Opinion: The customary Asian demographic is too broad and unfair

People from the Indian Subcontinent (Pakistan, India, Bangladesh) should not be defined as Asian.


Adeen Rao

A senior works on an assignment during his AP Government class

Adeen Rao, Editor

As the college application season heats up, with most schools early action deadlines rolling right around the corner on November 1st, students are starting to tick the boxes and write their college applications. For most kids, the section where one ticks off their ethnicity is about as easy as it gets, but for one demographic, the ethnicity section is a bit of a head scratcher.

Since the ethnicity question has been asked on college applications, Asian has been the category used to describe anyone from a country in Asia. This includes people from Pakistan, India, China, Japan, and South Korea among others. When looking at upbringing and differences in background combined with academic promise, grouping all these nations together is simply unfair, and the Asian category needs to be split in a way that has a separate tick box for people from the Indian Subcontinent that consists of Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka.

The difference between how kids from the Indian Subcontinent are raised versus kids from East Asia share a lot of similarities; both saw their first generation arise in America in the 90’s, so their second generation are currently applying to college, both put a lot of pressure on their second generation children to excel in school, and both pressure their children to purse high-income jobs rather than lower-income liberal arts jobs according to Donna Poon’s psychological study of Asian-Americans for New York University. Academically, “Asians” have an average 3.09 unweighted GPA, according to the Nations Report Card’s 2009 data set, which is .21 higher than the next demographic which is white.

I took my own survey to see how Asians feel about the demographic and whether they felt the demographic needed to be changed or not, if they felt East Asians are looked at differently in society compared to people from the Indian Subcontinent, and if they felt their background hampered their chances of getting accepted into college. The chart to the right illustrates the results of the survey.






(Click to Enlarge)

67% of the surveyed stated that they think the demographic should probably be changed, all of the surveyed stated that the gaze upon East Asians and people from the Indian Subcontinent differs, and 67% believed their racial background hampered their chances of getting accepted into college.

The disparity in available demographics makes no logical sense, in some aspects its as simple as white and black, but then at the same time Hispanic is a category alongside American Indian. What if someone is a White Hispanic? Obviously they are going to click Hispanic as it is an easier demographic to dominate compared to White in terms of GPA, but the system is just flawed, and the question is clearly asked in a way to differentiate the demographics that need the most help in the educational system vs the least help. The higher-ups in the educational ladder will not divide the Asian demographic because according to them, the Asian demographic does not need help in terms of succeeding in the educational industry.

This system causes many Asians who are well above the grade-point average for their state to not even get accepted into any four-year program, as seen by the average GPA by ethnicity in the North Carolina community college system. Asians average a near 3.96 Unweighted GPA in NC Community colleges, which is .74 GPA above the State Average GPA for College Students meaning they aren’t just out performing their respective community colleges, they are out performing people in the higher prestige four-year programs. A situation like this persisting just doesn’t really fall into the American belief that the most talented and hard-working kids should be the one getting the best opportunities in college.

If you agree with my notion, go ahead and contact your local representative about this. It may not affect you now, but it definitely will affect the lives of future Asian kids applying for college. Life may not be fair, but hard-work can’t keep going unrewarded because of demographic anomaly.