Asian Americans think an elite college degree will shelter them from discrimination. It won’t

Mar 28, 2018 by

Attending a prestigious school is no guarantee of success.

College admissions season is here. In the coming weeks, millions of high school seniors will receive letters of acceptance or rejection. They will then have a few more weeks to choose which school to attend.

The college admissions process produces anxiety for many students and parents, but the angst is particularly heightened among Asian American families. The reason: Asian Americans are more likely than other groups to believe that attending an elite university — and preferably an Ivy League one — is a necessary step to a successful career.

A growing body of research has established that Asian Americans tend to disproportionately value prestige when it comes to higher education. In general, Asian Americans would rather be a below-average student at a top 10 school than an above-average student at a top 100 school. Several psychological studies show that white students are more likely to prefer the opposite.

Our research has shown that Asian Americans often define success as being the high school valedictorian, attending an elite university and pursuing a career in medicine, law, science or engineering. And there is at least one clear reason for the emphasis on prestige: Elite credentials are seen as a safeguard against discrimination in the labor market.

But there is also growing evidence that this faith in elite credentials may be misplaced.

Source: Asian Americans think an elite college degree will shelter them from discrimination. It won’t

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