Kristin Lynch: China and the U.S. have DIFFERENT Education-styles

I recently emailed a few questions to Kristin Lynch, the program manager at EduBoston: an international organization that connects (F1) [0]    Chinese-exchange students with host families, education, and a whole bunch of other programs in America.  (You can read the full interview here).

Annually, the number of Chinese students studying in the U.S. has grown.[1]   Clearly, these students must see some value in American education, otherwise they would not be arriving in such large numbers.

Lynch points out, “Perhaps the main reason parents want their children to study here and students want to come, is the different educational philosophy. Education in the U.S. is interactive and student-centered.  It is designed to encourage student inquiry, curiosity, analytical thinking, and a love of learning.”  Meanwhile, China has a “more rigid, teacher-centered education system, the signals can be confusing” which emphasizes listening, memorization and formal exams.

These views run contrary to news headlines.

Popular criticism: the U.S. education system is “lagging” behind China’s.2

Those who rank the world’s top school systems each year have concluded that America’s school system has fallen behind those in other countries during the past few years.  This assessment has sparked education reform and Common Core policies throughout the U.S. [3]  

However, the ranking systems’ metrics do not measure self-esteem, self-efficacy, creative thinking capacity, and other qualitative types of “brains.”

When American news perpetuates the fear that China will “overtake” the United States with their superior education system, they neglect a crucial fact:  If a student fails the Gao’Kao, China’s college-entrance standardized tests, they will not receive their high school diploma.  The Gao’Kao does not allow for second-tries or do-overs, so students face intense pressure from a young age to succeed, as failure means “no degree, poor job prospects and a life full of regret.”  This system has some nasty side-effects on the psyche of young students. [4]   

Many parents in China view America’s holistic education favorably.

Lynch notes that U.S. education places more emphasis on the individuality of each student: “[In America], many assignments involve choice, exploration of one’s own interests, and expression of one’s own ideas.”  Also noteworthy, participation in Chinese classrooms is discouraged while in the U.S. participation and class discussions form a portion of a students’ overall grade.

According to Lynch, more and more teachers are also using project-based learning to get students using academic knowledge and skills to make real things and solve real problems, “creating a stimulating, memorable, and confidence-building learning experience.”

The focus on the well-being and self-esteem of students’ compels many to pursue American schooling, even if China’s schooling yields higher test scores. “Many Chinese parents also recognize the value of sports and clubs… and they want their children to can participate in them.”  She also adds in that “activities, such as sports, clubs, music, and volunteering, allow students to explore, discover, and develop their interests and talents.”

So, what do you think? Feel free to email me at or leave a comment.


If you are interested in EduBoston’s programs or hosting an international student, check out their website:

[0]  An F1 visa, which differentiates from a J1, allows for a fuller, more long-term educational experience in America.





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Exams And Language Barriers

Dear readership, as the Fall 2017 semester reaches its ending, I am now publishing my Asian-studies related term papers here.

With Thanksgiving Break over, stomachs packed to capacity, and spiritual rejuvenation, the final-stretch of the semester has begun!  With multiple exams, research papers, and final projects on the horizon, students generally experience some elevated stress.  Though I’ve been super busy, I’ve kept reflecting on the omnipresent language barriers (again) faced by my exchange-student friends.  In particular, I worry a bit for the Freshman: 18 year old students readying for their first college exam cycle whilst juggling a foreign language.

Some basic considerations…

Although these students passed an English proficiency test to obtain their Student Visa to attend American universities, passing these standardized tests does not necessarily equate with fluency.  Just like the SAT or ACT, these tests have patterns and nuances which a test-taker can examine and study accordingly.  Who can blame them? If a foreigner intends on receiving an American education, why would they not approach a standardized test this way? As with all standardized tests, strategy is the name of the game. Unfortunately, this methodological approach does not guarantee ‘A’s.

Due to the Model Minority Stereotype, few truly consider that Chinese exchange-students face the same challenges as any American young adult. No nationality or ethnicity escapes naturally struggles like social adjustment, feuding with roommates, and procrastinating.  Thankfully, Fairfield University recognizes the importance of mental health and offers services to aid with adjustment, a process difficult enough in one’s native language.

Hopefully, the university’s faculty and leaders will sympathize with the exchange-students in particular.a

Whether they receive a semester or four years’ worth of American education, these students are still tuition-paying members of the community.  Accordingly, they deserve equal representation in the university’s development of on-campus resources.  In writing this, I appreciate that the commendable resources offered by the university dedicated to promoting students’ mental health.  Rather, I just pose the question:  How can our preexisting on-campus services specialize in exchange-students‘ well-being?

Please note: the school benefits when hundreds of exchange students–from all corners of the globe–rave to their families about the quality of Fairfield University.

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