American Experience | 体验美国

Can you think like an Ivy League Student?

December 10, 2016 9:45 am | By Ye

Harvard students create a company of student mentors to teach Chinese students how to get into the Ivy League –

It is known that the U.S. has the largest number of prestigious universities around the world. In the 1990s, with the development of China’s economy, more and more parents started to send their children to the U.S. for better education. A number of Chinese students heard about the story about the Harvard Girl: Liu Yiting. One could still remember how big of a deal and how difficult it was for a Mainland Chinese student to be accepted into Harvard at that time. Liu’s mother even published a book on how to raise a successful child who eventually went to Harvard University. Parents were crazy about learning all the methods to raise a child like Liu. There’s this misunderstanding among Chinese parents that perfect scores are a guarantee into a top American college. Therefore, more and more students started to only focus on achieving higher scores, but neglected the importance of being a well-rounded person.

That’s why Matthew Mansson and Andrew Steele decided to start Ivy Minded. Both are from Europe and are students at Harvard University. The two started Ivy Minded with a team of students from American top schools, to help international students who don’t necessarily know too much about American colleges.

Mansson said they started Ivy Minded because perfect SAT scores cannot guarantee entry into elite schools. A lot of schools’ admission offices don’t trust some students’ applications because of the existence of professional agencies who help Chinese students during the application process – some repeated and faked information and experiences in their clients’ college applications to make them “look better.” Such activities negatively influenced Chinese students’ reputation. There are even articles like “Three Ways to Better Screen Chinese Applicants,” which only shows how severe the issue of trust it is.

“We have noticed that the thinking style of many Chinese students is more literal than European students. In Europe, emphasis is already placed on experience, personality and critical thinking. In China most students and parents still believe that perfect grades and a 2400 SAT score will get them into a top school. [But] Given the ever increasing competition, the critical thinking and global awareness skills are crucial to get into a top school in U.S.,” said Mansson, explaining why they think such service is necessary for Chinese students.
Here is the message that the Harvard admissions office gives to explain what they seek in applicants: “Applicants can distinguish themselves for admissions in a number of ways…Academic accomplishment in high school is important, but we also seek people with enthusiasm, creativity, and strength of character.”

For starters, Ivy Minded has a baseline test to assess the student. Then, based on the student’s capability, there would be a mentor to help students along the way, to inspire confidence inside them and to encourage their interests in all sorts of topics. Each mentor only tutors 2 students.

With the help of Ivy League mentors, students could articulate their interests better and by the time they apply, there’s a consistency in their writing and interview, and students will be completely confident. “Mentors push students in the process in a way students had never done before, and to encourage them think differently,” Steele said.

Ivy Minded has an online platform with students with a personal profile and an online learning tool. There will be readings, assignments, calendars and recordings of each video session. The learning process is interactive, and mentees can review second time again.

So far, 32 students are registered and studying with Ivy Minded and Ivy Minded charge $1900 for level 1, $1,500 for level 2 and $1,500 for level 3. Duration of one level is normally 35-40 hours with a mentor.

Even with the help of others, it is still necessary for Chinese students to start reading about global issues and to try to develop a different way of thinking. No matter if you were applying to American universities, the most important element of a successful person is to stay informed and stay hungry about new information. Get out of your comfort zone, and try to put yourself in an uncomfortable environment, and see what you could do.

That being said, being accepted into Harvard today is not any easier than in the 1990s. Instead, it has become more and more difficult for Chinese students to be admitted into top American colleges, so students and parents are probably still looking for advantages like Ivy Minded.