Just an Average Model Minority

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The model minority emphasizes that Asian Americans are more academically successful than other racial groups. This is dependent on their hard work and individual effort (Atkin et al., 2018). We tend to see Asians being good at math and science, over all excelling academically. Due to the racial discrimination associated with Asian/Asian American, those who identify as Asian/Asian America are much more susceptible to negative health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance abuse, etc (Narra & Li, 2018). It is important to analyze the way Asian Americans interpret the model minority myth and the academic setting they are in. Those who internalize it and attend a predominately Asian/Asian American school correlated with high levels of depression and anxiety. However, those who attend predominately non-Asian schools and internalized the model minority myth were seen to have a decrease in stress (Atkin et al., 2018). Asian/Asian American students compared to White college students are not as willing to seek help from mental health professionals. It has been noted that Asian American college students are the least likely across all racial groups to seek mental health services (Eisenberg et al., 2007).

An individual’s school setting can play a huge role in academic achievement and in turn positive mental health, depending on who they consider their peers and perceived success of their peer’s racial groups. Being surrounded by mainly Asian/Asian American students and with the model minority myth hovering above them can easily impede the way they perceive themselves depending on their own academic success. Those who are not preforming to the level of the model minority could second guess their abilities and racial identities because they are unable to perform and succeed like the rest of their peers. This hinders students that identify as Asian American to reach out and seek extra help due to the fact that they are not seeing other Asian/Asian American students struggling. Not being able to reach out to professors is both frustrating and detrimental to academic success. A vicious cycle begins to form where students do not feel as though they can reach out because they might be viewed as weak, yet they are expected to do well socially and academically just by their appearance.

If students are not comfortable asking for either medical or academic help but are expected to be perfect, how can they succeed if they fall into a slump people might not realize? What strategies can be implemented to better accommodate those who are not help seekers? How have college campuses been taking steps to remove the model minority myth on their campuses?

Atkin, A. L., Yoo, H. C., Jager, J., & Yeh, C. J. (2018). Internalization of the model minority myth, school racial composition, and psychological distress among Asian American adolescents. Asian American Journal of Psychology, 9(2), 108–116. https://doi.org/10.1037/aap0000096

Tummala-Narra, P., Li, Z., Chang, J., Yang, E. J., Jiang, J., Sagherian, M., … Alfonso, A. (2018). Developmental and contextual correlates of mental health and help-seeking among Asian American college students. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88(6), 636–649. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000317

Eisenberg, D., Golberstein, E., & Gollust, S. E. (2007). Help-seeking and access to mental health care in a university student population. Medical Care, 45(7), 594–601. https://doi.org/10.1097/MLR.0b013e31803bb4c1

4 thoughts on “Just an Average Model Minority”

  1. Lucy, I think this is a very thoughtful post! Finding access to on-campus resources is essential to Asian/American student success, but I also think that more awareness can be made in order for these students to feel comfortable using those resources. By generating more awareness, not only will this allow for the model minority myth to be erased, but it will also promote more understanding and support from the administration and non-students of color.

  2. This is such an essential conversation to have regarding a very overlooked and marginalized population on college campuses. To further your discussion, I think it’s important to recognize the invisibility of Asian/ Asian- American students on college campuses as a contributing factor to why these students aren’t receiving/ seeking the help that they need. In an effort to make sure these students are feeling agency in accessing on campus resources, students must feel legitimate in their day to day experiences and acknowledged, by the institution and the community. This, at minimum, will allow students to feel valid and seen. Agency is created through visibility and affirmation– this can be the first step in making sure that students feel like they can access on campus resources.

  3. I am really interested in the questions you pose at the end of your post. I think there is something to be said about institutional set-up and the inability to access the institution for things that matter. I feel grateful for the relationship I was able to create with Tina in the financial aid office, but not everyone has that kind of representation that makes seeking help feel easier. In which case I think also we push the conversation of representation in academia beyond just professors, but also the professional staff that works in various college offices. Is this a means to help work at dispelling the myth of the model minority?

  4. This is a very important topic, and I am glad that you chose to highlight it in your post. It is very problematic that these very broad generalizations are made about minority groups. In what ways can Muhlenberg address this issue?

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