The Issues At Hand – Getting Ahead

Getting in is only half the problem.

Because it’s so much more difficult to get in to top US schools now, it is incredibly important to ensure that students do not waste the opportunity they have when they are abroad, so that they can get ahead after they graduate.

Many students who do get into top schools are unprepared for their journeys abroad and for the reality of their futures. This problem occurs mostly along two dimensions.

Currently, schools and agencies are failing our students. They focus on academic excellence, test scores, and the process of getting in, but have no concern for the holistic needs of the student, now or in the future. They don’t care what happens after acceptance.

Thus, not understanding the opportunity overseas and not knowing how to capitalize on it – many Chinese students abroad are falling short to their foreign peers in class and creating an all-Chinese environment outside of class. In short, they are not learning the language or customs, not making an international network, and are not growing.

Inevitably, they are missing out on the opportunity to learn cross-cultural social skills, which will be critical to success in their international future.

Many students are also unprepared to deal with life on their own, having had such rigid support. Since most of what they have done so far has been dictated to them by others, they have not developed the skills to thrive and excel while solely responsible for themselves.

Top universities have a responsibility that goes beyond education. It is about preparing students for the real world, and making them employable in the future.

Brainteasers, abstract and open-ended questions are increasingly applied in interviews, aptitude tests and application essays. Schools are not necessarily interested in the “correct” answer but how one approaches the problem by demonstrating key transferable soft skills, such as independence, cultural awareness, communications, critical thinking and creativity.

When developed within each individual, these skills will not only differentiate them for university and job applications, but also for life.

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