Chinese students flock to U.S. business schools

November 30, 2010: 11:17 AM ET

Despite historical reservations toward Western business culture, there has been a surge in applications to U.S. business schools from China. And the influx has just begun.

By Greg Spielberg, contributor

(poetsandquants.com) -- When Scarlett Wu's mother taught her to use chopsticks, she always reminded her daughter to keep the three fingers low. In the central-Chinese village of Wuzhu, where Wu is from, everyone grips their chopsticks low.

The grip offers better leverage, but to Wu, it signified her mother's wish that she stay close to home.

None of the 2,000 residents have gone to China's big cities for college, and Wu's entire extended family lives locally, two hours from Shiyan, a city of 3 million with no airport.

Since starting business school at the University of Michigan, Lewis Yao, 27, has had to adapt to a more competitive classroom culture than the one he had known in China.

So it seems especially adventurous for Wu, now 27, to come to the U.S. to become an MBA student in, of all places, Bloomington, Indiana.

She's among a growing number of young Chinese with business ambitions coming to the U.S. to learn from some of the leading lights of capitalism. In the past five years, the number of Chinese taking the GMAT -- the requisite exam for entrance into a business school -- has tripled to 30,000 from 10,000 in the 2005-2006 school year. The number of U.S. schools receiving GMAT scores from Chinese test-takers has risen to 80,669 this year, from 25,525 in 2006.

The influx is only beginning. Chinese applications to New York University's Stern School for the class of 2012 increased by 30% from the previous year. Nearly 10% of next year's graduating MBA class at Duke University's Fuqua School of Business will be Chinese, a new record. And the number of Chinese students (14) in the class of 2012 at MIT's Sloan School of Management is twice as many as those in the previous year's class. More

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