New York City private schools have always been the province of the city’s young and wealthy, students whose home lives and educations can inspire both disdain and envy. But these students are the children of Shanghai real estate magnates, shipping giants, luxury hotel owners and doctors from coastal regions bordering the East China Sea. They are also part of a small, but growing, cadre of teenagers from wealthy families in China who are attending school in New York City.
According to the Department of Homeland Security, 638 Chinese students with visas attended high schools in the city in 2012, up from 114 five years earlier.
The influx has not been seamless. But the schools — particularly ones with lagging enrollment — have actively sought an international component and parents who can pay full tuition, even if that means accepting students who speak limited English. Chinese students and their parents have seen the schools as a way to gain an advantage on the thousands of students at home who apply to United States colleges every year. They are also availing themselves of a more well-rounded educational model than they find in China, including that decidedly American college application line-item: extracurricular activities.
A large contingent of Chinese students attends the school, a young for-profit academy trying to generate more interest from applicants.