A for Asian

And some of you thought I was kidding about Asian kids killing themselves over grades.

Teenager commits suicide because of poor school grades – The Nation

And this is just one case. I should’ve shown you how it was after Thailand’s university entrance exam in the spring. That’s the time of year when suicide rate skyrockets.

For us in the 3rd world country, education is highly valued. With education, you get better job. With better job, you have a better life. Sure, that standard is true for everyone, but for families who are living in the slums, it’s the only way out. For families on the farm, their sons and daughters returning with agriculture knowledge would literally save the farms.

Higher education also goes with the higher social status. Your getting into respectable universities like Chulalongkorn proves to the world YOU are good enough. You’re the elite. You’re the ones who would be successful down the road. You’re the one who will have a career and a bright future.

The Entrance exam IS the first measure of success in our culture. Fail the entrance exam, and you’ll end up at private university or worse, community colleges. That shows the world you just can’t hack it.

And your schooling up through then will determine the outcome of college. This boy is not just concerning about his current grade, but how his Entrance exam will come about.

I too ended up with at 2.75 at one point in my life, transitioning into the Math-English program of Thai high school (10th-12th grade). Calculus was killing my grades (plus a spat with one teacher that didn’t help my grades much)! I never liked math anyway but forced into this program because everybody knows kids with bad grades are the one ending up in English-Foreign Language-Arts program. (Actually, that WAS my choice!) This whole high school program is guiding me to the Entrance exam. And with 2.75, that path wasn’t looking too good.

Hence, I turned right around and came to the US! Where a math idiot like me suddenly became a pre-calculus goddess. And I did well with everything else and ended up with high enough SAT scores and GPA to look good to USC admission office.

Of course, my option to jump the continent isn’t available to everyone.

And some of them would rather die than knowing they’re not getting into college.


  1. Kitjar Sukjaidee   •  

    I LOVE Chula, was there for a research project in 2003.. it feels exactly like UM and UKM, the CHula and Thammasat of Malaysia

    Well, in Malaysia, getting into these top two unis is also a big challenge… i went through a hell time for my uni entrance exams…

    BUt I made it into my faculty of choice, so no complains….

    in malaysia, you have the added pressure of the quota system, where if you are chinese malaysian, the entry points are even harder than if you are a malay malaysian

  2. trangam   •  

    Its almost same in India. Kids doing it for not making the grade…

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