[college] the trials and tips when applying to jobs.

The years have passed by quickly, and I soon became a senior in college looking for employment. I had numerous friends who had worked in investment banking over the summer and returned triumphantly with full-time offers. As fall semester quickly ran past, I went to dozens of interviews, watching in despair as my fellow classmates were offered the second-round interviews and finally, an offer. Without an exaggeration, I would say close to 70% of my mathematics-economics circle were already gainfully employed, and I felt incredibly inadequate in an environment that prizes the ambitious.

January arrived, and I was unprepared to meet it. January signaled the end of the recruiting season for most large companies I wanted to enter– economic consulting firms, investment banks, equity research firms. However, after much scrutiny, I discovered another recruiting season that had just started: economics research assistants (RA). I sent off shamelessly many applications to think-tanks, top universities and economic institutions, and anything that had “STATA” in the job description. I knew a PhD could be in my future, so becoming an RA could be an incredible asset when it came time to apply to graduate school.

The year started off slow, despite my renewed resolution to apply to RA jobs. I was rejected or never heard back from UPenn, Yale, American Enterprise Institute, Columbia Business School, MIT’s J-PAL, Brookings, and the list goes on. However, the ball started rolling inexplicably in March. I received numerous interviews from the Federal Reserve— Philadelphia, Richmond, Boston, Washington DC (I did have a prior one in December at Kansas City). After a whirlwind two weeks, I am extremely grateful to say that I landed an dream offer with one of these locations and have accepted.

There is a fair bit of irony in how the world works, because this position is probably the most prestigious one I could hope for– ever. No other job I interviewed for can compete, though perhaps Goldman Sachs would be a distant second. I won my dream job after almost nine months of uncertainty, agony and grueling work applying and interviewing.

I hope by sharing my experience, others who are in the job market for the first time as a college senior, or will be in the job market soon, will find some helpful pointers. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me via email, or using anonymous ask.fm.

a pretty flower arrangement in the lobby of the Boston Fed.

a pretty flower arrangement in the lobby of the Boston Fed.

Don’t give up. This sounds stupid, I know. Everyone will say this to you. However, rejection is hard. It is so difficult to read “We have decided to pursue other candidates” or “We did not feel you were a good fit” and not feel depressed that you are just not good enough. Let’s also be honest– very likely you will have classmates who receive the job offer instead of you and you think, “why did they get an offer? Aren’t I as qualified as they are?” In my case, I had these bad thoughts especially often since on paper, I have impressive grades. It is incredibly hard to remain optimistic and continue applying because you fear the rejection and you think that it is not worth it because you will be rejected anyway. Some of my friends have missed out on great opportunities because they got discouraged too early and decided to “focus” on school instead. Right up until March, I was applying to at least 2-3 jobs per week; in busier weeks I applied to as many as 10.  Continue reading

[college] finally! you got accepted. now which one?

Admissions season is over, and now waiting-list season has begun and the frenetic spring visits to campuses. Here are some questions to consider to help you decide which college to finally choose!

(1) Do you want to go into finance or consulting? Or, basically, anything that has a rigorous recruiting process. Going to the right school can make or break your finance or consulting career. These companies only recruit at specific schools– you probably can guess which “ivy”-covered ones– and if you are trying to enter from Michelle Community College, Middle of Nowhere, Iowa, tough luck. You are going to have to slave 10x more on top of the people who are already in Harvard slaving 24/7 for a finance or consulting career. If finance or consulting is something you are potentially interested in (more than 70%), you simply must attend a target school. If you have not gotten into a target school, go to the best public college that you were accepted to or the college that is closest to a major metropolitan area. Then proceed to never sleep again starting in your junior year of college. If you are super hardcore, freshman year it is.

I wish someone had told me about this question earlier on– though I am going to a target school– being aware of this would better inform how I spent my past semesters at college.

(2) Do you have a diverse set of interests? Curious about simply everything? Just undecided? Or are you pretty set on what you want to do? If you are undecided or curious about many things, it would be best to go to a school which is strong in all areas that you are interested in; if you’re set on pre-med, you would do better to go to a school that is geared towards getting pre-meds into medical school.

