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Why Chinese Students Attend American Universities

Chinese students make up a large percentage of overseas students registered in American universities. According to the Institute of International Education (IIE), a third of around 975,000 international students studying in American universities in the academic year 2014 – 2015 came from China. This figure has increased by around 20 percentage points over the past decade.

China and the Rising Economy

There are many reasons why Chinese parents are sending their children off to study in the US. Although studying abroad can be significantly expensive than studying in Chinese universities, many Chinese parents would not mind spending more on their children’s education. With the rising economy of China, many Chinese families are able to send their children to US schools, pay for higher tuition and living expenses even without financial aid or scholarship grants.

Quality of Education and Global Competence

The affluence of Chinese families, together with the high quality of education that US schools offer as compared to China, are among the reasons why many Chinese students attend American universities. Chinese students see the educational system in their homeland as flawed and of low standards, which they feel will leave them globally ill-prepared.

Many Chinese students see colleges and universities in their homeland as diploma mills, continually producing graduates even when the quality of these graduates is often low. In addition, with the tight competition in the global workforce, Chinese students feel that they need a better education for them to land jobs that pay high.

Academic Freedom and Creative Thinking

Chinese students also prefer the American to Chinese educational system since the former seemingly provides them with more academic freedom and hence develops creative thinking skills in learners. Chinese schools are heavily regimented, having strict curfews and mandatory core socialist values incorporated into their curriculum. Chinese students and teachers are not even allowed to access social media platform or even Google Scholar.

Chinese schools also focus more on memorization rather than fully understanding concepts and their underlying logic. This is essentially true in gaokao, an entrance exam that students must take to be admitted to Chinese universities. While the SAT measures the aptitude of examinees in reading, math, and writing, the gaokao deals more on memorized facts from China’s history, arts, and culture.

These are just some of the many reasons why more and more of the Chinese youth are attending American universities. Whatever a student’s reasons are, it is important to stay motivated throughout college years to successfully complete his degree in the US. A US degree does not come cheap, and life in a foreign land where there are language barriers and other issues may be challenging. However, with the right mindset, any Chinese international student can obtain a degree and become career ready.

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