We are our GPAs. Our SAT scores and ACT scores. We are our extracurricular activities, president of the Chess Club and representative of the Debate Team. We are nothing more than the simple lines we put on our college applications. And we are our colleges.

We don't have names, merely phrases and lines that somehow define us. We are "the girl who went to Yale" and "the boy that got accepted into MIT". Our names are lost in the rumors, forgotten in the minds. Because they don't matter. To the Chinese community, names mean nothing compared to our colleges. We are defined by our accomplishments.

I chose Northwestern University. Not so much for the beautiful scenery or the blustery Chicago weather, but rather to save my mother's face. And mine as well. Because we couldn't approach the Chinese community if I went to some second-rate college in the middle of nowhere. It didn't matter if it was the more "economical" college choice or if it was in fact the college that I liked better. Because she couldn't show her face at Chinese school if I didn't go to a good college. And me? The whole Chinese community would be discussing it to no end.

Especially the ones with children.

They always care about colleges way too much. They ask anyone with a child what school they're attending, what college they plan on applying to, which colleges they got accepted to, and everything they could possible want to know about how well (or poor) we are doing. They want to know how their child compares, whether their child can do better. In the end, it always goes back to their child. Although they may seem impressed and compliment often, their child is always on their mind. Will my child do better? Can my child go to Stanford as well? Do I need to pressure her more on studying and homework? Is there more that I can do?

That's how we distinguish the college-bound Chinese parents from everyone else. And everyone knows. We know that they care too much and we know they know how to compliment. They know they care too much and they know how to speak well, how to sound "modest." It's a cycle. We know that they know that we know that they know...

However, the cycle continues. One batch of students down, another year's to go. Once this group has headed off to college, the questions start all over again. And in the end, we all care too much. We care too much about our grades, our test scores, our college names and ranks...our faces.

Because in the end, you don't want to be known as "the girl who stole her mother's credit card and went to Europe to meet her pen pal". That never goes away. Long after you're gone, we will bring up that pretty little title and use it as a "bad child" example.

And that's really all there is to it.