One of the best things about my school is that despite we are around 2400 students, we have over 1000 courses offered per year, and in most departments, my school is very strong.

(3) What do you want to do after college? Of course, you needn’t have a plan already, but just some hazy idea. You have to realize that most college education is going to mean absolutely zilch in the workplace. It is nice to learn some real analysis, but I am never going to be a mathematics researcher, so I probably will never touch delta-epsilon proofs ever again after this class. Same goes for that class you really want to take on Anna Karenina. The opportunities for you to bring up Tolstoy are limited.

If you really want to enter the job force, maybe it is practical to consider taking some accounting or business classes. My college does not offer those classes at all, and we often have to cross-register at other colleges to take them. Factor this into your consideration.

one of my real analysis study sessions.

one of my real analysis study sessions.

(4) How much money am I getting? This is a common dilemma: public university for full scholarship, or private prestigious college for no scholarship? Money matters.

Take finance for instance– if you seriously want to do finance, you could make enough money to pay off your loans in less than five years– so perhaps a prestigious target school is worth it.

However, if you want to do public service and become a social worker, given the substantially lower salaries, you might think twice before signing up for $50,000 a year. I know that it’s romantic to go a small liberal arts’ college and study with that obscure poetry professor that you love, but $200,000 loan is just enough to quash all that romance. Do your research, for there are many great public universities with amazing faculty.

(5) How large is the average class? The professor knowing your name– it matters to me. The professor teaching the bulk of class– it matters to me. I took a class at MIT last semester, and the professor did not even know our names at the end of the semester; we were a class of 15. Pathetic. This is not to say that all large universities are like that, but that was one negative experience that I had, and it is generally true that you have less contact with professors in large universities– it’s just a game of constrained optimization, where the constraints deal with the number of professors and their time. They simply do not have enough for the hundreds they see everyday.

At my college, every single professor will know your name, even if you never talk in class. The only exceptions are the large lectures with rotating professors, which I believe is only one class– however, you then split up into recitation sections with the actual professors who lecture, not a teaching assistant (TA).

If you need the personal attention, especially for motivation, you must place the smaller colleges at the top of your list. In large colleges, generally, the introduction lectures are huge, but it gets better as you move into the higher levels and specialize within your major. If you are fine with that, then a big university might suit your needs.

(6) How is student life? This is especially important if the college is not located near a major metropolitan area. If you really do go to the middle of nowhere like Dartmouth, you should make sure that the community within the college is vibrant enough so you do not pine away for other places.

My college, again, despite being small, has an amazingly vibrant community outside of academics. There is always something happening– a lecture, a party, free food for the sake of free food, concerts, etc. Visiting other similar-sized colleges makes me feel so grateful that our students are so dedicated in bringing so many events to our college campus (read and weep: for Spring Week, Macklemore is coming).

so much going on.

so much going on.

Nonetheless, you should check out the list of extracurricular clubs and activities in the colleges and if you want to join about five of the activities, then that school’s student life will probably be a good fit for you. Of course, you won’t actually do all five, but there is definitely enough to keep you interested.

Of course, there are many other factors, but from my experience so far, it boils down to quality of teaching, student life, scholarships, and what you want to do later on and how that specific college helps you toward that goal. Speaking frankly, especially if you are paying an exorbitant amount for college, quality of teaching and resources should be first-rate. While college is for meeting people, college is also for learning. Truthfully, in pretty much any college, you will meet amazing people, but not in any college will there be amazing professors who can research and teach well. Therefore, I prioritize quality of academics.

Just one more handy trick– make a spreadsheet of all of the things that are important to you, and go through your accepted colleges and try to do some research and make some notes on your list where each school stands. After you are done, you have a visual representation of what the strengths and weaknesses of each school is, right next to each other.

