Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Financial Aid FAQs

HNC admissions representatives have been busy this fall traveling across the US and Canada, visiting Chinese classes and holding information sessions on college campuses.  To see if an admissions representative will be at a campus near you, check out our fall 2013 recruiting calendar.  In addition, HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang has visited several universities and study abroad programs in China.  For more information on connecting with the HNC while in China, please contact us

Some of the most common questions we receive while recruiting are regarding financial aid.  Below you can find the answers to many of these questions but please do not hesitate to contact our office if you have any additional questions or concerns.

How do I qualify for financial aid?
To qualify for financial aid, please fill in the Financial Aid Application form included in the HNC application. American citizens must also submit the FAFSA online at www.fafsa.ed.gov. The HNC uses the SAIS Title IV FAFSA code, which is E00474.

What is the deadline to apply for financial aid?
Applications received by the February 1st application deadline will be given first priority for all available funds.

Does the Hopkins-Nanjing Center provide fellowships?
The Hopkins-Nanjing Center has a financial aid budget to help support students who have both financial need and academic merit. The goal is to make the Center affordable to students with the qualifications to contribute to and benefit from the academic programs in Nanjing. Partial scholarships are available to incoming students that cover differing levels of need. In 2013-2014, all students who completed the FAFSA and HNC Application for Financial Assistance by the deadline received financial aid of some kind.

How much financial aid is available?
Fellowships range in amount, with the highest amounts covering about half of tuition. Most students finance their time at the Center with a combination of fellowships, loans, and their own resources.

Can I use federal loans at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?
Federal direct loans are available to U.S. students who demonstrate need as calculated by the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Loans are handled through the Department of Education Direct Lending program in which loan money is dispersed directly to the university without banks or guaranteeing agencies. Loan amounts will show on the bill as a credit and refunds are processed by the SAIS D.C. billing office within a month of the beginning of classes, assuming all paperwork is complete.

Are there outside resources available?
There are many organizations that can provide funding for your studies. We encourage you to look for additional funding. You should, however, begin applying for these fellowships as soon as possible because many organizations require that you apply months in advance of attending graduate school. For a list of some of these organizations, please
see the section on Outside Resources on the Tuition and Financial Aid page of this blog

How do I use Veteran’s Benefits at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center?  
All students who would like to use Veteran's Benefits need to contact John Bates in the SAIS registrar's office, even if they have used them in the past. For more detailed information, please contact the SAIS Registrar's Office.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fall 2013 Career Services Update: Advice from HNC Career Counselor Robbie Shields

HNC provides a variety of career development resources and an on-site career counselor to help students market their unique skill sets to employers around the world.  Career Counselor Robbie Shields has organized a number of events this fall to help students better understand their career interests and how to pursue them.  Read his guest post below to learn more about the many career development opportunities available at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center:
"Mark Twain once stated that 'the two most important days of your life are the day that you’re born and the day you learn why.'  As the Career Counselor at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, I couldn’t agree more.  This fall the HNC Career Service office has had several events designed to help students develop an understanding of their career interests and how to best pursue those interests.  I’d like to take a moment to share with you some of the highlights. 

At orientation, students learned about the importance of investing time in your career development.  Whether you go into careers in government, consulting, law, finance, non-profit, education, entrepreneurship, or energy, you will need to identify your career interest and develop a strategy to pursue it.  We work with students in this process, through one-on-one appointments, group workshops, employer visits, and career treks, but ultimately it’s up to the student to invest time in self exploration. 

After learning about Career Services at the HNC, I presented a resume workshop designed to assist all students in writing their resume.  While there is too much for me cover in this post, I would encourage you to remember three things.  First, the resume is usually the first example of work product that employers receive from you.  If it has errors, the employer will think that this is indicative of your work and you won’t get an interview.  Second, don’t go past one page for your resume.  Only seasoned career professionals should prepare multi-page resumes.  For entry-level positions, one page is preferred.  You may ask yourself, 'how can I fit all my experiences onto one page?'  The answer is you probably can’t. Most employers spend less than one minute reviewing your resume and so you have to learn what is important from your background that is relevant to the position of interest and omit what’s not.  Finally, quantify and qualify your accomplishments.  Saying you’re good at something is not the same as proving it.  For example compare these two bullets

·         Responsible for marketing and recruitment of a student organization

·        Implemented marketing and recruitment strategies for a student organization, resulting in a 35% increase in member enrollment

