Chinese Students Studying in the United States

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Chinese Students Studying in the United States


The developments and reformations in China allow more Chinese citizens to move into the U.S as international students with the goal of achieving better educational opportunities. Indications show that thousands of Chinese students move into the U.S. every year and the number might even increase in the coming years. An article by Barker estimates that presently, about 974,925 foreign learners seek education from American universities with the Chinese taking up a third of the population. Even though the Chinese are not the only foreigners who enter into America to seek higher education, Yan and Berliner (941) imply that the group is one of those that experience significant hurdles in embracing the America culture and educational system. It is essential to develop quick remedies to the challenges Chinese international students face to achieve a more integrative society.

Challenges Chinese Students Face

Evidence shows that the cultural disparity between the Americans and the Chinese subject the Asian learners to academic stressors which make their stay and learning processes quit uncomfortable. A qualitative study of the Chinese international students in the U.S. by Yan and Berliner (950) that seeks to examine the most stressful elements for the learners find that the cultural variations make it difficult to engage in constructive communication processes. The language deficiencies make it difficult for the Chinese students to get most of their requirements such as food items and clothing whenever they go shopping. Furthermore, the inability to interact using the same language as the English-speaking Americans derail their efforts to make friends and to socialize freely as it ought to happen. Yan and Berliner assert that although the enrollment of the Chinese international students is increasing, the cultural differences still challenge many learners. The inability to converse in coherent English prevents the Chinese learners from taking an active part in the cooperative forms of learning that form the basis of acquiring knowledge in the American schools.

Other than finding it difficult to communicate because of the differences in language, some Chinese international students in the U.S. encounter racism which input more pressure to the learners. The concept of the critical race theory (CRT) explains why it is still common to witness instances of racism in America. CRT postulates that the American society maintains its racial power and white supremacy for a long time, and the laws seem to concur with the ideology (Crenshaw 1342). Even though CRT continues to undergo transformations that seek to lower the magnitude of racism in the U.S. the elements of this frameworks seem to be rooted in some Americans who continue to view the white Americans to be dominant concerning culture and way of thinking (Crenshaw 1342). It is encouraging that the scholars in this area have started to look into how the acquired tradition in law affects the people of color not individually but as a group. The proponents of CRT ought to understand that the framework facilitates internalized racism or internalized oppression where the victims of the imbalance believe that the white people and culture is superior to theirs.

The cultural variations present several other challenges to the Chinese who move to study to the U.S. The Asians find that some of the cultural ideologies in China differ significantly with the Americans’ thus straining the groups that seek education in different institutions. The Chinese, for example, are not likely to seek for assistance from their tutors even when facing some difficulties in handling class work because according to the Chinese culture the individuals who present the fewest problems are highly valuable. The culture views such people as being sharp and hardworking. The Chinese believe that working hard has a direct benefit on the doer of the actions and not any other person. Such a view becomes difficult to follow because the American culture does not only stress on individual effort but also stresses on cooperation and teamwork. Furthermore, the Chinese view education as being critical in improving one’s forms of reasoning and acting which motivate the citizens of the Asian-Pacific nation to work hard in their educational practices. The Chinese, however, find it difficult to excel in education in the U.S. because of the constraints in the western country. It may also not be common for some Americans to show complete desire to pass the academic process which further conflict with the Chinese culture.

The change in environment, culture, and even curriculum impart much pressure on the international students which make it difficult for most of them to perform well. The article by Barker on the South China Morning Post describes a confession by a professor who narrates the ordeal many Chinese students encounter while they pursue their undergraduate course. The graduate’s description gives the impression that the foreigners faced several obstacles in their quest for education from U.S. colleges. Barker begins by stating how at least 8000 students of Chinese origin were ejected from institutions across the nation because of engaging in examination malpractices on the compulsory English test international learners must pursue to get admission into U.S. universities (TOEFL). The tutor even mentions that some get discontinued for failing their exams mainly because of the change in structure and the environment. The professor gives an example of one his Chinese students who could barely put down the letters of the Roman alphabet (Barker). The instructor expresses fear that U.S. colleges may continue to lose more of the foreigners if the low performance prolongs.

It is apparent that the difficulties Chinese students encounter while learning in America may demoralize many individuals who do not have the patience to wait until they can adapt to the new environment. An overview of how Maslow’s hierarchy of needs works offers a broader view of how the challenges the students face may hinder many from gaining the motivation to proceed with their education. The inability to communicate appropriately deters some poor communicators from getting some of the fundamental human requirements. A Chinese student who cannot communicate well in English, for example, may find it hard to purchase food at the market by giving a specific description of what they want thus making it difficult to access the physiological want. Secondly, entering into a new environment where one has no relations threatens one’s safety which Maslow considers to be a critical requirement for human beings to achieve good performance (Hoffman 28). It is also evident that the lack of ability to interact competently with the rest cuts the number of friends a person can have which only deprives one their need to be loved. It is also apparent that the incapability to draw friends denies the students the self-esteem that drives people to act or become interactive with more vigor. The international students would ultimately find it straining to reach the self-actualization stage where one feels proud of their achievements.

