Asian Americans Receive Low Personality Scores at Harvard

photo of memorial hall at harvard university
Teddy Selverian
Teddy Selverian

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Harvard University has always had an extremely competitive acceptance rate. Even today, it is only getting more competitive. Some controversy has recently been uncovered regarding the personality scores in Harvard admissions; evidence shows a potential bias against Asian Americans, due to lower average personality scores on the application.

The most important attribute in any admissions office is to allow students an equal chance for acceptance based on merit, and no other demographic. It is reported that the Harvard admissions office rates each applicant on a 1-6 scale in the following categories:

  • academic,
  • extracurricular,
  • athletic,
  • personal,
  • and overall.
Where did the controversy begin?

The admissions office consistently gives Asian Americans the lowest scores in the “personal” category compared to all other ethnic groups. Notably, many times students receive these “personal” scores without ever meeting anyone in the admissions office during their application process. Harvard proclaims they are able to judge a student’s personality traits on the official application; these qualities come through their essays as well as their letters of recommendation. However, when Harvard alumni actually interviewed with Asian Americans, they gave them personal scores that were right on par with all other ethnic groups.

Bias coming to light

A group representing Asian Americans of Harvard exhibited documents in a lawsuit that uncovered an internal investigation conducted by Harvard. In this investigation Harvard came to the conclusion that there was in fact racial biasing against Asian Americans in the admission process however Harvard never publicized their findings.

What’s next for Harvard?

This information on Harvard’s discriminatory actions adds onto the current lawsuit between Harvard and a group representing Asian American students. The question that remains is if Harvard will implement a change in their admissions office, to allow a greater number of acceptances of qualified Asian Americans. As it stands now, according to Harvard’s website, the Harvard class of 2021 is 14.6 percent African-American, 22.2 percent Asian-American, 11.6 percent Hispanic and 2.5 percent Native-American or Pacific Islander.

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