Chinese Students in the US

Source: NYTimes, Aug 2013

By some estimates, more than 100,000 Chinese students, some as young as 10, flocked to the United States this summer to delve into American life and culture. Some studied diligently in programs designed to improve their SAT scores. Others kicked back and enjoyed more leisurely pursuits, on group tours that visited Las Vegas, New York and Disneyland. Some attended outdoor camps.

Now, many Chinese companies are catering to the expanding ambitions of Chinese parents – and their offspring – by offering summer experiences costing $5,000 to $15,000 for several weeks in the United States, often a first step to an American college education, or a high school degree, that have become badges of prestige here.

Families who pay for the costliest summer programs often want to ensure that their children attend one of the 50 top-ranked American colleges, Chinese educators said, so to win a place in one of these programs is extremely competitive.

A closely supervised $14,000 program run by Elite Scholars of China accepted 26 out of 100 applicants who attended a two-week academic course at Wellesley College in Massachusetts followed by a week of visits to a dozen top colleges and their admissions officers. Participants were selected on the basis of interviews, said Tomer Rothschild, a co-founder of the agency.

Elite Scholars markets its summer programs as an academic version of minor-league baseball scouting. Admissions officers know the Chinese students chosen for the program are among the best and the brightest, he said. “We are brokers of trust,” he said.

Li Jiang, a senior at Beijing No. 4 High School, who took part in Elite’s winter program at Wellesley this year, was accepted at Harvard and Princeton. She chose Harvard.

Growth in the high-end summer camp business is spurred, in part, by some Chinese high schools tailoring their curriculum for students who know early on that they want to attend college in the United States rather than China.

Between their junior and senior years, many of these students travel to the United States hoping to improve their English language skills, and thereby gain an edge in their college applications, school counselors said.

At Beijing No. 4 High School, summer school in the United States is now almost expected for students who want to go to college there, said Shi Guoping, deputy dean of academic affairs.

“Families should pay for good programs as long as they can afford them,” Mr. Shi said. “Not attending them because of their cost is no different from giving up eating for fear of choking.”

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