Ambitious and Anxious

How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education

Yingyi Ma

Columbia University Press

Ambitious and Anxious

Pub Date: January 2020

ISBN: 9780231184588

304 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: January 2020

ISBN: 9780231545563

304 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

Ambitious and Anxious

How Chinese College Students Succeed and Struggle in American Higher Education

Yingyi Ma

Columbia University Press

Over the past decade, a wave of Chinese international undergraduate students—mostly self-funded—has swept across American higher education. From 2005 to 2015, undergraduate enrollment from China rose from under 10,000 to over 135,000. This privileged yet diverse group of young people from a changing China must navigate the complications and confusions of their formative years while bridging the two most powerful countries in the world. How do these students come to study in the United States? What does this experience mean to them? What does American higher education need to know and do in order to continue attracting these students and to provide sufficient support for them?

In Ambitious and Anxious, the sociologist Yingyi Ma offers a multifaceted analysis of this new wave of Chinese students based on research in both Chinese high schools and American higher-education institutions. Ma argues that their experiences embody the duality of ambition and anxiety that arises from transformative social changes in China. These students and their families have the ambition to navigate two very different educational systems and societies. Yet the intricacy and pressure of these systems generates a great deal of anxiety, from applying to colleges before arriving to looking ahead upon graduation. Throughout the book, Ma sheds light on the role of class in the experiences of this relatively privileged population. Ambitious and Anxious also considers policy implications for American colleges and universities, including recruitment, student experiences, faculty support, and career services.
The number of Chinese undergraduates in American universities has grown dramatically over the past two decades, but we know little about them. If you’re interested in how these students make their way in what can often be a chilly American educational and social environment, you should really read this book. Syed Ali, Long Island University-Brooklyn

About the Author

Yingyi Ma is an associate professor of sociology and senior research associate in the Center for Policy Research at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where she is also director of the Asian/Asian American Studies Program. She is the coeditor of Understanding International Students from Asia in American Universities: Learning and Living Globalization (2017).