, but each country shall have just 1 student. In that way the number of countries will be maximized, and so will the total return of diversity. (This assumes "country" as the unit of measurement for diversity)

    Clearly it isn't the case. Schools like Mt. Holyoke, DePauw, Drexel, Colgate, are already admitting a lot of Vietnamese students. "Big names" like Harvard, Princeton, MIT or Yale follow the same practice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    2. On whether this phenomenon actually exists, I would doubt it if you specifically narrow down to Vietnamese applicants. Vietnam already ranks in the top 10 countries of origins for int students in the US, so why would there be specific need for Vietnamese compared to other foreign countries? However, if you say international students as a whole, I would concur diversity recruiting exists, and it's common at numerous colleges.

    3. On whether this is wrong (morally or in other aspects): I have recently read a college professor's opinion, which is that college admission is NOT a reward for past achievements (even if you include backgrounds, relative aspects in). College admission is extended based on a mutual fit, which means how the college can benefit from the applicant's presence on campus. If diverse-background applicants add value to the college, their SAT and other achievements may not be as stellar, but in the whole picture, their added value might still outweigh that of traditional applicants. Likewise colleges accept them and reject someone "less interesting" who has higher stats. Fair and square.
    In such case, how would you describe this as unfair then?

    On the topic of affirmative action & diversity recruiting, you can see numerous examples outside college admission: the finance industry in the US would prefer a female over a male, ceteris paribus, because females are currently underrepresented. For tests in elementary and high schools, folks in several districts can pass with lower bar than others, and this is a public fact, well-documented with abundant statistics. If you can only guess about what happens in college admission, for these tests you can see the numbers. Very obvious. But would you describe it as "immoral" or "wrong" or anti-meritocracy?
    Yeah I brought in Vietnamese applicants just so that it's easier for us to relate to. After all it is still fair to say that despite the top 10 rank Vietnamese are still relatively underrepresented comparing to, say, white Americans, isn't it?
    I was actually meaning to talk more about international students in general. My observation is that there are international students with mediocre profile whose admission should probably have caused the rejection quite a bright white American applicant. If not for diversity recruiting or what-I-have-been-calling-affirmative-action-but-is-not-exactly-so, I really can't see why this occurs.

    The disturbing thing about diversity recruiting is that it depends on a not only random but also unchanging factor - no one chooses his home country. Personally I find it quite unfair that some applicants are born with a concrete, solid and unchanging edge over others. Admittedly other factors like parents' income or home neighborhood are also random, but unlike the country of birth the applicant cannot do anything to change this. So I would say the disadvantage of being born with a statistically better represented background is more troublesome than that of having a poor family.

    I also agree with you on the view of college admission as schools' active pursuit of self-interest. Indeed this is what I believe to be the most correct interpretation of the application process. However this interpretation that the school reserves the right to accept applicants that will benefit the community and rejects those that don't gives disturbingly too much "power" to the schools. What if it decides that black students bring negative effects to the community? Gays? Vietnamese? I hope I present my idea clear enough: to some extent, this accept-and-reject thing sounds disturbingly like a discrimination against "less interesting" or "average" people. That "interesting" is a social construct even complicates things further. Because it's just so easy to be perceived as uninteresting when you don't share the same values (or ideas of what's interesting and what's not) with everyone else, the admission process can very easily turns into a conspiracy against social misfits.

    On the examples outside of college admission, I have a few comments. Firstly, underepresentation in industries is almost synonymous with low scarcity, and low scarcity means lower cost. It is rational for the finance industry to hire more females not because they are underrepresented, but because their underrepresentation means they are willing to accept a lower pay. I'm not sure if my interpretation applies to the US finance industry, but I sure remember having read an Economist article on a similar phenomenon in Korea/Japan.