Another great resource is interacting with current students– go to the open campus, contact the admissions office to ask for a contact, ask your high school alums, or even, ask a nice blogger or two. I generally refrain from mentioning my college’s name and will delete any comment that says it, but I’ll give a hint– our logo is a huge W (copyrighted for several million) and our most famous alumna was the Secretary of State in President Obama’s first term. If you have any questions about my college, please fill in my form, and we can have an email correspondence!

I used to live and breathe the college game and did counselling for a year on college applications, so if you have any further questions or just want to know my opinion, like ‘what would you choose?’, please leave a comment or (anonymously) stop by ask.fm.

[musings] music lessons; plumbing the depths of the inner soul

I recently started taking piano lessons again, and after every lesson, I would come out, clutching my heart, furiously thinking about what was said to me in my lesson. Accusations that I had no substance, no tension, no aggression, no confidence, nothing. Faults that I knew subconsciously existed, but were brought to the surface even as I touched the piano, that my piano instructor could see into the depths of my soul so clearly that it was excruciating.

One lesson, I got told that I was a good student simply because I did not take everything “personally.” I was a little surprised. I took everything very personally, piano would sometimes consume my thoughts more than every other class put together.

Perhaps it was the way I channeled to these personal affronts. Instead of moping, I worked to improve, I wanted to banish these comments. I never felt like these faults were something that I could never overcome. At one point, I was absolutely terrified of lessons, but still, I forced myself to practice. I forced myself to accept the fact that my piano instructor would always see these sides of me I never showed anyone, sometimes not even to my family. This petulant, uneven-tempered person who screams whenever she makes a mistake when practicing alone. This person who loves aggressive, brooding atmospheres with very decided opinions against Mozart and Chopin. In lessons, I am a flurry of sighs, but I force myself after a mistake or comment is tendered, to immediately attempt to correct it– no brooding, just pretend that everything is all right, that all that matters is the physical touch between the piano and me. My soul has nothing to do with it. Rationality of mind can fix everything.

Yet, where is the place for emotion and where is the place for rationality? When do I lose myself in emotion and when I do calmly check myself and say that I need to continue the line and not accent the downbeat? Where does my soul belong in the mechanical transaction between the keyboard and my fingers?

my repertoire I prepared this past semester:

Johann Sebastian Bach, Prelude and Fugue, E major, Book I
*I am sorry I  could not find a better version, I like Maurizio Pollini’s the best, if you ever chance by it.

Johann Brahms, Hungarian Dances (one piano, four hands), no. 4 and no. 15
Alfons and Aloys Kontarsky play a tad slower in the beginning than I do.

[school] AP exams, tips, and tomfoolery

Besides killing myself over the SAT, I also worked to death over the APs, eventually earning AP Scholar with Distinction. I’m still not quite sure I totally survived, and I’m not some grades-obsessed, always over-prepared zombie now.

it still doesn't look like an acorn to me, more like an evil acorn

Following is the list of exams that I took, and general notes on them.

Before I begin, I want to point out something very important if you are aiming for a school that accepts less than 40% of applicants: self-studying for AP exams. These schools are extremely competitive, and the people who get into them are extremely competitive. I know a few students to take 8-9 APs their junior year and end up with all 5’s. They’re all now in Yale, UPenn Wharton, Cambridge, etc. And no, they are not all ‘Asian’.  You may not get credit for these scores in these universities, but what you will get is a leg up over some applicants in the pool. If you have the resources and discipline, it is definitely worth considering some self-studying, especially junior year. If you are not aiming for a competitive program, look into the AP exams and credits that your prospective schools will accept, and just take those exams; you can also self-study, but there is less of an impetus to.

