Why So Many Chinese Students Come to America

This video is sponsored by Skillshare. Use the link in the description to watch my
course or thousands of others with a free two-month trial. In 2018, the U.S. imported $540 billion worth
of goods from China, but exported only 120. In response, President Trump imposed tariffs,
immediately shaking the Chinese, American, and, therefore, world, economies. But while the trade war defines today’s
economy, another deficit will decide tomorrow’s. In the 2017-18 school year, 363,000 Chinese
students came to study in the U.S., while only 24,000 Americans went to China. This, on the surface, isn’t all that surprising. What’s weird – really weird – is how fast
it happened. All of a sudden, starting in 2007, Chinese
students in the U.S. absolutely exploded, accounting for 93% of all international student
growth in the last decade. More students come from China to America than
the next six countries combined, including India, despite having almost the same size
population. So, why so many? Why so sudden? And is the U.S. right to worry about incoming
spies? The answer has less to do with academics and
more with economics, complex social dynamics, and, above all, politics. On June 7th, Chinese cities become… eerily
quiet. Traffic is as busy as ever but no horns are
honking, stress is collectively unusually high, free water bottles are handed out, and
drones watch overhead. Today, tomorrow, and sometimes, on a third
day, 10 million students across China take the National Higher Education Entrance Exam,
aka the Gaokao, aka, the most important nine hours of a Chinese person’s life. The test covers Chinese language and literature,
math, foreign language (usually English), and a choice of social or natural science. The top roughly 7-million scorers are admitted
to college, and a select few are offered places in the C9 – mainland China’s equivalent
to the Ivy-League. But unlike the SAT, AP, or IB, Gaokao scores
are really the only factor in Chinese college admissions. The first 18 years of your life, therefore,
are dedicated to preparation. Leading up to the big test, parents burn incense,
pray, and book hotels near the exam to avoid traffic. Students sometimes study with IV drips. Some, known as “Gaokao migrants”, travel
to other provinces with higher admissions quotas in hopes of having a slight advantage. When the day finally comes, provincial governments
order quiet streets for concentration and fly drones to catch cheaters. Supporters of the Gaokao say it levels the
playing field – creating a meritocracy wherein any student, from any geographic or socioeconomic
part of China has the same opportunity for social mobility. Critics, in turn, argue a level playing field
is only ever an illusion – that success is handed to those with families wealthy enough
to afford private tutors. Like continued middle-class growth, the national
exam is both a practical and political tool for maintaining stability – shifting questions
of who has power and who is entitled to riches onto the individual. The extreme, sometimes insurmountable stress,
they say, doesn’t even produce good citizens or employees. While Chinese students rank very highly in
math and science, they’re often seen as lacking in other skills like creative and
critical thinking, a side effect of their rigid education system. Classrooms are dominated by the teacher, who
lectures behind a podium to a sea of totally-silent students expected to memorize as much as possible. To ask questions is both to disrespect your
teacher and admit to your peers that you don’t understand the material. Finally, discipline is placed above all else,
with low performers at one high school not being allowed air conditioning. For any number of these reasons, some, disenchanted
parents seek a way out. If their child performs poorly on his or her
high school entrance exam, rather than lose face, families may place them in international
schools, designed to prepare them for exams like the SAT, instead. Others pursue an education abroad with the
intent of eventually migrating the whole family, or, simply, for more opportunity. The perception is that, while school in China
is more intense up until the Gaokao, afterward, students feel they’ve satisfied their family’s
expectations and can relax at university, whereas American college is when students
start getting serious. In other words, students leave China on their
parents’ suggestion, who usually pay their tuition. And pay, do they! There are English lessons, extracurriculars
for admissions, exam fees, and travel costs. On top of that, families pay agencies about
$10,000 per child for help in the process. In other words, this is only possible thanks
to China’s rising, newly-wealthy middle-class, and the demographics which leave parents with
only one child to pay for – and, more importantly, only one chance to get it right. The truly wealthy get started even earlier
– sending their child to an elite American feeder middle school, which can charge up
to 60, $70,000 a year. And when old fashion studying doesn’t work,
upper-class families resort to “gifts” – usually about $250,000, and as much as $6.5
million. There’s one more, unexpected reason Chinese
students come to America… When Deng Xiaoping began opening up the country
in the ’80s and ‘90s, creating thousands of newly rich families, he also, for the first
time, allowed students to study overseas. For this reason, the first international students
who returned to China were its most well-off, launching high-paying, high-profile careers. This association of studying in America and
success in life has never faded. So, while the American Dream may not be alive
and well in America, it certainly is in Beijing. Americans have Louis Vuitton, McMansions,
and Porsche’s. Chinese people have Harvard and Yale. One hospital in central China even named its
maternity wards after Ivy-League schools for good luck. All of these factors help explain this, but
they don’t justify this. Why did it all happen so fast? To answer that, we need to understand how
schools really make money. Broadly speaking, in the U.S., there are two
university business models. The first way a school can make money is simple:
