Resources for Educators who are recruiting and enrolling students from China in the USA.

101 Mistakes Made by US Educators

Posted By irenetieh On Tuesday, May 28th, 2013 With 0 Comments

Each week, I will be adding to this list so stay tuned.

101. Chinese can not come to the US without a visa but it takes forever to get one in China. With so many of them trying to come here, our US embassy in China is chaotic! Remind students to book visa appointment ahead of time. If students do not live in a major Chinese city that has an embassy, they need to plan travel within China to get to US embassy.
100. Information provided about school is only in English
99. Social networks used by US institutions are predominantly Facebook, Youtube and Twitter but these sites are blocked in countries like China.
98. Their search engines are rigged in the sense that you must pay a lot of money to appear on the top of the search engine listings. Organic search is not very organic.
97. Information provided in Chinese to agents are done 100% by agent but no input from school putting school’s brand in jeopardy.
96. Believing that Chinese students care just as much about Greek life on campus as American students.
95. Believing that Chinese students care just as much about athletics on campus as American students.
94. Believing that a Chinese student who tests well on TOEFL or SAT have an excellent grasp of English and be able to communicate and understand what is going on in class. That means that all US students who take Spanish should have no problems when they go to Spain to study since they have been taking Spanish classes and test well. (I wish that were the case when I went to Spain after 10 years of studying Spanish, but I was still struggling to keep up in class).
93. All schools outside the US should know about our “transcript and GPA” (they don’t). Most transcripts start at different grades and do not calculate GPA. If you want to see a GPA on student’s transcript, let them know so that they can tell their school. Do not forget to explain to your student how a GPA is calculated.
92. Metric system in China is the same – very different from US. If you require students to submit artwork, make sure you tell them how to convert.
91. Chinese students pay tuition in cash. Some students still bring a luggage full of cash because it is safe in China but once they get to the U.S., not a good idea. Banks in China are now offering wire transfer services. Be sure to give your students several options to make tuition payments.
90. Chinese students have credit cards. That is sometimes true for grad students but not often for undergrads. China is a cash based society. Some people use more debit cards than credit cards. Cash is king!
89. Students from China (first timers in USA) know how to get to our campus- they will figure it out (NOT TRUE!). Since China has a better public transportation system, most students are in shock by how tough it is to get around in the US without a car. Arrange for pick up or be very specific (Chinese Student and Scholar Association might be able to assist) about how they can get to campus and whom they should contact in case of emergency once they land in US. Imagine being in a foreign country for the first time and how scared you would feel to figure out how to get from airport to hotel on your own with minimal language skills.
88. One-Child Policy. Students from China may not have a sibling- some privileged families do but most are the only child in their family.
87. Since they are the only child, they tend to live with extended family so they are not as independent as US students. In fact, most of them do not have to worry about anything else but studies/academics. They parents, nanny, grandparents (both sides) taking care of them. Some are raised by grandparents not parents.
86. Driving age in China is 18 yrs old so do not assume that students know how to drive when they get to US.
85. China does not have drinking age so do not assume they know about US drinking age is 21.
84. Just because you send students the information after they have enrolled, does not mean they will read it or understand it.
83. Most students from China have not lived on their own so selecting a dorm is completely foreign to them.
82. If the student is from Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou or Shenzhen, they are used to foreigners. But if they are from less developed areas of China, they only see Chinese not other nationalities.
81. Although a student may go to school in Beijing or Shanghai, that may not be his hometown. That school may claim it has an international curriculum, but that may not always be the case. Ask how many classes are taught fully in English by a native English teacher.
80. Not all Chinese speak the same dialect. Most Chinese speak Mandarin, but they have regional dialects like Cantonese. If you are hiring an administrator, make sure they speak Mandarin and then another dialect. Not Cantonese only!
79. Just like US has regional differences between North and South, so does China.
78. Hong Kong and Taiwan are not the same as mainland China. They use traditional Chinese characters unlike the abbreviated characters used for mainland China. One translation does not fit all three of these areas.
77. Although the speaking is different, the writing is usually the same no matter how you pronounce that character in your spoken tongue. There is a difference between abbreviated Chinese character versus the traditional Chinese characters used in Taiwan and Hong Kong.
