Welcome to College Confidential!

The leading college-bound community on the web

Sign Up For Free

Join for FREE, and start talking with other members, weighing in on community discussions, and more.

Also, by registering and logging in you'll see fewer ads and pesky welcome messages (like this one!)

As a CC member, you can:

  • Reply to threads, and start your own.
  • Post reviews of your campus visits.
  • Find hundreds of pages of informative articles.
  • Search from over 3 million scholarships.

Asian Parents Frenzy

135

Replies to: Asian Parents Frenzy

  • mamalionmamalion Registered User Posts: 589 Member
    Here is my suggestion. Write your parents a long and careful letter in which you acknowledge their desire fore your success, all they have done to contribute to it, and your fears of disappointing them. In writing this letter, you will putting the ball in their court, asking them to own the pressure and take responsibility for monitoring their disappointments (if there are any). I do not know your parents, but since they care about your success, I expect that they care about your emotional states (if only as an aid to succeeding). You might want to ask them about how they understand success in your life and theirs.Writing a letter will help you set out your worries accurately and it will help them respond carefully.

    As a parent of an obnoxiously driven college student and a relaxed HS kid, I know that success and its definition is always under negotiation in many families. I am just happy we are not including sports in our family negotiations.

    I know this is the hardest time as the last acceptances come in. A year from now, whatever happens, will feel very different. Hugs!
  • eiholieiholi Registered User Posts: 256 Junior Member
    edited March 19
    My main point is this: how can we put an end to Asian parents' madness?
    Singling out Asian parents isn't fair to them. US could be the most tutored nation on earth, on sports, music, etc. in addition to acamedics. Asians and other immigrants do focus more on academics however.

    Ask your patents, gently, why they didn't go to college, and if they had a chance would they get into any Korean Ivy. Then they may realize that hard work alone cannot take you to the top, smart and luck play a big role. If they still think you're the smartest kid in town at this age then it's all on you.

    Read @DadTwoGirls post #26 to them. Better yet, find stories where a DadTwoGirls and the state school boss were high school classmates.
  • epiphanyepiphany Registered User Posts: 8,256 Senior Member
    @guamboy
    Thank you for this very helpful reply.
    @epiphany unfortunately, Asian parents only seek enlightenment from their superiors. In this case, superiors refer to anyone with a child that went to an even more successful college (it is unlikely that the parent went to a successful college themself). This creates a never ending cycle. The inferior, if successful in sending his child to a good college, will 'enlighten' other parents.
  • epiphanyepiphany Registered User Posts: 8,256 Senior Member
    @marvin100
    I'm sure this thread shouldn't be limited to parents you meet.
    I agree. Nevertheless, it is a significant population that is apparently duplicated outside of my encounters. Since I work in this field, it is prevalent. I do encounter, and others do encounter, variations from the "norm" I experience, but for them, too, those are seldom. I meet some parents who understand the US system -- have made it their business to learn about it, even when/if they are recent arrivals. I have met other parents who are calm and non-controlling about the entire process. All of these, though, are exceptions to the unfortunate dominant theme.
  • EyquemEyquem Registered User Posts: 20 New Member
    @guamboy I don't know that I have any particularly helpful insight about your situation to offer, but since you asked, and this is an open forum, I thought I would take a moment to respond.

    You wrote that your anxiety "does not root from my fear of failure, but rather from my failure of disappointing my parents." While it does not apply equally to everyone, there seems to be a common human anxiety about "disappointing" one's parents (or one's friends, or teachers, or teammates, etc). Whether this is something innate/biological or cultural or both, I don't know.

    I have always emphasized to my own children that what I want from them is NOT a particular outcome, but for them to give their best effort. I also have spent quite a bit of effort stressing character (especially being honest). So, even though I would not be disappointed about whether they were admitted to this or that "prestigious" school, I am sure my children feel anxiety about disappointing me (and others) with respect to expectations that have been set. Perhaps a certain amount of that is unavoidable in life.

