It was just a week after Chang Shuai received her acceptance notice from Harvard that the first book offer came.
A publisher approached her father with a detailed outline for an inside guide to how a Shanghai couple prepared their daughter to compete successfully with the best students in America. Local newspapers weighed in with articles about how Chang's membership in a dance troupe surely helped. "Magical girl 'danced' her way into Harvard," the Shanghai Evening Post headlined.
At the very top of the wish list for many of them is Harvard, or Hafo, which the Chinese pronounce with reverence. Its namesakes are found all over China-the Harvard Kindergarten, the Harvard Graphic Arts School, the Harvard Beauty School... For those coveting the real thing, there are nearly a dozen books in Chinese, among them "You Too Can Go to Harvard: Secrets of Getting into Famous US Universities," and the bestseller published in 2000, "Harvard Girl."
"More and more rich Chinese families want to send their children to the United States to be educated, and when they do, they want them to go to the best universities," said Zhou Jun, the founder and head of the Leadership Academy, one of a dozen consulting firms that dispenses advice on how to get into foreign universities.
Based in Shanghai, his company targets a niche market of China's wealthiest families, people who will pay up to $300,000 for up to five years of supplemental classes aimed at getting their child into an Ivy League school. "The parents all want Harvard, but we can't guarantee that. We're not God. We work with what we have got."
The desire to go to top American universities is not just about the prestige conveyed by the name. Chinese students envy many aspects of US higher education, such as the chance to explore different pursuits before chosing a major, interactions with professors and the more open intellectual debates.
There are currently 36 Chinese undergraduates at Harvard (the number of graduate students is much larger)， but of the 2,110 students accepted for the upcoming freshman classes, at least nine are from China.
Deborah Seligsohn, a Beijing-based Harvard alumni who often interviews Chinese applicants, said the Chinese applicants to Harvard she meets are usually students who have rejected engineering or science and want the luxury of time afforded by US universities to figure out their place in the world. "What I've seen over and over again is that they are very socially committed. They're interested in broad questions of poverty and the environment."
However, Isabelle Krishana, an American expatriate who works for a Beijing-based academic advising company said she thought "the parents want their kids to make a lot of money".
For Chinese students, the obstacles for entering an Ivy League school are daunting. Although many top universities, including Harvard, select applicants regardless of their ability to pay, successful matriculates need to speak perfect English, which they cannot generally do unless they spend a high school year abroad. And that requires a good deal of money.
2010-06-11 11:55 编辑：kuaileyingyu