With a perfect ACT score and 13 Advanced Placement courses under his belt, Michael Wang applied to seven Ivy League universities and Stanford in 2013.
An Asian-American, Wang suspected his race might work against him. But he was still shocked when he was rejected by Stanford and every Ivy League school except for the University of Pennsylvania.
Wang says he worked incredibly hard and excelled in every area possible. But it still wasn’t good enough.
“There was nothing humanly possible I could do,” Wang told us, saying he felt utterly demoralized after his rejections.
Wang said that after he was rejected from most of the Ivies, he filed a complaint with the US Department of Education alleging that Yale, Stanford, and Princeton discriminated against him because he was Asian-American.
Wang isn’t alone in his belief that the Ivies discriminate against Asians. A coalition of Asian-American groups filed a lawsuit against Harvard last month alleging the college and other Ivy League institutions use racial quotas to admit students to the detriment of more qualified Asian-American applicants. The more than 60 Asian groups are coming together to fight what they say are unfair admission practices.
Wang’s credentials are impressive. Academically, he was ranked second overall in his class and graduated with a 4.67 weighted grade point average. He scored a 2230 on his SAT, placing him in the 99th percentile of students who took the exam.
He also stressed that he was not just academically driven, but also a well-rounded applicant who maximized his extracurricular activities. He competed in national speech and debate competitions and math competitions. He also plays the piano and performed in the choir that sang at President Barack Obama’s 2008 inauguration.
Wang hasn’t heard back from the department about his complaints but strongly supports the most recent complaint filed by the coalition of Asian-American groups.
For now, he’s enjoying his time at Williams College, where he just finished his sophomore year. And while Williams consistently ranks near the top if not No. 1 in the US News and World Report’s rankings of liberal-arts colleges, Wang still feels as if he was unfairly rejected from the Ivies.
“I think I deserve better than what I got,” he said.
In addition to last month’s complaint filed against Harvard, a nonprofit group called Students for Fair Admissions filed lawsuits in November accusing Harvard and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill of discriminating against Asian-American students in their undergraduate admissions policies.
And a recent opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal called Asian-Americans “The New Jews of Harvard Admissions,” referring to the university’s well-documented policies to keep out Jewish students during the early 20th century.
For its part, Harvard is pushing back against the complaints, and it said in a formal comment on its website “within its holistic admissions process, and as part of its effort to build a diverse class, Harvard College has demonstrated a strong record of recruiting and admitting Asian-American students.”
Moreover, Harvard said a previous investigation from the US Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights found the college’s “approach to admissions was fully compliant with federal law.”