    A key difference for you is that the expectation from your parents is about something over which you don't have much control. No matter how hard you work, how high your test scores, how much effort you put into your extra-curricular activities, the odds of getting into the most selective schools are still quite low, which perhaps makes the situation even more stressful.

    You will need to learn and come to grips with the fact that you have your own life to live and cannot live it based on meeting the expectations of others. You will need to develop your own expectations for your self and work to live up to those. You will also need to learn how to "live with" others' expectations for you and how to deal with those. You can reflect on those expectations, you can adopt some, you can reject some.

    As you note, your parents do not have a direct knowledge of the educational system in which you have been raised, but that may or may not have much bearing on the situation. Plenty of parents have gone through the US educational system and still emphasize the value of getting into this or that school as a measure of success. Yes, perhaps this is a little more extreme among certain sub-cultures, and you may be dealing with a direct consequence of that. I obviously don't know whether your parents desire this particular outcome (admission to top school) out of a possibly misguided understanding of wanting what is best for your success, or whether they want this outcome as a means of validating the sacrifices and efforts that they have made on your behalf, or whether they want this outcome so that they feel they can justifiably hold their heads up a little higher in their community because their son "made it". Or perhaps it is a complicated combination of these and other factors.

    You asked "how can we put an end to Asian parents' madness?" though I would extend this to all parents who may be pushing their children in ways that are not especially conducive to the well-being of their children (Note: I am not claiming that any particular path is or isn't conducive to well-being here). Changing a culture or a sub-culture or even the behavior of a single individual is not easy to do. The only advice I could offer you about changing "madness" is to start be addressing your particular situation. You don't need to "fix" Asian parents or any other parents, but you might benefit by trying to talk to your parents honestly about what you think, feel and observe about the situation. You can tell them that you feel anxiety about disappointing them. You can try to explain to them how you view success or the course through which you think you can find it. It's not easy, and maybe it will even feel like it makes the situation worse (whether or not it is helping). But I personally feel that bridging understanding between people is usually a benefit in the long run.

    You observe that "Every time my parents talk to me about colleges, the distance between us grows further. I don't remember the last time I had a conversation without my dad throwing a message about college." Unfortunately, this is quite common in families during senior year, regardless of expectations. We have many, many conversations at our home that often come around to college. It can be a difficult topic to escape, and I am as guilty as the next parent about failing to "give it a rest." Perhaps the problem is less about pressuring children than it is about the difficulty of dealing with our children separating from us, not just physically but also emotionally. We might have more difficulty relating to each other and so we fall back on the banal or "easy" topics. Perhaps your parents are struggling with the growing distance between you, just as your are struggling with it, and neither of you really has a good understanding how to connect.

    To answer your question, "Does any student/parent relate to this?" I can only say that I relate to it in part, though our situations and circumstances may be somewhat different. Try to be sympathetic towards your parents while being true to yourself. You will need to make decisions in life and sometimes those decisions will disappoint others. Sometimes people will be disappointed in us through no fault of our own, but you will need to learn how to manage that, too.

    Good luck to you on your continued journey into adulthood and into the rest of your life. It sounds as if you have a pretty good head start.
  • Snowball CitySnowball City Registered User Posts: 437 Member
    I think the crazy will stop with the current young generation. They can work on negating the negative prestige pressure by saying in front of relatives how they need to be sure their accepted colleges fit their personalities. Start planting the seed of the idea that students do best where they are happy. In college join activities that speak to your interests. Point out leaders that attended non ivy schools.

    As your results come in, respond to parental pleasure or dismay with "You know Mom, either way, I am still a good person with value"

    Learn from you and your friends experiences and make a pact that this does not continue for any more generations.

    So sorry you had such a tough time.
  • ZinheadZinhead Registered User Posts: 1,919 Senior Member
    @guamboy -
    My main point is this: how can we put an end to Asian parents' madness? Their naive understanding of the college application process hurts their children emotionally. Every time my parents talk to me about colleges, the distance between us grows further. I don't remember the last time I had a conversation without my dad throwing a message about college. It's completely unfair for Asian parents to put this kind of pressure on their children. Sometimes, I wonder if they are so pushy with college because they want us to succeed OR so they can brag about it to other Asian parents? Does any student/parent relate to this?

