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Recruiting Intelligence

What to do about too many Chinese students?

Many admissions officers will say: I wish that I had this problem. We are hearing more frequently from university officials concerns about having too many Chinese students with the consequence of isolation and limited contact with American students.  

The result is less language and cultural exposure to American students, one of the main objectives and benefits of studying in the U.S. This is not a Chinese cultural issue, since many students from Saudi Arabia or any other single nation or culture lead to the same outcome. It's a question of numbers and concentration.  

The question is serious since limited language skills, less communicative learning styles and social behavior will have an impact on the social environment and academic quality of programs, engendering frustration by domestic and international students.  

On a personal note, I speak from experience since I came as an international student from Germany to the U.S.  My American friends did not humor my attempts to translate German jokes into English.  It's a learning process for both sides that requires energy and a willingness to engage. 

The situation tends to be aggravated since international students tend to be concentrated in a few programs.  Subjects such as finance, accounting, engineering  and general business have an above average percentage of international students compared to English literature or history.

We have seen a number of articles related to this question. We really like the discussions initiated by Jessica Stahl in the The Student Union - Voice of America since it includes the perspective of American, Chinese and other international students. 

What can you do?

- Establish structured buddy programs.  Encourage and possibly even reward American students to develop relationships with Chinese students.

- Encourage faculty to create mixed work and study groups. We realize that admission officers and international student services have limited impact on faculty.  It may feel a little bit dictatorial for higher education, but certainly serves a higher purpose. 

- Family host programs are popular. These programs require coordination and involvement of the alumni office. 

We would love to learn about other suggestions and programs. 

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Photo: Courtesy of Calstate Fullerton University