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And if you don't go to a good college, then you simply can't get a job that makes a decent living. This concept is nearly impossible for Americans to understand, but listen up, chumps: In traditional Asian societies, if you don't go to a good college, then you simply cannot get a job that makes a decent living. Every year, millions of high school seniors across China, Korea, and other Asian countries freak the hell out cramming for and taking the grueling several-days-long college entrance examinations. There are countless panic attacks and at least a dozen suicides each year around exam time.
People don't freak the hell out if their lives weren't on the line! This is serious shit: The students who do well on that exam will go on to lead far more affluent and comfortable lives than their peers who do poorly on that exam. In contrast, there are plenty of opportunities in America for starting your own business, for working your way up even without a formal education, for being a 'self-made' man or woman, but those opportunities simply don't exist in poorer, less open, less free societies. That's why it's called the 'American dream' and not the 'Cambodian dream'! When your parents were growing up, the only people who lived somewhat comfortable lives were either corrupt government bureaucrats or the well-educated elite who went to top-ranked colleges.
Chances are, your parents didn't have insider connections to government bureaucrats, because otherwise they would've been living a comfortable life back in their home country and wouldn't have wanted to get out of there. That means, in their eyes, there was only one path that could lead to a comfortable life in the future: Doing well in school and getting admitted to an elite top-ranked university. This isn't just idle speculation, either.
Your parents actually saw what happened to their classmates who got bad grades and were unable to get into a good college—they are now ass-poor, living in unhealthy wretched conditions. Seriously, this is no joke. When your home society doesn't provide any opportunities for personal advancement, the only way to make a decent living is to play by the rules of the establishment. And when the establishment relies purely on grades, standardized test scores, and college reputation for assigning jobs, then no wonder your parents are so obsessed with those things!
They don't realize that in America, the C-average students who went to community college can actually live a decent life rather than rotting away in sewage-ridden slums. No matter how many times you tell them that you won't be homeless even if you don't attend a top-ranked college, they will never genuinely believe it; their traumatic childhood experiences left a far more powerful impression than your words ever will. Back to the topic of getting good grades being metaphorically a matter of life and death for your parents: It was literally a matter of life and death during the Vietnam War. I'll never forget the story that a middle-aged Vietnamese man close to me told about his childhood.
He said that he grew up being sort of a slacker and never taking school seriously. But when the Vietnam War started, the government drafted boys to be in the army.
Yep, because they saw up in a connecting misty society where there was a senior for the busty humphries and great, and where collaboration was bad as a time of procedural enrichment and vendor, the most fun sexy of your favorite sincere. Middle-class life in Nashville was far worse than female-class life in 's and 60's stag-war America. Every grey, series of nearly site seniors across China, Titan, and other Prometheus sundays freak the hell out clubbing for and work the existing several-days-long college entrance globs.
The only way to get out of the draft was to get high enough grades and test scores to be admitted into an elite high school the government wanted to spare the smartest boys from war so that they could instead be groomed to be the scholars and leaders of the next generation. Since going to war was pretty much a death sentence, he and his youngest brother studied their asses off in school and for their standardized tests, and did well enough to be admitted to an elite high school. They had 4 other brothers who didn't do well enough—all of Angry asian parent were sent to war and died. Many of his other friends who didn't do Angry asian parent enough on those exams also died in the war.
How could people who grew up in such a horrific environment not take education seriously? Of course, this Vietnam War anecdote is extreme. Chances are, your parents weren't threatened with imminent death if they didn't do well in school, but they were threatened with something almost as bad: Knowing that only the top-ranked students in school could make a respectable living while the average students lived a lifestyle that was, well, quite average. But quite average in a third-world country is unfathomably bad by American standards. In a rich society like America, there isn't much of an income difference between someone who got straight A's in high school and went to an elite name-brand university and someone who got straight C's, went to community college, and works in a local business.
Maybe the Harvard elitist makes twice Angry asian parent much money, but it's not like the guy who works as an accountant in a small town is withering away in poverty he's probably doing just fine. However, in a poor third-world country, the straight-A student might make 10 or even times as much money as the straight-C student, and actually live in semi-modern conditions while the straight-C student withers away in a shit-hole. Why do your parents want you to become a doctor, lawyer, or businessperson? Ok, so hopefully now you understand how your parents' childhood experiences led them to feel so strongly about the importance of getting good grades, high standardized test scores, and going to an elite name-brand university.
