A critique of top US schools

Updated: 2014-03-20 07:49

(China Daily)

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When I ask my Chinese friends which American cities they know about, most name the big cities in the east cost such as New York City, Chicago and Boston. Because of their limited knowledge about the United States, talking to parents of students can be a frustrating experience. They typically think that since their children are at the top of the high school class, they should attend schools like Harvard, Yale, New York University or other top institutions.

I consider this a huge problem for Chinese education. It's time Chinese families and companies changed their views on the subject.

Chinese students can thrive in smaller American universities for several reasons. First, they won't be just a number in smaller universities. I earned my bachelor's degree from a highly reputable university. It was a great experience, but none of the professors knew my name and some of my classes had more than 200 students. Such universities can easily leave a Chinese student without motivation and could also prevent him/her from attending classes.

Second, Chinese students can focus more on education in smaller universities. Big universities are like big cities-they have bigger distractions. Chinese students, like their counterparts anywhere else in the world, want to have fun, and without pressure from their families who's going to stop them from going astray?

Third, Chinese students will find it difficult to be part of a new culture in big cities. Big cities have many people of Chinese descent, which one might think is good, but it is actually the opposite. If Chinese students find their fellow countrymen they may shy away from foreigners, which means their English language skills and studies will suffer. I've met many Chinese who have terrible English skills despite having studied abroad.

Fourth, Chinese students will find real peace in small American cities, which are unlike those in China. They have everything a student needs. Besides, many of the small towns are beautiful and could be Chinese students' only opportunity to experience the tranquility and peace of a sparsely populated place.

And finally, by sending their children to smaller universities parents can save a lot of money without compromising on their education or experience. Everything will be cheaper and Chinese students can find wonderful jobs in small cities .

Chinese parents seem to believe in the idea that you should do what other people do or want you to do. But if you are a parent reading this, I challenge you to be different.

Mattwritenow, from China Daily blog

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