Chinese Students Regard U.S. Higher Education as Top Quality, but Also Confusing

American universities remain popular with Chinese students, who often see them as crucial to learning critical-thinking skills, but the students are frequently confused by the country’s higher-education system, suggests a new survey. Of 647 high-school students who said they were interested in studying in an English-speaking country, 78 percent said they wanted to go to college in the United States, says the survey, which was published by the Art & Science Group, a consulting company. The quality of the American education and its focus on problem solving and critical thinking topped the list for why they were interested.

However, 41 percent of students indicated that they weren’t sure if they were prepared academically to study in the United States, and 37 percent said they don’t know very much about American colleges and universities. Such confusion appeared to lead a minority of the students and their parents to hire agents, a practice that has generated some scrutiny in the United States recently. Of the students who said they were interested in going to America, 26 percent said they used an agent, 57 percent said they did not, and 17 percent said they didn’t know. Of those who did hire an agent, most said the primary reason for doing so was because “applying to American colleges is very confusing, and agents make it simpler.”

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