‘Here, I Am Above Average’: Chinese ‘Parachute Kids’ Are Coming to the U.S. at Younger Ages
Before she came to the U.S. for high school, Yuhan “Coco” Yang remembers wanting to “fly away” from her life in China, where school began at the crack of dawn and lasted until the sky went dark.
Every year, more students like Yang arrive in American schools, dreaming of a different future than the one China allowed them.
Many say the education they receive in America offers all the support and creative freedom they had hoped for. They consider themselves defectors from the unforgiving Chinese educational system in which, every year, 9 million students vie for just 7 million university seats. About a million of those who are rejected attend colleges overseas. In 2015, 300,000 of those came to the U.S.
Problems of alienation and loneliness have grown, however, as a growing number leave the Chinese system even earlier. In the last decade, the number of Chinese students in U.S. high schools and middle schools has jumped from 1,200 to 52,000. More than a quarter of these students — called “parachute kids” if they come without their family — land in California.