By Zeyu Wang

 As a Chinese international student, studying in the U.S. has been my childhood dream
since I first visited Yale University when I was 14 years old. But I know that compared to going to college in China, which is nearly free for me, studying in the U.S. is very expensive.

The opportunity cost of studying at MU for me is $1000 per year, but I must pay about $40,000 per year for the tuition fee in MU. MU is much cheaper than private colleges or universities in big cities. WashU, a private college, costs $57,750 per year for international students.

The average annual wage of employees in Beijing is 151 thousand yuan, which is about $23,932. A lot of families in Beijing are unable to send their kids to go to college in the U.S., not for other cities or towns in China. Anyway, sending kids to the U.S. is defiantly an elite education.

Although my parents have enough money to support my college education in the U.S, I
still try my best to save their money. I went to a public high school in Beijing, which is free for me, instead of going to an international high school that costs about $40,000 per year just for accepting courses in American high schools. I chose to attend the Chinese College Entrance Examination instead of taking SAT that costs $1000 to take one test because students from the mainland of China need to go to Hong Kong or Singapore to take the test.

I pushed myself so hard in high school, especially the last year in high school, because by only getting a high score in College Entrance Examination can I go to a high ranked university in China so that I can have an opportunity to attend international programs and get both U.S and China Undergraduate degrees. Luckily, I was admitted by one of the top 30 universities, so I got a chance to apply to the international program. And more importantly, I only cost $2000 for the tuition fee in the first two years.

Since that Chinese university has already admitted me, I don’t need to take SAT or ACT, but I must take an English test. For saving money, I decided to prepare for the test by myself rather than going to after-school classes. I worked hard to get a high score on the test in one go since it costs more if you took extra tests. After one month of preparation, I passed the test and received an offer from MU. I only spent $150 to applying MU in total. Among them, $50 is the registration fee for the English test, and $100 is the application fee.

There is no accurate statistical data on the average costs of applying to U.S. colleges for Chinese students. But as far as I know, most Chinese students need to spend tens of thousands of dollars for international high school fees, SAT, ACT, English courses before they are admitted by U.S. colleges. I am always proud of myself, not only because I finally went to MU but because I saved tens of thousands of dollars for my parents.

For most Chinese families, especially single-child families that live in cities, parents are willing to give everything they can for their kids, including financial support, interpersonal relationship, etc. Some kids think their parents should do that and don’t care that they are spending their parents’ money. Some of my Chinese friends are driving luxury cars and living a rich life in the U.S. I respected their lifestyles and opinions, but for myself, I will feel guilty and uncomfortable if I spend my parents’ money in those ways.

I have to say it is hard to apply to U.S. colleges. I still remember how stressed I was in my last year in high school because I had to get a high score in the College Entrance Examination, and I only got one chance. I have limited choices when I apply to colleges because only a few Chinese colleges have international programs with few U.S. colleges.

Wang is a junior at the University of Missouri School of Journalism.