Educational Administration, Department of


Date of this Version



Barg, S. J. (2013). Expectations v. reality: A study about Chinese students’ expectations and experiences at a Midwestern University in America. (Master’s Thesis). University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska.


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska For Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Arts, Major: Educational Administration, Under the Supervision of James Griesen. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2013

Copyright (c) 2013 Sarah Jean Barg


The purpose of this phenomenological study was to add to the research regarding the expectations and experiences of Chinese students studying at an American university. In doing so, this study sought to examine newly arriving Chinese students’ expectations of what their experience would be like compared to the reality of what their experiences actually were while attending Midwestern State University (MSU). Ten participants participated in two semi-structured interviews. The first set of interviews explored what Chinese students expected their experience studying at MSU to be like. The following interview explored the actual experiences the Chinese students had while studying at MSU. Their transition was also linked to Schlossberg’s (1981) Transition Theory.

The result was an in-depth understanding of what Chinese students not only expected their experience at an American university to be, but also a critical look at what those experiences actually were during their first semester studying at MSU. Interestingly, some of the expectations matched the students’ actual experiences. However, not all of the experiences were mentioned in the expectation interviews. This research, combined with the literature, provides institutions like MSU with a better understanding of how to meet Chinese students’ wants and needs.

Advisor: James Griesen