Chinese Students

in US High Schools



allure rehearse graduate school
private go by (2) the states
attend warm up choose/chose/chosen
used to treat (3) psychopath
trend area (3) get used to
by far visa (2) model (3)
inn scientist brainchild
dorm attention pick up (3)
tuition include fortunate
gain ranking relatively
hope capable take over
benefit AP class delegation
tuition neat (2) premium (2)
afford head off whack (2)
budget board (3) retreat (2)
decline enhance boarding school
extend graduate retreat (2)
expand demand mission (2)
tour suggest engagement
facility cover (2) by the time
trip (2) will have admit (2)






Chinese students have been attending American colleges and graduate schools in big numbers for years.

And now the allure of access to some of the world’s best universities has Chinese parents sending their kids to the states even earlier: for high school.

Dong Changyan, who goes by Emma, attends Pius XI Catholic High School in Milwaukee.

The nineteen (19) year-old senior is taking AP classes in the morning, and rehearsing for a school play in the afternoon.

Emma’s from Guangzhou, a city northwest of Hong Kong. She came from her high school in China to study in the U.S. two-and-a-half years ago.

Journalist: “Tell me some of your favorite things about studying in America.”
Emma Dong, Student: “First thing is I can choose what I want to study. In China, we don’t choose — people tell you what class you are going to take.

I took Acting 1B, and it taught me to warm up with a Banana Dance.”

Journalist: “What’s a Banana Dance? Show me the way then, come on. Would you ever have done in China or in high school?”
Emma Dong: “No! You would be treated as a psychopath.”

More and more Chinese parents are sending their kids to study in the States even before they get to college.

Journalist: “What’s your plan?”
Emma Dong, Student: “The plan is I want to go to college here. Most of my dad’s friends suggest to him that it’s better for me to come here for high school because I can get used to the culture, and I can get used to the language.”

Journalist: “What do you want to do when you graduate?”
Emma Dong, Student: “I want to be a doctor, but it might change. I’m a high schooler, so far. So, who knows?”

Emma’s one of sixty-eight (68) teenagers from China who are attending Pius this year, and they’re part of a growing national trend.

In 2016, nearly fifty-thousand (50,000) Chinese nationals received visas to attend high schools in the United States — that’s one-hundred (100) times more than in 2004, and makes Chinese students the largest group of international students by far.

Demand is so great that this former Days Inn Hotel has been turned into a full-service dorm for Chinese kids.

The Wisconsin International Academy, or WIA, is the brainchild of Jian Sun, a former scientist turned businessman, and it’s where Emma lives with a hundred-seventy (170) other high schoolers from China.

Dorm Overseer: “Attention WIA students: if you would like to pick up your package, now is the best time.”

Kids eat, sleep and study here. WIA is home, and it isn’t cheap.

Journalist: “So it’s forty to fifty thousand dollars ($40,000 to $50,000) a year for a student?”
Jian Sun, President, Wisconsin International Academy: “For students, it covers tuition at their high school and a year-long program and services, food, transportation — everything is included.”
Journalist: “So these parents are typically very successful, they’re relatively wealthy. What are they hoping to gain?”
Jian Sun, President, Wisconsin International Academy: “Well, some families want their kids to go to the best college they can get into. They are talking about ranking in the top fifty (50) or top one-hundred (100).

Some families want to make sure that their kids are capable of taking over their family business, when they are done here in college.”

Jian Sun isn’t the only one financially benefitting from kids coming to the U.S. from China: five private high schools in the area take kids from WIA, like Melinda Skrade. She’s the president of Pius, where Emma goes, and has been partnering with WIA for the past five years.

Melinda Skrade, President of Pius XI Catholic High School: “There’s just so many really neat kids in this class. Here she is.”

Chinese students at Pius pay a four-thousand dollar ($4,000) premium on top of the regular twelve-thousand dollar ($12,000) tuition that American kids pay.

Skrade says it’s to cover extra services, like additional language instruction.

Journalist: “These students that are coming from China are paying full whack when it comes to tuition. How does that help, actually, as a resource to students that are already here, that perhaps couldn’t necessarily afford to come here?”

Melinda Skrade, President of Pius XI Catholic High School: “There will be children that won’t be able to afford an art trip, and there will be people that can’t go on a retreat.

Because the total collected budget affords those opportunities for every student, having the premium tuition, having the full-pay tuition, we’ve been really fortunate that all programs have continued to be enhanced.”

Enrollment at Catholic and some other private schools has been declining. But American boarding schools have been able to keep their enrollment numbers up by admitting more international students.

More Chinese students means more business for Jian Sun, who plans to expand his WIA model.

Jian Sun, President, Wisconsin International Academy: “One of our missions is, really, community engagement . . .”

When we visited him last month, a delegation of six private schools from Cleveland (Ohio) toured Jian’s facilities to learn more about WIA.

Journalist: “What are your hope for growth for this year, next year and beyond?”

Jian Sun, President, Wisconsin International Academy: “This year, we’re looking to develop the program in Iowa. And other than high schools, we are extending our program to seventh and eighth grade.”

By the time Jian Sun expanded his program, Emma will have graduated from high school. She hopes to attend Boston University. But before she heads off to college, she’s going to China for the summer; it’s the only time she gets to spend with her family.


*     *     *     *     *     *     *



1. Chinese students coming to study in the United States is recent phenomenon. True or false?

2. Is the educational system of the US the same as in China, according to Emma Dong? What are the advantages?

3. Does she have plans for her future? What are her goals and plans?

4. Is the number of students from China attending high school in the US increasing, decreasing or remaining the same?

5. The students come from all socio-economic backgrounds: poor, working class, middle-class, upper-middle-class and wealth. Is this right or wrong? What are the costs of attending school in Milwaukee, Wisconsin?

6. Who is Jian Sun? What does he do? Did he study business in university?

7. Will the Wisconsin International Academy (WIA) programs be confined to the State of Wisconsin?


A. Students from other countries attend my local high school. Is this correct or incorrect?

B. Do students from your town take part in student exchange programs?

C. Studying in other countries is a great experience. What do you think?

D. Only rich students should be able to study abroad or excellent schools. Do you agree?

E. What will happen in the future?

Comments are closed.