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Getting Into Harvard For Asian Studies

lilyfeverlilyfever Registered User Posts: 3 New Member
I have a goal of attending Harvard's Asian Studies program. I studied Korean for two years in 8th and 9th grade (but I haven't retained much) and I am currently studying Mandarin. It has mostly been self study because my school's administration made some errors and I was only able to take an official course for one semester. I am exchanging in China over the summer and I plan to take the Chinese subject SAT to prove my proficiency despite not taking an actual course for several years. I'm a sophomore and over the next couple years I want to build impressive merits to be admitted based off of my passion for Asian languages. Where do you suggest I go from here? Should I learn Japanese in addition to Mandarin, or focus completely on Mandarin? Are there any ways I can build onto my achievements such as contests or awards?
Any information will be appreciated!

As I mentioned before, my school's Mandarin program has been mediocre and they were not even aware that the online course they had me do was only one semester. It is a Catholic high school and I feel I am wasting my time with religion courses. I was homeschooled from grades 7-9 and I hated the lack of socialization, but it would give me the freedom to take higher quality language courses and focus on the subjects I need. Any advice there would also be great. Thank you.

Replies to: Getting Into Harvard For Asian Studies

  • gibbygibby Registered User Posts: 10,612 Senior Member
    I have a goal of attending Harvard's Asian Studies program

    Harvard does not recruit or admit by major. All students apply to Harvard as Liberal Arts Majors and choose a major during their sophomore year of college. As such, you should take whatever high school course(s) interest you the most -- and do well in those courses. See: https://ealc.fas.harvard.edu/requirements.

  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,167 Senior Member
    Please don't spend your high school years thinking about admission, to any school, and certainly to Harvard. Why do you want to go to Harvard?

    Study what interests you, and not for the sake of admissions. Clearly you have an authentic interest in Asian Languages, but focusing on one might bring more depth. The exchange in China will be rewarding no matter where you go to college.

    I would not decide on homeschooling just so you can take "higher quality language courses" and the courses you "need," Need for what? High school is important for emotional growth and social development as well as exploration of interests, including extracurriculars. I don't think centering your life around language courses so that you can get into colleges is a prudent way to go.

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding.

    Is there any chance you could attend a public school if you are not happy where you are? Also, investigate the possibility of getting credit at your school for any language study that you do elsewhere. Finally, find some courses of sufficient difficulty, online or at a university or both.

    Good luck!
  • JHSJHS Registered User Posts: 18,070 Senior Member
    Harvard's East Asian Languages and Civilizations department has a storied history. Harvard was absolutely a pioneer in multidisciplinary study of East Asia, especially Japan -- missionary interest and involvement in China meant that the supply of Western scholars of Chinese and China was much greater than that relating to Japan or Korea -- and its East Asian Studies concentration (which no longer exists, exactly) was one of the first of its kind. But that was a generation ago. There are many, many high-quality programs in all East Asian languages and cultures now. Don't restrict your dreams to Harvard.
  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 592 Member
    Besides its departments Harvard College's East Asia interest clubs offer unparalleled access to region's political and business elite because many send their sons and daughters to Harvard College. Xi Jinping's daughter was in those clubs a few years ago; so is Huawei CEO/founder's daughter---no, not the one in the news and in trouble, but the younger one who is a current student there. Not only the clubs are well connected but well funded too, with lots of sponsorship by multi-national corporations.
  • compmomcompmom Registered User Posts: 10,167 Senior Member
    The original poster seems to have begun the study of Mandarin and seems to be using the interest in East Asian languages as a path to get into Harvard. The summer exchange will be of interest in and of itself. But a one semester course plus self-study hardly translates an interest into an achievement, as yet.

    I think the "unparalleled access" cited above is not really relevant and any desire for it may even be destructive..

    Note the possibility that this poster may leave school entirely, to focus on languages that he/she has only just begun to study. This is not reasonable. There are so many other aspects to growing up in teen years, besides admission to Harvard.


  • jzducoljzducol Registered User Posts: 592 Member
    I think the "unparalleled access" cited above is not really relevant and any desire for it may even be destructive..

    If you are an Asian student who has never been to US or Western countries, studying American politics and business in Beijing or Seoul why would having a classmate growing up in the White House or a prominent family in US not be relevant? and why would having such desire for gaining better knowledge be destructive?

    I know my kid who was born and grew up here, is interested in a concentration in East Asian Studies. She found interactions with kids from those countries fascinating and informative in her studies. I think this an aspect of Harvard College that is relevant and unique for its East Asian Studies.
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