Great expectations : narratives of second generation Asian Indian American college students about academic achievement and related intergenerational communication
Asian Indian Americans are a highly successful subset of Asian Americans. According to a 2012 Pew Center report, this population has the highest level of degree attainment among Asian Americans as well as the highest median income among Asian Americans ("The Rise of Asian Americans," 2012). However, there is a cloak of invisibility surrounding this population. There is little research on how second-generation Asian Indian Americans navigate the expectations of academic excellence and cultural adherence in their relationships with their first-generation parents. There is limited knowledge and understanding of this population that is burdened by family expectations, community expectations, institutional expectations, and their own self-expectations of academic excellence. The paucity of research on this population creates the invisible minority where students’ needs may be ignored based on unfounded assumptions on part of the community and the institution.
This phenomenological study adds to the sparse literature on Asian Indian Americans by exploring the intergenerational relationships of Asian Indian American undergraduate students in a narrowly focused area of academic choices and academic performance. This study examined students’ perceptions of the communication between first-generation parents and second-generation children who are currently enrolled at Southern State University. Further, this study examined the stress generated by the intergenerational relationships and the coping strategies employed by the students for dealing with the aforementioned stress.
Findings from this study indicate that first-generation parents stress academic excellence and enrollment in certain majors based on their own experiences as new immigrants as well as to uphold the honor and prestige of the family. While the expectations of academic excellence from parents create stress for the students, the students remain grateful to their parents for instilling such values in them. However, the findings reveal that students felt stress from the expectation of excellence from the community, family, and institution to perform well. The findings of varying levels of intergenerational issues suggest that the parent-child relationships in this population were complex and non-linear.