General tips

  • Study for every test as if you were studying for the AP test. Break out those AP review books! w00t. Buy or borrow them at the beginning of the year. Ask upperclassmen if they have any; I received a bunch of free ones, so I only bought a few AP review books.
  • Complete every open-ended and answer the multiple choice that Collegeboard has provided, relevant to what your class is learning at that time. What I usually did was print every set at the beginning of the year and shuffle through it as the year went by.
  • Be persistent if you don’t understand something at first. A lot of the subjects build on previous knowledge, so work hard now to avoid working even harder or being hopelessly screwed later.
  • Start comprehensively studying for each exam at least one month before the actual AP exam. The main reason for this is that we all have a lot of other things going on already– sports, SATs, clubs, etc.– so just saving it all for a week beforehand isn’t enough, and difficult to balance. It’s better to study in small sessions spread over a longer period of time than a huge cram session. You won’t be as bored, and you’ll be able to cover topics more in-depth.
  • For every question you get wrong, mark it down. Always return to it and return and return until you can answer the question with no hesitation or trouble.
  • I don’t have a strategy to deal with multiple choice. I always read the passage before looking at the questions. If the question permits, I first cross out the obviously wrong answers. If no right answer immediately jumps out at me, I circle it and quickly go to the next question. I really hate multiple choice, I always feel like I will run out of time.

In sum, my mantra is work hard early on, work less and relax later.

Calculus BC

My teacher was legendary within our school, and for good reason. He was extremely adept at the subject, putting us through the paces early on. Tests would be AP style, and they would be ‘work until the bell’, not ‘be done with 10 minutes left over’. We would fly through chapters, and even though we start school in September (others start in August), we still ended up with 2 weeks left to review. He was so good that I felt a little cheated when I took BC, which seemed absurdly easy compared to the exams my teacher had us do.

However, a lot of students don’t have the luxury of a capable teacher. There is one significant practice you can do to replicate our over-preparedness. We used Larson/Edwards; any similar college-level textbook will do. Though this may run some people into debt, invest in an answer book (I got a completely new one for $20. Original value: $120), or become very chummy with your teacher. Do a lot of the harder problems in the back of sections– mark the ones that gave you trouble, and come back to them until you can do the problem without having any trouble. Textbook problems tend to be harder than anything you’ll find on the AP exam.


Our textbook was Zumdahl (which is used in college as well). Again, practice is key; complete the harder practice problems in your textbook. We also did monthly exercises from this amazing workbook (on which I submitted a review) that focused on equilibrium; AP Chemistry open-ended will always include an EQ problem.

English (Language & Literature, since shortened to Literature)

I remember I wrote an essay on Jane Eyre.. a book that I did not prepare to write about. Check out this list of the books that most frequently appear on the AP exam, and look through your own repertoire. Generally, if you like the book and it is a major classic, like Jane Eyre, I recommend you prep for it– whether you read it in-class or out-of-class. Always include a major Shakespeare work, like Hamlet or Macbeth. For all AP graders, time is of the essence, so it’s important that everything is as clear as possible. To this end, I suggest putting the thesis at the end of the introductory paragraph, typical high school fashion. Everything should be highly structured: topic sentence, quote, analysis, etc. Though I know this mandate is stifling to most people, AP graders aren’t going to sit there and ponder your superstructure and wonderful syntax.


For any foreign language, speak as much as possible. I was forced to take this test one year early (they cancelled Italian the following year), so the result wasn’t as good as I wanted, mostly because I hadn’t had enough conversational practice. Also, read in your respective language (translated Harry Potters, daily news) and write (I mostly ranted, my poor prof.) in the language extensively– when you write, sit down with your instructor and go over the corrections in minutia. Watch movies without subtitles, or with the subtitles in the target language. Force yourself to think in the language, not English and subsequent translation.

Languages are always hard to master, because you need to put in more time into it, not just homework and class time. I find that memorizing a bunch of arbitrary rules is extremely difficult compared to having an extensive reading and writing knowledge and knowing when something ‘feels right’, what language fluency should be. I don’t spend my days thinking about partitives and gerunds in English or Italian, for that matter.

Music Theory

Don’t take this unless you have some musical talent. Cough. The dictation part is killer. I mean it. Stay away!

US History

Continue reading

[school] the one thing you must do when applying to college.

Ask for advice from people who recently went through the college application process. 

Harvard is so irritating. Unless you're an Harvard student or professor, you generally can't go in their libraries. Unlike MIT!

