Resources for Educators who are recruiting and enrolling students from China in the USA.
Published On: Tue, Jun 4th, 2013

EQ vs IQ

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Today’s students in China are extremely competitive. In fact, there is often very little time outside of class to do anything fun. Most students end up in cram classes or tutorials after school or during the weekends. Or they are put into music classes but mostly not by choice.

The social traditions that are common to U.S. schools do not exist in the same way. There are seldom school dances but there might be school competitions in math or science or field trips to museums. Students in China have very little time for self reflection or self awareness outside of academic performance.

When it comes down to soft skills like time management or organizing activities, students in China rarely have these types of opportunities (unless they go to international or private schools). Most of the activities are planned for them by the school, parents or grandparents. If they do have time to see friends, they normally will go out to eat, watch a movie, play video games or karaoke. Rarely will they throw parties at their parents’ house or have prom-like events. The pressure to perform academically overrules everything else. In the rare moments when they can take a break, Chinese student escape into their personal devices like smartphones, ipads or computers.

For example, students in China generally have shorter summer vacations and will do additional tutorials in preparation for the following year. Very few will look for summer job or have an opportunity to do summer internships (the working age in China is 18). During senior year, they may have an opportunity for internships but academic performance comes first.

With their heads buried in books, ipads and phones, students from China may not have the social skills to go and introduce themselves, organize a gathering or make presentations. Social skills are not reinforced in and beyond the classroom in China which makes their transition that much more difficult after arriving in the U.S. and realizing that U.S. colleges can be socially overwhelming with the number of activities and social events that take place alongside classes.

Irene Tieh
Cross-Cultural Connector and
Founder of USA College Connection

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  1. Jfordforest says:

    This is very informative and thank you for writing this. We are looking for ways to integrate our Chinese students more on campus and this helps us understand the context they are coming from.

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