Model Minority Expectations: Exploring with Young Chinese American College Students Who Seek Career Counseling

Christina Lee Clemons, Fordham University


This study explored how 2nd generation Chinese American college students who have sought career counseling were influenced by model minority expectations. This investigation included how participants related these experiences to their hopes, fears, and cultural identities. From a constructivist qualitative phenomenological approach, 13 participants were interviewed using an in-depth, semi-structured protocol. A system approach model was derived which integrates four overall systems or environments and 13 unique themes within the whole system. The four systems include: System 1- Child and Self-identity; System 2 - Parents and Family; System 3 - Academic, Social, and Professional Setting; and System 4 - Chinese Immigrant History, Society, and Culture. In System 1 the themes were (a) “Feeling Americanized”, (b) Californian, and (c) Feeling “Other Than”. In System 2 the themes were (a) Tiger parents, (b) Non-Tiger Parents, and (c) Socio Economic Status (SES). In System 3 the themes were (a) Discrimination and racism are still present, (b) “The One” to Sit Behind, (c) Good at Math, Science, and Computers, and (d) Going to be a Lawyer, Doctor, or Engineer When You Grow Up? In System 4 the themes were (a) Chinese Immigration, (b) Feelings of Stress, Anxiety, Depression, and Disappointment (c) Model Minority Expectations and the Cultural Shift. The data revealed that within each unique experience that there was a system of certain messages, interactions, and expectations which influenced each individual uniquely. These findings have implications for informing educators, career counselors, and mental health care providers on how to deliver more effective support and interventions for a growing number of Chinese American college students who are 2nd generation and beyond.

Subject Area

Counseling Psychology|Higher education

Recommended Citation

Clemons, Christina Lee, "Model Minority Expectations: Exploring with Young Chinese American College Students Who Seek Career Counseling" (2019). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI13885211.