The reason for this somewhat random piece of advice is because high school graduations are coming up, and there are quite a few seniors I know who are unhappy with their college acceptances. One person, in particular, was accepted into my college. Her parents asked me to talk to her, and I dutifully contacted her, but she did not reply. She later apologized, saying that she was disappointed–she had Ivy aspirations.

I wish she had talked to me sooner about it, because so many people end up applying to Ivies, ignoring other suitable school choices (like the liberal arts!), and then have to fall back on “safety” state universities.

As you make your list of prospective colleges, please talk to someone who is around your caliber (grades, extracurricular activities, goals, etc.) who has applied to college recently, for they know best what colleges are looking for, what worked and what failed, what is realistic and what is simply dreams. If you are brave enough, bare everything to them: what your grades are like, your SATs, APs, extracurriculars, and such, so they can give you more detailed advice. They will give you a realistic picture of what you can expect, so you don’t put all your eggs into one ivy-lined basket.

On a related note, when you receive your acceptances, make an effort to talk to people who are currently attending the school. Colleges that accept you want you to attend, so they provide the glossy image of themselves. Though I love my college, I would not recommend everyone going there–for example, if you wanted to study music, you would be much better off going to New England Conservatory or Berklee.

Perhaps in the future I will post a comprehensive list of college application advice, but this is the one piece that breaks my heart the most. People are naturally communicative and kind, and want you to do well. Please utilize this resource. Please ask.

[school] Advice for those entering first year of university!

This is sort of pretentious to do, since I’ve only just completed my first year. Yet, someone asked me for advice, so I decided to type up a post. Plus, I have too many recent kpop posts! Darn.

So, please keep in mind, these are things that I did, but may not necessarily work for everyone–

Keep a schedule. College is the first time where you have a lot of freedom and independence with your schedule–when to work, when to hang out with friends, when to do homework, etc. This can be very overwhelming to remember, so I suggest keeping a schedule that is easy to use and is accesible; I use Google Calendar, which syncs to all my mobile devices and can be accessed anywhere there is an internet connection. A lot of the times I forget when I have work, but a prompt reminder from GCal 10 minutes beforehand is a lifesaver. Also, scanning my schedule briefly, I can see where I have pockets of time to do homework, errands or to hang out with friends, and I can prioritize my activities accordingly.

Keep a to-do list. This ties in with keeping a schedule. I’m really forgetful, so putting everything down on Google Tasks on GCal helps me to keep track of due dates. Also, it’s just really satisfying to check something off and cross it out once you’re done.

a typical week for me: schedule & tasks

Have a plan. Colleges will have a list of requirements you need to fulfill in order to graduate, and also, your major department will have required courses as well. Please look them up. Though it’s your first semester, and you should explore your options, make sure you aren’t just picking classes and activities willy-nilly, but classes that you will enjoy and also help you towards graduation. Otherwise, you will find yourself as a senior taking an overload of classes, which is not the laidback, I’ve-got-three-job-offers, ideal. Looking ahead and developing a plan is an absolute must for those considering medical school.

Never, ever hesitate to contact or meet with professors. Professors are there to connect with students, and help them with their academic growth. If you don’t understand anything, if you just want to talk, if you just want to check out their shelf of books, just visit them during office hours. In university, though they want you to do well, professors don’t necessarily coddle you through every step. Thus, the student needs to take the first step in a more personal relationship.

Get things done early rather than doing them later. This oft-repeated, last piece of advice is easier said than done. Procrastination is the bane of all college students. However, trust me, however painful it is to start studying for your finals two weeks in advance, you’ll be easy and breezy once it comes to the final itself. The sense of self-confidence that stems from early preparation is worth it. Also, it’s better to do studying in shorter bits over a long time period rather than an 9 hour cram session. You have more time to absorb material, ask professors questions if you don’t understand, and not be as bored (one hour studying for multivariable calculus versus nine hours?! If I ever did the latter, I think I would have tried to throw my books out the window).