charging students. Private schools are the Apple of education
– they forgo massive market share in exchange for a smaller number of higher-paying students. And, because they attract high-income families,
they can expect good, lifelong customers – aka endowments! On the other hand, the way public schools
pay the bills is a little less obvious. Lower tuition is made up for by state and
federal funding – aka, everyone’s favorite, taxes! Government subsidizing is great – when it’s
great. Low prices grant low-income families access
to a great education. The problem is that state and federal governments
have other priorities and are subject to economic downturns. During the 2008 recession, Americans spent
and made less money, governments collected less revenue, and colleges received less funding. From 2008 to 13, states alone lost out on
$283 billion. Now, ten years later, most of us have long
forgotten the recession – but not universities. Still in 2018, state funding for higher education
was down 13% from before the crisis. So, as government subsidies fell, schools
immediately turned to a new subsidy – international tuition. The current model is one where colleges can
segment prices without appearing to discriminate. In other words, tuition is set very high,
but aid is handed out very generously. The average full-time undergraduate in 2017-18
received nearly $15,000 in total aid. But while something like 85% of students receive
some amount of financial aid, international students almost always pay full price. At Michigan State University, for example,
in-state freshmen pay $25,064 a year for tuition, fees, room, and board. Out-of-state residents pay just over double,
and international students pay $9,133 on top of that. Across America, an international student generates
about twice as much revenue as an in-state resident. Students also complain about a so-called “International
Tax”, where schools place a greater emphasis on English courses to prolong their studies. Increasingly, Chinese students find themselves
caught between two worlds… As more and more students return home, 30%
in 2007, but 80% today, they’re often disappointed by what they find. While English is still very valuable and many
find high-paying jobs in America, the rest, “Haigui”, as they’re known in Chinese,
have a disadvantage. One study found U.S. diploma-holders were
18% less likely to receive a call back from potential employers than Chinese ones. On the other hand, they may also feel isolated
and unwelcome in America. Because schools tend only to keep one or two
dorms open during breaks, during which international students tend to stay on campus, they get
placed in the same dorms, have less opportunity to perfect their language skills, and a harder
time socializing outside their bubble. At the same time, some Chinese students are
experiencing delayed or rejected visas and accusations of espionage. The fear stems from Confucius Institutes or
Chinese Student and Scholars Associations, groups set-up by or associated with China’s
Communist Party on American campuses. Officially, their goal is to help Chinese
students acclimate abroad – like, by organizing parties around Chinese New Year. Chinese embassies also create WeChat groups
to organize students, even paying them to welcome Xi Jinping during his 2015 visit to
Washington. Several Chinese students and faculty have
been arrested or fired in recent years for alleged spying or failing to disclose connections
to China. According to sources, President Trump seriously
considered banning all Chinese students completely, only narrowly deciding against it after an
ambassador pointed out how it would harm American schools. Students in STEM fields, in other words, most
Chinese students, are already subject to additional scrutiny. The truth is, visa issues are not yet widespread,
and the U.S. government has, at times, even encouraged Chinese arrivals, with Trump declaring
“We want to have Chinese students (go) to our great schools and great universities. They are great students and tremendous assets”. Regardless, issues are common enough to create
a perception of risk, leading to an 8% drop of international students in 2018, who increasingly
choose other countries like Canada or affordable Thailand. The University of Illinois went so far as
to take out a $424,000 insurance policy in case of a significant drop in Chinese students. The U.S. can and should be worried about Chinese
influence on campuses. Their free, open-minded approach has the potentially
dangerous side-effect of also creating a vulnerable hole easily filled by nationalist propaganda. There has never been a better time in history
to be wary of China’s influence abroad. But there has also never been a more important
moment to be cautious about conflating a government and its ideology with 1.4 billion individuals. Suspecting everyone of espionage leaves America
economically and culturally weaker, not stronger. Every year, Chinese students contribute $15
billion to the U.S. economy. Education is now Australia’s third-largest
export, more than tourism, and behind only iron and coal. But whether economically useful or not, cultural
exchanges act as a countervailing force to propaganda – both exposing Chinese nationals
to a wider intellectual world and American citizens to foreign cultures. The fact that America has so many high-ranking,
sought-after institutions – where even Xi Jinping sends his daughter – is a massive
diplomatic advantage that risks being wasted if foreigners aren’t welcome. When students return to China, these schools
often constitute their entire conception of America, the one that spreads to friends,
family, and, eventually, decision-makers. Cutting off Chinese students may help win
today’s trade war, but welcoming them is the only way to stop tomorrow’s conflicts
before they even begin. While not everyone can leave their country
and study abroad, we all have access to some of the most interesting classes online with
Skillshare! For example, maybe after watching “The Magic
of In-N-Out”, you want to start your own business – this course can help you create
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than $10 bucks a month. Thanks to Skillshare, and to you for watching!

