Although I’m only a sophomore and have barely begun my descent into the world of SATs, college searches and applications, I can’t help but notice fellow students who have focused their efforts on getting accepted to and attending one specific school.
Why is the pressure to attend an Ivy League or another prestigious institution so strong? I can only answer based on my knowledge of the Persian culture in Los Angeles, the culture in which I have been raised. Many Persian students are highly motivated to attend UCLA, USC, USCB or another top university in the area for their college education — and, in many cases, they don’t look far outside Los Angeles. Persian students, though we are not always certain we will get into these schools, are motivated by our environment to strive for them.
Despite the many misconceptions, many Persian students like myself have been raised in driven families who expect nothing less than the best from their children. Persian families work to positively enrich and enhance the child’s attitude towards working and education as a whole instead of stealing the child’s childhood and innocence. Instead of being forced to devote ourselves to academics, Persian children learn the importance of balance and how to manage our priorities. This is also evident by our relatively small and close knit community that stresses the importance of education, academics and encourages us to strive for success, but also allows us room for freedom and self expression.
Often, members of minority groups who came to this country as immigrants, as many Persians did after the Iranian Revolution, are just trying to fulfill the American dream: work hard, succeed and thrive. This is possibly the reason so many other minorities strive for prestige. It’s simply a matter of desire and showing the world that regardless of one’s presumably difficult background as an immigrant or part of a minority community, they can still succeed and be accepted to internationally recognized schools.
Everyone seeks the best for themselves, and we seek specific schools in correlation with our values and what we want from life. Many Persians and other minorities desire to attend UCLA specifically, not only because it is notorious for the academic rigor we have been taught to value, but because it is close to home and allows us to maintain the strong family and community bonds we hold so highly.
Throughout our lives, but most specifically when we are children, we are subject to our parents thoughts, values and beliefs. Only when we enter college do we get the chance to begin to decide things for ourselves and try to defy and disregard the pressure put on us by our parents who want us to attend their alma mater or the school of their choice.