The learning environment, flexibility and an all-round education system are three factors that attract more Chinese students to pursue higher education in the United States.
The number of Chinese students studying in the United States continues to rise over the recent years, according to an article from the Department of Homeland Security.
For most international students, it is important to learn English as a second language because it is an international language. With proficient English, Chinese students can make themselves more competitive to pursue a better job.
However, China’s education system is unable to provide them with a good environment for learning English.
An article from Beijing Normal University found that the average size of a language class is growing larger in China because there is a shortage of quality teachers and resources. It is not surprising that a college-language class in China can contain more than 100 people.
The class size carries much weight within the learning environment. To learn English, class interaction is essential because it can facilitate a students’ language development.
In a large class, professors often concentrate on factual knowledge such as grammar and sentence structures and therefore the lecture becomes unidirectional. Moreover, professors can’t even pay attention to all of their students, not to mention carrying out interactive activities. The necessary interactions and more intimate exercises essential to learning a secondary language are lost within a large classroom.
However, the size of language classes in the US are much smaller than in China. For instance, the size of a writing class in US colleges ranges from 20 to 40 students, as stated in the statistics from the writing program administrators.
Small class size makes a lesson bidirectional because it can give students more opportunities to express their opinion, practice their oral English and engage in discussion. Professors also have more chances to interact with them, understand their strengths and weaknesses, and adjust the speed of teaching more easily.
American higher education broadens a student’s horizon because American colleges set a great emphasis on learning a broad area of subjects. Acquiring knowledge from different subjects is conducive to a student’s personal development because they will become more well-rounded in the future. While most CSUN students will complain about the general education (GE) requirement, international students see GE courses differently.
Raymond Chen, 21, Chinese international student and junior psychology major, said universities in China do not offer many GE courses to students, while US colleges do.
“I have learned a lot from attending a variety of GE classes at CSUN,” Chen said. “Since I want to be a psychologist, it will be very useful to my career because I have to deal with different people.”
Another reason why the US is better than China in higher education is its flexibility. Even though Chinese students sometimes choose the wrong college in the US, their efforts are not in vain because American colleges allows students to transfer most of their credits to another college.
Wendy Wang, 22, junior business major, said the credits between different colleges are usually not transferable in China.
Wang was studying at East Los Angeles College (ELAC), but she moved to Pasadena City College (PCC) after two years because there was no waiting list system at ELAC.
“Fortunately, thanks to the flexibility of the education system, I was able to transfer all my credits from ELAC to PCC,” Wang said. “I had a more enjoyable college experience at PCC because I could take many of my favorite classes. “If I transfer to another college from my previous one in China, I would waste both time and money.”
The flexibility of US higher education may make students more motivated to study and have more positive attitudes toward learning, which can lead to their better academic performance.
Chen said that except for very few elective courses, students can’t arrange their class schedule in China because universities always help them to plan their class schedule in every semester.
“I feel much happier if I create my own timetable because I can manage my time better,” Chen said. “I also feel more interested in learning what I feel curious about, and I definitely spend more time in studying that class.”
The National People’s Congress (NPC) article found that China spent almost 20 years to raise education spending to four percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), a measure of a country’s total economic output, in 2011. NPC stated that most local governments are desperate for investment and are willing to spend more on education. As it stands, the central government in China puts more emphasis on economic development rather than education.
In the light of the rapid economic growth in China, the amount of investments in education is not proportional to the growth of China’s industrial and commercial sectors. Since China has long desired to be a dominant nation in the world, the government puts much effort in developing the economy because it could lead to higher rewards.
As stated in the world university ranking in 2013, 46 of the top 100 universities are located in America. Seven of those top universities are in California, including the California Institute for Technology and six University of California campuses. Only two of these universities are in China. These figures reflect that the US dominates other countries in higher education.
The US has spent more money on education than other developed countries every year, according to the statistics of public spending on education from the World Bank.
But huge spending is not equal to a student’s success. However, the more money the government invests in education, the better the education system will be. If the government didn’t place much emphasis on education, most of the top universities would not be attributed to the US.
Education is one of the most valuable assets in society. It helps nurture potential leaders for the future of this world.
Unless the government of China reallocates the resources and contributes a considerable amount in facilitating more comprehensive improvements in the education system, US higher education will always take precedence over China’s.