The summer course, Fujen Liberal Arts Program, opened by Fujen International Education Group, kicked off in Beijing and Shanghai this year, attracted 52 students. Unlike other summer education courses, a liberal arts education prepares students for college.
All teaching faculty come from Ivy League schools, such as Harvard, Columbia, Yale, and Princeton universities. Students can taste American higher education in China.
“Liberal arts education is distinguished from practical and pre-professional education. You are specializing in the pursuit of knowledge that is not immediately practical, and yet, it will enrich you in everything you do,” said Matthew Kaiser, associate professor of English at Harvard University.
He gave courses on Crime and Horror in Victorian Literature and Culture, and Charles Dickens: An Introduction to one of the Great Novelists of the Nineteenth Century.
A rising number of Chinese students are pursuing higher education in the US and elsewhere. According to recent statistics by the University of California at Berkeley, 12 percent of its international students enrollment are Chinese.
“Actually, many Chinese students know very little about American education,” said Ping Chuan, founder of Fujen Liberal Arts Program, who completed his higher education in the US years ago. “Chinese students are unprepared for rigorous standards of American higher education.”
“Many will find the huge gap between their imagination and reality when they start their studies abroad, which can be attributed to a lack of liberal arts education in the country.
“Chinese students cannot complete the workload required courses in college, such as History, Writing and Composition, and some struggle to think critically or show an interest in their own ideas and questions,” he said.
The summer program tries to solve these problems. The liberal arts program provides standard college courses including lectures, discussion sections, and seminar programs to help high school students.
“This is a good chance for students to have close contact with professors and teachers. In my university, we usually have a thousand of students sitting together in a hall for a lecture. It’s not easy to have one-to-one discussions,” said Matthew Kaiser.
Fujen also includes a mentor program for its students.