American Indians are the richest immigrant group in USA today. So much is written about Indians pushing their kids to do their best in academics. They are the tiger parents resembling of mothers Amy Chua talks in her book.
This year’s success of Pooja Chandrashekhar who got accepted by all the eight Ivy League Schools (She chose Harvard) has put forth many questions. The Indian kids are not at an advantage when applying to elite colleges. Their competition pool is fierce and large only because most of them score high ACT /SAT scores and are often with high GPAs. While colleges might say there is no discrimination of any kind, but they are looking for a diverse profile of students to join their institution. So going by this logic, there is no way a college is going to fill their slots with all Asian kids even though their achievements are better than most applicants.
Now, why do we emphasize so much on academic excellence?
According to migrationpolicy.org -The large group of Indians who migrated to USA was not because of familial ties but because of their academic excellence, which enabled them to work in the country as skilled workers. This was not the case in 19th century when most of the immigrants were unskilled workers and farmers. The new Indian immigrant group come as professionals and the key element in their path to success has been education.
They hail from families back home whose main emphasis was academic excellence. They were told over and over again that high performance in school was a necessity and they in turn teach their kids to do the same.
An article in Forbes, which dates back to 2009, gives an important pointer. When someone is willing to pull out his entire roots to settle in a country that is thousands of miles away physically and culturally he is bound to be ambitious and more hardworking than the average person. The Indian group is one of the largest to get employment-based green card. It is India’s educated who get the employment based lawful permanent alien status in USA. This group has risen only because of academic excellence and thus they emphasize the importance of education to next-gen.
In our local high school, the joke among the kids is “did you pass or did you pass by Asian standards?” Passing by Asian standards is achieving A and above in the subjects. Yes, sometimes the pressures inside the home might be a lot, getting A- may not be enough (grade B is not even a topic of discussion) but we know of no other way. It’s not that we are trying to beat the system or striving to raise the bar, it’s just that we know of no other way to survive.
And because the Indian community is so competitive, you’d think they would help each other and share experiences to make the group better. It’s the opposite that is true. Most of them suffer from crab mentality- if I can’t have it, neither can you. (Of course there are exceptions). The new Indian immigrant family or first-gen Indian immigrant family is trying to understand the system alone. There is no help from the community and thus again one thing that the family knows by generations of experience is that excellence in education always helps.