No Surprise: Asian-American Students Take Harder Classes

The recent Freshman survey by the Higher Education Research Institute (Heri) has received a lot of press over its discovery that freshman have a hard time paying for college and are worried about their finances. Buried in that report is something interesting about Asian-American students. It turns out Asian-American students work harder to get more education.

33.8% of Asian-American high school student take 5 – 9 AP classes vs. just 15.4% for White-Americans and 18.9% for Hispanic-Americans according to the report.

This difference isn’t because Asian-American students live in areas with more access to advanced classes. It turns out Asian-Americans actually have less access to AP courses than White or Hispanic-Americans. 5.8% of Asian Americans reported that AP courses aren’t available at their school versus 5.3% for White-Americans and 3.6% for Hispanic-Americans.

From the report:

However, Asian American students are more than twice as likely to take between 5 to 9 AP courses in high school compared to White students (33.8% and 15.4%, respectively). Asian American students are also four times more likely (6.4%) to report taking between 10 to 14 AP courses in high school compared with White students (1.5%).

One obvious explanation of this difference is that Asian-American students are simply more driven to educate themselves, as suggested in a recent article. I was certainly no exception; and when I was in high school loaded up on AP classes. I ended up getting enough credits to finish my five year college dual-degree program in four years. Most of my friends thought I was a little crazy; but I was happy to save myself from taking out more loans for an extra year of tuition. I’m sure my parents were pretty happy about that as well. But unlike most kids with immigrant parents, I never felt like I was pushed to work harder. I certainly only got approval from my parents when I succeeded, but they never told me to take AP classes or to work harder at school. As an Asian-American, did you push yourself to take harder classes, or was it your parents?

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About Tim

I'm a Chinese/Taiwanese-American, born in Taiwan, raised on Long Island, went to college in Philadelphia, tried Wall Street and then moved to the California Bay Area to work in high tech in 1990. I'm a recent dad and husband. Other adjectives that describe me include: son, brother, geek, DIYer, manager, teacher, tinkerer, amateur horologist, gay, and occasional couch potato. I write for about 5 different blogs including 8Asians. When not doing anything else, I like to challenge people's preconceived notions of who I should be.
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