Why Asian Indian Children Excel At School?

Indian Parents are highly involved in their children’s education. Photo: Matthew Henry

No matter which part of the world they live in, there is one thing that all Indian parents can agree on: their children’s education – in Science or Math if they can get their way. They not only start saving for it right from when their kids are born, most Indian parents also prepare their kids to attend the best colleges from a really young age. In fact, growing up as an Indian kid whose parents cared deeply about education, I can attest that many Indian parents often consider their children’s education the single greatest achievement of their lives. And it is almost exclusively thanks to their drive, that Asian Indian children excel in academics in whichever country they live, including the United States. But what exactly motivates Asian Indian parents to get their children the best possible education. The easy answer would be cultural behavior. But we did some real research and got you the facts.

Asian Indians: Among the fastest growing population in the US

  • Asian Indians are among the fastest growing population in the US and since 2014, India and China have replaced Mexico as the top two immigrant origin nations.
  • 58% and 42% of Asian Indians live in the top 10 and top 5 US markets respectively. The top market locations include NY, NJ, SF, LA, Dallas, Chicago.
  • In 2016, 82% of the 85,000 new H1-B visas (for skilled young working professionals) were issued to Asian Indians and Chinese.
  • They constitute the highest median household income group at $110k
  • India and China continue to be the top two countries for international students for US colleges (Source: WSJ, 2015).

Asian Indian Behaviors and Attitudes Regarding Education

  • Indian parents are extremely ambitious for their children and over 51% rank career success as the most popular goal for them, even above a happy life, and carry that same attitude when they move to the US.
  • Over 91% see an undergraduate education as essential to achieving life goals. (HSBC Survey Report: The Value for Education: Learning for Life)

Indian parents start saving for their kids’ education right from when they are born. Photo: Nicole De Khors

Education: The biggest life goal

  • Asian Indian parents are willing to go above and beyond to ensure the best possible education for their children. Most start saving for it from a young age, often from when their children turn five.
  • They send their children to some classes – be it Sunday school or STEM classes — even before official SAT prep begins.
  • Most believe higher education the only way to earn respect as immigrants in America and dropping out of college is never an option.

Highly Competitive Attitudes

 Asian Indian community is highly competitive when it comes to education. Children’s high scores are a source of pride for the entire family and low scores a reason for shame.

  • No Asian Indian parent wants their child to be ‘left behind’ the others and parents are constantly enrolling their children in activities that other kids are doing.
  • After-school classes and scores are a frequent topic of discussion at most local events and community gatherings.

Extremely Hands-on Parenting Style

  • Asian Indian Parents are extremely involved in their children’s education, personally helping them with homework and overseeing their academic progress.
  • They constantly communicate with teachers and also supplement the coursework by adding extra lessons and practice tests for their children, sometimes even with material above their current grades.
  • American school system is considered less rigorous than India with lesser emphasis on STEM subjects.

High Expectations and Hopes

  • Asian Indian parents have equally high expectations from their children and expect nothing less than the highest scores.
  • Lower scores (even an -A compared to an A) are considered unacceptable and unsatisfactory. (Asian Indian Mothers Involved in their children’s schooling: An analysis of social and cultural capital)

Their extensive focus on education, competitive, excellence-pursuing attitudes, and community-based information exchange makes them a unique consumer group, but this behavior is also visible throughout all communities of Asian Americans. Not just Asian Indian but Chinese American, Korean American, Filipino, Pakistani and Vietnamese American parents also show similar drive for their children’s education. Given that it’s little surprise that Asians Americans are shaping up to become one of the most formidable and fastest growing minorities in the US.




Written by Yashica Dutt, Associate Creative Director