A lot of senior high school students in China are now facing a dilemma – continue to university at home, or abroad? The fact is more and more graduating high school students decide to go abroad, and their parents would support them fully. The two top reasons for this decision are: 1- they think education abroad is in general better than that in China; 2 – it’s hard to compete to get to a good local university of their choice. This creates a “moving abroad craze” phenomenon. In the past, students went abroad to get Master’s or Ph.D degrees. Later, as soon as they finished senior high school, they went abroad to get Bachelor degrees. But now, some students finish the senior 1, or 2 and continue to complete the remaining years of high school in another country, hoping that getting the high school diploma abroad will give them a better chance to be accepted by good universities.
These days, a lot of these potential overseas students come to local English training centers to improve their English, and to prepare for their IELTS or TOEFL tests, as they are required to demonstrate they English proficiency before going abroad. The higher the score, the better the chance to be admitted to a good school, be it a high school or university.
Not all students who want to study abroad can succeed. Even if you have the academic ability to do so, you must also have the financial means. It’s not cheap! How much it will cost? First, the preparation, then the cost to get there (agent to find school/university, visa, plane ticket etc.), finally the actual cost of study and living abroad. Let’s just consider the cost for students just to get (their English level) “ready” to study abroad. It can be staggering. At a language training center in a small town in China, the going rate for having a private lesson (1-1 English tutoring) with a foreign teacher to practice your English is about 100-200 RMB per hour. But if you want to prepare for your IELTS or TOEFL, then the rate can be as high as 300-500 RMB per hour.
If the parents are rich (e.g., business owner, or a high ranking government official), it’s common for the students to come to a language school to take a private lesson (1 on 1). During the summer holiday (July-August) when schools are closed. Parents will send their children (high school students) to practice their English in one of the many language training centers. Here is a true case: a 17-year-old student plans to study abroad, and has already got an IELTS score of 5.0 but it’s not enough for the school of his choice. He plans to increase it to at least 5.5 or higher, so he comes to a language training center to improve his English. He takes lessons in a local language training center. With 400 RMB/hour, he takes private lessons with a foreign teacher 6 hours a day (or 2400 RMB/day), 6 days a week (or 14,400 RMB/week). So within just one month he has spent 48,000 RMB. To give you an idea how big is this amount? A course consultant in a typical language training center makes about 2200 RMB; A teacher (Chinese) about 3500 RMB, and a foreign teacher about 10,000 RMB per month. So, the student’s monthly English lesson cost during the summer holiday is about 15 times the average monthly salary of Chinese staff serving him. Of course, it’s not a typical case. Normally during the school year, high school students would just spend part of their weekend (Saturday/Sunday) taking 2-3 hours of private English class, which costs between 700 – 1300 RMB weekly, or 3000 – 5000 RMB per month. Even then, it’s typically more than an average young worker makes in China.