International Educator - May/June 2013 - 78

Peter Briggs, director of MSU’s international
office. With MSU’s jump in Chinese undergrads from 45 in 2005 to more than 2,800
today, and Chinese applications expected
to balloon from 6,000 to 9,000 between fall
2012 and fall 2013, Briggs feels the amount
of time spent on Chinese students relative
to other international students is justified.
“I’ve been in this field for 35 years. This
historic sweep of Chinese students is not
normal. It’s an opportunity to seize.”

INTERNATIONAL EDUCATOR M AY + J U N E . 13

Different From Earlier Cohorts

78  

In the early 1980s, Chinese students coming to the United States were usually
government-funded, doctoral-degree seekers—mature, patriotic, top-notch students
in STEM fields who were committed to
going home to strengthen a China still
recovering from the devastation of the Cultural Revolution.
Today’s students are more diverse in financing sources, majors, hometowns, and
academic motivation. As single-children
from newly affluent middle-class families,
some failed China’s all-important national
university exam, or simply bypassed it, relying on U.S. agents in China to secure them
admission to a U.S. college.
This generation of Chinese students has
been coddled by parents and grandparents,
observed a number of international office
directors. That, and access to the Internet,
says Yenbo Wu, director of international
programs at San Francisco State University,
has made them more liberal and independent-minded than earlier generations. Also,
they are more practical and less politically
ideological.
Those traits should help them succeed
on U.S. campuses, but often, they don’t.
“There’s less government control over their
thinking,” says Wu, who came to the United
States in 1984 and earned a PhD in comparative education, “but their competence,
skills, and experience aren’t there.” Chinese
seem to require more mentoring than other
international students.
According to college officials interviewed
for this article who work with international
students, the quality and maturity of Chinese students have slipped over the years.

Chinese students
can struggle to
make decisions
about daily life and
course selection, as
do sheltered U.S.
freshmen, but they are
often unprepared for
U.S. academic and
social life.
Unlike those on university exchange programs, who’ve been vetted, some Chinese
undergrads do not have clear goals in mind.
“Don’t think you’re coming here to party,”
Mei-Chi Chen Piletz of Mississippi College,
a private Christian college in Clinton, Mississippi, that began aggressively recruiting
Chinese students in 2005, says she tells
Chinese students. “We’re not lowering the
bar for you,” she informs them. During fall
2012, the college sent home two students
whose GPAs were dropping and who refused school-financed tutors.
Chinese students can struggle to make
decisions about daily life and course selection, as do sheltered U.S. freshmen, but they
are often unprepared for UU.S. academic
and social life. Low English proficiency is a
root problem—students studied it in China
as a subject rather than a living tool. But
larger issues are at play. Western professors
expect a certain level of critical thinking that
China’s rote education does not encourage.
Socially, Chinese who room with U.S.
students have the chance to interact and
improve their English. According to several
Chinese students interviewed, however,
discomfort with U.S. roommates’ proclivity for noise and bringing sexual partners to
the room, coupled with a fear to speak out,
leaves a communication gap only bridged
when Chinese are willing to express their
feelings about these behaviors. For the
most part, the situation leads to Chinese
seeking compatriot roommates, a decision
sometimes couched in culinary terms. Says
one George Mason University junior from
Shenyang, “When Chinese people cook, the
oil makes a lot of smell and smoke; Americans don’t like that.”

Reluctant to Integrate
and Seek Outside Help
“Most Chinese students aren’t motivated to
become integrated here,” says Yenbo Wu.
“It’s not a priority.” The issue carries over to
Chinese PhDs working in America. “They
admire U.S. society and understand how it
basically functions, but don’t deeply participate.” Few Chinese students have American
friends, he observes.
Several students interviewed referenced
a trajectory that rules out the need, in their
minds, to network with locals or other international students. They hope to return
to China after working in the United States
for a few years, and expect their parents to
secure jobs for them.
Cultural differences, real and perceived,
insulate them from U.S. campus life in ways
that can prevent them from using university services that could help them succeed.
For instance, Chinese students tend to get
information about where to live and what
courses to take from each other, not from
the university, says Wu. The information
they get is not always accurate.
By training, Chinese are ace test takers,
especially in large classes where the exams
are multiple choice and the subject matter,
say, accounting, doesn’t require much writing. But as undergraduate Yeran Zhou wrote
in a January 16, 2013, Chronicle of Higher
Education blog, “Just because some Chinese
students are getting good grades on paper
doesn’t mean they are doing well in reality.”
Newfound freedom from parents who
have carefully planned every detail of their
lives can be overwhelming. Insomnia may
afflict students new to campus, as it did a
friend of George Mason University student Shengming Qu. For some Chinese
students, depression and suicide may mark
the dark side of campus life, according to
Charles Hou, director of the Global Higher
Education Academy, which helps Chinese
students prepare to study abroad.
Yet when they experience psychological problems, the last place they go for help
is the university. Even if U.S. schools had
Chinese psychologists on hand, not sharing
one’s problems with strangers is a matter
of face.



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of International Educator - May/June 2013

International Educator - May/June 2013
Contents
From the Editors
Front Lines
In Brief
Voices: Kofi Annan
Peace Pathways
Shared Solutions
San Francisco State Shines in Long-Term Study Abroad
Education Abroad
Foreign Student Affairs
Forum
In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2013 - International Educator - May/June 2013
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover2
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Contents
International Educator - May/June 2013 - From the Editors
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 3
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Front Lines
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 5
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 6
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 7
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 8
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 9
International Educator - May/June 2013 - In Brief
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 11
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 12
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 13
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 14
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 15
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 16
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 17
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 18
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 19
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 20
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 21
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 22
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 23
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Voices: Kofi Annan
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 25
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 26
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 27
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 28
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 29
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 30
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 31
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Peace Pathways
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 33
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 34
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 35
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 36
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 37
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 38
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 39
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 40
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 41
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 42
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 43
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Shared Solutions
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 45
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 46
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 47
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 48
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 49
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 50
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 51
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 52
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 53
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 54
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 55
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 56
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 57
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 58
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 59
International Educator - May/June 2013 - San Francisco State Shines in Long-Term Study Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 61
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 62
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 63
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 64
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 65
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 66
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 67
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 68
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 69
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Education Abroad
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 71
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 72
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 73
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 74
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 75
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Foreign Student Affairs
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 77
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 78
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 79
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 80
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 81
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Forum
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 83
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 84
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 85
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 86
International Educator - May/June 2013 - 87
International Educator - May/June 2013 - In Focus
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover3
International Educator - May/June 2013 - Cover4
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