Hopefully you can tell which is better.  If not, we’ll talk when you are in Nanjing.
On Wednesday, October 9, the Center welcomed HNC alumna Brantley Turner-Bradley to discuss her career insights.  Ms. Turner-Bradley shared with students that in her experience, your career is not a linear progression but a more winding road.  As time develops, each position will teach you things you like/dislike and that you can use these experiences in a variety of industries.  In her own career, she has gone from consulting to market research to entrepreneurship and education.  
After the October holiday, I presented a workshop on choosing your career path.  Students frequently ask me, how should one choose what to do for a living?  It is difficult to give a succinct answer suitable for a blog post, but I think it starts with knowing yourself.  We all have interests, strengths, needs, and priorities.  For some, the most important thing is to be in China.  For others, the most important thing is to be working for an NGO that deals with the environment.  If you start by identifying what’s important to you and working from there you’re off to a good start.  I can fill you in on more when you arrive in Nanjing.
Fall 2013 Consulting Panel
Our next employer event happened on Saturday, October 19.  From 13:00-16:00 the HNC hosted five alumni working in management consulting for our consulting panel.  Luke Treloar (KPMG), Xu Jiahong (Accenture), Andres Perea (Bain), Pu Yang (LEK), and Meng Meng (KPMG), spent the afternoon sharing their insights into a profession that is among the most popular for Center students.  Andres reminded students that the hours are demanding, roughly 75 per week, but that there were many rewards because you’re surrounded by intelligent and motivated people.  When asked to give students one suggestion of something they should all know for their careers, Xu Jiahong told students to always focus on reputation.  No matter where you go or what you do, your reputation is essential.
The following day, Professor Paul Armstrong-Taylor and I hosted a workshop on cracking the case interview, an essential skill for anyone interested in management consulting.  During this presentation, we discussed essential qualities necessary for success in consulting, how to prepare for interviews, and practiced three sample cases.  Among the most interesting was a market sizing question, 'how many chickens are there in China?'  If you’re curious, the answer is somewhere around 50 billion, but remember the important part for a case interview is the analysis of how you reach your conclusion. 
In the weeks to come we have several other exciting career events.  On Thursday, October 24 we will host Yang Xiaoming, a Brand Manager with P&G in Guangzhou, to discuss his career path and insights for students interested in marketing and consumer goods.  On Tuesday, October 29th HNC alumna Christie Caldwell will come to the Center to talk with students about career opportunities at Aperian Global, a consulting company focused on developing the capabilities of individuals and teams to increase performance.  Then on Friday, November 1, the HNC will welcome back alumni, who will conduct two career panels as part of our annual Alumni Weekend.  These events should provide students with many useful insights and opportunities to meet alumni and non-alumni professionals successful throughout China.
Thanks for taking time to read my blog post.  I look forward to writing to you again following our upcoming employer visits and Alumni Weekend."

Monday, October 21, 2013

Buckling Down: Advice from a Second Year MAIS Student

Because HNC MAIS student Natalie Sammarco attended the Certificate program in 2009-2010 before applying for the MAIS in 2012, she was able to transfer some of her Certificate coursework in order to complete the MAIS in three semesters instead of four.  Therefore, she is now in her final semester at the HNC.  Read her advice to new students as they embark on their first graduate-level paper in Chinese:

"Now that everyone is back from the National Day holiday, we’ve had time to get to know one another and focus on work. I planned my schedule so that I take no classes this semester so I can focus fully on my thesis. My other classmates, though, are taking between 3 and 5 classes and are very busy with readings and projects. It’s about 1/3 of the way through the semester and professors are assigning the first round of papers. As someone who has already spent two full academic years at the HNC, I can recognize the panic in the eyes of the new students who have to write their first graduate-level paper in Chinese.

Don’t fear, though! This is just the beginning and everyone is just getting used to the schedule and demands of the program. Some of the students have asked the 2nd year MAIS students how to approach these new demands and, whenever I am asked about how to approach an essay, I always say: Write a small outline beforehand (in English or Chinese but I prefer English), and always have a native Chinese speaker proof your essay before you turn it in. The reasoning for planning out your essays a little bit (mind you, this does not mean writing the essay in English first and then translating it...ain’t nobody got time for that!) is that you have your line of logic squared away before you approach writing in the target language. Writing a small outline in your native language is key so that you don't lose your place and get confused. Sadly, yes, this piece of advice comes from experience: y’know, that time I didn’t plan it out in English and I’m fairly certain I went on a tangent about puppies...

The second piece of advice is for one’s personal improvement and understanding of the language. There will always be parts of the Chinese language that a native Chinese speaker can say better than a 2nd language learner. In a paper, the professors truly appreciate when you have taken the effort (i.e. cared enough) to have someone proofread your ideas to make sure everything fits together, logically and grammatically. When you put in the extra effort, professors definitely notice!
I know that my fellow students are going to do a great job and, since this is the first time they have to do this, they will be less nervous about it when the next round of essays comes up in a few weeks. The weather has finally cooled off a little bit and the summer heat is no longer with us. I love this since I’ve spent so much time in New England. Nanjing is very pretty in the fall, since it’s one of the more green cities in China. I can’t wait to hike PurpleMountain see all the fall foliage. In my opinion, it’s the closest thing one can get to leaf-peeping in China."

