Last Sunday night, I invited my fellow coursemate, Yuan, who’s also my neighbor, over for dinner. I made Bak-Kut-Teh and soft tofu with oyster sauce. Yuan from China, provided me some insights regarding the process of applying to graduate school from a mainland chinese point of view. Here are some fascinating facts :
1. An average chinese student will apply to about 30 grad schools (I only applied to five).
I didn’t apply to more because each application will cost me around US$50. And besides the application fees, to send additional TOEFL or GRE scores also cost money as ETS will only send the scores to 5 schools for free. I think, on average, an American student will apply to about 6 schools. “How can a chinese student afford to pay all the application fees?” Thirty schools, $50 each, that will come up to $1500 (RM5500)!! Yuan informed me that many times the students don’t pay the application fee, they just send it the application. They may pay the application fees for some application but not all. And the ironic thing is some of the students are admitted even when they don’t pay the application fee. I’ve always assumed that the application will not be reviewed if the fee is not paid.
2. In some Chinese universities, almost all the graduating seniors will apply for graduate studies in the US(Among my UPM Biomed class, only 2 students applied for graduate studies overseas and I’m one of them).
I have several hypotheses as to why Malaysian students do not apply for graduate studies in the US.
a) Life is comfortable in Malaysia.
b) Lack of information regarding graduate schools in the US. Most PhD students, even foreign students, are supported by the university through research grants etc.
c) Lack of support. There are so many Chinese students in the US and they have websites etc to help students who are in the application process, and they offer assistance to incoming Chinese students.
3. Most professors in China graduated from a university in China. Few Chinese who graduated with a doctorate degree from the US will return to teach in China.
Many professors in Malaysia do have doctorate degrees from overseas but I think lately there are more and more lecturers with Malaysian degrees.
My roommate, Jeong, who’s from South Korea, said that the situation is opposite in South Korea. In order to have a chance at being a professor in South Korea, you’ll need a foreign doctorate degree and they highly value a doctorate degree from the US.
Anyway, Babyville is also a small Chinatown. In my building, out of 10 apartments, 7 of them are inhabited by mainland Chinese students.
Next time, I’ll invite my Indian coursemate over for dinner and gather fascinating facts about graduate school application from an Indian student’s point of view.