The stressors the Chinese students encounter may push some of them to violate the ethics of virtue that defines how every individual ought to act. It becomes quite challenging for the international learners to uphold virtues such as honesty in exams as it comes out in Barker’s writing when some hardly know how to come up with concrete Roman structures. It may also be difficult to uphold a virtue such as loyalty or charity, which the author of Chapter 7 (173) considers to be fundamental ethical virtues, when they face hostility due to racism, or incapacity to engage in constructive communication processes. The only way through which the Chinese can exhibit acceptable traits is when the Americans themselves reciprocate with the acceptable ethical virtues. The America citizens in this instance might borrow from the teachings of the author in Chapter 8 (202) who makes reference to Kant’s argument to ethical practice that one is obliged to treat others with virtue regardless of their emotional feelings. Otherwise, the visitors may continue with the undesired traits when the Americans serve as the source of the trouble.

Benefits to Chinese Students

Even though the Chinese who come to learn to the U.S. experience some challenges that make it challenging for them to cope with the rest, the opportunity provides some advantages to the trainees. Bennett visits Beijing and interviews some parents to acquire their views about their children securing learning opportunities in the U.S. The CNN reporter finds that a majority would love their offspring to achieve learning opportunities in America and to stay in the Western nation if possible. The reporter finds that even though a majority of Chinese learning institutions provide better knowledge in STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) many would love to become proficient in other areas such as humanities (Bennett). Bennett informs that many Chinese students expect higher standards when moving into the U.S, and also expect to encounter unlimited opportunities. Apart from the high-quality education, the Chinese get the chance to meet people from different parts of the globe and to understand how the cultures differ. The advantages that come with learning in America might be the reason why the number of Chinese international students continues to escalate.

Benefits of International Students to the Nation

It is essential to understand how the international students benefit the country to have a more comprehensive perception of the impact the visitors have on the U.S. The learners have a positive effect on the nation’s economy with Barker estimating that the foreigners contributed up to $30 billion to the American economy based on the data by the Department of Commerce. The students also help the country to overcome what Barker refers to as isolationism. Welcoming the Chinese into American colleges will help to overcome the fears that fuel the creation of unfavorable policies such as barring some groups from entering the country. The benefits the foreigners have in the country indicate that it is advisable to look into the hurdles the team faces to facilitate their entry and development.


The hurdles that Chinese students face when they come to the U.S. would reduce through the adoption of proper measures. An example of how to mitigate the challenges the Chinese face would be to introduce more English training courses across the country. The initiative by Cambridge English that allows foreigners to learn English under the guidance of professionals is an excellent initiative that would bridge the gap in communication. The trainees entering the U.S. should be aware of such programs and take action to attend the courses before enrolling in institutions where the majority use English to converse. Individual students may also take time to engage in personal studies through the various avenues such as media sources and publications that provide insightful information regarding English usage.

The Department of Education should liaise with other groups to conduct nation-wide campaigns that inform about the dangers of racism which appear to disrupt how Chinese students go about their activities in America. The awareness process should pass the information that every person is equal regardless of their cultural background, and that it is unethical to discriminate against the other. The enlightenment should inform the target group about the benefits cultural integration which includes widened opportunities to learn other people’s cultural values, and increased chances to gain new information. The educators should inform that subjecting the others to racial segregation may lead to forms of radicalization and may also cause polarization which may turn to confrontations in adverse cases.

The challenges the Chinese students face in the U.S. requires one to be patient while experiencing the unfavorable features until they can cope with the rest. Lack of patience and humility is the main reason why some students from China opt to quit schooling with the view that the mistreatment may continue. Students should understand that no condition is permanent and that the challenges they face might come to pass. Being weak in the heart and being unable to bear with the hurdles may deter one from achieving their academic goals, and may also deny one the chance to learn from other cultures.



The challenges Chinese international students face requires an urgent address to attain equality in the way learners receive the education. The institutions in charge of educational practices in the U.S. should address the complications the Chinese students experience in their struggle to fit into the American society which includes cultural variation which causes poor performance among many learners. Prolonged difficulties may demoralize many learners from completing their course which is not anyone would want. The Chinese learners, however, experience some benefits by coming into the U.S. which include the opportunity to acquire a better education, the chance to meet people from different parts of the globe, and the chance to explore how the Chinese culture differ with others. Facilitating the learning processes of these students will give America the opportunity to gain from their coming into the country.






















Works Cited

Barker, Adele. “Why some Chinese Students Struggle at Universities in the U.S.” South China Morning Post, May 27, 2016, Accessed 9 December 2017

Bennett, William. “Why the Chinese are Flocking to U.S. Colleges.” CNN, May 31, 2012, Accessed 9 December 2017

Chapter 7. The Virtue of Ethics.

Chapter 8. The Ethics of Relationship.

Crenshaw, Kimerle. “Race, Reform and Retrenchment: Transformation and Legitimation in Anti-Discrimination.” Harvard Law Review, vol. 101, no. 7, pp. 1331-1387.

Hoffman, E. Future Visions: The Unpublished Papers of Abraham Maslow. Sage Publishers, 1996.

Yan, Kun and Berliner David. “Chinese International Students’ Academic Stressors in the United States.” College Student Journal, vol. 43, no. 4, 2009, pp. 939-960.


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