It's your first day as a freshman at Harvard, time to meet the dorm mates. There's the guy whose last name ends in VII and whose forebears all went to Harvard; the girl whose father is president of a West Coast university; the guy whose last name is the same as the name on the building; the girl who might be a granddaughter of an Indian potentate.
Joining soon, so they hope, are Howard Gu and Julius Gao of Shanghai. Gu and Gao, both 16, are little princes of industry, the sons of entrepreneurs who each spent almost $200,000 on a multiyear program to prepare their scions for a prestigious American university--for getting in, yes, as many programs try to do, but also for excelling when they get there.
What do they get for their parents' money? Weekend classes, summer schools and small group trips over three to four years before they start school at American colleges. Their teachers at the program, the two-year-old Leadership Academy Shanghai, are mostly recent graduates from the best universities in China. The instruction style is bespoke and not very Confucian: very small classes, with students challenging their teachers.
"I think that's not the correct choice. I think you might have missed some facts," Gu tells his teacher, Li Yun, after missing an answer on a quiz designed to test English listening skills. They are in a classroom in a nondescript office tower on the east bank of the Huangpu River in Shanghai, on a recent hot July morning. Gu and Gao are the only students, and Li, 28, armed with a master's degree from Nanjing University, patiently explains to Gu why he was wrong. Gu doesn't give up easily: "I don't think that's how you find the answer." (He is still wrong.)
Of course, one might expect such attitude from young members of a privileged class. Gu's family runs one of the largest supermarket equipment supply businesses in Asia, with clients including Carrefour and Tesco ( TESO - news - people ), and he hopes to someday run the business. Gao's family's business is a big domestic player in electronics and real estate, and he plans to land at an investment bank after college. For wealthy families that want their scions to take over business empires, the $200,000 price tag on a diploma from a top-tier U.S. college is not too high and neither is a like-size expenditure on the prep work.
Special classes for these children are coming into vogue. A government-sanctioned program in July for more than 100 members of this "Second-Generation Rich" was featured recently in state media, with classes on the secrets of handling power succession and, from the People's Liberation Army, lessons on party loyalty.
These are a slightly different breed from the so-called princelings, children of political leaders who have already become a staple at Ivy League universities and posh British institutions, matriculating from elite schools in Beijing with last names like Wang, Wu, Bo and maybe Hu and Wen.
Gu and Gao are also not from the mold that made Liu Yiting, the little-girl-that- could from an interior city (Chengdu) who made it into Harvard on a full scholarship. She became famous in 2000 when her parents published a bestselling book about how they raised her to attend the American university best known to Chinese intelligentsia. Liu, 29, went on to a career in management consulting and then private equity in New York City.
China has moved beyond that stage of wide-eyed wonder at one-in-a-million shots at an elite Western university. Now there are thousands of privileged students following a well-beaten path, a system that involves much more than elite high schools and weekend test prep. They receive consulting on the entire application process, including tutoring for interviews and essays--some of which are written for the students, a trick that is said to work better at lower-tier U.S. universities, where fewer Chinese students apply.
The rising rich generation does have class enemies in China. The Leadership Academy--known in Chinese as Zedi Chuancheng Jiaoyu, or roughly "Glory of Family Heritage Education"--allowed FORBES to sit in on classes and interview Gu and Gao, 2 of the 17 students currently enrolled, only if their Chinese names (Howard and Julius are Americanized nicknames) and the names of their families' businesses were kept out of print.
Academy cofounder Zhou Liwei, 36, a Jiangsu province native and graduate of Peking University--China's Harvard--says he learned the value of a liberal arts education in the U.S. while visiting American universities during 2001 and 2002. Gu, for his part, says the academy is only part of his extra studies outside of his elite Shanghai high school. He is also "practicing how to run a business," he says, helping his older brother sell wines, mostly to parents of classmates.
"This can also earn me some pocket money," Gu says with an impish smile, "as the stock I bought has gone down." Sounds like he's already prepared for freshman week at Harvard.
2010-08-24 20:36 编辑：kuaileyingyu
Justice is one of the most popular courses in Harvard’s history. Nearly one thousand students pack Harvard’s historic Sanders Theatre to hear Professor Sandel talk about justice,
How much do your kindergarten teacher and classmates affect the rest of your life? Economists have generally thought that the answer was not much. Great teachers and early childho