Being Asian-American…

…and having to deal with changing policies to college admissions.

Just last week, I was having breakfast at home and reading the newspaper (yes, people still do that!) when one of the articles struck me. While the topic wasn’t anything new (Asian-Americans getting into prestigious colleges), it still drew me in, because it was so relevant to my own experiences going through the system.

So what was the article about? Basically, it discussed how many of the elite colleges in the United States are making it harder for Asian Americans to get in. Since there are so many who are vying for spots at high-level universities like the Ivy Leagues and even the UCs, the competition is fierce. It doesn’t help that non-Asian Americans are also applying to those very same colleges; seriously, there are just too many people in the United States.

The article then went on to make a point about educating college-bound students and their parents on the Asian-American matter. Besides having these children go through tons of SAT/ACT/after school tutoring prep, AP/honors courses at school, and extracurricular activities, we need to talk about race.

Really, the issue of race doesn’t get addressed much in the Asian-American community. The article says that the parents (most of them immigrants) are adamant when it comes to the success of their children, pushing them to do many activities just to increase their chances of (no, guarantee) securing a spot at places like Harvard or Stanford. But they haven’t given much thought into how race, not just pure work ethic, is a huge factor in getting accepted or not. From the article, I quote:

“[Asian parents] have turned against affirmative action policies that could alter those ratios, and accuse admissions committees of discriminating against Asian American applicants. That perspective has pitted them against advocates for diversity: More college berths for Asian American students mean fewer for black and Latino students, who are statistically underrepresented at top universities….arguments for diversity can sometimes fall on deaf ears. For immigrant parents raised in Asia’s all-or-nothing test cultures, a good education is not just a measure of success — it’s a matter of survival.”

In other words, Asian parents don’t care about racial diversity on campus; they care about the success of their children, and nothing else. Think “Tiger Mom” here. 😛

Even further, the old practice of taking AP/honors classes, scoring phenomenally high on the SAT, and playing an instrument just won’t cut it anymore, especially when it comes time to applying for college. Because everyone does all of that- everyone. At least, in the Asian-American community. Writing personal statements about one’s immigrant parents and the struggles that they faced settling in America is, while touching, also cliché; again, everyone has those kind of parents, heck, even the Hispanics and Palestinians! Basically, nothing new is being offered to these college admissions officers, who are looking for stand-out students that will make their money’s worth for accepting them into the university.

As an Asian-American, I can relate. I’ve written about my experiences countless times on this blog, and so this is not anything unique. But again, I was moved by this newspaper article, especially the interviews that the journalist had with some of the high school students from predominantly Asian-American communities. They, first-generation Asian-Americans, are now struggling to perform better than ever, while at the same time trying to stand out in the sea of other Asian-American faces who are also competing for the top spots in higher-level education. In high school, I, too, felt the pressure: although my parents weren’t as ruthless as other parents I knew, I still pushed myself to do the best that I could do. Worked hard, played hard. Got into a great university and everything.

But things are changing. Although I was part of (and still part of) the wave of first-generation Asian-American kids (think the late-eighties to the nineties) to be experiencing all of this, I worry for the Millenials, that is, those born in 2000 and onwards, who will be getting the brunt of all this bureaucratic crap from the school systems, for the American government itself. It’s only going to get harder and harder from here, and really, I worry.

I apologize that this post isn’t as fun or (probably) as relevant to you, who might not have had to deal with these issues during your college days. But it is something that is really important to me, as an Asian-American woman, and I just needed to get it off of my chest. In any case, I wish you a good day. Take care.

Also, If you’re interested in the article that I had read, here is the link: College Admissions for Asian Americans

– The Finicky Cynic

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