The China Connection
6:15 pm
Fri March 23, 2012

Chinese students face hurdles coming to American colleges

In recent years, the number of Chinese students enrolling in American colleges has increased noticeably. Many Chinese families want their child to attend college in the U.S. because of the widely held belief that America provides the best education worldwide. And the payoff for American universities is both diversity as well as profit – most Chinese families that send their children to America are financially secure enough to pay full tuition.

Though more and more Chinese students flock to American universities, the process can be confusing, which is why many Chinese families elect to find agencies for their students to help them in the college search and application process. There are hundreds of agencies in China that now act as a middleman between Chinese students and American universities. They offer an array of services, from matching students with the best university for their interests and financial ability to advising the student on how to make airport transfers in America. However, a significant number of agencies also offer slightly more shaded services, such as writing application essays for the student to forging recommendation letters to persuading schools to increase the student’s grades. Agencies alleviate a lot of the confusion that faces the students when applying to American colleges, but they can be very expensive, with some agencies costing up to $10,000 for their services and counseling.

Some American universities have created programs to recruit and assist Chinese students who wish to go to their schools so that the students can avoid having to use an agency. The University of Missouri has one such program called ‘Two-Plus-Two’, where a Chinese student can attend a Chinese university for two years and then transfer to the University of Missouri to finish out their degree.

International students who want to attend the University of Missouri have to pass a test indicating that they know enough English to competently listen and participate in a typical college class. The most common tests to take are the Test of English as a Foreign Language test, or TOEFL, and the International English Language Testing System, or IELTS. In recent years, some universities have elected to start Intensive English Programs at their schools so that students who have not yet passed their TOEFL or IELTS can still come to their universities and earn credit and improve on their English at the same time.

This story is part of the China Connection, a multimedia project that explores various economic, educational and cultural links between Missouri and China.  More at The China Connection.