November 2008 Newsletter
Ivy Coach was invited by the Chinese Government to present seminars on the highly selective college admissions process that exists in the United States. The first series of presentations were given this past July, and a second series will take place in January of 2009.
While Peking University (PKU), aka Beijing University, is touted as China’s most prestigious, on a global ranking scale of The Top 200 World Universities in 2008, the Times Higher Education (THE) ranked PKU 50th. In the last few years, the university has dropped in rankings, and some educators attribute this to an insufficient financial investment in research. (In 2007 PKU was ranked 36th worldwide, and in 2006 it was ranked 14th.) Located on a beautiful campus in Beijing, Peking University is a major research center, housing 30 colleges, with a renowned faculty, and offering approximately 100 undergraduate majors. Yet, despite PKU’s drop in international rankings, it is still considered most highly selective. For an incoming freshman class of 10,000 students, PKU receives over 100,000 applications each year, making admissions equally competitive with Harvard or Yale.
In the past, Chinese students looked for educational options outside of China, and applied to and attended colleges in the UK, Australia, and Canada, but in more recent years, the U.S. has become the primary destination for undergraduate and advanced degrees. With our most selective colleges becoming ever more competitive, the Chinese Government is currently looking for ways to educate parents and students on the U.S. admissions process, and that is how Ivy Coach became involved.
We presented one seminar at Peking University in Beijing, and another one at a high school in Nanjing. We have done many of these seminars over the past sixteen years, but in these particular presentations the audiences were more focused than any we had ever witnessed. They took copious notes, asked great questions, and even laughed at our attempts at humor. With presentations on a Saturday morning at PKU and on a weekday afternoon in Nanjing, we experienced SRO crowds.
Prior to these seminars we knew that Chinese parents regarded US News & World Report’s top 100 list of colleges and universities their primary reference, but it was not until they started asking questions that we realized how adamantly they held to their belief that colleges that were absent from the list were not worth considering. In an effort to broaden their thinking, throughout our presentations we emphasized that they needed to look beyond the “usual suspects,” and consider some of the other 3,000 colleges and universities in the US, especially if they intend to maximize the student’s chances of admission. Despite our best efforts, however, we’re still not sure that our repeated attempts changed their preconceived notions.
While our NACAC (National Association for College Admissions Counseling) colleagues have been most supportive of our work in China, a few have voiced concern by reminding us of the already competitive climate in our top tier colleges and universities. It is their expressed belief that by educating Chinese students on the intricacies of gaining admission to highly selective colleges, we are increasing the applicant pool, and making it even more competitive for American applicants. It is our contention however, that the Chinese families that comprise the political elite and intelligentsia have historically been educated overseas. Where once the colonial countries of Western Europe were their destination, they now seek their education in English speaking countries, as English is the language of international commerce. We believe that it is important that we offer these future leaders access to the culture, thought and values that are taught and practiced on American campuses as it is the best way to influence their thinking and future actions.
Ivy Coach has been invited to return to China every four months to do more of these seminars in different cities. In January of 2009, we are planning presentations in Beijing, Nanjing and Shanghai. We are excited to be part of an innovative program that will eventually allow American and Chinese students to interact on our campuses and experience each other’s culture and values.
If you’re a student or parent from any of these cities, or plan on being in any of these venues in January, let us know so that we can reserve a seat for you. The seminars are in English and translated into Chinese, they are open to the public, and are free of charge.