Why Do So Many Chinese Students Favour U.S Boarding Schools?


Globalisation has had a vast effect on modern day society, and the impact hasn’t stopped at international boarding schools. Last year, Project Atlas reported that there was a total of 886,052 international students enrolled in schools throughout the United States, and 274,439 of these students originated from mainland China; that’s a staggering 31% of the total number of students from overseas, and a 17% increase on the figures from the previous year. The American education system has long been the subject of international prestige, but what is it, exactly, that has caused so many students from China to flock to the United States?

Image via Science Insider.

It’s mind boggling to think that ten years ago, there were less than 63,000 Chinese students studying in America, and the number of students from India stood at almost 77,000. In a decade, the number of Indian students has gone up by less than 30,000, whereas the number originating from China has more than quadrupled. It didn’t take long for China to overtake India as number one, and South Korea remains in a sturdy third place.

“There’s more wealth in Asia now,” said Douglas Lyons, executive Director of the Connecticut Association of Independent Schools, “There is also a belief among Asian families that the choices available to them at home don’t compete with what we have here. Many believe that if you really want your child to be successful you want him or her to go to an American college.”

The increase in applicants is directly correlated to the financial crisis of 2008, and many believe that that there have been vacancies at schools, day schools in particular; whose applicant pool is constitutionally restricted by geography- but this is undoubtedly changing. Chinese parents want their child to receive a world-class education from a respected institution, and accepting these students is certainly in the school’s best interest; the children are considered intellectual and conscientious, and their parents pay the full tuition price plus the fee for recruiting firms that assist with the visa process.

In a recent report by the BBC, Xuran Peng, a student from China, spoke of how her American education will profit her whole family, including her younger brother. She said, “I feel like it’s part of my responsibility to earn the tuition for him, because my parents actually have the big wish that both of us can finish our education in the U.S and probably work in the U.S in the future. In China, there are lots of international high schools where people are aiming to get into the top universities in the U.S.”

Cheshire Academy, a private boarding school in Connecticut, is one example of a school that has experienced a significant rise in the number of students from China. The school teaches 400 boarding and day school students grades 8 through to 12, and this past year it had enrolled 164 students from 32 different countries; 85 of which came over from mainland China. In an email to the Hartford Courant, Head of School John D. Nozell wrote that the school was “among the first schools to enrol international boarding school students, beginning in the 1850s, and we have remained dedicated to serving a diverse population of students.”


New photos from our fencing team are up on the website! Click the link in our profile to see the full album.

A photo posted by Cheshire Academy (@cheshireacademy) on

In recent years, the rapid development of Chinese international schools has demonstrated the country’s growing demand for a westernised education, and the reason so many favour American institutions is because they are consistently ranked among the best in the world. The majority of the funds come directly from their families, but many can get scholarships that allow them more money to spend abroad.

Chinese students are a major economic factor in the United States; contributing $20 billion to the American economy each year. With any luck, the number of Chinese students choosing to study in America will continue to rise, and the United States can remain the world’s number one provider of a stellar education.

Image via Shutterstock.