Project Pengyou & EducationUSA Help Chinese Parents Tackle U.S. College Applications


From left to right: Weiqi Zhang, Harvard University 2010; Xin Li, Boston University, Master’s 2011; Yolanda Xue, Bachelor’s UC Berkeley, Master’s USC; Helen Huang (Moderator), Master’s Harvard University, PhD Candidate, University of Tennessee, Knoxville.

As an international student, applying to college in the U.S. can be an intimidating task. When approached by EducationUSA to help clarify the process for Chinese parents and students, we were eager to lend a helping hand.

Last week our community engagement leader Helen Huang represented Project Pengyou as a moderator and speaker on a panel of Chinese alumni who studied in the USA to speak at the Beijing American Center during an EducationUSA event. The speakers represented a range of locations and levels in the U.S. education system, from east to west and high school to PhD.

Each speaker was allowed ten minutes to speak on a topic which included:

  • Differences between state universities, Ivy League schools and liberal arts colleges
  • How to prepare yourself for a college education in the U.S.
  • Application, life and studying in the U.S., and internship and job hunting—how to make yourself stand out
  • Adjusting and integrating to the diversity of U.S. culture

There were about sixty people in attendance, and they asked questions about choosing a school that best fits their child’s interests, campus security and whether it’s worth sending your kids to high school in the U.S. There was a palpable “aha” moment in the room when Helen explained “Applying to school in America should not be seen as an isolated choice, or a decision made due to pressure from parents. It’s a decision that should be part of a young person’s bigger life plan and it’s important for them to take an active part in the process.”

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Currently there are over 235,000 Chinese students studying in the United States. There is certainly no shortage of demand from mainland students and a growing industry of educational agents to help Chinese students apply to US schools. The biggest challenge for Chinese students and parents is wading through all the hype to determine the right academic and life decisions for themselves. That’s where EducationUSA brings value.

About EducationUSA:

EducationUSA is a State Department-supported network of hundreds of advising centers in 170 countries, where millions of international students each year find accurate, comprehensive and current information about how to apply to accredited U.S. colleges and universities.