76. Chinese names are difficult to distinguish gender and sometimes what we think is last name could be their first name. In Chinese, you say your last name, then middle name (designated by the generation you were born into) and then first name.
75. Religion is practiced in China, but not widely practiced. Communist party banned religions. Although there are some ethnic Chinese groups who can still practice their religion. Private schools with religious affiliation should treat religion as a separate subject matter and introduce it as if it is another history lesson.
74. There are no time zones in China.
73. Parents make most of the decisions for child, including studying abroad and the country of destination
72. Parents are overwhelmed by US college selection and that is why the hire an agent. They rather not figure things out but have someone else do the work for them (very different from US mentalit).
71. Most places in tier 1-3 cities in China stay open late. Convenient to find food. Most places in US close early by 9pm.
70. Chinese students tend to eat early vs late and prefer hot vs cold foods (see number 70).
69. In China, high schools stay open til 7pm so that students can stay and have study groups. High schools in U.S. close early but few Chinese students know about clubs or extracurricular activities.
68. Do not assume that Chinese know about holidays like Thanksgiving or Easter.
67. Do not assume that Chinese understand tail-gating, pep rally etc.
66. Do not assume that Chinese student are always studious- new generation who are spoiled or controlled by parents will act out in different ways. If they do not apply themselves in China, they cannot get into a good school so parents ship them out to U.S.
65. Do not assume that Chinese students enjoy eating salads, sandwiches or Chop Suey and Fortune cookies (those dishes are Americanized Chinese food that do not exist in China). Chinese students prefer to eat hot meals not cold meals.
64. Do not generalize that Chinese students only study business, engineering, and computer science. More students come to U.S. to study art, sports management, design etc.
63. Do not assume that all Chinese students come from wealthy household. If there is one child, then there are 6 people saving their life-long earnings to educate that one child. So not all Chinese families are wealthy or created equal.
62. Do not assume that Chinese students understand why plagiarism is wrong. That entire concept is so different in their culture.
61. Do not assume that Chinese students grow up as fast as Americans do. Not exactly. Chinese students do not have the independence that American kids have. Chinese students main job is to be a student, everything is outside of studying is usually taken care of by caregiver.
60. Do not assume that Chinese students are all good at math. Not all of them. They have better foundation in math but some students struggle just as much as American students.
59. Do not assume that Chinese students understand their visa process, visa status, etc.
58. Do not assume that Chinese students will come to advisors and academic resources for help- They do not want to admit that they need help and lost face.
57. Do not assume that Chinese students understand American mannerisms like saying “thank you or excuse me” or admitting mistakes.
56. Do not assume that when Chinese students pass campus English Placement test, they are ready for college level English writing and speaking. Most of them study English for an exam not for practical day to day use.
55. Do not assume that Chinese students know how to get their transcript translated. If you have a translation company that you prefer, please let the student know to send their transcript to that translation company.
54. Do not assume that Chinese students know how to get their letter of recommendation translated. If you have a translation company in mind, tell your student.
53. Believe that Chinese students pick the colleges (when it is the parents or agents making the decision).
52. Believe that Chinese students are receiving the emails informing them about college (oftentimes, the emails on student applications are from agents which is why no one responds).
51. Do not assume that Chinese students know how to make their bed. At home, they have a cleaning lady or grandparents who does everything for them. Student’s job is to study.
50. Do not assume Chinese students know how to manage time since they are 18 and old enough in American terms.
49. Do not assume that once you tell Chinese students about academic resources, they will use it or even understand what you were talking about.
48. Do not assume that Chinese students will use Career Services. They do not know what Career Services means.
47. Do not assume that Chinese students will use learning and writing center advisors. They do not understand the concept of advisors, counselors or learning centers.
46. Chinese students will need more English classes on grammar and writing to help them with college classes. Chinese students take these classes in China but they lack confidence to use the language so help them feel comfortable speaking and using the language.
45. Do not assume that Chinese students all have good grades and test scores for English and should be fluent. Chinese students know how to study and take tests using English but they cannot speak it or write essays.
