Quotas, SATs and Other Misconceptions

China Daily “Big Talk” interviewed two representatives from EducationUSA, who gave some useful advice for prospective students.  In particular, they addressed misconceptions that many Chinese students have about studying in the US.  The video is on their website, but here are some highlights:

Misconception: Chinese students can only apply to certain types of universities

One misunderstanding is that there are only a limited number of schools to which Chinese students can go now.  We in the US don’t have a quota system at all.  So it’s not exactly true that more schools are opening their doors because they’ve always been open, and they’ll continue to be open.

– Lauryne Massinga – director of EducationUSA Asia – Northeast

Misconception: You need great SAT scores to go to a good college

In the US there are so many very good undergraduate programs.  If you want to go to that university, study in that program, you really don’t need SAT.

– Yang Jiawei – program manager of EducationUSA China

Misconception: A degree from a community college is worthless or low status

While you can get an associate’s degree from a community college, often students will use their community college experience as a springboard to go to a 4-year institution, and then even on to  graduate school.  And some universities and colleges have a relationship with community colleges so that that transition to a 4-year institution is seamless.

– Lauryne Massinga

[We addressed the status implications of attending community college when we defined “associate’s degree” for our glossary]

They also touched on the issue of accreditation, which has been in the forefront given the controversy surrounding Tri-Valley University.  Yang Jiawei recommended seeking help from EducationUSA if you are unsure whether or not a university is properly accredited.





  1. This reply may be *slightly* off-topic, but it warrants a mention.

    It’s important when blogging or talking to students (particularly international students) about their testing options for admission to undergraduate programs, that we not refer to it as the “SAT requirement” or as the “ACT requirement”, but rather as the “SAT/ACT” or “ACT/SAT” requirement. Talking to students about the “SAT requirement” or the “ACT requirement” tends to force one particular test on the student rather than encouraging the student to decide which of the two tests is a better fit for him or her as an individual. While the ACT and the SAT share the same basic purpose (to help colleges and universities evaluate applicants to their undergraduate programs), the content on the two exams is quite different… so some students may perform better on one while others may perform better on the other. It’s important that we help students decide which test is best for them, rather than “pre-selecting” an exam for them by the words we use when talking to them.

    1. True, and we’ve talked about the differences in a previous post: //blogs.voanews.com/student-union/2011/03/14/act-versus-sat/

      To add another wrinkle, some schools don’t have an SAT/ACT requirement at all. There are a lot of tests and a lot of acronyms (TOEFL, IELTS, GRE, LSAT, GMAT, MCAT …), and I’m glad we’re all working to help clarify what international students need to know.

      This is another useful post international students might look at, which had some nice contributions from EducationUSA:

      Thanks for reading and commenting! We like the SAT and ACT equally (or don’t like them equally, which may be the case for the majority of us who have sat through them!)


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