Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Advice for College Applicants

Watch out, world, another Asian is headed for college. That would be my cousin who is finishing up his sophomore year in high school. He'll be a junior in the fall, otherwise known in Asian circles as the single most important year of a life. During the junior year, SAT's are taken, AP tests are taken and counted on transcripts, essays are written, and college applications are sent out. In essence, how the junior year goes determines where a student winds up for the next 4, sometimes 5, years in college.

And everyone knows that which college is attended determines the success of a person.

My cousin has an older friend who got into trouble during his high school years. This friend took drugs, got busted by the cops, and is now working in the kitchen of a noodle cafe. If there was ever a poster person for what happens when you don't go to college, he would be it. Everyone, including his own family, looks at him and thinks, what a shame/waste/loser. Never mind that he's only 21 and has plenty of time for the unexpected turns of life to hit him. Or that he could easily own a restaurant chain in a few years and become richer than all of us (I hope he does). Because in most Asian communities, money is the hands-down measure of worth.

Poor cousin. He's the only child. His mother can't afford to do a single thing wrong, so she is on him like a noodle on my floor. She nags him to volunteer more, to take summer school at the community college, to take SAT prep classes, to hire someone to do his essay, to not do so many fun things, all just to make his college application look good.

This is why colleges are so inundated with Asians. What else is expected when the parents brainwash them from birth that college is the end all and be all, the key to their success as a doctor and lawyer. Thankfully (and this will be the only time I say thank and Texas in the same sentence), I spent enough years in Texas with hardly any Asians nearby to recognize this fallacy for what it is.

I feel for my cousin. I wanted to tell him to relax, have fun, don't decide on his life career yet (lawyer, of course). I wonder if he would believe me if I told him it doesn't really matter which college he goes to. Look at me, for example. I went to a good college, as least in terms of sports, and I wound up being just a housewife. That's what my relatives tell me. But hey, I blog. Doesn't that count for something? Guess not.

I did tell my cousin that he would be fine no matter what. I figure that's as much as I could say without being disowned by his family.

The afternoon I spent with my cousin got me thinking about college for my kids. So far this is the plan I've come up with:

1. Have them go to a community college. How else are we gonna afford 4 kids in college?
2. Have them go to UC Irvine, the nearest 4 year college to us. That way, they can continue living at home.
3. Have them go to a Christian college. Because I like the thought of their professors praying for them before an exam.
4. Give them interesting life experiences. So they're not a carbon copy of the other applicants.
5. Pray for God's will. This would be the most important step we do.

In the meantime, Cousin, are you out there? Don't worry about all this college stuff. It doesn't make a whole lot of difference where you go. Just relax, let life take you where it will. But don't tell your mom I said that.

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