Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Irony Is.. Chinese Displacing Asian American College Students?

Irony Is.. Chinese Displacing Asian American College Students?

Education News picked up the Bloomberg story that a hardworking son of Korean immigrants was turned down by all of the University of California campuses he applied to, not just Berkeley and UCLA (University of Caucasians Living Among Asians) but also San Diego. He had to settle for “13th grade” at a community college and plan to transfer in later. Things have come a long way since the Asian quota wars of the 80s and Asian Americans fought their way to get an Asian chancellor. You’d think now that Asians figured out how to  get the administration  stop fighting demographics and just  let Asians grow into  43% of the Berkeley student body, they would be least likely to complain.

Now the main culprit in this version of the story isn’t Affirmative Action Amok,  but  international students from China as UCB might really mean University of China at Berkeley.  One in 5 international students in America is flying in from China, and they are courted because they can pay full price when states have cut funding by a third or half for some state public universities.  The University of Michigan has even set up a recruiting office in Beijing to make sure applicants are for real, not just those test prep students who somehow manage perfect verbal SAT scores but need an interpreter to talk to American reporters.

Admissions of Asian Americans at the University of California system are down, (29% at UCSD since 2009) but buried in the article is that while AsAms were down 22% at Berkeley, Euro/WhiteAms were down even more by 29% , so I suspect the Asian American angle is more for sweet irony than the reality that it affects all residents trying to get in. That was the angle of the Seattle Times piece about the straight A student who didn’t get into U Washington.  Bloomberg also mentions that invasion of UW  nonresidents is now one-third of the class, over half are international students, and two-thirds of those are from China, not to mention the rest of developed/ing Asia  and India. 

I doubt the situation is any less weird up in the Great No-Longer-White North at University of British Columbia, long dubbed “University of a Billion Chinese” . The Canadian McLeans magazine wrote about his kid’s tour of UW and UBC and asked what his son thought about it got the answer “man they’ve got a lot of Asians!”  Less well known is the press release I got from one of those Middle of Nowhere Washington Universities bragging that they got money from the Chinese government to take a few dozen students at their expense. While some ruling class (I thought Mao got rid of those…) Chinese families will kill to get into a top-20-in-the-world campus like U-Dub or Berkeley, a lot of others will gladly for settle for University-of--Anyplace-As-Long-As-It’s-in-USA, though places like that who normally take anybody who applies don’t generate as many hard feelings.

Asians have a new spin problem. First there were the gold miners and railroad workers, and tales of opium dens and saving slave girls. Then the professional classes like my parents fleeing communism in the 60s gave birth to future tiger parents, and there  illegal stowaways in containers in the 90s. Now we have Chinese luxury shoppers saving American retail, and their children either saving the finances of American Higher Education, or taking away the birthright of state residents who thought good grades and test scores would get them into the University of My State. Problems like this can either bring nations together, or give them reasons to dislike each other so Asian Americans should work to keep the spin positive and not just pit generations of Asians against each other. (My boy did get into University of Washington, so at we least we’re happy on that account)

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