International incomplete



There are many international students in our college. I have seen many excel in classes. Why do they seem to be better students?

There is a lot of statistical evidence to sustain your hypothesis. Students come from all over the world to study in the USA. We all assume that means we are the best students, rather than our colleges offer the best learning experience. If we have the best learning experience, why are American students not learning? That is the question answered below.

According to a report by the Brown Center on Education Policy, American students are perceived as spending far more time on sports than they do on studies. This is what international students think of their U.S. counterparts. The report surveyed hundreds of foreign students in an effort to better understand the American education system and how it is perceived externally.

Valuing sports and fitness training over knowledge is a distinctly American trait. Around 65% of international students studying in the U.S. view teens here as putting much higher value on athletic success than teens in their own countries. There is also the view that Americans spend far less time on their homework than students overseas.

The difficulty of classes also came into question, with the majority of international students finding classes at American schools and colleges much easier than in their home countries.

To find out if these views hold merit and compare education systems, researchers used two reliable international assessments: the Program for International Students Assessment (PISA) and the Trends in International Math and Science Study (TIMSS). Findings were not encouraging with America’s PISA scores being mediocre, having little change in performance in science and reading between 2012 and 2015, and math scores taking a significant dip. Singapore conversely tops the TIMSS with the highest scores in math and science.

According another report, a third of the 1.8 million high-school students who took the ACT exam in 2013 were not ready for first-year college courses. The shortfalls were in the core subjects: English, reading, mathematics and science. The Educational Testing Service documents that America’s young adults do not have the skills to compete internationally in a global technology-rich economy.

A separate argument has to be made in relation to public vs. private school education. The private schools on average had higher graduation rates, test schools and percentage admittance to 4-year colleges. However, with less than 10% of American youth in private school, the impact is diminished on the overall education system.

The dynamics of the new American economy have shifted. This implies that the current education system and premise that more schooling equals better job prospects, higher pay and standard of living is not as relevant today.

Changes in technology and working habits means that traditional 40-hour-per-week, 9-5 type jobs will no longer be a marker of a healthy economy. The gig economy is taking over and work is beginning to consist of many short-term contracts rather than one long-term career. A portfolio of assignments is becoming the resume of the future.

International academic institutions are already evolving to keep up with changing trends in work patterns, the U.S. is still lagging behind. This may provide an explanation as to why performance is dropping when compared to other countries. A continually updating skillset is required and to achieve that we need a constantly evolving education system.

I have never let my schooling interfere with my education… Mark Twain.

Written by Martin J. Young, former correspondent of Asia Times.


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