As the number suggests, more and more Chinese parents are choosing to send their young children to school abroad. [CFP]
An exhibition featuring some of the world's top high schools was held last weekend at Shanghai's Huating Hotel. The event attracted hundreds of eager parents and children.
As the number suggests, more and more Chinese parents are choosing to send their young children to school abroad. One parent, Mr. Chen, became interested in the idea after one of his friends sent his child to an American high school. This year, the child was accepted into a good university, and according to Mr. Chen's friend, the application process is much easier for a student at an American high school than for a student at a Chinese high school. Mr. Chen was struck by the child's improvement.
"The child was just average in class when he studied in China," said Mr. Chen. "But he has improved greatly after studying abroad. My child is currently in the second year of middle school, and he is performing well in his class. I believe studying abroad will give him a much better opportunity to improve."
Many parents see the success enjoyed by other people's children and believe that their children will also be successful studying abroad. Many parents have seen friends or relatives send children to schools overseas, and, as a result, see the move as a positive one.
Some parents also have high expectations of overseas education systems. Many believe that educating their children abroad will help them to get work, and ultimately settle in their chosen country.
"In the last two years, more and more Chinese students have attended high schools in other countries," said Liu Yuan, general manager of the Shanghai branch of EIC (Education International Cooperation Group). Students' overseas education is generally divided into three categories: high school, graduate and postgraduate. Currently, postgraduate study attracts the most students, accounting for 70 percent of all applications. However, applications to high schools have increased rapidly since 2010, and now account for more than 20 percent of all applications.
According to statistics from the United States Department of Homeland Security, only 65 foreign students studied at American high schools in the 2005-2006 academic year. The number reached 6,725 in 2010- 2011, seeing a 100 fold increase in just five years.
Although there have been many success stories, there are also tales of woe. One parent, Mr. Zhang, sent his son to study in England during his second year of middle school. However, Mr. Zhang's son failed to flourish academically. Instead, he spent most of his time shopping and playing computer games with his classmates. Finally, after four years of study and a failed attempt to get into university, he returned to China. Those four years cost Mr Zhang 1.5 million yuan (US$235,530).
Liu Yuan advised parents to assess their options carefully before committing. "Don't follow the trend blindly," he said. "Not all young children have the temperament necessary to study abroad and deal with the different problems they will certainly face, both in terms of their studies and daily life." Liu commented that some children might give up due to their lack of independence and inability to take care of themselves. In addition, due to the huge difference between Chinese and foreign education systems, a Chinese youngster's system of morals and world view will face huge challenges. Therefore, parents must be very careful when selecting a school.
Liu commented that, after making the decision to send their children abroad, parents should take another year to plan and make preparations, ensuring that their children get into the correct mindset for studying and living abroad.