In the United States Asian Americans are too often assumed to be successful and expected to excel academically due to the one in a million stories the media presents. As a result, society fails to notice the struggles Asian American students experience, socially, academically, and even at times personally because of how they look on the outside. The more society forces on the successful Asian it becomes difficult for Asian Americans in the academic environment to have a voice and be heard. I argue Asian American students are often too constrained by societies stereotype of Asians being successful and having an easier time compared to other ethnic groups in academics. The Asian American community is being held up to the unrealistic standards of the model minority myth causing Asian American students to find various ways to remake themselves, find their own sense of belonging and make themselves known in regards to who they are as an individual.
In primary and secondary school I thought everything was simple I was studying the typical school curriculum and having a great time with friends. But I never really thought about the resources I was exposed to in comparison to my fellow peers. At young age, I was placed into Kumon and visited a weekly writing tutor. To be honest during that time I thought it was normal and everyone had one. However, once in middle/high School I realized that my parents placed me in these programs to help me excel academically. However, I did not portray the Asian American student most people in society think of and neither are many in the AAPI community. My experience in secondary and primary school was far from smooth. I felt environmental pressure from teachers because I did not want to let them down. Although, none of them stated what they expected from me academically I was well aware by how they treated me specifically in the math and science classes the teachers automatically thought I was good at these subjects (Ochoa 165).
The reinforcement of the model minority myth does not only occur in primary and secondary education but it goes to the university level as well. College is where students begin to develop understanding about themselves and their interests. But it would be false if I was to say, environment does not influence various students’ beliefs and interests. Asian American college students specifically have been found based on the small number of studies on Asian American students (which is a problem within itself) often attempt to find a sense of belonging. It may seem strange to many that Asian American students struggle to find a sense of belonging, but it is the truth. They find it difficult because they may not be extremely “American” since their parents are immigrants, but they also lack the language skills to communicate with international students. Therefore, Asian American students may conform into the “white image” and change how they dress or even act in an attempt to assimilate.
Asian American students not only struggle socially with stereotypes, but academically. Especially, when they begin their college career in which, they are set with high expectation by their parents and themselves of doing well. But then over time in their college experience they do not get the same grades as they did in high school (Samura 141). This can be difficult for Asian American students to cope with because they have parents that expect them to become doctors, lawyers, or engineers and make a successful living for themselves. As a result, of the struggles academically many have to try and find new career paths their parents may be against. And it becomes difficult to explain to their parents the reason they are struggling. Asian Americans often work against the pressure of parents, peers, and professors to try and succeed. The model minority myth is just that a myth which society is taking far too seriously.
Ochoa, G. L. (2013). Academic profiling: Latinos, Asian Americans, and the achievement gap. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.
Samura, M. (2016). Remaking Selves, Repositioning Selves, or Remaking Space: An Examination of Asian American College Students’ Processes of “Belonging”. Journal of College Student Development, 57(2), 135-150. doi:10.1353/csd.2016.0016