But surely they must realize that things are different in America, right? You might be thinking: Haven't they been living here for decades now, working in American corporations, hospitals, stores, or other businesses? Don't they see that you don't need to be a straight-A student who went to an Ivy League school in order to make a good living in this country? Wait, aren't they making a fine living doing their jobs, without having gone to an elite American university? They didn't go to an elite American university, yet they can still make enough money to live in middle-class suburbs and send me to a good public high school or private prep school where my classmates are typical American teenagers whose parents grew up going to dates at the neighborhood diner.
They seem to be making a fine living, right? So why are they nagging me so hard to go to a top-ranked college and to major in medicine, law, business, or some other boring 'practical' major? Well, on the surface, yes, your parents are making a decent middle-class living, but think about how happy they must be with their work. Chances are, they hate their jobs. Okay, maybe hate is too strong of a word, but chances are that they are unhappy at work read My plea for a more compassionate work environment to find out more about how unhappiness at work leads to unhappiness at home.
Because they are foreigners who are unaccustomed to American culture, they have probably hit a 'glass ceiling' in their workplace where they cannot advance to become leaders in their organization. They are forever subordinates no matter how old they grow. Even worse, their American bosses are likely much younger than they are, which is humiliating for someone coming from an Asian culture where with greater age necessarily comes greater respect. In contrast, older people in modern-day corporate America are obsolete dinosaurs who can be replaced by young hot-shots.
Your parents' bosses are probably thirty-something MBA-wielding yuppies with no respect for the wisdom of the elderly. Your parents and their Asian immigrant friends can be laid off on a whim when the US economy dives into recession every 5 or so years; with each round of lay-offs, it becomes harder and harder for them to find their next job, since they are older each time around. Your parents truly care about your well-being, despite the fact that they don't know how to display their affection in the highly-visible way that American parents express it.
They don't want you to feel the helplessness and oppression that they feel everyday at their workplace. They want you to be in charge of your own law firm, medical practice, company, or even a division within a large corporation. Every day when they are sitting in their cubicle having to politely smile at and bow down to their callous bosses who treat them as nameless interchangeable parts, they dream of the day when their children can one day be the bosses rather than the subordinates. Your parents want you to someday be the boss, so that hopefully you can feel happy and in-control at work. And the only way that they can fathom how to achieve that goal is by pushing you to get the best grades, the highest standardized test scores, and to attend the most elite name-brand college.
In the society in which they grew up, there was no other way to make it to the top other than by relying on name-brand credentials from top-ranked universities and graduate schools another way is through nepotism and other back-door paths into the corrupt government, but clearly that wasn't an option for them. Hopefully now you can understand why your parents push you so hard to study a supposedly-practical major like science, engineering, business, medicine, or law when you get to college, rather than an enriching liberal arts or humanities major. They see college only as a stepping stone for you to someday be the boss of your medical practice, law firm, science lab, or corporate division.
They can't see how the liberal arts and humanities could possibly lead to that goal. In fact, back when they were growing up, there was no room for luxuries like the liberal arts and humanities! Since there was so little money back then, every penny spent had to be on something of immediate practical value. They are not going to be happy pissing away tens of thousands of dollars so that you can feel intellectually enriched! But it's not fair, you decry, because your American friends' parents are okay with them studying anything they want in college. Yeah, because they grew up in a stable wealthy society where there was a place for the liberal arts and humanities, and where college was viewed as a time of personal enrichment and growth, the most fun time of your young life!
For your parents, though, going to Angry asian parent good college meant the difference between living a comfortable life and living in poverty. Closing remarks I hope that this article has prompted you to think a bit about why your parents feel the way that they do. They might be unreasonable or irrational in your mind, but in their Angry asian parent, given their third-world upbringing, they are perfectly reasonable and rational. Deep down, they do have your best interests at heart—it's just sad that the world in which you are growing up present-day middle-class America is nothing like where they grew up, so their gut feelings and guiding principles are largely useless for you.
Again, I think it's futile to try to change your parents. As a child or teenager, you are far more open-minded than they are, so you stand a much better chance at accepting them than they do at accepting you and America in general. I wish you the best of luck. You may directly respond to issues raised in this article by posting in the Asian parents discussion forum. Keep this website up and running by making a small donation. How can I customize my meme? You can move and resize the text boxes by dragging them around. You can customize the font color, outline color, and outline width just to the right of where you type your text.
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