We have wondered why Michigan’s high schools would enroll more J-1 visa students than in any other state, as well as more J-1 and F-1 visa students combined than the schools of any other state. It certainly can’t be our weather!
Like schools in many states, Michigan schools are looking to foreign countries to fill classrooms where enrollments have been falling, and they are looking to the tuition dollars of international students to help fill the hole of declining state funding.
And schools across the US are finding a hungry market, especially in Asia where families are willing to pay almost any amount to give their children the kind of educational opportunities their own countries don’t, including a leg up in gaining admission to a US college or university.
One unique contributing factor to our state’s leading totals is the late date when public school classes start in the fall. International students who miss the start of school in states which begin classes two, three or four weeks before Michigan can still try for a placement in Michigan where public high schools cannot begin classes until after Labor Day.
These late, scrambling and sometimes inadequately vetted enrollments are one of the many problems attendant to the increasing numbers of J-1 and F-1 visa students enrolling in Michigan each year. More serious are the “pipelines” that, for example, direct basketball players to some schools and ice hockey players to other schools.
It makes some people feel warm and fuzzy, but a lot more people get hot under the collar, to observe a foreign exchange student become a suddenly successful basketball team’s high scorer and rebounder, and then later be given a Division I university basketball scholarship. Or be the leading scorer on an ice hockey team that posts its best record and deepest MHSAA tournament run in the school’s history.
My wife and I have hosted an international college level student in our home for almost two years. I know the benefits to both parties. And I also know that there is a growing number of problems related to sports and profit that need to be stopped, or at least sent to some other state.