2013 May 12 Sunday
Upper Class Chinese Kids Doing High School In NY City

Some Chinese families looking for a competitive advantage in applying to elite American universities are sending their kids to upper class high schools in New York City.

According to the Department of Homeland Security, 638 Chinese students with visas attended high schools in the city in 2012, up from 114 five years earlier.

Will America's top universities successfully transform themselves into the preferred training schools for all the world's elites? Will Americans become small subsets of the student bodies at Yale, Harvard, and Princeton? These universities want to internationalize. As the Chinese upper class do a much better job of training their kids to speak English and do extracurricular activities then they will do a better job of getting into elite institutions.

But the rising effectiveness of the Chinese upper class to prepare their kids for Ivy poses a problem for the Ivy League. The current admissions practices where each race has a different level of ability they need to demonstrate in order to win entrance will translate into widening gaps between the races as the quality of Chinese applicants rises even higher. This will be most notable at the second tier Ivy schools and at other second tier schools. So many high quality Chinese applicants will try for Brown, UPenn, Duke and other not-quite-top schools that the gap between the Chinese and non-Chinese students at those schools grow even wider. We could end up with a situation where the average Chinese student at, say, Brown will have higher scores than the average student at Harvard.

What I wonder: Will some 2nd tier non-Ivy school be tempted to dump political correctness and go purely for admissions based on scores? If Stanford was willing to go very unconventional they could pull ahead of their Ivy competitors. They could reduce their risk of getting duped by SAT cheaters and those who take SAT prep courses by also administering IQ tests to prospective students. The SAT could be the first pass filter. Then IQ and other ability tests could be required to be done with a school's own staff delivering the tests and with biometric testing of the test-takers. A school willing to cross the threshold into measuring ability with the best tools available would gain a large competitive advantage. Throw in scholarships based on ability and a school could move up the league into the top ranks by recruiting students with great minds that Yale and Harvard will reject.

Another way a school could get a competitive advantage: take students 1 or 2 years sooner. Go for 16 and 17 year olds before the top schools will consider them. Then put those kids on a faster track. Give those kids the ability to study, watch video lectures and take tests 24x7.

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2013 May 12 10:09 PM 

Hubbard said at May 13, 2013 6:10 AM:

I'm not sure you've reckoned with the diversity-self-esteem complex that dominates academia. Diversity is important, but only so long as it puffs up the self-esteem of the nice white kids and the nice white college administrators. Thus, African American and Latino kids are good, because they provide diversity and are only going to outwork the white kids on the playing field rather than in the library. Asian kids do not count as diversity, because the white administrators don't want white kids to bruise their self-esteem when they have to compete with people who actually read the assigned books.

The University of California system is unsubtly at war with Asian students. Asians are approximately 15% of California's population, but are a plurality of the students there. You seem to think that academia is about attracting the best and brightest students, but it seems to make more sense to think of it as a way for nice administrators to check off a few boxes and provide a nice vacation for upper middle class white kids before they enter the workforce and become doting alumni donors. So long as the economy was booming, they could get away with this business model. There's still enough class and racial solidarity amongst college administrators that I seriously doubt any college is going to accept a flood (and there could definitely be a flood) of Asian students. And even if college administrators suddenly decided to accept half of Shanghai, they'd still have to explain themselves to trustees and alumni, who want to see a student body of kids that remind them of their happy past.

G said at May 13, 2013 6:19 AM:

All this assumes that IQ tests and SAT tests are good measures of intelligence and that you can't increase your scores through practice and training, and that measure all aspects of cognitive function, not just mildly effective measures of intelligence that you can do better on through practice, and that fail to measure many of the most important aspects of cognitive function (like the elusive thing we call originality, etc).

I too would like to see exactly the thing you describe - some silly school moving ahead on the assumption that IQ tests and the like are perfect, non-practiceable, comprehensive measures of all cognitive function, filling its ranks with Chinese students, smugly expecting to leap ahead in the rankings and produce world class thinkers, and puzzled over why it's student body displays a talent profile similar to the one China displays when compared with the West (no world class thinkers but some very good and hardworking mid-level engineers). After all, why WOULD filling your school with Chinese kids result in a talent profile characteristic of what we see in China? That just wouldn't make any sense!

Abelard Lindsey said at May 13, 2013 11:57 AM:

Schools dumping political correct admissions policies would also have to forgo any government funded research grants and the like. Receiving federal monies comes with requirements of political correctness in admissions policies, athletics, speech codes, etc. In addition to dumping PC based admissions and internationalizing to accept foreign students, such a university would also reach out to foreign sources of capital for research and development as well, which makes perfect sense.

Abelard Lindsey said at May 13, 2013 11:59 AM:

I think Rice University will be the first to pursue such a strategy. Unlike most universities, Rice was founded by a group of corporations (oil companies). I think even today most of its research is financed by private sources.

Mthson said at May 13, 2013 4:30 PM:


California somehow managed to pass a law 10 or 15 years ago banning universities from taking into account race in admissions.

So affirmative action in University of California schools is far less than in the rest of the country.

Any racial discrimination that does get done is probably under the table and more subtle since it's illegal.

Kent Gatewood said at May 13, 2013 7:29 PM:

Does future fund raising potential play into admissions? Are East Asians reliable donors?

PeterDownUnder said at May 14, 2013 6:25 AM:

American universities are and have been the preferred training schools for the world's elite for a very long time now.

But isn't some of the greatest benefits of attending an Ivy league school due to its alumni networking? If an entire generation of alums become Asian, how much donation from existing alums would the school gain, or how effective would the networking be.

And isn't there supposed to be a benefit to the diversity of the university classrooms, would having a hundred Asian kids with exceptionally high IQ's and STEM skills be the BEST form of education?

asdf said at May 14, 2013 6:59 AM:

2nd tier schools are one of two types

1) A tuition scam for wealthy children who couldn't get into an Ivy

2# An engineering mill

Only those that are #2 will want more Asians. And it will mean giving up any more advancement #since they will become an UMC drone factory and never be elite).

SOBL1 said at May 15, 2013 6:23 AM:

Randall, There are now 25+ Chinese nationals at my old high school in rural Maine. It is an 'academy' that serves the entire city like a public high school and some surrounding towns but it is 200+ years old and has sent a steady strem of a couple kids to Ivies since the late 90s. They are deliberately playing on Chinese obsessions with getting to the Ivies and marketing their school like a lesser known Exeter/Andover type. The Chinese just see private, new england and enroll their kid. I'm right about this since one famil sent their kid to Portland, Oregon instead of Portland, Maine for their flight over for the semester.

Hubbard said at May 15, 2013 7:53 AM:


Despite Prop 209, the average SAT score for Asian students at the UC's is still a few standard deviations higher than for Black and Latino kids. The UC's have fought the law every step of the way, the legislature would have repealed the law if Jerry Brown (of all people!) hadn't vetoed SB 185.

Ray Sawhill said at May 15, 2013 10:37 PM:

FWIW ... I visited Princeton a few years ago, and a school official told me that one of the school's biggest goals in recent years has been to turn itself into a globally recognized brand.

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