    About the preferential treatments to kids in more difficult districts, I think this is justifiable because there have been (I assumed) well-documented and proven causational relationship between, say, parents' income and test scores. However, regarding applicants' backgrounds I don't see that strong causation. This is because on the backgrounds of the applicants schools only know about their hometown, parents' marriage situation, and secondary schools. While elementary kids with poor parents definitely face more problems in school, it can never be conclusively established that being born in Hanoi means less opportunity to study English (rich families can always afford high-quality tutors). Therefore, lower bars for children from low-income district is always justifiable but higher tolerance for low CR scores for applicants born in Hanoi is not (statistically, of course, it is still convenient for schools to relate being born in Hanoi to less opportunity)

    And yeah really appreciate your effort to take this issue some beyond the college admission context.

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    Quote Originally Posted by snafu View Post
    I also agree with you on the view of college admission as schools' active pursuit of self-interest. Indeed this is what I believe to be the most correct interpretation of the application process. However this interpretation that the school reserves the right to accept applicants that will benefit the community and rejects those that don't gives disturbingly too much "power" to the schools. What if it decides that black students bring negative effects to the community? Gays? Vietnamese? I hope I present my idea clear enough: to some extent, this accept-and-reject thing sounds disturbingly like a discrimination against "less interesting" or "average" people. That "interesting" is a social construct even complicates things further. Because it's just so easy to be perceived as uninteresting when you don't share the same values (or ideas of what's interesting and what's not) with everyone else, the admission process can very easily turns into a conspiracy against social misfits.
    You pretty much said it all. Personal interest should exceed every other need. We all for some reason assume that colleges have to be indiscriminating or blah blah blah. That may be true for public schools since they are public and to a certain extent, have social responsibility. However, for private schools, they can choose whether to be socially responsible or not. If their personal interests conflict with social interests, why should they sacrifice their interests? Let’s think of private colleges as special country clubs, making it easier for people to grasp that they are not obliged to accept any specific type of students. If you don’t share the same value with these colleges, don’t go there; or if going there will benefit you in the future and the cost of giving up part of your identity is smaller than the benefit of having a good future prospect, then do it. Colleges have no responsibility to accommodate your need (Even if they try to accommodate your need, that’s for their own interests since they believe they can somehow benefit from you). If they choose not to, don’t blame them.

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    Average TOEFL IBT score of test-takers from:
    Bangladesh 83
    Hongkong 80
    China 78
    Korea 77
    Vietnam 70

    In Asia, VN's TOEFL score is lower than most countries (except Cambodia, Afghanistan, and the like)
    If we look at SAT scores, probably we'll see similar thing. I'm pretty sure VN's average is much lower than Chinese, Korean's (not sure about other countries)

    Source: http://www.ets.org/Media/Research/pdf/71943_web.pdf

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    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    You pretty much said it all. Personal interest should exceed every other need. We all for some reason assume that colleges have to be indiscriminating or blah blah blah. That may be true for public schools since they are public and to a certain extent, have social responsibility. However, for private schools, they can choose whether to be socially responsible or not. If their personal interests conflict with social interests, why should they sacrifice their interests? Let’s think of private colleges as special country clubs, making it easier for people to grasp that they are not obliged to accept any specific type of students. If you don’t share the same value with these colleges, don’t go there; or if going there will benefit you in the future and the cost of giving up part of your identity is smaller than the benefit of having a good future prospect, then do it. Colleges have no responsibility to accommodate your need (Even if they try to accommodate your need, that’s for their own interests since they believe they can somehow benefit from you). If they choose not to, don’t blame them.
    Consider this:

    What if it decides that black students bring negative effects to the community? Gays? Vietnamese?
    It is right for schools (or, country clubs) to admit students based on a cost-and-benefit basis.
    It is wrong for them to discriminate. It is illegal for restaurants to turn away, say, black customers, even when they are private firms not required to be socially responsible. Similarly schools are not allowed to turn down a student if he qualifies just because of his race.
    My arguments is that it is wrong to practice reverse-discrimination by turning down well qualified students because of their over-represented backgrounds.

