he Ameson Foundation hosted its second annual Admission Advisory Committee meeting at the prestigious Beijing #4 High School on Sunday July 22nd. During the first part of the meeting, the
were presented with a summary of admissions and financial aid results for the 2011-2012 school year, after which they expressed points of consideration for future development.
As a precursor to gaining admission to American colleges, English proficiency is a must for Chinese students. On that note, 19 students scored higher than 100 on their TOEFL IBT scores (out of a possible 120), while an additional 31 students earned scores between 90-99.
Advisory Committee for College Admissions feedback on results
One of the first points brought up by the advisory committee was an objection to the emphasis of school rankings. Ameson Foundation Senior Vice President Doris Davis notes that there is a real preoccupation in China with overall School rankings, while Americans tend to put greater emphasis on major ranking and faculty reputation.
“Rankings are really important to Chinese students and parents – it may take an extended process to get them to think about schools more broadly.” Regarding counselor training, Ms. Davis furthered her point: “Counselors could be given information about holistic admissions, to better understand how nuanced the whole process is. Just because a student gets into Stanford doesn’t mean they will get into Cambridge.” To clarify, she added: “While college rankings are important, the more we can get students to look at colleges beyond rankings, they might be able to look at colleges based on their own needs and goals.”
Dr. Christiansen added: "It's a phenomenon bigger than US news, its a whole cultural thing based on prestige. We can’t eradicate that, but contextualizing the idea and getting students to think about their own best interests is a step in the right direction.”
Distinguishing Ameson from profit-driven independent college counselors
...Ameson has cultivated a strong reputation in China for its non-profit work...
Another key point brought up during the first half of the meeting was how to differentiate the work of the Ameson Foundation and independent college counselors (called agents in China). Noted Dr. Christiansen: “There’s a lot of confusion about what’s happening in China right now. Not a week goes by that I don’t receive an email from some company in China that will help us recruit, find kids, connect with Ministry of education and so on. So, how does Ameson differentiate from agents?”
Ameson Executive Vice Chairman Sean Zhang replied: “The Ameson Foundation does not generate revenue, it raises funds for programs. As one example, the Ameson Chinese Elite
program is 100% free for Chinese students, and also for the overseas education experts, who are flown over at the Foundation’s expense. In such ways, Ameson has cultivated a strong reputation in China for its non-profit work. ACE students don’t pay anything. Students don’t pay nor do institutions. Cambridge, UCLA, UC Berkeley – none of the universities we work with pay anything to us.”
Chinese senior administrators feedback about AHSP
School leaders lauded the 'internationalization effect' of the AHSP
During the second half of the meeting, eight of the principals running American High School programs joined to share their own experiences as program members. Mr. An Ying, Beijing #4 High School
: “The number of graduates studying overseas is increasing. Out of 400 graduates this year, 70 chose not to take the Gaokao exam.”
Regarding the popularity of Ameson’s American High School Program (now in ints second year at Beijing #4 High School), he commented: “For the 2012-2013 school year we had 60 spots available, and 600 applicants. Certainly, the quality of the students we admit to the program is very high. Equally outstanding is the teaching quality. In fact, one of the teachers in the American High School Program won an award for the 2011-2012 school year for being recognized as one of the top ten teachers in the entire school.” Ms. Wang Liping, Shanghai Gezhi High School
: “Our school places a heavy emphasis on science. Over the past two years, the American High School Program students have collectively produced outstanding test results. Because of those results, we are seeing increased interest in international programs. Clearly, the American High School Program is having a great effect on not only enrolled students, but our entire school – appreciation for internationalization is definitely increasing sharply.”
Mr. Guo Jianchun, Jianying Nanjing High School
The overall education philosophy of our school has definitely increased because of the American High School Program. In fact, the strong results of the program are causing many of our students on the normal Chinese high school track to request to transfer into the American High School Program – this provides a great opportunity to implement genuine curriculum reforms.
: “Our school is one of the key schools in Jiangsu province. Alumni include members government, members of the Chinese Science Academy and several who have gone on to reach the ranking of General in the Chinese military.”
Regarding his impression of the American High School Program, he added: “The results of the program are impressive. Our first wave of graduates are now preparing to pursue their university careers based on their excellent results. Because of their strong performance, the municipal government has authorized our school to build an international department that is state of the art. The overall education philosophy of our school has definitely increased because of the American High School Program. In fact, the strong results of the program are causing many of our students on the normal Chinese high school track to request to transfer into the American High School Program – this provides a great opportunity to implement genuine curriculum reforms.” Ms. Zhang Aimei, Shandong Experimental High School
: “Our student body totals 5,600 students. Over the past few years, we have been seeing increasing interest among students to pursue opportunities in the U.S. and UK. About the American High School Program, we have seen that the quality of teaching is very strong. This has had a school-wide impact on the idea of curriculum reform. I think that the foreign teachers have had a very positive influence on our Chinese teachers in terms of teaching and innovation quality. So, we are feeling very confident about the program.”
Looking to the future
Our vision is to be a pioneer regarding international program development in China...
Facilitating curriculum reform based on international standards is a key component of the Ameson Foundation’s long-term vision. Thus, at the conclusion of the meeting, the panel discussed several initiatives still in development.
According to Ameson Foundation Executive Vice-Chairman Prof. Sean Zhang: “Our vision is to be a pioneer regarding international program development in China.” He then went on to describe several technology projects in heavy development (funded by the Ameson Foundation) to foster international project-based learning between American and Chinese high schools, and also a number of initiatives designed to forge deeper relations between elite Chinese high schools and world-leading universities.
On that note, Professor Zhang revealed one of the Ameson Foundations greatest aims: “We want to encourage more American students to embark on study opportunities in China. To do that, we need to create an international curriculum that meets their needs.”