The empirical data supporting the view that colleges hold Asian-American applicants to higher standards has always been compelling. However, a major problem was that we were unable to look at internal data and reports from the schools themselves. But a federal judge in Boston ordered Harvard to disclose internal documents as part of the upcoming trial. It shows that admission officers ranked Asian-American applicants lower on "personality" traits even though they never met them. The actual alumni who interview applicants ranked Asian-Americans on par with whites when it came to personality. Also, Asian-Americans are ranked higher than the other racial groups on academics and extracurricular.
The following from the plaintiffs' lawsuit is stunning.
" Professor Arcidiacono found that Harvard's admissions system discriminates against Asian-American applicants in at least three respects. First, he found discrimination in the personal rating. Asian-American applicants are significantly stronger than all other racial groups in academic performance. They also perform very well in non-academic categories and have higher extracurricular scores than any other racial group. Asian-American applicants (unsurprisingly, therefore) receive higher overall scores from alumni interviewers than all other racial groups. And they receive strong scores from teachers and guidance counselors--scores that are nearly identical to white applicants (and higher than African-American and Hispanic applicants). In sum, Professor Arcidiacono found that "Asian-American applicants as a whole are stronger on many objective measures than any other racial/ethnic group including test scores, academic achievement, and extracurricular activities."
Yet Harvard's admissions officials assign Asian Americans the lowest score of any racial group on the personal rating--a "subjective" assessment of such traits as whether the student has a "positive personality" and "others like to be around him or her," has "character traits" such as "likability ... helpfulness, courage, [and] kindness," is an "attractive person to be with," is "widely respected," is a "good person," and has good "human qualities." Importantly, Harvard tracks two different personal ratings: one assigned by the Admissions Office and another by alumni interviewers. When it comes to the score assigned by the Admissions Office, Asian-American applicants are assigned the lowest scores of any racial group. ... By contrast, alumni interviewers (who actually meet the applicants) rate Asian Americans, on average, at the top with respect to personal ratings--comparable to white applicants and higher than African-American and Hispanic applicants."