“Lose at the Starting Line, Win at the Finishing Line”: The Narratives Behind Beating Academic Adversity

Wai Chi Chee*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


This study examines media discourse of academic adversity and resilience to understand what are considered to be deterrents of academic success and what are believed to effectively counteract the deterrents and contribute to educational resilience. Data are drawn on discourse analysis of media coverage in Hong Kong of the success stories of students at risk after the release of university entrance examination results. In Hong Kong’s extremely competitive education system, only about 20% of secondary students are admitted to university degree programs. Hong Kong uses a centralized and uniform public examination as the only criterion of university entrance screening, reinforcing an examination-dominated culture. Success in public examination is equated with success in intellectual advancement or even in life. Underprivileged students are often described to be “losing at the starting line,” implying that they are doomed to failure right at the start. Every year after the announcement of the public examination results, success stories of students who have beaten the odds receive significant news coverage for days. This paper discusses how educational resilience experiences are represented in the mass media, how the students concerned articulate their situations, and the implications of such media discourse on academic resilience.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)741-753
Number of pages13
JournalSocial Indicators Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2019

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Social Sciences(all)

User-Defined Keywords

  • Academic resilience
  • Hong Kong
  • Media discourse
  • Protective factors
  • Risk factors


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