44. Classes in China are the same as the way we teach in US. Classes in China are all about studying for their exams. If they do not pass these exams, the students cannot continue to the next grade level.
43. Classes in China do group projects. Actually, the classes in China are about studying for exams. The students who are in the class are grouped by their test scores. When it comes to studying, they do it solo. Hardly any teamwork unless you consider repeating what the teacher says teamwork.
42. Students can take gao kao and hui kao like our students do with SAT or ACT. Our students can take SAT or ACT as many times to get the highest score. Students from China can only take the hui kao after each year of high school and if they do not pass, they cannot move on to the next grade level or take the gao kao.
41. Do not assume that students in China can analyze and form opinions. Students are smart but they only study for exams which leaves them no room for errors. That means formulating your own opinions is out of the equation.
40. Do not assume that an ‘A’ or ’90’ is a good grade. Since test taking so highly competitive due to the sheer number of students and imbalance of schools to accommodate the population, 0.1 difference between a 99.1 vs 99.2 will mean ‘pass to next grade level’ or ‘stay behind’ for a student from China. If only 40% of the class can graduate with test scores of 99.3 and higher, a 99.2 or 99.1 cannot make the cut. That is why grades even to the decimal point are so important to Chinese students and their parents. Explain to your students how grading works in U.S. and why a 90 is not a bad grade over here.
39. Students from China go to high school from grade 9-12 like in the U.S. You probably know that high school in China or senior high school (vs Junior High) starts in grade 10. Make it clear when you ask to see their transcripts that you are only expecting 10-12 not 9-12. Many students find admission websites confusing in this area.
40. Do not assume that students in China spend as much time in school as our students do in the U.S. Students in China spend more time in school because they can do their homework in school. Their teacher will stay and monitor them after school.
39. Do not assume that students in China get to have fun on weekends. Students in China study during weekends and attend cram schools so that they can achieve higher scores on their exams.
38. Students in China know how to contact TOEFL, SAT etc to send test scores to your school. False, most Chinese students will fill that in your application but do not know that they have to contact standardized test companies separately to send scores directly to U.S. schools. Please make that clear on your applications and include the codes on the application or a reminder to do so.
37. Assume that students from China will know how to ask questions when it comes to internships, visa, OPT etc. Most undergraduates have no clue.
36. Assume that students from China will understand how to do homework and turn in homework assignments. Most students from China stay in school to complete assignments under teacher supervision. Homework assignments are totally new and so are deadlines.
35. Assume that students will integrate on campus. Chinese students are so ‘out of their element’ that they feel more comfortable with other Chinese students. That is ok for their first year. Orchestrate programs across campus that will encourage them to meet domestic students. Do not assume these students know how to do so on their own. Partner with Chinese language and history teachers to identify domestic students who can take the lead to organize events with Chinese students.
34. Students from China will know how to be organized. Most (not all) Chinese are not very organized and maintain what they have. It is not something that the society values. Just look at Chinatown and traffic in China. Organized chaos!
33. Students from China will ask for help from other students. Yes and no. It really depends on the personality of the Chinese student and how important they value ‘face.’ If a student is struggling, they may never admit that they are having difficulty because they will bring shame to their family and lose face. Some students prefer to struggle alone. No one is clear how they are doing.
32. Do not assume that students from China will attend all classes. Academically, Chinese students come from a very structured environment. Coming to a U.S. campus where they are a choice in professors and classes can be very overwhelming to them if they have been told what to do and take in China. Since no one is there to remind them to go to class, they may not see the need to attend.
31. Do not assume that the grading criteria in China are the same in the U.S. False. Grades in China are determined by exams. One for mid year and another for final exam. Make sure professors communicate clearly the importance of attendance, participation, homework, group work and exams when it comes to grades.
30. Do not assume that students in China attend school the second semester of their senior year. Most schools in China allow students to stay home and study for their gaokao. Therefore, you will not see many seniors at school during Spring of senior year. If students go to international school, there might be elective classes since these students are studying abroad and not taking the gaokao. However, most international track students will end up doing internships or studying English off campus.

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