Imagine you are a 15-year-old student from Guangzhou, China. Your parents told you several days ago that you were going to America to study abroad. You bid farewell to your parents and siblings as they leave the airport. You’re on your own now. As you lived in China your whole life, America looks exotic and scary. This is the reality for many Chinese students, otherwise known as parachute kids, who are sent to America to study while their parents remain in their home country.
In China, school begins before the sun comes up and ends after the night sky fills with stars. In contrast, most American schools begin at eight in the morning and end at three in the afternoon. Many students stated that they came to America with hopes that they would achieve greater things in a society that wasn’t as competitive as that of China. Every year, a college entrance examination, much like the SAT, is given to nine million students. However, this test is only given once a year, and it solely determines your entrance to a university. Out of those nine million students, only seven million are granted acceptance. Specifically, in 2015, the LA Times reported that one million students then seek to find opportunities overseas, of which 300,000 go to America.
To escape this reality in China, hundreds of students study abroad in America, where there are multiple factors involved in college acceptance, such as essays, grades, and extracurricular activities.
Parents, who plan to send their children to America even before they’re born, are willing to split their families apart and send their children to a new, strange environment alone.
“It’s this mindset of ‘I’m going to do everything and sacrifice for you,” said a professor at Cal State Fullerton, Yuying Tsong. “The parents sacrifice a lot, but they may not remember that the child is also sacrificing a lot.”
According to the LA Times, parachute kids are “more susceptible to isolation, aggression, anxiety, depression and suicide.” Recently, three Chinese parachute kids, attending school in Rowland Heights, were sentenced to prison for attacking two other teenagers. The judge on the case reported that the situation was similar to the novel, “Lord of the Flies,” in which a group of boys stranded on an island internally struggle between staying civilized and wild. These Chinese students were sent to a foreign country with no guidance from family or adults.
Though these children are given second chances to attend prominent universities, parents should be more aware of the consequences they may face by sending their children to foreign countries alone.