    If you don’t share the same value with these colleges, don’t go there; or if going there will benefit you in the future and the cost of giving up part of your identity is smaller than the benefit of having a good future prospect...
    There are values that this society is (almost) universally against. Discrimination is among those. If my value is against discrimination, there should never be a college that don't share this same value, and I should never have to think about giving up my identity.

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    "It is wrong for them to discriminate" Why is that so? Is that because the law requires so? If that's the case, then this is no longer a philosophical discussion but a legal discussion instead and that's not what you aim for right? Or am I wrong? My stand is that the school has the right to discriminating against whoever they don't like unless that practice is against the law, and that's an entire different matter. And don't get me wrong: I don't say that discriminating is good. I think it's horrible but that's my personal opinion but I also believe that the decision to accept a student should be entirely up to the school (And again I'm talking exclusively about private school)

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    Hey, OP, are you a white or a Vietnamese or a half white haft Asian? Who are you anyway? Did you ever get kicked out of application process b/c you are not URM, so now you have hostility toward URMs?
    My friend is an Afghan, his SAT is 1650/2400, TOEFL is 99, high GPA, about 3 APs during his 2 years in US, seeds of peace scholar, he got accepted into Swarthmore. You may look at him with contempt but so what? Besides those superficial scores you know nothing about him; you don't know that he knows 7 languages, perfect score in French highest lvl exam (similar to TOEFL but with different levels), 330/350 national exam of Afghan (I didn't know this till several weeks ago, lol). People when asking him about his application only want to know about his SAT, TOEFL, ECs... that's it! And I guarantee you that when someone hear his scores, he/she will place URM as a damn main reason for his acceptance. But if you talk to him, read his life story, know his siblings... you will realize that he's much better than those pretentious 2300s on CC who always brag that: "OMG, 750 in reading, I have to retake, OMG OMG" lol, hope you know what I'm talking about.
    Relax, URM is fine. I will not feel bad if being considered as a URM, simply b/c I was born in this way, lol. Luckily that I'm not Chinese or Korean

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    Quote Originally Posted by DUMP View Post
    Hey, OP, are you a white or a Vietnamese or a half white haft Asian? Who are you anyway?
    Nghe cách dùng từ thì đoán được ngay, có gì mả phải white với chả yellow. Mình đoán nhé: Là trai, nhiều khả năng Amser, và là VA old member, đang ở college (nhiều khả năng với scholarship), tự kỉ trong thời gian final nên raise some questions under anonymous nick cho nó vui. Sao phải xoắn.

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    Quote Originally Posted by leminhduc93 View Post
    "It is wrong for them to discriminate" Why is that so? Is that because the law requires so? If that's the case, then this is no longer a philosophical discussion but a legal discussion instead and that's not what you aim for right? Or am I wrong? My stand is that the school has the right to discriminating against whoever they don't like unless that practice is against the law, and that's an entire different matter. And don't get me wrong: I don't say that discriminating is good. I think it's horrible but that's my personal opinion but I also believe that the decision to accept a student should be entirely up to the school (And again I'm talking exclusively about private school)
    Discrimination is considered against the law because it violates human rights. If there is some value this world should adhere to it should be discrimination. Even when there is no law I believe private schools should still not discriminate. Standing against discrimination is not just a social or legal responsibility. It is a moral duty.

    (or, to interpret things differently, schools should always be against discrimination unless they want to seriously annoy the public that supports and funds them)

    Quote Originally Posted by DUMP View Post
    Hey, OP, are you a white or a Vietnamese or a half white haft Asian? Who are you anyway? Did you ever get kicked out of application process b/c you are not URM, so now you have hostility toward URMs?
    I am amused here. First, I have never shown "hostility" toward underrepresented minority - just sympathy towards unfairly treated the "over"represented majority. The two things are indeed not so synonymous.
    And then, why the need to know my identity? Would knowing that make you perceive my posts differently?
    Try to think of these posts as being impersonal. Like the kind of stuff you encounter in SAT essays.

