Learn what outreach to Chinese families entails.
Editor's Note: We asked June Wang Scortino to explain how to recruit Chinese students. ~Rob Kennedy
Recently many more Chinese students have been applying for and enrolling in American boarding schools. Moreover, many schools are also making annual trips to China in the hope of attracting more applicants, instead of better-qualified applicants. In the end, it is Chinese agencies that regulate the number of students going to the U.S., as they are the ones which conclude the necessary transactions with the parents, based on their guarantees of admission into American schools. Notwithstanding the wishes of American schools to liaise directly with the parents to whom they could introduce themselves, it is very difficult to overcome the existing intermediary role of Chinese agencies. This is why it is critical to work with an organization such as Beijing Overseas Study Service Association
CCTV America Correspondent Karina Huber takes an in-depth look at the Chinese students in U.S. private high schools by interviewing Yaxian Fan, a student at Beekman School and her headmaster, Mr. George Higgins.
How to contact Chinese parents
Direct access is the most important and crucial first step in the process for schools to select qualified applicants. Only parents with the necessary knowledge and information can make an informed decision about selecting the right school and eventually the right college. If the parents face a language barrier or are unable to communicate directly with the schools or visit the schools, they will naturally be unable to understand the finer details about the schools. What Chinese parents require most is information about the education which their children will receive. From the perspective of the school, their main role is to accept and educate the students. As for the parents, their behavior will inevitably have a lasting long-term impact on the children.
Issues which both parents and students face
On the other hand, once the Chinese students have enrolled at American schools, their parents may have limited contact with the school. What they learn about the school and its developments are often from the one-sided perspective of their child. Hence, the parents end up not knowing anything about the finer details of the school, and the chasm between the parents and school continues to widen. Due to Chinese cultural traits, the parents are usually inclined to adopt a conservative and passive approach towards contacting the teachers. As for the students, while they are relieved having escaped from the national high-school exams, they also feel a sense of loneliness and isolation. The struggles they face during their studies will often weaken their self-confidence and self-initiative. They also do not have the option of venting their frustrations at their parents.
The large number of Chinese students entering the school system brings about the need to adjust the policy and approach towards these students. This includes the provision of the contract in both Chinese and English, the employment of Chinese language teachers, as well as the organization of meetings with parents. At the same time, there is also the phenomenon of parents accompanying their child, who is coming over for studies, to settle down in the U.S. The problem we face is as follows: As a school and an educational institution, have we fulfilled our responsibilities? Or should we get out of the current framework to extend a helping hand?
This animated story follows students through their journey, leaving home in China, to arriving at school.
Setting expectations realistically
Private boarding schools have many advantages and long-term value. However, we cannot assume that Chinese or international students would derive the same advantages and value. It is indisputable that schools were designed for the sake of the students and parents of the home country. At the same time, as Chinese parents are not American parents, their role towards their children, who are studying in a foreign country, is even more important. They can form the crux of the system to help students assimilate into the US school system. Even though it is neither the legal responsibility nor duty of the schools to help Chinese parents be more capable parents, we, as an educational institution, should do something meaningful for the students. That is also a tradition and value of us Americans.
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