How many degrees does it take to impress Asians today?

asian stereotype
Is the Asian stereotype of securing many degrees worth it? Source: Fred Dufour/AFP

Do you need many degrees to succeed in life?

Despite what your parents and aunties may say, no: you do not need a long list of qualifications to secure a successful career.

But with Asian stereotypes still prevalent today, many still feel the pressure to complete as many degrees as they can. The MBA is an extremely popular choice.

In fact, qualifications are regarded so highly among Asians that in India, they are even included in wedding invitations. 

When receiving an invitation, you may see something like “We request your gracious presence on the auspicious occasion of our daughter Sonia Krishna (B.Tech, MBA) on her marriage to Naveen Narayan (B. Eng, MBA).”

However, as odd as it may seem to many, this is a norm for Indians. Including the bride and groom’s qualifications is a sense of pride and shows standard.

But while it is understandable that parents are proud of their child’s achievements, is it really necessary to be included on the wedding card?

asian stereotype

Is an MBA worth it for you to secure a successful career? Source: Ed Jones/AFP

Do you need an MBA?

Earning an MBA can definitely enhance your career opportunities, increase compensation and lead to great job opportunities.

Completing an MBA can provide you with the skills and knowledge needed to start a business. There are a number of employees who have required an MBA from those applying for management and leadership positions. 

As such, many are left with the question: “Is an MBA worth it?”

While an MBA does have many benefits and can help you advance your career, it is not the only way to find success. 

Look at Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Michael Dell and Elon Musk, all of whom do not have MBAs and have found success. 

You must be thinking, “But I am not them!” While this is true, these successful entrepreneurs are an inspiration to prove that collecting many qualifications is not the only way to find success. 

The typical pattern for success usually follows the path of graduating from high school, getting a bachelor’s degree, getting an MBA then starting your career.

But this pathway doesn’t always hold true. 

In fact, in recent years, the demand for MBAs has decreased. According to the Education Advisory Board, it was found a decline of 34 per cent in the number of job postings requiring an MBA

This decrease in numbers could also be due to online courses such as Udemy and Coursera that offer the opportunity to gain the skills and knowledge you need. 

asian stereotype

Crazy Rich Asians is a movie that tells a romantic story which tackles Asian stereotypes. Source: Emma McIntyre / AFP

The “tiger parent” Asian stereotype

Many Asian students constantly struggle to meet academic standards that seem to be constantly increasing.

But why do they feel this way?

Mental health professor Liang told NBC: “They’re under a lot of stress because their parents sacrificed a lot and they’re trying to keep up their grades. And they do go through a lot of anxiety where they have to leave school after the first year.”

Over the years, the term “tiger parents” was given to label these strict parents that are highly invested in ensuring their children’s success. These parents usually push their children to achieve academic excellence and success, placing immense pressure on them. 

This tiger mum stereotype can even be seen in the famous movie Crazy Rich Asians, where the mother has set high expectations and goals for her son and is disappointed when he strays off the path.

What happens if you choose a different path?

There is a typical Asian stereotype in which parents push their children to pursue a degree in a STEM-related field.

According to the World Economic Forum in 2016, China produced over 4.7 million STEM graduates a year.

There are many reasons for this, but mainly, it is due to job security and prestige. It is assumed that those that pursue medicine, law, engineering or the like are more likely to find success in their careers, and others will think highly of them. 

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Dr Thomas Miklusak emphasised that the pressure the Asian culture puts on children to work hard and excel could be detrimental to children’s emotional well-being.

“The children and adolescents often want to be perfect so that A’s are expected, and anything less than A’s are a failure. There’s often an attitude that the children can do better — they can work harder,” said Miklusak.

So what happens if you choose a different path instead of the STEM field?

While there is a common misconception that you cannot be successful if you choose a field that is not STEM-related, there’s some good news: plenty of high-paying non-STEM career opportunities are available to pursue. 

Here is a list of the best non-STEM career options that can provide high salary-earning potential, according to Indeed:

  • accounting: up to US$71,500 per year
  • architecture: up to $110,447 per year
  • communications: up to $113,376 per year
  • business administration: up to $88,998 per year

While earning many degrees can definitely bring you success, going through the stress and pressure of completing a course is not easy.

So if you have a passion for academics, then go after your dreams and earn as many qualifications as you can.

However, earning just one degree doesn’t make you any less successful. It is time to break the stereotype and prove the aunties wrong.