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December 12, 2007



I am enjoying this conversation. You have raised a very interesting point. I also have had a similar experience. In doing two rounds of college searches for two daughters, I had an interesting observation. One daughter visited most of the ivy's in the Northeast. Each time we walked into the info session, we noticed, without a doubt the number of Asian students present (obviously I do not how many were foreign and as I reflect back, it never entered my mind that they may have been). When I visited smaller, still competitive but lesser known schools with my other daughter, that number was starkly different.

I was so surprised to find that the female chinese student in the film was not accepted to Yale -- however, had she applied to some of our other great, lesser known universities she probably would have been admitted. I wonder how long it will be before these schools are also seeing an increase in applications from very qualified foreign students.

I have written a review of the film on my blog: minivan-diaries.blogspot.com/2007/12/can-our-high-school-students-compete.html

Suresh Murthy

Lynn writes -

"but there is something about our heritage and culture of liberty and opportunity and self-determination that helps us overcome these shortcomings."

I agree with that observation and can personally testify to the "opportunity and self-determination" part (I am a first generation immigrant from India and thanks to people like Bob, I have been able to shed my 'insecurities' in taking risk and venturing into the world of entrepreneurship).

Having said that, Indians in India are aggressively seeking the 'culture of liberty, opportunity and self-determination' that has long defined Americans and US. My experience tells me that Indians (and I suspect Chinese, Vietamese) want to catch up with US and compete for the same economic opportunities.

As one of the experts in the film notes "we need to work harder to remain #1"..and I believe a big part of instilling that culture is in the k-12 education process.


I agree that all of this raises more questions. How many international students are there in the US? How many stay here and how many return to their home country?

In a very, very quick search I've learned that in SY2006/2007 there were 583,000 international students in US colleges. That's almost back to pre-9/11 numbers. The Census Bureau's latest stats are for 2005 college enrollment and indicate there were 17,472,000 college students total. I'll assume no significant changes between those different school years which means that foreign enrollment in US colleges is around 3%. That's lower than I thought it would be. Most are from India, followed by China and South Korea. Business is the leading field of study followed by engineering, 18% and 15%. I'll re-emphasize this is a cursory calculation and I haven't considered grad schools separately.

Candidly, I've never strolled the halls of MIT, Stanford, or Purdue. I am familiar with other less-famous engineering schools that are not prime destinations of foreign students. Not so many international students in these schools but still good-quality engineering undergrad and graduate programs. I suspect that the previously mentioned elite schools are the exception in respect to their international enrollment.

Again, I do think there is a serious problem w/ American k12 education but there is something about our heritage and culture of liberty and opportunity and self-determination that helps us overcome these shortcomings. Whether we can continue to overcome is another question. If inferior education causes young Americans to be ignorant of our heritage and history of liberty then I believe we are in big trouble.


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