100 thoughts on “Why So Many Chinese Students Come to America”

  1. I suggest you just shut your mouth instead of affirming statements with no basis. You don't know what could happen if we keep the doors open or if we close them. There's an infinite number of possible outcomes and real extrapolation in a global scenario is nearly impossible.

  2. A good balance for a countries education system is to have a solid kindergarten to high school education, have multiple factors to be used for university acceptances, and finally invest heavily in many universities to create multiple world class universities and multiple medium class universities. That way Indian and Chinese students can critically think while not having to fight tooth and nail just to have a decent education. It will also help the country to grow as a nation economically.

  3. I feel sorry for the Chinese people. Having so little opportunity. The classroom pictures were a bit heartbreaking.

    I don’t quite get it either. All over the world people are allowed to ask questions… except there I guess.

  4. My son went straight to work after high school. He is a plumber and knows the basics of electricity and wood work.
    Never needed any education to make lots of money.
    Owns his future. Never out of work. No boss. Makes all the money he wants. Can go anywhere in the world and his skills will always be required and needed.
    Best thing i ever did was to turn him away from college.

  5. It's fucked because China's Imperial Exams used to give people an opportunity to do well every year. Why have the stakes gotten so much higher that now if you don't do well once you're done for life?? A 1 year wait was strict enough, even too strict.

  6. OK stop stereotyping. I can only speak for myself. So I came to US because salary here is much higher. Although China is getting richer, it still gonna take many many years for its salary level to catch up. If you live in NYC/LA you probably also enjoy the diversity there but for most people it's only about the money.

  7. I go to Georgia Tech, and I swear there are more Chinese and Indian international students in my classes than Americans… and they all pay full tuition.. Go Figure

  8. So much is left out of this video. An agency fee of $10k. Yeah, for those students who are too lazy or too wealthy to simply apply like any other student. There are really two types of Chinese students. The first is one who is academically ambitious and wants to avoid the Chinese school system and with the support of his parents, who always pay (never usually as the video states) tuition, because Chinese students don't typically get their first jobs until after university, he is set on studying abroad. The second type of student is not at all academically inclined but has wealthy ambitious parents who want the bragging rights for having a child get into a foreign university. These parents scheme and hire unscrupulous agent who often do all the application work. The student is not only unqualified for university work but not even able to understand the application process.

    The maker of this video is bending over backwards to bemoan the plight of Chinese students in the USA while also showing a complete lack of awareness for Chinese university life. (BtW Haigui is pronounced Haigway) Oh no, only a few dormitories are open so the international students who don't return home for the holidays have fewer housing options; meanwhile, in China dormitories often have 6-8 students per room on beds without mattresses. And the reasons that Chinese students must take remedial English classes is because they are only accepted as provisional students until they show proficiency in English. The Chinese students who complain about this don't care about communicating in English. They don't see universities as places of learning or sharing ideas. They want to get their credential as quickly as possible and return to China.

    Thailand? What mainland students go to Thailand to study? But after talking about the high costs of education for international students in the USA, the narration jumps to stats about Australia? Wtf? This video is a mess and is likely produced by a US education lobby

  9. It's not just because of money, the score cap is based on where you born. If you were born in CA, you can't take the exam in WA unless your parent and you move to WA and live there for years. This option only available in four places in the entire nation, and require continuous 3-6 years living, attend school and pay social security at the place. The exam may differ depending on the location, for good or bad.

    Depend on how you view the word fair. It's a fair exam in the unfair education system, you do have a chance to higher education.

