Next week, I'll be giving a presentation at a forum at the University of Texas on the topic of 'why students fail while studying abroad.’ It will be attended by 350 high school administrators, principals and counselors from China, South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and Malaysia. I've been asked to weigh in on the subject of why international students fail to achieve their educational dreams. I've chosen to deal with why most students fail to get started correctly in order to set themselves up for success. These are important items especially for high school juniors and seniors.
1.First, students often fail at becoming functional in English. Most international students have a goal of going to a university in the West. They must become proficient in English to be able to sit and hear a lecture by an English speaking professor. I've interviewed close to 600 or more students in China who desired to study in an English speaking country. I was contracted with a company that gave me the final say for such students. About 63% of the students I interviewed had an English level good enough to proceed with their Western education.
How to remedy low English proficiency? There is no magic pill for this. It takes practice. The old adage that 'practice makes perfect' will forever hold true. However, one bit of advice that I always offer students is confirmed recently when I saw a sign that hung over a Chinese university English corner. It said, "If you want to improve your English fast, talk, talk, talk, talk....". You must practice listening and speaking. When you do both, you are engaging parts of your brain to learn faster. Not only that, but when you speak you are also reinforcing the many rules you learned in English grammar. There's not substitute for practicing orally.
2. Students fail to get into their dream college/university. We all have had the dream of going to a prominent, prestigious school (i.e. Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford). The acceptance rate is extremely low at these schools. I did have one private student who got into to Princeton at 16 years old. However, her IQ was extremely high and she was one in perhaps tens of thousands to ever achieve such a feat. (She scored 2240 on the SAT).
How to remedy this? International students need good guidance from advisers who know or who are resourceful enough to find what is required for a target school and assessing the student's likelihood of getting into a good school. You must have an objective assessment in matching yourself with the school that fits you best.