Top US school's offer puts young student into spotlight

Updated: 2014-05-08 07:10

By Luo Wangshu and Tan Yingzi in Chongqing (China Daily USA)

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A high school student in Chongqing became an Internet celebrity after he got accepted into a prestigious preparatory college in the United States.

But Peng Shuhan, 19, said he has not made up his mind over whether he will accept the offer from Deep Springs College, known for its low enrollment rate and unique teaching methods.

Peng, from Chongqing Nankai Secondary School, received the offer from the two-year college in central California on Monday.

 Top US school's offer puts young student into spotlight

Billiards is the favorite sport of Peng Shuhan. The 19-year-old student from Chongqing Nankai Secondary School rose to instant fame on the Internet after he got an offer from the prestigious Deep Springs College in the United States. Li Yiming / For China Daily

As of Thursday afternoon, Deep Springs College had become one of the 10 most popular searches on Sina Weibo, a major micro-blogging platform.

The admission rate of the college, founded in 1917, is arguably as low as 6 percent, lower than that of Harvard University. According to the college's website, it now has 28 students - one from the class of 2011, 13 from the class of 2012, and 14 from 2013. The annual recruitment is from 11 to 15.

In addition to studies, students at the college are required to work a minimum of 20 hours a week on the ranch or farm.

Peng will become the college's second Chinese student if he decides to go, he said.

Peng first learned about the college from a magazine three years ago. "I cannot remember the name of the magazine but the core value, lifestyle and philosophy of Deep Springs fascinated me," said Peng, who described himself as "a boy dreaming of adventure".

Peng had a four-day tour of the college earlier this year.

"I participated in butchering a pig. It was so new to me," Peng said, adding that he had never imagined he would do that before.

In the past decade, most graduates of Deep Springs have moved on to prestigious universities, with 16 percent going to Harvard, 13 percent going to the University of Chicago, 7 percent to Yale and 7 percent to Brown, according to the college.

Peng said he has diversified interests. He likes science and technology, philosophy, finance and law.

"I wrote about how to live in an isolated environment in my personal statement," he said.

Peng also received offers from other colleges including College of William and Mary and Reed College.

"I am still struggling to make a choice, but Deep Springs will be a good choice because it does not charge any tuition fees," Peng said.

Zhang Han, executive vice-president of Quakers Education, a consultancy for overseas study in Beijing, said Deep Springs College has a good reputation among some Chinese students and parents.

"As a prep school, many of its graduates end up going on to Ivy League schools after two years of study," he said.

Zhang added that more and more Chinese students and parents have started to choose schools that fit students' needs instead of blindly chasing top rankings.

But "it may take time for students and parents to realize the better ranking ones may not be the perfect match", Zhang said.

The Ivy League schools have a stable size of recruitment each year, about 22,000 students. The number of Chinese applicants has sharply increased in recent years, making the application process more competitive.

According to the Ministry of Education, 413,900 Chinese students went to study abroad in 2013.

Among 819,644 international students in the US last year, 28.7 percent were from China - the largest single group.

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(China Daily USA 05/08/2014 page3)