    Imagine you were born in NY, get a score of 500, your friend Joe who was born in TX get a score of 450 based on the same exam. Your friend goes to one of the top 20 colleges, you can't even get into a college, just because you were born in NY and TX doesn't allow a nonresident to take the exam.

  10. Funny enough, most of Europeans countries have free or almost free Universities compared to the US ( i.e you don't need a freaking dept for a couple of years to study ) but are not as popular in term of Chinese student immigration.
    I guess it would be a great solution for the middle-class who still can't afford 35.000 $ or more a year for a freaking cursus.

  11. I spent 3 years in a chinese high school and went to Gaokao. While the stress is you real, it is not like what PolyMatter said in Chinese schools. At least not for the one i went to and most of the high schools i know of. There are a few outliers but schools are generally more open. You can also see a lot of the Chinese culture at full display there. like you suppose to have the bitter end of life first before you get to enjoy it. Back when i was there, nobody would throught you are stupid or being disrespectful for asking questions in class, the teachers would kill to get some class engagement due to everybody was being super tired all the time due to stress and late-night home works or gaming. We used to have teachers encouraging us to take a nap during lunchtime because of how exhausted we were, instead we would go a internet cafe and play dota or WOW for the entire lunchtime skipping lunch even. Good times.

  12. Several reasons for going to American universities.:
    * Harvard, Stanford, and such, are #1 in the world, and academic prestige is highly valued in China. A family with a Harvard graduate is superior to a family with a Tsinghua graduate.
    * American universities are culturally better than Chinese universities.
    * Hope of immigration to America.
    * Foreign graduates are more valued as employees.
    * For a truly outstanding student who may reach for the stars, think about this: How many Nobel prizes went to America, and how many went to China?

    As for going to an American high school, that not only allows a better English environment, it also avoids competition (it's a lot easier to beat other students in America than in China). The downside is that it's really expensive.

    These reasons apply not just to America, but also UK, and to a lesser extent, Canada and Australia.

    A personal anecdote: when I applied for an American university in 2012, I filled my family's financial condition as high as justifiable, because, even though the schools stated that they would give financial aid based on need, my application advisors said that it was not true, and international students who would require financial aid were less likely to be accepted.

    Another amusing tidbit: "TAN" stands for "typical Asian nerd" and was an impression to avoid.

  13. What about just the fact that Silicon Valley becomes more and more cool. I wouldn't be surprise if a big part of these students went to California.

  14. I live in Austin and tons of international students attend UT. I love the diversity, we have a great food culture here because of it 😂🔥

  15. This shit is same for Turkey.You start 4-5 years before the university exam.If you want to get in medical school, or top schools.Ypu have to study 4-5 hours every year till last one.And at the last year you go school, you don’t go to classes, you just take your books, tests and study 12-14 hours a day.People uses adderall, ritaline, focus drugs.And also we have a exam at 8th grade, this 8th grade exam devides your highschool.If you don’t go to %1 percent best highschools, it’s really hard,rare to get in a high end university.

  16. Chinese students shouldn't be cut off, but you should accept that they overwhelmingly tend to remain nationalistic even after living abroad.

  17. 3:38 As a Chinese, born and raised, I have full confidence to say that no teacher in the country wants a silent classroom. Every single teacher I met asked the students to raise as many questions as possible. And my classmates would cheer for anyone who asked a valuable question and would consider the person smart. What you said in this part of the video never happened in my life. I wonder where you heard that from.

  18. Well I thought ur gonna say how back in 2008 there is a HUGE RECESSION THAT KILLED MIDDLE CLASS AMERICAN SAVINGS, but ok…

  19. Chinese come to America to get enough knowledges and techniques and apply it to defeat US as superpower in few years. The same is occuring in europe.

  20. Then you get one in your group project and you realize you're screwed because they don't speak English even though they are in a North American university :')

  21. Not actually going to watch this video. I already know that the Chinese system hasn't the technology we have nor the educational system we have. I don't need you to tell me why

  22. back when college actually meant you are above the average ppl. now every tom, jimmy and dick cam go to uni witha student loan.

  23. Fun fact, if you look up “Stony Brook University” in Urban Dictionary, the first definition is ‘a province of China’. It’s just a regular state school (albeit a pretty good one, maybe a top 100 US public school), but you still regularly see Chinese international kids whipping it on campus in Lambos and their girlfriends walking around in Balenciagias. WHALES for SBU’s funds, I’m sure.