    Quote Originally Posted by DUMP View Post
    My friend is an Afghan, his SAT is 1650/2400, TOEFL is 99, high GPA, about 3 APs during his 2 years in US, seeds of peace scholar, he got accepted into Swarthmore. You may look at him with contempt but so what? Besides those superficial scores you know nothing about him; you don't know that he knows 7 languages, perfect score in French highest lvl exam (similar to TOEFL but with different levels), 330/350 national exam of Afghan (I didn't know this till several weeks ago, lol). People when asking him about his application only want to know about his SAT, TOEFL, ECs... that's it! And I guarantee you that when someone hear his scores, he/she will place URM as a damn main reason for his acceptance. But if you talk to him, read his life story, know his siblings... you will realize that he's much better than those pretentious 2300s on CC who always brag that: "OMG, 750 in reading, I have to retake, OMG OMG" lol, hope you know what I'm talking about.
    Relax, URM is fine. I will not feel bad if being considered as a URM, simply b/c I was born in this way, lol. Luckily that I'm not Chinese or Korean
    Completely agree with you there. I will need you to clarify things here: are his other qualities somehow listed in his application to college? If it is then I see no reason his profile can be considered mediocre. Again I am talking about the applicants' profile, which covers everything the applicants send to the schools. Thus with those amazing achievements he is totally deserving of a place at Swarthmore. Only if he had not let the schools know about those other achievements would a problem have arisen.

    And pardon me let us not talk about "looking at people with contempt" here. We are discussing the decision-making of admission officers with what information made available to them - a strictly rational and emotionless process. My belief is that when making decisions adcoms should rely only on the comparative merits of the profiles they are provided with. They should also not let consideration of assumptions and stereotypes interfere with their decision making. A student with, say, mediocre standardized test scores, average essays and insignificant extracurricular activities should not be admitted when there's someone else with a relatively better profile. Yes, the applicant with mediocre profile may turn out to be an amazing person while the one with 2400 SAT can be a jackass, but this is a different story. The admission office cannot base its decision on something it cannot know for sure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by unamed View Post
    Nghe cách dùng từ thì đoán được ngay, có gì mả phải white với chả yellow. Mình đoán nhé: Là trai, nhiều khả năng Amser, và là VA old member, đang ở college (nhiều khả năng với scholarship), tự kỉ trong thời gian final nên raise some questions under anonymous nick cho nó vui. Sao phải xoắn.
    Hehe please don't spoil the fun ^^

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    Snafu, you seem to be criticizing several things: 1/ the fact that admission officers wouldn't know too well the real personality / relative background of an applicant; and 2/ when taking into accounts these external factors outside quantifiable, objective ones like GPA, SAT, admission officers are using stereotypes and racial discrimination against qualified applicants and in favor of a few.

    Then based on these two judgments, you recommend that admission process relies only on die-hard criteria like test scores, activity records, awards etc. That way, you would call it meritocracy right?

    But you haven't clearly defined merits and meritocracy yet. Roughly speaking in my limited understanding, meritocracy means equal opportunities for all and that people should be promoted/advanced based on their efforts + achievements. Folks from lesser background shouldn't face more limitation of opportunities than folks from privileged background. Given this, you may define merits = test scores + activities; but what if I tell you that such definition itself is against meritocracy, because test scores + activities are such criteria that favor the privileged?

    A kid in the slum of Chicago may have to work his ass off during the day to provide for himself and his young brother, all the while fighting the criminal cloud of his neighborhood. The kid tried the best he could but can't score more than 1900 SAT and wouldn't have time for any usual kind of activity. How would you compare his merits with other privileged kids?