Some other studying tips: 

(1) study in various places— your dorm, the library, in Starbucks. It will break the monotony, and the material you learn will get associated to many places, helping your mind better remember it.

(2) study for one to two hours at a time, then take a break— like watching a funny Minho & Jonghyun video, doing some stretching, getting a snack from the dining hall. However, the danger about this is that when I start watching funny Minho & Jonghyun videos, somehow I start watching full episodes of Strong Heart.. but aside from my issues of self-control, having little breaks will also break the monotony.

darn you and your cuteness, Jjong!

(3) handwrite— it will help you remember. Period. I have reams of paper where I just copied this one formula, over and over.

(4) save everything you do— say you just had a quiz. You studied for it, wrote a study guide. Then you have a test. Yay! You already have a study guide for some of the material on the test, and you can focus on studying the rest of the material.

(5) don’t study with friends— unless that friend is me. I mean it. Otherwise, friends usually end up distracting you. However, if they’re me, they understand it’s important for you to have quiet time, and will leave you alone and hassle you if you haven’t finished your work. I’m a good friend. Right.

(6) turn off all notifications— like your cell phone. No texting. For me, I turn off my iPod notifications and disable notifications on my computers. So I have no idea when someone texts me, Facebooks me, comments on the innocent lam, and so thus, I don’t feel compelled to answer immediately. That’s sort of why I dropped off the innocent lam for the past two weeks. Though I did keep tabs on everything, I pretty much lost all my real-time response.

(7) suggested: listen to music— I am a music person, so I have music on for a better part of the day. When I say music person, I do not mean ‘kpop fangirl who listens to SHINee all day’ but rather, I’m musically inclined. For example, I unconsciously hum to myself, which is not astonishing news, but when I hum long pieces from classical canon, it all gets a little hairy, and people actually start asking me what I’m humming. Anyways, now you know I’m delirious, but music can drown out some of the outside distractions and provide something your unconscious can connect to while consciously absorbing knowledge. If you get distracted by music, avoid it. As T.S. Luna pointed out below, music isn’t a conclusive booster of studying or memorization skills!

I hope this helped! ^^ Good luck on your first year, everyone.

[lifestyle] Amy Chua and my theory on good parenting

If you haven’t been living under a rock buried beneath Jurassic era sediment, you have at least heard of Amy Chua’s controversial book on parenting: Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, and the infamous excerpt, “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” that was published in the Wall Street Journal. In it, she details draconian measures for raising her children: never allowing playdates or allowing them to watch TV, always demanding perfect grades, and dishing out insults—techniques that have both won her praise and criticism.

Personally, I believe Ms. Chua jumped the gun; it’s too early to say that her children are “successful”, because they are still minors, and far too early to say that her parenting is what has effected this success. Since her techniques aren’t exactly abusive (come on, yuppies, you’ve never been insulted once by your parents?), and as the NYTimes article pointed out, her daughters do have social lives replete with sleepovers and boyfriends. Overall, it’s too soon to evaluate Ms. Chua’s parenting techniques.

As a product of the pressure-cooker that is Chinese mothering, I read this excerpt with interest, but my enthusiasm rapidly petered out for two reasons: (1) I resent that she characterized her parenting as “Chinese” (2) the achievement of her daughters seemed centered on a Carnegie Hall debut. Though the sentiments she described—parents demanding perfect grades because they believe their child is capable, that children owe their parents everything, parents know best—are definitely Chinese cultural values, the way in which she applies them is not in a Chinese manner at all. How she uses these values to hardline her parenting are affected by her personal circumstances: her prestigious education, workaholic personality, and her parents’ immigrant status (for further clarification, read on). Furthermore, implying that the Chinese method raises more successful children is ridiculous considering that Chinese college graduates are having more trouble than ever finding white collar jobs. Also, from personal observation, I’ll tell you a secret: for every talented Chinese-American student that gets A’s in everything, there are twenty average Chinese-American students, who take honors classes anyway but get B’s and C’s. For every Chinese-American kid that gets into Columbia, forty Chinese-American kids go to Rutgers. The point is, Chinese parenting is like every other culture’s parenting: mostly average yellows, and a few truly dazzling, Class O, blue-white stars (yes this was an extremely nerdy astronomy reference).

