Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to our American applicants and safe travels to all HNC students on fall break!  We will respond to applicant questions when the HNC Office of International Admissions reopens on Monday.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Postcard from Harbin

HNC American Academic Coordinator Angela Chang was recently in Beijing and Harbin to recruit for the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  You can read about her experiences while visiting CET in Harbin below.  Future HNC students should keep Harbin in mind as a destination during one of the weeklong breaks during our academic year!

Harbin Beer (哈尔滨啤酒)is available across China 
Earlier this semester, I recruited at the CET program in Harbin, a city well regarded for its standard Mandarin pronunciation.  Harbin is the center for higher education in Northeast China, and Harbin Institute of Technology, which is where CET is based, is considered one of China’s “ivy league” universities.  CET Harbin offers its students a full immersion environment complete with a language pledge, one-on-one tutorial, and local roommates.  A former student once joked that the reason they attain such high Chinese proficiency is because it is too cold outside to do anything but study.  Harbin is also China’s northernmost city and known worldwide for its annual ice festival each winter.  Due to its close proximity to the northern border, Harbin has historically received a great deal of Russian influence, and today this is most visible in its food and architecture.

St. Sophia Cathedral (圣索菲亚教堂)
The main architectural attraction in the city is St. Sophia Cathedral, one of the few remaining Orthodox Christian churches in the city.  It houses the Harbin Museum of Architecture, which gives a fascinating look at the city’s development and how the Russian population once lived.          
Harbin’s Jewish New Synagogue, which was completed in 1921, could hold more than 800 worshippers at once.  It has since been restored and today houses an impressive collection of Harbin Jewish History and Culture.
Harbin Jewish New Synagogue (哈尔滨犹太新会堂)
“Harbin is a city in China where some 20,000 Jews lived for many decades.  Most important, they encountered no anti-Semitism among the Chinese, such as is prevalent in other lands, from the Chinese people they encountered no anti-Jewish bitterness or violence.  As one result, former Jewish residents of Harbin call themselves ‘Harbintsi.’”

~ Israel Epstein (1915-2005), one of the few foreign-born Chinese citizens of non-Chinese origin to become a member of the CCP

Friday, November 22, 2013

Writing an Effective Admissions Essay

It's hard to overstate the importance of essays as part of your application to the Hopkins-Nanjing Center.  This is a valuable opportunity to let the Admissions Committee get to know you as more than test scores, transcripts, and a resume.

Applicants to all of our programs (certificate, MAIS, and the Five-Semester Option) are required to submit a personal statement.  The prompt for this essay is as follows:

Please explain the development of your interest in China. Discuss professional, academic and personal experiences that have contributed to your decision to pursue further study of China. How do you expect your time at the Hopkins-Nanjing Center to assist you in achieving your long-term career objectives? (600 - 1000 words)

A few tips when writing this essay:

1) Spell check!
2) Be specific.  Applicants with the best essays give concrete examples about how they became interested in China and what motivated them to continue studying China and Chinese. Vague generalizations will not help you stand apart from other applicants.

3) Be memorable.  Tell us about your experiences in a creative way, rather than just rewriting your resume in paragraph form.  For example, one past applicant wrote about lessons he learned by playing ping-pong with a Chinese classmate.  Another explained her interest in public health through her interactions with Chinese citizens at a rural clinic.  Not everything is learned in the classroom! 
4) And finally, avoid cliches.  For example, one of the most common cliches we encounter every single year involves applicants writing that they hope to attend the HNC so they can become a "bridge" between China and the US. It may be true and it's a noble cause but so many bridges apply each year that the phrase has lost all meaning.

In addition to this personal statement, MAIS applicants are required to write a concentration essay. For this essay, we ask that you choose one of the five concentrations offered in Nanjing: International Economics, International Politics, Comparative and International Law, Chinese Studies, or Energy, Resources, and Environment.  You then will be prompted to write about your thesis idea(s).  Don't worry though! You will not be locked into this topic so it is completely fine if you arrive in Nanjing and decide on a new one. This is more an opportunity for the Admissions Committee to see that you have a particular area of interest related to China and that you have put thought into potential research topics.

Last but not least, Five-Semester Option applicants should submit three essays total: the HNC Personal Statement (see the section above), the DC Statement of Purpose, and the DC Analytical Essay.  We often receive questions about the amount of overlap between the HNC Personal Statement and the DC Statement of Purpose. You should assume that the admissions committees of each campus have access to all three essays but still include any relevant information in each, even if it does mean a bit of overlap.

We look forward to reading your essays!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

HNC Online Admissions Chat this Thursday!

The next online chat will take place this Thursday, November 21 from 10:00AM to 11:00AM ESTChatting with us will be admissions representatives Katie Brooks (HNC '09) and Lauren Szymanski (HNC '12).  Join us to hear 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! 

Not able to join this chat?  Click here to see the dates for other upcoming morning and evening chats.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Alumni Weekend at the HNC

The Hopkins-Nanjing Center has over 2,400 alumni living all over the world.  During the weekend of November 1-3, some of them had the opportunity to return to Nanjing to reconnect with their classmates and meet current students as part of HNC's annual Alumni Weekend.  The weekend featured a speech by SAIS Dean Vali Nasr on "The New Silk Road and the New Global Order," a "Back to School" session to allow alumni the opportunity to experience the HNC classroom again, alumni career panels, a walk along the ancient Nanjing city wall, a reception, and of course the Center's annual Halloween party.  Check out the pictures below from this year's events:

SAIS Dean Vali Nasr speaks at Nanjing University's Xianlin Campus

2013 Halloween Party at the HNC

Success on the Job- Alumni Panel

Choosing Your Career Direction- Alumni Panel

Students and alumni walk along Nanjing's city wall

Alumni Weekend Reception

Friday, November 8, 2013

Letters of Recommendation: Do's and Don'ts

With the application deadline a few months away, it's a good idea to start considering who you will ask to write recommendation letters on your behalf.  Letters of recommendation are an important component of the HNC application so don't underestimate the potential of a recommendation letter to positively (or negatively) affect your application.  Below are some recommendation letter tips:

  • Two recommendations are required but a maximum of three may be submitted. 
  • No more than one recommendation should be written by a Chinese language instructor.  Applicants often mistakenly believe that the admissions committee prefers recommendations from Chinese language teachers, but the STAMP Chinese Proficiency Test already provides an indicator of your Chinese language level.  Instead, the admissions committee would prefer to read a letter that addresses another aspect of your academic or professional career. 
  • Recommenders that are well-known in their field are impressive, but not if they don't know you well and can only speak to your accomplishments in vague terms.  It's best to ask professors, advisers, and work supervisors who are very familiar with your academic and professional work. 
  • It's preferred for recommenders to submit their recommendation letters online.  You will submit their contact information as part of the online application.  An email is then automatically generated and sent to the recommender with instructions and a link to the online recommendation form.  If your recommender prefers not to submit the letter online, we are also happy to accept hard copies mailed to our admissions office: Hopkins-Nanjing Center Office of International Admissions, Room 406, 1740 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington DC 20036.

As always, please feel free to contact us if you or your recommenders have any questions at all about the application process!