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Why Chinese Students Choose America

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[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he United States is consistently the top study abroad destination for students around the world, with nearly 900,000 international students coming to the U.S. to study during the 2013-2014 school year, according to a study completed in 2015 by Voice of America.

As reported by an annual survey called 2013 Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange, “There are now 40 percent more international students studying in the U.S than 10 years ago.”

Moreover, as it stated in the report, “Students from China, India and South Korea now make up 49 percent of the total number of international students in the United States. Much of the increase in international students stems from China. The number of Chinese students enrolled in U.S. colleges and universities increased by 21 percent in total to almost 235,000 students, according to the report. That number jumped to 26 percent at the undergraduate level.” However, this data leaves many wondering why so many Chinese students travel halfway around the world to be educated.   

Excellent academic programs, here in the U.S., numerous world-renowned universities and colleges that offer many different academic paths to choose from, and career minded learning opportunities one among the reasons. Also, in addition to studying, many students also participate in academic clubs and professional organizations, even if they’re not directly related to their major. These clubs give students an opportunity to learn practical skills that could be used in their careers but also allow them a chance to form an identity and enjoy their teen years.

Jessie Zhao, who now studies at Emory College, began her journey in the states as a sophomore here. Jessie said before she came to America, “I wasn’t regarded as a smart kid in the middle school [back in China]. As my family was considering my future in college, my father’s friend recommended this [the idea to study abroad] to me. And here I am.”  Zhao said in all honesty, throughout all four of the years she has lived and studied here in America, she has continually wondered that if the decision to leave China to study was the right choice. “I am afraid of change. Whenever I went through a transition I always asked myself this same question,” she added, “but I am really lucky I have supportive friends, teachers from the dorm and my family.”

Jessie has made a lot of great achievements here in school, “It really surprised me when learned I had become the valedictorian.” She explained that as a perfectionist she wanted to make the best use of every penny her parents paid for her to study abroad and make sure she was getting great educational experience here.

Jessie chose to come to Thornton because she thought she would get a better education with so many teachers eager to help her find her interests as she experienced a totally new life here.

Now in college, she said, “I miss the way I bonded with teachers on the campus, like Mrs.Nelson and Mr. Nelson. They gave me lots of helpful advice.”

In the end, she said taking the risk to come to the USA for high school and college, has helped her to become more mature, with so much help she is proud to have transformed from a timid girl to an adult who is ready for more challenges.

Lucy Chen, also a recent TA graduate from China, earned a full scholarship to MIT. Lucy came here as a sophomore after her ninth grade in China, “schools in China concentrated too much on exams and I don’t think it’s the best way of education and I want to move to a new environment and give myself some challenges,” she explained. Then she admitted that she also went through a lot of difficult struggles that she hadn’t expected when she made the decision to study abroad and had to survive there without her family. “But I learned A LOT from my experiences and I could feel myself growing,” she pointed out.

She had many reasons why she wanted to come to America for high school: First, she was tired of studying only for exams. She wanted to learn something not for tests but for herself.  “People in China had so many expectations for students and it limited me from developing my own characteristics.” She continued, “ I wanted to get out of the city where I had lived for 15 years and see what it is like outside Beijing. I realized later that if I don’t come out here I would regret it because there is so much more going on outside Beijing than inside Beijing.”

Chen, too, has grown into a more mature and stronger person as she experienced the academic life here.

Meanwhile, Billy Xiong, who has been here for 4 years and is graduating this spring, showed his passion of being an international student here. He said that he felt more comfortable and have more freedom to develop his own interests.

He continued, “ Here I had so many great experiences with my dorm parents, school teachers and my international friends.” He said coming here is one of his best decisions.

And here comes a very last piece of empirical wisdom from, senior Vivian Xu. She concluded one of the greatest challenges international students struggle with all the time, “The idea of coming and living in a completely unfamiliar surrounding is scary, and yet exhilarating. Breaking the language barrier makes us experience all the phases in the past again. That is the beauty of it. We are like butterflies hidden in cocoons, fighting for the moment to soar. For me, going to high school here gives me the backbone to face every new challenge because my friends and teachers are here were always there when I need them. I adapted my role here with their help. And what I see and learn here really broaden my horizon.”


  1. Anouk Schmidt Anouk Schmidt May 18, 2016

    Great article Zecheng Zhou!!!

  2. Justin Washington Justin Washington May 18, 2016

    Dis story good. much info. Good stuff. Much informed

  3. Napat Intarachumnum Napat Intarachumnum May 18, 2016

    The article is very interesting , really like the way this article is written.

  4. Sarah Chen Sarah Chen May 18, 2016

    Interesting article. 棒!

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