In the Asian community, being well educated and having a degree seems to be just as important (or even more so), as making a round roti. If you’re not getting straight A’s then what else does your family have to brag about? Let’s face it, not all of us are blessed with a genius mind (just good looks right?), all jokes aside, this can put a mountain of pressure on a young person’s shoulders.
Intelligence isn’t measured on what subjects you choose to study or where your skills and strengths lie. There’s no shame in being more inspired by Van Gough than Einstein, after all everyone is unique. Being cultured and creative is just as important as being able to structure an essay and recite the periodic table. So why do so many Asians base your intelligible capabilities on what degree you choose to study?
The Asian Dream
Ok so let’s talk about the ‘Asian Dream’; a doctor, lawyer, accountant – take your pick. It seems these are the only types of subjects that are impressive and represent you as ‘clever’. These fields of degrees are also desirable in a prospective partner, not to you perhaps, but certainly to your parents and grandparents.
Many parents push their children to consider a science or math related degree, because we as Asians have this idea that this is the only way you can get a well-paid job and be financially stable in the future. This is one of the reasons why there is a lack of ethnic minorities in the creative industry.
Of course being able to earn a living and cover your day-to-day costs is essential, but you can do this from many career paths, and of which you will actually enjoy!
Biting the Bullet
Much to your parents’ dismay, you choose to study a creative degree, because that’s what interests you, inspires you, and makes you happy. No one wants to waste 3 vital years of their life working their arse off for something they don’t really want, and then to end up in a dead-end job, bored and demotivated.
You’ll of course get those disapproving and demeaning comments. You’ll be seen as less knowledgeable than your cousin who is studying medicine, but do this for you, not for your family or anyone else. You’ll get bombarded with questions such as “but what job will you have after?”, “how much will that pay?”, “so you’re just going to draw for three years?”…*and breathe*.
I myself, studied a creative degree. I’ve always been ‘artsy’ and followed my artistic strengths through to my GCSE’s, A-Levels and degree. I once got told my subjects were “fluffy” like they were weightless and unsubstantial. I knew at that moment my degree would be seen as second-rate and inadequate when compared to someone who has a more academic degree.
You need to be 100% sure this is the route you want to explore. It can be hard as a young person coming out of sixth form or college, to know exactly what you want to do. I have been there myself, and the best thing I ever did was get some work experience before applying to University.
If you’re interested in Media Studies for example and think this is what you want to study as a degree, speak to your school or college’s advice service and see if they can arrange work experience for you in that field. Use all the resources you have, your teachers, peers, family, even the Internet. If after the work experience, you’re still certain this is what you want, then do it! No exceptions and no excuses.
Supportive parents and family would help you considerably along this journey, but remember you still have your friends, and many other young Asians going through exactly what you are, so never feel alone. University is a stepping stone to your future career, for this reason make sure it’s something that you love.
If you want further advice, or just want to vent – please email us! firstname.lastname@example.org
A helpful resource for creative graduates who are of ethnic minority: www.creativeaccess.org.uk