The "New" Asians

A careful study of the curve of index numbers for Asians reveals that instead of a traditional bell curve, there is a plateau caused by the overlap of two different groups.

Graph of Index numbers for all Applicants

Graph of Index numbers for Asian  Applicants

This broader, flatter curve reflects the enormous diversity in the Asian applicant pool. Some Asians have been here for several generations and are so Americanized that it's silly to treat them as other than Caucasian.  Others are the children of immigrants who came to the U.S. for graduate degrees, especially in science. Those children (whether or not they were born in the United States) tend to "outperform" most American applicants. Their parents held them to a system in which they had to study 8 to 10 hours a day, as they had done in the old country, and the imposition of traditional values in a very competitive system forces them either to become that handful of super-achievers around whom tenfold myths have been built, or to rebel in some way, as children of strict parents tend to do no matter what the racial or religious impetus.

A third group represents the poor immigrants who were allowed in after the various wars in which we destroyed Asian land and owed favors to people who were potential enemies and potential allies.

  • The Koreans came first, since their war preceded Vietnam by a generation. They often exhibit the pattern of intense studying that recent Asian grad students appear to have, but poor public schools and ESL classes have kept them from achieving at that mythically superior level.
  • Most of the Vietnamese, Laotians, Thai, Cambodians, Hmong, etc., arrived as refugees -- boat people, with no money and no education, having grown up in rural villages. Their parents work long, hard hours at menial jobs, sometimes starting their own businesses and sometimes working for others. Like most poor people. they do their best at raising their children and teaching them values, and like most poor people, they achieve varying degrees of success.

This group represents the low end of that broad plateau. Success in education most directly correlates with money and education in the parents' generation, and these are the people most likely to lack that. In addition, the burden of national guilt, while frequently unspoken, often affects admissions officers when reviewing files for these applicants.

Filipinos, Samoans, and other Pacific Islanders are generally recent immigrants, facing both economic and language barriers, and are usually considered to be disadvantaged minorities. However, in collecting ethnic data, many law schools don't include "Pacific Islands" as a separate category. You must make sure the admissions committee knows your personal and ethnic background, either in your diversity statement or in your personal statement.

Finally, there are Indian and Pakistani immigrants, as well as recent Chinese from Mainland (previously called "Communist") China. From what I've seen, these groups get little or no "special" treatment in the applicant pool. Socioeconomic diversity, rather than race or ethnicity, tends to drive any advantage these applicants may get. And if the applicants don't yet have at least a green card, they are treated as foreign students, to their disadvantage.


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