China hasn’t gotten the message: US universities are overrated

U.S. University

Despite the skyrocketing cost of US education and the mounting debt that American students are accruing, Chinese youth are still looking across the Pacific for education opportunities. In spite of the outcry of degrading quality of education, US institutions are maintaining their international prestige. William Bennett of CNN reports:

“I just returned from a trip to Beijing, where I spoke with Chinese parents about the value of American education, where we excel and where we fall short. Not surprising was the extent to which the Chinese value education, especially primary and secondary education, and yearn for their children to attend American universities, and if possible, stay in America.

When I engaged Chinese parents about their children, they would often say, ‘My son (or daughter) is going to Princeton (or fill in the elite American university).’ I would respond, ‘Great! What year is your son or daughter right now?’ And they would say, ‘Three years old.’

This passion for education starting at such an early age is powerful. After meeting with Chinese teachers, parents and children, three differences were immediately clear.

First, their children are better educated than American children in the STEM fields — science, technology, engineering and math. High standards and high expectations are the norm in China, not the exception, as is often the case in the United States.

Second, Chinese parents will sacrifice almost anything for their child’s education. They realize firsthand, ‘History is a race between education and catastrophe,’ as H.G. Wells put it. In China, the disposable income of middle-class families is more likely to be spent on education than leisure or entertainment.

Third, to the Chinese people, American universities, for all their shortcomings and blemishes, are still beacons of freedom, individualism and self-improvement. To them, our universities are emblems of the highest achievement.

In Asia, they have a saying: ‘The protruding nail gets hammered down.’ In America, we give awards for protruding nails.”

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