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

HNC Online Chat- This Thursday!

Mark your calendars!  The next online chat will take place this Thursday, October 17 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM ETChatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (HNC '09) and Sallie You.  Join us to hear admissions staff share firsthand experience and valuable advice, and be sure to bring any questions you may have about the application process, academics, or student life.  At the scheduled time, click here to join the chat and sign in as a guest.  We look forward to speaking with you! 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

NGO Work in China: An Interview with HNC Alumna Amanda Hsiung

Amanda Hsiung
Amanda Hsiung is an HNC Certificate ‘09 alumna and currently manages the East and Southeast Asia portfolio (including China) as an Associate Program Officer at The Global Fund for Children (GFC). Amanda sat down with admissions representative Katie Brooks to discuss her work with Chinese civil society, her recent travel to China, and of course her time at HNC. Click here for more on Amanda’s work and travels at GFC.

Katie: Thanks for speaking with me today! It’s always great to get a picture of what our alums are doing post-HNC. Can you tell me a little more about your job?

Amanda: Thank you, Katie. I’d be happy to! The Global Fund for Children (GFC) is a nonprofit organization that works to advance the dignity of children worldwide by making small grants to innovative community-based organizations working with many of the world’s most vulnerable children. As the Associate Program Officer for East and Southeast Asia at GFC, I manage over 40 grantees in eight countries in the region, including China.

Katie: And you get to travel a lot with your job, right?

Amanda: Yep, that’s one of the best parts of the job! I get to travel to the region 3-4 times a year, including at least once to China. While I’m traveling, I visit our current grantee partners to monitor our grant implementation, scout for great new potential partners that fit our model, and sometimes convene our partners for networking, knowledge sharing, and capacity building.

Katie: Are there any challenges associated with doing this kind of work in China considering how sensitive NGO-work can be?

Amanda: Small community-based organizations face difficulties everywhere and China of course has its own particular challenges. One of the biggest obstacles for the types of small, nascent, and innovative organizations that we look to support is the difficulty just of registering as an NGO. While there were almost 500,000 registered NGOs at the end of 2012, according to some estimates the number of unregistered groups might be twice that number, with about 1 million civil society organizations either operating without a proper legal identity or registered as companies. Working without an NGO registration leaves organizations vulnerable to legal difficulties, and makes it difficult to find funding as donors like GFC often can’t provide funding to unregistered groups due to the financial risk involved.

Katie: Has this situation changed at all since the leadership transition in 2012?

Amanda: Definitely. We’ve seen several promising developments for Chinese NGOs this past year. The new government has focused on what it has coined the “small government, big society” agenda, which includes a focus on outsourcing social services to NGOs. The government also seems to recognize the need for policy reform to accomplish this agenda, and the announcement at the 18th National Congress of easier registration requirements for NGOs to debut by the end of 2013 was definitely a promising sign. Some analysts have heralded this as proof of the start of a new reform era for Chinese civil society. I am still not ready to go that far, but am cautiously optimistic.

Katie: What kinds of effects of these higher level developments have you seen on the ground?

Amanda: Great question. I was actually just in Xining to hold a capacity building and knowledge sharing workshop on the topic of “Building Sustainable Charity Organizations”.  One thing that stood out from that workshop was a definite shift in the funding landscape for Chinese NGOs. We had participants create a collective map of their funding sources over the last ten years which showed very clearly that most participants began to receive some kind of government funding within the last two years, demonstrating the government’s increased investment in NGOs. In addition to government support, participants also began to receive funding from domestic foundations after 2008 (the year of the Sichuan earthquake) and are increasingly receiving corporate funding. So, while ten years ago, international foundations clearly dominated the NGO funding landscape in China, now there are a lot more actors in this space.

Katie: What does this mean for small, grassroots Chinese NGOs?

Amanda: Well, first of all, I think it definitely brings opportunities. Last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs awarded 200 million RMB (over $30 million USD) to social service organizations, including several of our partners. And, as we have seen with partners who have received MCA funding, this investment has a trickle-down effect as domestic foundations as well as provincial and city-level also invest in organizations with the MCA’s stamp of approval.

Katie: But are there any challenges to working with the government for NGOs?

