Burdened by a myth

Struggle to succeed takes a toll among Asian students

Gyuri Kim, Staff Writer

Alli Wang/Bear Witness

Grades don’t define intelligence, society would claim. However, for Asian Americans, our parents expect

ed us to win many awards, have a 4.0 or above GPA, and go to prestigious colleges.

I have been a victim of this mindset.

From a young age, I was thrust into an environment where academics meant everything. Cupertino, the city I used to live in, is home to Apple and filled with children of Asian immigrants working for high-tech companies chasing the American Dream.

These immigrants push their children to work harder and find well-paying jobs and get a better life than them. Not only were my parents part of this group of immigrants, I was often compared to my peers from sim

ilar backgrounds and pressured to do the same. Being a Model Minority, friends expected straight As from me because I was Asian, and I kept trying to hold up to their expectations.

The problem is two-fold: Students are placed under enormous pressure to succeed, but also feel they can’t admit they are struggling.

A University of Maryland School of Public Health study in 2007 found that Asian American students were more likely to be adversely impacted by external academic stressors such as parent and cultural upbringin

g than their white peers. This sometimes leads to mental and psychotic episodes, depression and suicidal thoughts.

The American Psychological Association reported that though Asian American college students have lower rates of suicide than other ethnic groups, there is a higher rate of suicidal ideation, meaning that they had thought about suicide.

I and many of my Asian American peers can relate.

Ingrained into my brain since I was in elementary school, I was taught to depend on grades to be good enough. In turn, staying up studying until late became frequent.

The stress slowly piled up on me, until the pent-up frustration spilled out in the form of mental breakdowns at 3 a.m. while trying to calm myself down because my tears were getting in the way of my studies.

Not only was the stress taking a toll on my mental health, my physical health was declining. The two hours of sleep was insufficient for my growing body. I had bad posture, fatigue and couldn’t concentrate.

This is a dilemma across the country. According to a 2019 study by the Institute of Health and Sport in Victoria University, two-thirds of students reported feeling stressed about poor grades.

There is no clear-cut solution, but the first step should be debunking this Model Minority myth that has affected the Asian community for so long.