    It might well be the case that tests + activities are discriminatory criteria made up by the ruling privileged in order to favor themselves, justify their own dominance and depriving other people of the opportunities they otherwise would justly enjoy. How about that?
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    @OP: of course he listed those stuffs on application package and one of his LoR was about that. But my concern is that you seem NOT to care about all aspects of a student but base your opinion on standardized test. Look at your 1st post, when you talked about các bạn trẻ VN TOEFL thấp, SAT avg <2000, gpa lẹt phẹt, do you KNOW FOR SURE about any other thing besides that? It's my question.
    Of course I'm totally agree with such view that a dude with low scores, no ECs, doesn't even bother to write about his circumstances or other achievements or simply shows interest in the school, should not be accepted at any top school just b/c of his URM status. URMs are also applicants; they know what they're good at; they tell colleges about it (they should and they did; my friend did); but you, a third person, who has no position in the office, simply don't know URMs well enough. (Unless you are such an URM, mediocre at every thing and showed case your own past stats)

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fallorchid View Post
    Snafu, you seem to be criticizing several things: 1/ the fact that admission officers wouldn't know too well the real personality / relative background of an applicant; and 2/ when taking into accounts these external factors outside quantifiable, objective ones like GPA, SAT, admission officers are using stereotypes and racial discrimination against qualified applicants and in favor of a few.

    Then based on these two judgments, you recommend that admission process relies only on die-hard criteria like test scores, activity records, awards etc. That way, you would call it meritocracy right?

    But you haven't clearly defined merits and meritocracy yet. Roughly speaking in my limited understanding, meritocracy means equal opportunities for all and that people should be promoted/advanced based on their efforts + achievements. Folks from lesser background shouldn't face more limitation of opportunities than folks from privileged background. Given this, you may define merits = test scores + activities; but what if I tell you that such definition itself is against meritocracy, because test scores + activities are such criteria that favor the privileged?

    A kid in the slum of Chicago may have to work his ass off during the day to provide for himself and his young brother, all the while fighting the criminal cloud of his neighborhood. The kid tried the best he could but can't score more than 1900 SAT and wouldn't have time for any usual kind of activity. How would you compare his merits with other privileged kids?

    It might well be the case that tests + activities are discriminatory criteria made up by the ruling privileged in order to favor themselves, justify their own dominance and depriving other people of the opportunities they otherwise would justly enjoy. How about that?
    For the sake of the simplicity I have been assuming that what the Common App requires best indicates an applicant's potential. Obviously this assumption can be questioned - I actually have waited for someone to challenge it - but still it helps preventing this discussion from digressing into a Common App = good or bad debate.

    Good or not, the Common App so far remains the only indicator of applicants' strength. My idea has always been that admission office can only assess an applicant's merits based on his standardized scores, list of activities and letters of recommendation. That leaves a lot of room for stereotyping and hence allows discrimination.

    One suggestion would be that we replace the Common App with a more effective system. This new system should provide admission offices with better indicators of the applicants' achievements and potential. Finding such indicators will be hard, but not impossible - social scientists have been doing that all the time. For instance, house prices could be used to determine the "quality" of the surrounding neighborhood.

    Of course this suggestion is not going to be practical. There's just no incentive for most company to do it, and stereotyping also makes things easier for admission offices. But when the stake is values and ideals something it's worthwhile to entertain wishful thinking - or so I hope.

    @DUMP: I did make clear that the Vietnamese introduction was meant purely to provoke people into joining this discussion. And let me repeat that I have actually met otherwise brilliant college admits with profiles so badly tailored that had the admission offices stuck to what it should have done they would never have been able to displace the better-prepared profiles they actually displaced. It's actually a good thing that the people I mentioned get in, but at the same time you can't help wondering what if really "bad" applicants got similarly admitted.

    My proposal to fallorchid above is that we design a better admission protocol that actually separates the "good" applicants - including those who has overcome the hardships associated with their URM status - from the "bad" ones. Not practical, I know.
    Last edited by snafu; 12-08-2010 at 05:59 AM.

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