High Grades, High Stress for Asian-American Students in Bay Area

When I came across this recent headline from the Mercury News — Success gap: High grades, high stress for Asian-American students in Bay Area — my first reaction was that this was going to be a somewhat biased commentary like the Wall Street Journal’s infamous “New White Flight,” or maybe an alarmist article as I had blogged concerned about in the past. But it was a fairly well-balanced looked at the environment in the San Francisco Bay Area about the concerns of parental and societal pressure of Asian American students and  high academic expectations:

“Asian grade scale”: A = Average; B = Bad; C = Catastrophe; D = Disowned; F = Forever Forgotten… Many Asian parents, especially well-educated immigrants, set sky-high expectations for their children. And while that drive to achieve has put Asian students as a group at the top of the class, it’s also forcing some uncomfortable conversations within the Asian community about the damage those demands may cause.”

Also, this statement: At Mission in the Fremont Unified School District, where 75 percent of the student body is Asian, a majority of students think their parents’ expectations are too high, according to a survey conducted a year ago. 75% of the student body is Asian American!? Growing up in Western Massachusetts, I could count the number of Asian Americans on two hands out of a class of 273 students. Overall, Asian Americans make up less than 5% of the overall U.S. population, and any Asian American having been born-and-raised in California should seriously spend at least sometime living outside of the West Coast to try to understand what the rest of America is like.Video: Mission San Jose High School student “video investigation” on the implications of bias, stereotypes and intense expectations in high school.

To be honest, I mostly only saw the “positives” of the “Model Minority” myth growing up. But living in California the past nine years, I’ve come to become much more aware of the negative consequences of the stereotype: the pressure on Asian American women, and Asian Americans having the highest rate of suicide. I hadn’t known that before, but then again, that statistic doesn’t necessarily surprise me either.

No wonder this reminded me of a conversation I had with a friend of mine with a very young daughter: she grew up in the Bay Area and she and her husband were thinking of possibly buying a home in the near future, but didn’t want to buy in Cupertino or Palo Alto — cities with predominately competitive Asian-American High Schools — because she didn’t want her daughter being totally stressed out in school. For high school students and parents everywhere, are you stressed out about your grades and coursework or have the same parental concerns?

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About John

I'm a Taiwanese-American and was born & raised in Western Massachusetts, went to college in upstate New York, worked in Connecticut, went to grad school in North Carolina and then moved out to the Bay Area in 1999 and have been living here ever since - love the weather and almost everything about the area (except the high cost of housing...)
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