Secondly, I do not mean to look down upon people who debut at Carnegie Hall, but I know several children who have debuted at Carnegie Hall, and at younger ages than Ms. Chua’s daughter. It’s not that I’m friends with an uncommonly large number of prodigies, but the people that I know that have debuted at Carnegie Hall are nothing to make a fuss over. They are not valedictorians, they have lax parents, they are lazy potatoes, and sometimes you think that they could care less about music.

However, there is still an Asian-American Whiz Kid stereotype, and this excerpt got me thinking again why this stereotype persists, because to some extent, it is true, for when Asian-Americans turn out to be prodigies, they fly high—for example, the only graduates from my high school to attend MIT, Harvard, and Princeton have all been Asian. I have been developing an informal theory on good parenting, based on the successful sons and daughters that truly inspire me. I believe good parents are: (1) educated (2) financially stable (3) attentive. Education makes parents aware of the opportunities available for their children, the finances help the children achieve these opportunities, and the attention fosters positive growth because of these opportunities achieved.

Immigrants from Asia tend to be more educated than the average American, because unless you live underneath a rock in Hades, you know that America actually restricts immigration.* Educated Asians have the best chance of gaining permanent residence, because they would be able to contribute greatly to the American economy. Moreover, higher education means higher salaries—my neighborhood is proof of that, where 70% of residents are Asian, it is highly likely that both spouses have Masters or PhDs, and houses cost upwards of $700,000. Moreover, as immigrants with few ties to America, Asian-Americans are more pressured to find their “American Dream” and subsequently may consciously or unconsciously pass this pressure onto their children. This pressure, coupled with the Chinese nosiness and “children-owe-us-everything” notion makes for attentive parents. So there we go, the perfect Asian-American cocktail of good parenting: high education, financial stability, and attentiveness. When just the right amounts are mixed together, they result in something truly spectacular, something that even white people can attest to, like Bill Gates, son of a banker and lawyer; Mark Zuckerberg, the son of a dentist and psychiatrist; Steve Jobs, son of a therapist and political science professor.

Michelle-Asian-Mother-Mode: "You no be like Taemin! Study until you brain fried and tasty for test and SAT!! 2400 2400 2400!!!"

Yet, this Asian-American cocktail often manifests itself into scream fests and thoughts of suicide and shocking (to Western audiences, at least) cases of parenting like Amy Chua. These are the extreme cases, though I know that a majority of Asians who feel they have been scarred by their demanding, relentless, nagging parents. I admit that I felt this way about my mother, who actually threatened to disown me if I supported a free Tibet, or even remained neutral on the subject (Ignorant 10th Grader Michelle: “er.. yay Chinese Tibet.. I guess?”). The other night I asked my mother about Amy Chua, and I was babbling something like,

Michelle: “Thank god you never used those techniques!”

My mother: “I wish I did.”

Michelle: “What?!”

My mother: “She just wants her kids to have a stable life with plenty of money and a good job. What mother doesn’t want that?”

Then my mother went to bed.

That really shut me up. It’s so hard to believe that your parents want the best for you when they’re being so goddarned annoying and intrusive, but beneath all that abrasive Asian pressure, they’re a big pile of squish. This does not marginalize any of the suffering Asian children have gone through, but sometimes, sometimes, it helps to remember that.


*Of course, the US hasn’t been doing well at restricting Latin Americans from jumping the fence. Fun fact: the Border Patrol was established in the 1900s to keep Chinese immigrants from crossing the border, because of the US’s racist Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882. Of course it would be the Chinese, and not the Koreans or Japanese. The Chinese.

I would also like to note that my theory on parenting is in no way professional, from any point of view, just personal experience. These are just my own thoughts, and not something empirical. Also, I’m not a parent myself, so I don’t make any claims that my theory is valid.