Administrators are launching a new effort to inform students about the Yale-in-Peking study abroad program, whose application deadline for the fall 2006 term was extended by a month after not enough applications were received to fill the 20 spaces available in the program.
To encourage applications before the program’s new Feb. 17 deadline, table tents will be placed in residential college dining halls to promote the program and an information session will be held on Feb. 7 for interested students. Administrators said they extended the deadline for Yale-in-Peking, which offers a semester of study alongside Chinese students at Peking University in Beijing, upon hearing from some students that they had not had enough time to put their applications together before the previous Jan. 17 cutoff, which they said may have been inconveniently close to winter break.
A number of students, though, said they chose not to apply for the program because they wanted to be on campus during the semester or because they wanted to focus on language immersion, which Yale-in-Peking does not require.
East Asian studies professor Charles Laughlin, who will direct the program, said the original deadline may not have given program coordinators enough time to promote Yale-in-Peking. The program, announced in late November, was designed to appeal to students who were not necessarily studying Chinese already, Laughlin said, but it was difficult to target those students specifically.
In deciding to extend the application deadline, Laughlin said administrators were primarily concerned with giving students enough time to complete an application rather than ensuring that all the program’s spots were filled.
“I think the fact that we didn’t get as many applications as we should have indicated that the deadline was too early for a number of students to respond to,” Laughlin said. “We were happy to have what I think was a healthy turnout of applications, especially for a new program that hasn’t got a track record yet.”
Barbara Rowe, the director of International Education and Fellowship Programs, said changes to the residence plans also opened up a few more spaces in the program, which originally allotted 20 spots for Yale students.
During the semester, Yale and Peking University students will live together in a dormitory and will take some of the same classes. Yale students must be enrolled in a Mandarin language course during their semester at Peking University, also called Beida, but they can choose from five Yale courses taught in English to fill the rest of their semester. Advanced Chinese students will also have access to Beida classes taught in Mandarin.
Laughlin said he hopes residential college deans will help program administrators identify students who might be interested in studying abroad, but who did not submit an application by the original deadline. In particular, Laughlin said, administrators are trying to promote the program to current freshmen, who are not otherwise eligible to study abroad as sophomores.
“We’re trying to get the word out more aggressively among freshmen who are still getting their bearings,” he said. “They may not realize the significance of this opportunity yet.”
Lisbeth Kaufman ’08, an East Asian studies major, said she applied to the program because it allows students to take Yale courses while studying abroad and she was excited by the chance to live with Beida students. But Kaufman said students who are focused on language are more likely to be interested in the Light Fellowship, which funds summer language study.
Yale-in-Peking applicant Michael Schmale ’08 said he does not think Yalies tend to favor term-time study abroad.
“The popularity among students, from what I’ve seen, has been kind of lukewarm,” Schmale said.
David Litt ’08, who studied in China on a Light Fellowship last summer, said he considered applying to Yale-in-Peking, but he does not want to leave campus for an entire semester.
“[But] it sounds like a really, really cool program,” Litt said.
Laughlin said Yale administrators are still working with representatives from Beida to select two Beida courses — probably in economics, history or philosophy — to be offered specifically for students in the Yale-in-Peking program.
Early applications for the spring 2007 semester Yale-in-Peking program will be accepted until April 7.