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Harvard or NOTHING ...the Nigerian influence in education

Anyone who knows me knows that I am unapologetically African, and unmistakably Nigerian. I was raised with a thirst for "more" when it comes to education. I'm not sure exactly when or how the idea that my siblings and I must do better than our parents (in terms of education attainment) was instilled in us, but it was! Come to think of it, I don't recall my parents ever asking "if" we (my siblings and I) were going to college, but rather "where" we plan to go off to. We never questioned or challenged their assumption, at least not for what has now become the most basic qualification, the bachelor's degree. And yes, you just read that a college degree is a "basic" qualification because that's just the case for the average child from a Nigerian immigrant household. After all, there are numbers to back that claim. A 2008 Houston Chronicles article references the U.S. Census Bureau's 2006 American Community Survey that found that 17 percent of all Nigerian's living in the U.S. held a master's degree, while 4 percent held a doctorate (Casimir, 2008). And if you still don't believe the numbers, the video below proves my point. Fast-forward to about 30 seconds in and you will understand the pressure many children of immigrants experience.

There is no wonder that this almost innate attitude would spill into my own world, although not quite as deep-seated as my parent's. I still do have high expectations of my children, nonetheless. Each and every one of my three boys! The saying: "Harvard or nothing" has been a running joke in my household for some time now. So much so that my 10-year old had a response of "How about Stanford, or Oxford?"

Jokes aside. As much as I have great expectations of my children, I do not expect that they'd fall along the lines of every single thing I've dreamed up for them. I take my job as a life-coach important enough not to decide for them. Their future professions or careers are up to them, and their dad and I will be there to advise. Our homeschool philosophy is to expose them to a diverse field of studies and encourage them to search for what they love. So far, STEM has struck a cord (see our WHAT? blog) and we're sticking that, and hoping to also instill the entrepreneurship spirit in their ventures. So, if their future holds Harvard, Stanford, Oxford, or even any state university, we would support and cherish them all the same.

By the way, I was supposed to be the doctor in the family, but defaulted into Public Health, which I love, because I just couldn't handle the gory sight of blood.


African parents be like [Video file]. (2016, May 6). Retrieved from

Casimir, L. (2008, May 20). Data show Nigerians the most educated in the U.S. Retrieved from

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