    This is a generational issue. Many Asian immigrants were accepted into the US because of their educational accomplishments, and they tend to push education as part of their culture. It will take one or two generations after the original family immigrated here for that culture to change.

  • Much2learnMuch2learn Registered User Posts: 3,758 Senior Member


    "Much2learn wrote:
    there is no job that you can get to from an Ivy League school that you can't get to from a Big Ten University (for example)"

    @marvin100 This thread really can't turn into (yet another) proxy fight about whether selective colleges are "worth it," but let's not forget that Big Ten schools are also selective and there are many jobs you can get to from an Ivy League or Big 10 school that you can't get from a community college.

    I am not commenting here about the value of selective colleges. My two points in the previous post were that 1.) there are many roads to success that do not pass through Cambridge, New Haven, Princeton, Philly, NYC, Providence, Hanover, or Ithaca, and 2.) that choosing a major wisely have a larger impact on future success for most students than where they attended college.

    My objective in making those two points is to highlight that a student who is rejected from Ivies and attends a slightly less competitive school still has an excellent opportunity to be a success. In many cases a particular student may have a better chance of being a success where they are admitted than they would have had at an Ivy because the pace may be a bit more appropriate for them.





  • HImomHImom Registered User Posts: 26,928 Senior Member
    Do you know an adult or two that your folks respect that you can talk to? Seriously that can really make a difference if you have that person as your ally and they can work with you to help your parents understand. Maybe a successful uncle or cousin?
  • oldfortoldfort Registered User Posts: 20,483 Senior Member
    Asian parents may set high bars for their kids, but I have never seen any of them disowning or talk negatively about their kids.

    I want to give you an example:
    My mother likes to tell me "In Chinese tradition, it is bad luck to have house number with 4s in it. It is not good to have a house below the street level. It is bad to have a house at the end of T intersection." She could go on and on about all the bad luck stuff.
    I asked my mom what if I had no choice but to buy one of those houses. She said, "It is ok, as long as you don't know those bad luck stuff."

    What she is saying is that we could have a lot of dos and don'ts, but if you can't achieve them then it is ok too. Same with getting into the best college and getting the best job.

    My brother told all of us that his sons would get an MBA, and only from name brand schools or else it is worthless. Well, his older son is having trouble with getting good GMAT scores. Now my brother is saying it is not necessary to have MBA to have a good career. He still loves his son and he is still proud of him.

    OP - you may think your parents are going to be disappointed in you if you don't get into a top college, but I bet you they will be just as proud of you no matter what and love you just the same.

    BTW - and if you think American parents have less expectation of their kids and put less pressure on their kids, hmmm, no. They are just more PC about it. They say they do not care as long as their kids are happy, there is world peace, and all colleges are the same, it doesn't matter what college you go to it is what you of it, and they are just blowing happy sunshine up you know what. But they still feel the same as Asian parents and their kids still feel the same pressure.
  • TooOld4SchoolTooOld4School Registered User Posts: 2,147 Senior Member
    Part of the reason that parents go crazy with the over-scheduling, tutoring, etc. is that it works. If the goal is to get your kids into Harvard or Stanford that is the route that works for many Asian kids. I see plenty of empirical evidence - the kids who are now attending those schools are either hooked or massively over-scheduled.

    Obviously that causes a lot of stress for some kids. But for other it works and becomes normal and they become bored and depressed without a lot of things to do. Being America we have plenty of choices for everyone.

    Americans have their own version of this behavior - called sports. High school teams, travel teams, private teams, high schools specifically designed for hockey, basketball, and football, swim programs, running programs etc. etc. They get just as crazy about sports as Asians do about academics. My occidental in-laws travel every weekend all over the eastern USA for hockey and Lacrosse on travel teams. Their kids are in heavy academic programs too. So don't think it is just an Asian phenomenon.


