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Colleges scour China for top students

This might be one of the most exciting pieces that I have found thus far. It is about colleges like Harvard sending representatives to China to recruit their top students. It really shows how students from all over the world are competing for the spots at top schools in the country. The world of education and research has been profoundly affected by globalization and increased mobility. We witness this in Madison with our many international students.

Colleges scour China for top students

A star search that may affect US applicants

Students Li Taibo and Zhao Xinyue sought the attention of US admissions deans at a Beijing math competition.
Students Li Taibo and Zhao Xinyue sought the attention of US admissions deans at a Beijing math competition. (Doug Kanter for The Boston Globe)
By Tracy Jan Globe Staff / November 9, 2008

    BEIJING – Don’t be fooled by the teenager’s slender frame and wire-rimmed glasses. His name is Tiger – and he’s an American high school student’s worst nightmare.

    The 16-year-old junior, as adept at proving geometry theorems as he is at defending a soccer shot, has set his sights on Harvard University. And Harvard, on him.

    Just last month, Tiger and dozens of China’s brightest students gathered in a five-star hotel blocks from Tiananmen Square for the final round of a math contest that planted the Crimson flag firmly in the world’s most populous nation. They competed under the watchful gaze of William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s admissions dean, who has handpicked undergraduates for three decades.

    Students such as Tiger, or Li Taibo in Chinese, represent the future face of elite American colleges, their greatest hope as they vie to maintain international dominance. It’s especially true for Harvard, as it tries to elevate the profile of its math and sciences to be on par with its legendary humanities program.

    Eager to cultivate generations of students in this new frontier, admissions officers from premier American universities are scouring China to recruit top high school students who may dismiss such colleges as out of reach and unaffordable. In last month’s campaign during the contest, Harvard, Brown, and Stanford representatives touted liberal arts education, research opportunities, and American dorm life to students and their parents – even promising full scholarships.

    “There are no quotas, no limits on the number of Chinese students we might take,” Fitzsimmons told a standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 students during a visit to Beijing No. 4 High School. “We know there are very good students from China not applying now. I hope to get them into the pool to compete.”

    That message is disconcerting for American students toiling to land a coveted spot in Harvard’s 1,660-student freshman class – and controversial among some educators. But Fitzsimmons and others say they had better get used to the idea. Applications from China have exploded in recent years as the Communist country opens up to the world, and they’re only going to increase.

    Even fifth-graders in Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline, who as adults will face international competition for jobs, should begin beefing up their academic résumés if they want a shot at an Ivy League education, Fitzsimmons said.

    “We’re trying to send a message to young people, as young as primary school, to make the most of their studies,” he said, “because they’ll be competing with students around the world later on.”

    The first Shing-Tung Yau High School Mathematics Awards, named for the Harvard math professor who organized it, drew more than 900 students from all corners of the country. The 40 finalists who assembled for three days in Beijing had spent the past six months preparing to shine – not only for the judges, which included three Harvard professors, but also for the admissions deans they would meet.

    Read the rest of the article here

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    November 9, 2008 - Posted by | Uncategorized

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