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Inside China Ed – May Edition

China’s all important Gaokao (college entrance exams) is just around the corner, beginning this weekend all across the country. But, for many lucky students, they already know their fate: they are heading abroad for school.

In a country where studying in the US is a common aspiration, the recent death of Lu Lingzi,  the BU graduate student killed in the Boston Marathon Bombings, has given pause to many applying to study in the US. Yet, for those students burdened by the crushing workload of China’s education system, the notoriously tough college entrance exams, and unfair residency policiesheading abroad still remains the best option .

How dangerous Chinese students perceive America to be could certainly affect Chinese applicants’ decision-making, but those inside China don’t seem to think so. If a recent Chinese TV documentary on the high school study abroad trend is correct, nearly  300,000 of the 400,000 Chinese students studying abroad in 2012 were in the US.

First, of course, aspiring students have to prove their linguistic ability to participate in an American classroom. Zinch China recently announced at NAFSA 2013 (St. Louis) that 62% of 25,000 prospective students surveyed had ‘poor’ or ‘subfunctional’ spoken English, compared to the 38% of 18,000 students surveyed in 2011.

China’s bulking education industry has definitely evolved since we last checked in: expensive prep courses are now available to help your kindergartener ace his or her elementary school admissions interviewMBA programs are also available for toddlers . (How else, after all, are you going to get through junior high admissions and ace the high school entrance exam?). Though the Chinese government can try to regulate the workload given by schools – the key word being ‘try’ – they can’t exactly regulate what parents organize for their kids outside of school.

Despite the incredible numbers of Chinese students now applying for US schools, many students still find the process as daunting and byzantine as it has ever been. For many a student ‘nurtured’ by the Chinese education system, going through the application process may require deep self-reflection for the first time in their lives. Otherwise, seeming innocuous  application questions such as “Tell us about yourself” can be impossible to answer.

But the process may be worth it . For those who have made it to America, they are confident they made the right choice.


Also interesting:

For the First Time, SAT Test Gets Canceled in an Entire Country –  South Korea’s May 4th SAT testing was cancelled after copies of the test were found in training centers.


For Chinese Students in the U.S., a Haunting Death – Lu Lingzi, one of 3 killed in the Boston Marathon Bombings, stirs up anxiety among other Chinese students in the US.

Middle School Students Commit Suicide in China – School pressures over the May Labor Holiday in China forces several students to suicide.

Are Your Kids Smart Enough for China’s Toughest Test? – Wall Street Journal’s great description of the Gaokao (2012).

Gaokao Begins (2012) – What the annual college entrance exams are like for Chinese students.

Additional College Entrance Exams Baffle Students With Odd Questions – Independent exams for some of China’s universities can be nearly as bad as the Gaokao itself.

Access to Education: Backdoors in China’s Competitive College Admissions – What to do when China’s residency system prevents you from attending a top Chinese university? Go to America.

Despite Boston Marathon Tragedy, Chinese Still Dream of U.S. Education

Studying Abroad in America: Are You Safe? – A popular Chinese internet show about studying abroad takes a look at personal safety in the US.

Chinese Teenagers Rush for Overseas Education – Three different waves of Chinese students has studied abroad since the 70s and 80s, what drives and characterizes this wave?

The Twenty-Fifth Hour: Studying Abroad for High School (Chinese video) – An in-depth look at the current phenomenon of heading abroad for high school.

For Many Chinese Hoping to Study in the U.S., Language May Be a Problem (Chronicle paywall) – 62% of prospective Chinese students surveyed by Zinch China has ‘poor’ English.

Many Chinese Students Could Pay U.S. College Costs but Lack the Language Skills, Survey Finds – 2011 survey by Zinch China finds students can pay, but 1/3 has substandard English.

Study Frenzy Reaches Chinese Kindergartens – Expensive prep courses capitalize on parents’ desire to ‘get a head start’ by creating extracurricular classes for kindergarteners.

Wealthy Chinese Enrolling Children in Preschool MBAs – Courses now available to teach toddlers about ‘teamwork, money, negotiation, and leadership.’

Survey Finds Parents Anxious about Junior High Admissions – Half of 3rd, 4th, and 5th graders worry about the junior high admissions process, which has no standardized requirement.

Beining Sets New Rules to East Students’ Burden – Policies limit the amount of homework primary schools can assign their students.

Why Do You Want To Go Abroad – One recent graduate reflects on her first encounter with the application form and how the process changes who she is.

Chinese Students at American Universities and How it Affects China – How the US school application process can help a young student answer the question, “Who am I?”

Can China’s Top Universities Compare with America’s – A number of current students and recent college graduates reflect on their experiences as Chinese studying in American schools.


As always, please share your thoughts!

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