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Inside China Ed – March-April Edition

It’s not always easy to know what to think of the Chinese Wave. Chinese student enrollment in American schools bring both a boost to campus diversity and a much-needed boost to the bottom line. Whatever the influx of international students mean for schools, Chinese students now make up about 25% of the international population, a 207% increase in the course of a decade.

Data from the Council of Graduate Schools shows a 5% drop in graduate applications from China, but is this a sign that the Chinese Wave is cresting? After all, three-quarters of middle-class Chinese parents expect their child to earn a postgraduate degree. The International Institute of Education says that “declining number of applications from Chinacould mean that students are just applying to fewer schools ,” among other reasons, and that the final number of applications was probably no different. With better advising and more information than they used to, Chinese applicants may just be aiming for schools where they have better chances of admission, rather than shooting fish in a barrel.

Attitudes toward study-abroad are also undergoing a seismic shift within China. Some question the value of a foreign degree and the long-term effects of over-Americanization for Chinese students returning to China (job candidates who attended high school in China are seen as being more in touch with Chinese society than those who spent teen years abroad).

At the same time, better knowledge of the American study abroad experience also means more Chinese students are taking advantage of the experience, determined to mingle than segregate. In the process, the trend is not just reshaping American schools, but also reshaping China and Chinese students.

Many Chinese families now consider high school abroad as a necessary prerequisite to getting into a good university, and many even think of emigrating with their kids, a practice called peisong  (‘accompanying study-abroad’). Last year, a Chinese mother paid $6.5 million for a Manhattan apartment for her 2-year old daughter, who she says will be going to Columbia or New York University, or maybe Harvard. For this mother, clearly, a top American education is an investment worth making as early as possible.

With applicants getting younger, personality becomes as important as (if not more so than) language ability in determining a student’s fit and readiness for a Western school. For these kids, it’s just not about demonstrating their academic readiness, but also showing that they’ve got the grit and determination to adapt to a new environment during a formative time of their lives.


– Chinese Students Struggle for Returns on Education in US (Wall Street Journal) – Chinese families’ hefty educational investments in the US leads more in China to examine to the expected returns.

– In ‘Disturbing’ Reversal, Chinese Applications Fall at U.S. Graduate Schools  (Chronicle of Higher Ed) – Chinese applications to U.S. graduate schools dropped 5% this past year.

– China’s Middle-Class Parents Underwhelmed by Undergrad Degree (Wall Street Journal)

– Graduate School Applications From Abroad Rise Just Barely (New York Times)

– – A Chinese website devoted to profiling American and Canadian boarding schools that is a free resource for parents and providing Chinese families an alternative to agents.

– Turning American: Pitfalls of U.S. High Schools for Chinese Students (originally published on WSJ’s Chinese site as “What kind of Chinese students are suited for American high schools”)

– Chinese Students at American Universities and How It Affects China

– Woman Buys US$6.5m Manhattan Apartment-For Two-Year-Old Daughter

– Why Personality (Vericant blogpost) – Why personality is such a big focus for the Vericant video interview.


As always, please share your thoughts!


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