September 18, 2013

More Chinese Students Attend Cornell Summer Program

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Correction appended

More Chinese students are coming to Cornell to take summer classes, explore Ithaca and experience dormitory life through the China-College Preparatory Program, according to the University.

This summer, 87 Chinese students participated in the China-College Preparatory Program. The program, which was established in 2006 to give talented Chinese students an opportunity to study at Cornell, has seen the number of international participants more than double in the last five years.

“In the last decade, there’s been increasing demand in Chinese families and Chinese students looking for opportunities to further their field in Europe or in the United States,” said Jim Schechter, director of the Cornell University Summer College. “[They want] their children to have exposure to the American system so they can refine their analytical skills in a way to improve their English skills and at the same time become more confident of their ability to study in the United States.”

The University prepares to welcome students to Ithaca through a variety of means, according to Schechter.

While Cornell cannot control every aspect of travel a student will experience to and from the U.S., it does coordinate students’ commute to and from the program. Residential staff are also prepared to welcome students at the airport and ensure students’ safety during the program, Schechter added.

Although the students are still in high school, they take the same academically rigorous courses that the University offers to undergraduates during the fall and spring semesters, Schechter said.

Although most students are proficient in English, the program also offers courses that help bolster their language skills.

Prof. Peter Fortunato ’72, English, who teaches one such writing class, “The Personal Essay,” said he is pleased with the individual outcomes for students who he has taught through the summer program.

“My students have always loved this course, and the generally high quality of the writing they produce by the course’s end is a testament to the benefits they derive,” he said. “I love to teach this course … in particular because it empowers students from many different kinds of backgrounds to find their own voices as writers, thinkers and discussion participants.”

All courses are taught predominantly by Cornell professors, Schechter said.

Program participants live in residential halls on North Campus and participate in social activities like Fourth of July celebrations, ice cream socials and trips to places like Niagara Falls.

Despite the numerous activities that the program offers, for some, the $6,135.26 for the three-week program and $10,935.52 for the six-week program, can be prohibitively expensive. There is a very limited amount of financial aid given to both international and domestic students, Schechter said, and the aid is used strategically to assist as many students as possible to offset the price of the program.

However, in spite of the cost of the program and apparent safety risk in traveling so far from home, Fortunato said that, ultimately, international students will likely continue coming to Cornell.

“I think it speaks very well of the American system of higher education that so many international students want to study here,” Fortunato said. “[Such students] have often told me how liberating our system is, compared to much of what they have experienced in their home countries. I would expect that despite the recent tragedy of the students’ accidental deaths, students will continue to want to come to America and to Cornell, and that many parents will continue to see the value of allowing their children to do so.”

Correction: This article originally stated that 1,000 Chinese students attended Cornell’s China-College Preparatory Program this summer. In fact, 87 students participated.