  24. free market? or national security risk? it's always up to uncle sam said so.
    But dont worry, the china will learn this trick too.

  25. Is it not true in some cases where some of these guys will study (or use it as a cover), overstay their visa and hide out in Alien neighborhoods full of Mexicans or others Asians?

  26. Thanks for sharing, but as a Chinse student about to graduate in UCF. I came here because I can. Imao :). BTW, the education in the USA before graduate school is just easy (I want to use the word "joke", but I don't want to be picked up)
    True fact: politics are evil. No matter which country it is.

  27. I go to Michigan State and this is a conversation I have with my Anglo friends all the time.
    We always wonder why we've met so many students with recognizable Chinese names, but never students with names traditional Japanese, Korean, etc. names.
    This video a shined a light on this situation. Thank you much and Go Green!

  28. Very informative video. But also obviously biased. You pointed out accusations of espionage, and gave examples of where people were accused of espionage but were doing nothing wrong. But did you point out an example of espionage where it really was espionage? No you didn’t. Because you’re biased and have an agenda.

  29. When I lived in Arlington Virginia, I used to see TONS of Chinese students. At times it felt like I was in China, no exaggeration! I applaud their efforts but what good are unsocial hardworking people that get paid mediocre income and make mostly mediocre items when they return to china? Everyone dies, not everyone lives.

  30. Actually the US should welcome as many Chinese students as possible as these students will go back to China and they will be injecting American values and culture among their (very selective) social circle.

    But the grand prize for the US will be all the Chinese students with grad (or even undergrad) degrees in STEM…

    Find a way to "indoctrinate" (brain wash) these scientist and engineers so that they stay here and become full fledged Americans who participate in the political discourse and who truly believe that home is here and not there.

    (those who go back to China will be our spies)

  31. GaoKao has had long history as imperial exam except the latter was on classics and the modern one. All Chinese believe generals and ministers are not born but through individual endeavors. GAO Kao is one way a genius or really talented students in the most unlikely hinterland are being discovered. There are many good universities producing outstanding students. Look at all those engineers building railway and bridges throughout the whole world. They are not all graduates from top notched school. Look also at Jack Ma, rejected many times by Harvard, graduated from a normal university and become the richest entrepreneur in China. GAO Kao is just one lazy way for a large country to hunt for talented individuals among her midst.

  32. Conquest. Being used by their government.
    Let me see: Chinese know everything about the current West. Yet the West knows nothing about China. uh?
    Still AFAIK Chinese don't understand the real reason why the West shifted into success.

    I feel totally bad for the poor ex-farmers that now are trapped between two worlds. Hopefully they can change their country.

  33. So you want to avoid a conflict while your country disappears into the global ether. Well done sir, you should have worked with Jimmy Carter. "How many Chinese do you want Mr. President?".

  34. "These Capitalists will sell us the Rope with which we'll hang them". As long as the CPR is in China, EVERYONE'S screwed!

  35. And 80% of the problems we have today are the aftermath of the British Empire expanding beyond its means and then quietly disintegrating.
    And now the history repeats in the opposite direction.
    "When the power of Love succeeds over the love for power the world will know peace" – Hendrix

  36. China is a communist country and I have no respect for the tyranny that is communism and that is China. China must be isolated, boycotted, and bankrupted. It is evil and must be resisted.

  37. @7:05 What is the difference between discretionary and non-discretionary spending, what spending makes up those two categorizes, and why is one more important then the other?
    That focus on one over the other is a misdirection that's pitted the public against itself for decades over pennies as we throw dollars down the pit behind us.

  38. Hey everyone, I'm a Canadian who's been living in China for 4 years and I'm starting to make youtube vids again since I find that China is becoming such an important story in today's news cycle. Having lived here I can say that so much of what we read and see in the news is false or just told in the most half-truthful way. If you're interested in knowing what real life is like here I hope you'll check me out and subscribe as I am committing myself for this for the next 2 years!

  39. At first I didn't like how my college was letting all the international students in, until I realized they were paying $50k/year instead of $20k/year. They're the reason I was given a huge $25k/year scholarship that I totally don't deserve.

  40. The Chinese international students mostly drive expensive cars, wear expensive brands and refuse to leave their Chinese community and blend in , then gets pissed when people don't like them

  41. What is the break down Of the 520 billion import. How much of that are Chinese companies and how many are foreign companies that use China as workshop?
    Also, wow much money do US companies make in China? What can America make efficiently and well to sell to China?

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