  • websensationwebsensation Registered User Posts: 592 Member
    edited March 20
    @guamboy It's dangerous to generalize here. My own parents never put any pressure on me to study; in fact, they told me the most important thing is my health. As a result, I skipped my high school 40% of time and still managed to get into a good college. I myself told my kid he doesn't have to go to college if he doesn't want to and that I would be just as happy if he ended up at top 200 college instead of top 5 college. My wife and I told him all the time the most important thing is to take a variety of courses and find what he likes to do because he should do something he enjoys in his life. I even told my kid do not put that much pressure to do well in college just because he's a full pay; and I even told him that he has an alternative route of going to a college at full ride plus and take courses without trying to do get high gpa. I myself do not believe high gpa leads to success, not the kind of success that I would want for my kid.

    I rather see my kid working as a pizza delivery person and be happy rather than work as a doctor, make a lot more money and be miserable. But here is the catch: If he's going to be a pizza delivery person, I would encourage my kid to be the "best" pizza delivery person there is and parlay that skill to some business venture down the road. The fastest route to finding a success is leading a kid to do something because he or she wants to do it for himself, not because he feels his parents want him to go certain direction.
  • marvin100marvin100 Registered User Posts: 8,892 Senior Member
    edited March 20
    unfortunately, Asian parents only seek enlightenment from their superiors.

    This is the sort of infuriating unqualified generalization that threads like this inevitably provoke. Asians, parents or otherwise, are not a monolith. They're as diverse in approaches and beliefs as any other group. Moreso, in fact, since Asia includes cultures as diverse as Japan and Pakistan, Bahrain and Laos, Israel and Philippines.
  • omarcastillo360omarcastillo360 Registered User Posts: 1 New Member
    Hey Guamboy,

    I understand that your Asian Parents are putting a big burden on you to get to an IVY LEAGUE UNIVERSITY. I use to feel this huge burden from both my Mom and my Dad when I was in High School and college, so I know what it's like. It translates to extreme anxiety, fear of being disowned by your family if you flunk out or get disqualified from college.

    It's an extremely bad feeling, but you have to understand it's coming from a place of CARING FOR YOUR SUCCESS.

    The reason why they're putting pressure on your social life, hiring 1000s of tutors, is because they want you to become successful in the real world after you get into and graduate from college.

    Life after college will be different in that you'll be working the 8 AM to 5 PM, Monday to Friday most likely making a very handsomely paid wage.

    Of course your wage will depend on your education including other factors as well.

    Because they don't have college degrees, they might be having financial difficulties in making money and don't want you to succumb to the same fate.

    It all comes down to FINANCIAL SECURITY AND MONEY.

    People go to college with the hopes that their income will be drastically better than other people who don't have a degree.

    As far as your parents go, it's an Asian cultural thing, but like I said, it's coming from a good place.

    What would happen if you were born with parents that didn't care?

    What if your parents just said, do whatever you want after high school, your free to do whatever you wish?

    What would happen?

    What career path would you choose?

    I'm not defending your parents bad behavior, but talk to them about also being realistic.

    Getting into an IVY LEAGUE SCHOOL is not guaranteed. It's extremely tough to get in and for them to make it seem like it's a piece of cake is nonsense.

    Consider yourself lucky that you were born with Parents the CARE ABOUT YOUR SUCCESS.

    Your Buddy,
    Omar
  • CValleCValle Registered User Posts: 289 Junior Member
    I'm an American. My husband is India. The college process has been...challenging.

    I think that the pressure comes from three places - love, lack of full knowledge, desire for a secure future for the child.

    Most people are not aware of the depth of American colleges and universities - they have heard of 10-12 so those are the only ones they think are worth anything, (It is not the entire Ivy League btw - just ask them about Brown...most likely never heard of it!)

    Once my husband did his own research - things got better.

    You also need to convince them you can get a good job from the schools you are interested in. Talk about internships, job office, placements, etc...

    They love you - they just show it in a different way.

    This too shall pass!
Sign In or Register to comment.