Away from home, Asian students slide

Asian-American students’ grades slide in their first year of college — unless they live at home — concludes a study at University of California at Irvine, where Asian-American students outnumber whites. White students’ grades dropped slightly, compared to their 12th-grade GPA, while Asians’ grades fell dramatically in both natural and social sciences, according to University of Denver psychologist Julia Dmitrieva. From Miller McCune:

. . .  when Esther Chang studied 120 white and 395 Asian-American undergraduates at a large public university in California, she found that while the white students’ GPAs averaged 3.21, all the Asian-American groups’ GPAs were significantly lower — 3.04 for East Asian, 2.99 for Southeast Asians and 2.94 for Filipinos.

The Asian-American students studied less, went to the library and to class less than the white students, says Chang. She and Dmitrieva speculate that Asian-American parents’ involvement in their children’s out-of-school activities leaves the kids unprepared to manage their time in college. Dmitrieva’s study supports that hypothesis, since the grades of that Asian-American freshman who still lived at home, or scored well on a test measuring academic perseverance and diligence, didn’t drop any more than those of the white students.

Dorothy Chin, associate research psychologist at UCLA’S Semel Institute, believes further research will show Asian-American students “find a way to self-regulate and bounce back” by senior year. Graduation rates are strong for Asian-American students.

Also on Miller McCune:

What looks like pushy, high-pressure parenting to Westerners is seen as loving by Asian-American children, says Ruth Chao, a University of California, Riverside, psychologist.

Studies have found that parental behavior that feels controlling to North American and German children feels warm and accepting to Japanese and Korean children.

. . . Western cultures value individuality and independence highly, so Western teenagers feel rejected when their parents exert a great deal of control, explains Gisela Tromssdorff of the Technical University in Aachen, Germany. On the other hand, she writes, “Japanese adolescents … feel rejected by their parents when they experience only little control.”

Asian-American children don’t report more stress, anxiety or depression than white children — until they reach college. Asian-American college students have the highest suicide rate of any ethnicity.

I wonder if that’s also true for Asian-American college students who live at home.

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  1. Mark Roulo says:

    She and Dmitrieva speculate that Asian-American parents’ involvement in their children’s out-of-school activities leaves the kids unprepared to manage their time in college.

    I’ll propose another hypothesis. For the first time in their lives, a number of these kids get to do what *THEY* want to do. And it turns out that studying to the exclusion of everything else isn’t it.

  2. CarolineSF says:

    My kids — non-Asian kids in a plurality Asian school district — tell ME tales of the parent horror stories their Asian friends have shared with them. It doesn’t sound like those kids see it as loving.

    i know one Asian immigrant family who sent their child to live in an apartment alone in a city in another state at age 16 and finish high school there — they chose the city because its schools are top-rated on the Newsweek high school rankings. Yet I hear from the kid grapevine that the mom may have engineered this to get the kid out of reach of the physically abusive husband/father. Complicated.

  3. Asian kids who go to UC Irvine are not top achievers. These are the kids who couldn’t get into Berkeley, UCLA, or San Diego. So another possibility is that they had excellent grades at high schools that graded for effort, and now they are showing their actual abilities.

    I’m not sure what the answer is, but UC Irvine is not where your top East Asian kids are going, so I’d want more data.

    I do think it quite likely that white kids are being more consistent over the long haul–I’d just want to see more data.

  4. Did the study account for the fact that Asian-American students are disproportionately likely to be STEM majors vs. white students? My DH was a dual-major in History and Electrical Engineering. The median grade in his STEM classes was typically set to a C+ while the median grade in his humanities classes was typically set to a B.

    Maintaining a 3.0 GPA in a STEM major requires a heck of a lot more work than maintaining a 3.2 GPA in some liberal arts or social sciences major.

  5. cranberry says:

    “There’s a reversal of ethnic differences in college grades, at least temporarily,” Dmitrieva says. That reversal didn’t stem, as some have guessed, from Asian-American students taking more natural science courses, which generally are graded more stringently than other subjects. In fact, her study showed that grades in both natural and social sciences dropped for the Asian-American freshmen, while grades in natural sciences rose for white students.

    “We observed the same dip in grades for natural sciences among the Asian-Americans as there are for other majors,” says Dmitrieva.