Mystery of the Chinese zombie Yalies

U.S. universities have responded to China’s exploding demand for American higher education with branch campuses and aggressive recruiting, the Associated Press reports. Now, some are trying to boost their brands by casting photos and other snippets of campus life out into the confounding sea of Chinese social media. How confounding? Consider the mystery of the Chinese Yale zombies. That’s “zombies” as in “zombie followers” on Sina Weibo — the hugely popular “weibo,” or microblogging, site that’s roughly akin to Twitter and has attracted more than 500 million followers since debuting in 2009. A common feature on Chinese social media, these zombie accounts could represent actual users who lurk inactively online. But often they’re fake, mass-produced accounts that mindlessly follow (hence the name “zombie”) and artificially boost another account’s follower numbers — and thus prestige. Since its debut in December, Yale’s new Sina Weibo account — sharing photos and other assorted items from its Ivy-covered Connecticut campus — has exploded in popularity, apparently far faster than any other U.S. institution’s…

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Behind the boom in Chinese students at U.S. colleges

Almost 200,000 Chinese students joined North American universities in the last academic year, an increase of 23% from the previous year according to the Institute of International Education, a U.S. nonprofit, the National Journal reports. The Chinese call them “sea turtles,” the lucky few who go abroad—the US often being their first choice—for education, and then return home with better English and a broader cultural perspective to get good jobs with Western companies. (The nickname applies because sea turtles return home to lay eggs for the next generation.) China’s education system emphasizes rote learning at the expense of creativity. While Americans are more often taught to think and speak independently from kindergarten, Chinese students do well in math and science at the expense of independent thinking. Many companies value mathematical ability. But focusing on this alone doesn’t prepare young people for winning clients, giving presentations or closing deals…

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