Amanda: There are definitely challenges for NGOs who are learning to work with government agencies or other new funders for the first time. As an example, implementing MCA funded-programming has been difficult for our smaller partners, as the funding is extremely restrictive and comes with intensive reporting requirements that are very taxing for a small NGO to fulfill. At the workshop, partners also identified maintaining their organization’s core mission and vision while working with new types of funders as another key challenge. And there is definitely a learning curve for working with new types of funders, as everything from the language you use in proposals, what kind of items you can include in the budget, to what kind of reporting is required is different based on the type of donor. So this is definitely an area we’ve identified where we can hopefully provide capacity building support in the future.

Katie: Your work sounds really interesting! Do you feel that your time at HNC helped prepare you for your job?

Amanda: Absolutely! First of all, HNC was just such a game changer in terms of language skills for me. I took four years of Chinese in undergrad, including one semester of study abroad at BeiDa, but actually doing substantive coursework in Chinese at HNC versus traditional language study increased my language ability more than all my previous study put together. This has been really helpful, since a lot of our Chinese partners don’t speak English so all of their proposals, reports, and emails are in Chinese. Beyond the language skills, I think my time at HNC, from the courses taught by the Chinese professors to spending a whole year living with my Chinese classmates, also helped develop an understanding of Chinese culture and society that has been critical to me ability to work successfully with our Chinese partners and to manage our China portfolio.

Katie: Thanks so much for stopping by!

Amanda: Any time.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Step 1 in Your HNC Application

We're getting close to reaching the halfway point of our fall recruiting travel which means it's a good time for prospective students to start their applications!  The first step in the application process is Chinese proficiency testing.  All applicants to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center are required to take Avant Assessment's STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test.  The STAMP is the most convenient way to ensure that you will be prepared to study at the Center.

To help you do your best on the STAMP, we’ve answered a few commonly asked questions about the exam below:

  • The STAMP is entirely multiple choice, and focuses mainly on listening and reading comprehension. There is no oral component.
  • There are no formal study guides for the exam, but when you request the STAMP from our office, we’ll send you a link to a practice test to give you a better idea of the structure of the test.
  • You can take the STAMP online with a proctor.  There's no need to go to a testing center.  Professors, work supervisors, university administrators, or tutors are all suitable choices to proctor a STAMP test.   

All STAMP tests must be completed by January 21, 2014, but we find that many graduating seniors find it more convenient to submit the test request form during the fall semester, before going on winter break. Good luck!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Beginning of the year hiatus!

HNC students are all on break this week for the National Day holiday.  Below you can read about what HNC MAIS student Natalie Sammarco is up to this week:

"We’ve had quite a few breaks in these beginning weeks of school back at HNC. It’s been nice, actually, a good way to ease into the school year.

The first break was Mid-Autumn Festival. That gave us a couple days break from class in the first week. Usually this holiday is a couple weeks later but because it’s planned according to the lunar calendar, it came early this year :-) The best part about this holiday is the moon cakes! I really love the red bean flavored ones since they are a good counterbalance to the sweetness of the pastry in which it is encased. Yum!

Since the term just started, the 'Founding Day' holiday is upon us, October 1st. This is the holiday that celebrates the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. For many who just start at HNC, this holiday comes up pretty quickly. Some even say it’s too soon because we haven’t even gotten our feet wet before we have a week long break. As this is my 3rd time celebrating the October holiday at HNC, I am glad I have learned to plan a little bit :-) ***Advice: If you’re applying to HNC and want opportunities to travel, make sure you plan for this holiday! No one ever thinks to go anywhere or plan ahead but it’s totally doable.

I am in Shanghai for the week doing research for my thesis and am staying with some great HNC alums from last year. I think that’s one of the best parts about HNC, the people who go there. I’ve made amazing friends who are awesome enough to let me crash at their places when I need to come do research or just get out of Nanjing for awhile. I have love for Nanjing, but when I’m writing, it helps to get away and clear my head.

The cool part is that the Deputy American Co-Director, Milo, has just completed the MA carrel (study space) lottery and I am in the same carrel with one of my best friends and fellow MA student, Sophia :-) There are things to look forward to when I head back to Nanjing in a week! Let the thesis juices flow!"


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

The Best HNC Program for You

Many applicants come to us for advice about how to select the Hopkins-Nanjing Center program that best suits their interests.  In order to help you compare the basic features of the Certificate, MAIS, and Five-semester HNC/SAIS programs, we’ve compiled some helpful information below.  You’ll find a snapshot of the duration, requirements, and degree associated with each program.  If you have any additional questions about programs and curricula offered by the Hopkins-Nanjing Center, please don’t hesitate to contact our Admissions Office.

*As a Five-Semester applicant, students must choose a concentration for the SAIS MA portion of the program.  More information on SAIS MA concentrations can be found here

** For specific questions about the SAIS MA, go to www.sais-jhu.edu or call the SAIS Admissions Office at 202.663.5700.