How Can We Remain Competitive without the Most Competitive Human Capital?

This ABC News video gives us a wake-up call that this nation needs to improve education to stay competitive. According to the results of an international test, U.S. kids are ranked the No. 30 in Math, No. 20 in Science, and No. 17 in Reading. Shanghai is not the cultural capital of China, but kids in Shanghai have the highest performance among all categories. What does this mean to the U.S. economy? According to a research by Stanford, if U.S. can raise the performance in the international test by 5%, such improvement in human capital will translate into 41 trillion dollars in the U.S. economy over the next 20 years.

As compared to those in the U.S., kids in China spend 41 more days a year in school and receive 30% more hours of instructions. In Finland, all elementary school teachers have at least a master’s degree. Kids in Finland have already learned three languages by the 7th Grade. They started taking Physics and Chemistry in middle schools.

I spent my adolescent in one of the most prestigious and most competitive schools in South China. I started learning English when I was in 5th Grade, and I had Physics and Chemistry when I was in junior high school. The competition was so tough that everyone in the school was striving to get a perfect score for every exam because getting an A will not make a student stand out. Graduate schools in America, however, allow me to become an independent and innovative thinker. Probably because of the innovative spirit and academic freedom, universities in the U.S. attract many top talents from all around the world.

Certainly, these international talents contribute to the success of this nation. Without the best talent pool in the nation, I wonder if the U.S. will sustain a leading position in global competitions. If students process insufficient math, science, and reading skills, they might struggle in college. Later, when they graduate from colleges but do not have a solid education, will they be able to think independently, come up with innovative ideas and concepts, and compete with other talents around the world? How can Corporate America remain competitive by retaining the training the most competitive human capital?

Interested to read more a relevant report about my experience as a college student in China and a graduate student in the U.S., you may visit for more discussion.

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