Ambitious and Anxious book reviews

From the first word to the last, Ambitious and Anxious is eye-opening, provocative, and replete with original details. Yingyi Ma has produced a trove of valuable interviews and survey results that challenge unexamined narratives about Chinese students in America and illustrate their daily lived experience in ways that will shape our understanding for years to come.

Evan Osnos, author of Age of Ambition: Chasing Fortune, Truth, and Faith in the New China


This is an engaging, richly informative, and beautifully written book that reveals many new and important insights about the motivations and experiences of Chinese students who attended college in the United States in the 2010s. Scholars, students, and educators will have much to learn from its nuanced analyses of many different kinds of data, ranging from national-level statistics from China and the United States to responses to an online survey to interviews with prospective students and their educators in China as well as with Chinese students currently attending a variety of different colleges in the United States.

Vanessa Fong, Amherst College


This highly engaging book illuminates the diverse experiences of Chinese students from various backgrounds in American higher education. Sociologists of education will appreciate the connection of cultural perspectives in the field to a timely topic. Higher education professionals will welcome the thoughtful discussion of concerns expressed by international students from China, along with the closing insights about how to support meaningful connections on campus.

Emily Hannum, University of Pennsylvania


Despite their increasing presence in American colleges and universities, the experiences of Chinese students have been disappointingly ignored by the scholarly community. Ambitious and Anxious offers a much-needed corrective to this neglect by comprehensively and compassionately depicting the challenges faced by and accomplishments of these students. This impeccably documented and engagingly written book should compel its readers to reassess their assumptions regarding international students and higher education.

Brian Powell, Indiana University


Ambitious and Anxious is a compelling account of international students from China attending American colleges and universities at the turn of the 21st century. Through thoughtful and sensitive analysis of multiple sources of data, Ma reveals the stressful and paradoxical educational experience of Chinese undergraduates as they navigate through simultaneously familiar and strange terrains in China and America. The book contributes significantly to the deeper understanding of complex sociocultural issues related to international education.

Min Zhou, University of California, Los Angeles