Tiger Daughter Gets into Harvard and Yale

Last week, it was reported that Tiger Daughter, that is – the daughter of infamous Tiger Mother Amy ChuaSophia Chua-Rubenfeld (“Tiger Daughter”), was accepted to both Harvard and Yale, and was deciding between which two schools to attend. Some commented that Tiger Daughter was a legacy admit, since Chua had attended Harvard (undergrad and law school) and that the fact that Chua taught at Yale, making her admissions a bit easier.

The main line of commenting and reporting went along the lines of NPR asking, “Vindication? Tiger Mom’s Daughter Accepted To Harvard And Yale.” Certainly, if the sole goal of raising a family is to get your child into the best possible college, then Chua has been vindicated, though I do not think that is what Chua actually believes.

I have yet to read Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, but I’d like to give her the benefit of the doubt that her book is indeed a memoir rather than an instruction guide on how to raise a child and how she learned about the excesses of her prior ways. From some of the reviews online, the controversial excerpt and title of the excerpt Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior in the Wall Street Journal have greatly skewed and maligned Chua, but this controversy certainly has been fantastic for her book sales. I hope to do a review of her book one of these days.

While growing up, I would often hear from my parents and relatives about other Taiwanese American children successfully getting into great universities. I myself was “lucky” enough to attend an Ivy League school and am glad that I did. However, having graduated from college almost over 20 years ago (yikes!), I can say for certain that going to an Ivy League university does not guarantee professional success and is certainly not a prerequisite to living a “successful” personal life, however you would like to define it. In fact, I think that is what is truly great about America is that your future is not solely dictated by which school you attend. This cannot be said for some places like in China or India, where your college admissions and future potential is dependent on a college entrance exam. Personally, I think growing up white and tall would have probably helped a whole lot more professionally than having attended an Ivy League university.

All parents want only the best for their kids, including a great education so that their kids can be financially secure and live wonderful pursuing something meaningful in life. Getting into Harvard or Yale and attending an Ivy League university certainly shouldn’t be the sole measure of Chua’s or any parents’ barometer of whether or not they are a good parent or not.

On the flip side, I don’t believe ostracizing Chua for the fact that Sophia getting into Harvard and Yale makes a whole of sense either (though I do have an issue regarding legacy admissions – something which I am strongly against, including for any future children I might have.) We don’t know that much about Sophia, but I am sure she studied and worked hard and I am happy for the family, if indeed Harvard or Yale are the right schools for Sophia to attend.

I had a friend who turned down Stanford and Harvard for Cornell, and another friend who turned down Yale for UCLA. I’m not sure that where they went to school really ultimately mattered so long as they had applied themselves wherever they wound up going, including a public state school (which I think that is where my future kids will go with the way tuition has risen the past 30 years). They both turned out fine and more importantly, are happy with what they are doing and with who they are.

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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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