Life after Graduation: Chinese Students’ Dilemma

A lot of Chinese graduates in America face the common dilemma of whether to remain and work in the USA or return to China, like many other foreign graduates. Quite a lot goes into making this decision, as either choice has its own struggles and benefits. However, so far the number of Chinese nationals coming into the US for studies has increased significantly over the years, while the number returning to China is still quite uncertain.

Chinese_Population_USAChinese travel to study in the US mainly to take advantage of the quality education provided in the US, as well as to experience a different lifestyle. Receiving an education abroad generally opens up more opportunities for Chinese nationals when they return to China after graduation, in light of their international experience. Today however, Chinese firms and companies no longer value Chinese graduates from elite American universities as before, therefore some choose to remain in the United States. Being a Chinese immigrant working in America definitely comes as a challenge, as does anyone from a minority group in America. Those that chose to remain in America in earlier years, before the influx of international students were able to get job opportunities where skills were scarce. However, as a first-generation immigrant it is hard for a Chinese national to integrate with Americans, due to cultural differences.China-v-US-graphic-008


It becomes difficult to connect with people and the community, making it hard to establish good networks and relationships, both personal and working. Chinese immigrants in the US normally find life in America rather different from life in China, such as large differences in culture. So fitting into the American lifestyle is not too easy, as the Chinese tend to notice their differences. Some Chinese graduates find that the reasons for staying in the US aren’t realistic or reason enough to immigrate. As their parents and family would still be in China, the travelling expenses would be too much to bear, as would not being able to see their parents. So the best choice for them would be to return home. Then there is also the pride in knowing you’re living in your own country, that special feeling of being “home”. Regardless of the problems with the government, most find that the people are good and that parents are irreplaceable.


usa-chinaWhile American companies may be more than willing to hire a Chinese national, attaining a work visa may challenge that fact. There is a yearly quota as to the number of work visas accepted, whereas the number of applications are almost double that number yearly. Also, a six month wait for the work visa to be approved, puts one at a disadvantage as most companies are unwilling to wait. China and the US have developed a strong economic exchange over the years, but it is highly unlikely that immigration policies will change any time soon. When Chinese graduates decide to remain in America they face a lot of challenges in getting the job they want, especially due to visa issues. For most science and technology graduates their annual salary will probably not increase for the duration of their contract, as salaries are pretty standard. If one is planning for a professor position it will be highly unlikely if you did not receive a Doctoral degree from one of the US’s top 50 universities. A lot of these issues do not solely apply to Chinese graduates, the American job market is quite hard to break through. However, regardless of the struggles that come with staying in America, plenty of PhD graduates choose to remain. A number of the Chinese graduates in the US hoped they would return home within five years, whereas, others that have lived in the US for a while decide to remain and believe they would experience “reverse culture shock” if they returned to China.

And what are your plans: are you planning on staying in the USA or returning back home?

About Terry Qin

Terry Qin is a 27-year-old R&D engineer from Shenzhen currently living in the US. He is interested in programming, new trends and blogging.