Friday, May 1, 2009

An Admissions Officer's Dream

With the development of China's economy, American universities are seeing a massive influx of applications from Chinese students.

From The Washington Post:

It's an admissions officer's dream: ever-growing stacks of applications from students with outstanding test scores, terrific grades and rigorous academic preparation. That's the pleasant prospect faced by the University of Virginia and some other U.S. colleges, which are receiving a surging number of applications from China.

"It's this perfect, beautiful island of people who are immensely motivated, going to great high schools," marveled Parke Muth, director of international admission at U-Va.

A decade ago, 17 Chinese students applied to U-Va. Three years ago, 117 did. This year, the number was more than 800 out of almost 22,000 candidates -- so many that admissions officers had to devise new ways to select from the pool of strong applicants.

Chinese students' growing interest in U-Va. is partly a result of the school's outreach and strong reputation. But even some schools that don't recruit in China have seen a rapid increase in applicants.

Until fall 2007, the number of Chinese undergraduates in the United States had held steady for years, at about 9,000, according to the Institute of International Education, which promotes study abroad. But that year, it jumped to more than 16,000.

Experts say China's increasing wealth, fewer delays in obtaining visas and technology that makes it easier for Chinese students to learn about U.S. schools have helped fuel the boom. It shows no sign of letting up.

Read On
Globalization has made life easier for a lot of Americans. It's opened up doors for American companies abroad and allowed its citizens to buy products at bargain-basement prices. While there have certainly been drawbacks, Americans, on the whole, have had at least a fairly positive view of how globalization has affected their lives.

With globalization and its opportunities are a whole new set of challenges though.

I talk with Chinese students all the time. A huge percentage of them tell me that they want to go to the US to study. Chinese universities have very deep and significant problems. It makes sense that China's best students with the means to go abroad would want to get out of its university system.

A few years ago, going to America to study would've been a pipe dream for nearly everyone in China. But as China rises and more and more of its families have the means to pay for such an endeavor, this dream will certainly become more of a reality for Chinese students.

This increased competition abroad from Chinese students at American universities is one of the things that comes along with a more open and balanced world. It will make things more stressful for American students.

But America, being a largely meritocratic country, should embrace the idea that its universities should be filled with the best students. Even if those students come from China.


Ramesh said...

Applying for admission is one thing; getting a visa is quite another. If there was no such thing as a visa, the entire American university intake could possibly be filled by Indians (or Chinese) alone. The US embassy in Chennai in India is the busiest embassy in thwe world. 1 in 3 students get rejected for a visa AFTER getting an admission to a US university.

Thomas said...

Interesting post. And somewhat surprising, too. From anecdotal evidence, I had assumed that interest in studying abroad is beginning to decline a bit. Apparently not.

It also surprised me to read that there were only 9,000 Chinese undergrads in the US in 2007 (though apparently 16,000 now).

For comparison: As far as I'm aware, we had 30,000 Chinese students in Germany as of 2005. And obviously, Germany is a much smaller country than the US. It probably helped that there are no tuition fees in Germany, though.

Anonymous said...

Last year it was the first time that I saw Chinese students in our little town. Now I almost see them every time when I am in the park. I met four of them when I was fishing along the Missouri river with my son yeasterday. They are in the early 20's and many of them speak Korean from Jiling Province. They reminded me when I left Nanjing and came to Emporia ,Kansas 20 years ago. Fresh, excited and curious about America. Time went by so fast and it was as if yesterday. I stayed and never left this area.
Anqi Dai in Parkville, Kansas City, Missouri

Mark said...

@Ramesh - That's really a shame about Indians not being granted visas after being accepted to American universities. I had no idea it was so difficult.

@Thomas - From the anecdotal evidence I've seen, Chinese students definitely want to continue to study abroad. This article gels with what I've seen in Xi'an.

@Anqi Dai - I'm happy to hear that there are at least some Chinese in the Kansas City area. I know a couple, but there definitely aren't tons.

Mark Carver said...

I was an admissions counselor when I was in college and it's a royal headache to get students into US schools. Getting accepted is the easy part because more often than not, their marks are higher than the oft-apathetic American high school graduates (though their ability to succeed in American universities is another matter) but getting that cherished visa is so tedious that only the most patient, stalwart, and usually deep-pocketed individuals make it out alive, but I guess that's the point- to weed out the half-hearted.