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Posts Tagged ‘college admissions’


This was an interesting article earlier in the month about the strong interest that elite universities are taking in recruiting the best students from China. William Fitzsimmons, Harvard’s admissions dean, has the following to say in the article:

Even fifth-graders in Wellesley, Newton, and Brookline, who as adults will face international competition for jobs, should begin beefing up their academic résumés if they want a shot at an Ivy League education, Fitzsimmons said.

“We’re trying to send a message to young people, as young as primary school, to make the most of their studies,” he said, “because they’ll be competing with students around the world later on.”

It won’t surprise Math Circle participants but the qualities that are attracting elite universities to China are mathematics and problem solving abilities.

The first Shing-Tung Yau High School Mathematics Awards, named for the Harvard math professor who organized it, drew more than 900 students from all corners of the country. The 40 finalists who assembled for three days in Beijing had spent the past six months preparing to shine – not only for the judges, which included three Harvard professors, but also for the admissions deans they would meet.

“This is a historic event,” Fitzsimmons said. “We’re trying to get out the word that Harvard is world class in math, science, and engineering, not just in the humanities.”

…Professor Yau, chairman of Harvard’s math department who conceived of last month’s competition, has returned to his homeland to not only spur the improvement of math education in China through the contest, which rewards students for creativity and collaboration, but also to help funnel a generation of Chinese high school students into America’s premiere colleges.

This competition will enhance the experience for everyone attending US universities, but it also requires that students prepare themselves to compete against this new international standard.  Programs like the AMC contests and Math Circles are intended to do just that.  The article ends with this comment about a boy who had been profiled.  I think Math Circle participants will find it very familiar even if the report finds it remarkable:

The next morning, a Saturday, Tiger showed up at his school’s weekly math club and spent three hours learning about number theory – “just for fun,” he said.

To read the full article please click on the logo below:

boston_globe

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UT Dallas has been very generous in supporting Metroplex Math Circle which invests in the multi-year achievement and enlightenment of our students.  I read with great interest the the University of Texas at Dallas is also committed to a multi-year plan with the goal of become a Tier One Research University.

These twin investments will converge over the next 10 years as some of our most talented students are given the option to work with the world’s best faculty and students here in North Texas.  UT Dallas President, Dr. David E. Daniels makes the good point that this is not the case today and that our region suffers from it:

In Fall, 2006:

  • Texas sent 10,163 high school students to doctoral granting universities in other states
  • Texas attracted 4,358 high school graduates from other states to doctoral-granting Texas universities
  • Texas had a net brain drain of 5,815 high school students to universities in other states in 2006
  • The problem is worsening –the loss increased 54% from 2000 to 2006.

Following are some more documents from UT Dallas describing their plan to elevate the campus from an already leading research university to a true Tier One.

What is Tier One?

Texas is home to three outstanding Tier One universities: Rice, Texas A&M, and UT Austin. Maintaining the strengths of these institutions relative to the best universities in the nation is vital. But this will not be enough to keep Texas competitive in the face of what has become a global contest for talent, ideas, home-grown advances, and economic development. Texas must develop more top-tier universities, particularly in the major population centers of the state. Texas lags states such as California and New York in this area, and pays the price. read more

Tier One Proposal, Executive Summary

Thoughts on the Creation of Tier One Universities in Texas

Presentation on Tier One (Slideshow | Printable)

President David E. Daniel is interviewed about Tier One on KERA-FM

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Our friends at Art of Problem solving hosted a Math Jam interview with Matt McGann, Associate Director of Admissions and Kiran Kedlaya, Associate Professor of Mathematics at MIT.  Here are a couple of highlights and a link to the full transcript:

Q:  What is MIT’s admission rate?

A: Last year, if memory serves, we received 13,396 applications and admitted 1589 students, for an admission rate of about 11.9%. But remember, just the admission rate tells you very little about the admissions process or the quality of the school.

Q:  Where are the math major students go and what do they do once they graduated from MIT?

A: Our math majors choose a variety of career paths. Some pursue PhDs in math and continue in academic careers; some do likewise in related subjects (physics, computer science). Finance is a popular option, as are various IT-oriented careers.

Q:  What are some of the research opportunities available during the vacations?

A:MIT has an extensive Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), through which undergrads can get funding to do research projects with faculty either during vacations or academic terms. The burden is on the student to find a faculty mentor, but many faculty participate in the program. (I’ve advised maybe 10 students in this way.)

Q:  What kinds of things make an undergraduate application “jump off the page” during the MIT admissions process? In other words, what makes someone’s application stand out from the rest of the applicants who are most likely very studious as well?

A:  I know you’re very anxious to have this question answered! It’s a tough question, and one that doesn’t have an easy answer. Lots of things can make an application stand out. A 42 at the IMO would be great, but it can be many, many things. Some students stand out for their personality, or their extra-curricular accomplishments, or for overcoming a challenging situation. But all of these students must have strong academics and an alignment with MIT’s mission and culture. For more detailed thoughts on this, I’d read the blogs at our website, http://mitadmissions.org

Q:  Not everyone gets to IMO. Are USAMO qualifiers also considered for admission?

A:  Of course! And even non-USAMO qualifiers!

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Our good friends at the Art of Problem Solving are hosting a Math Jam this Thursday with representatives from MIT to discuss their math programs and what they are looking for in applicants. MIT has done a particularly good job in recent years of recruiting top math talent including friends of MMC like Ivan Borsenco.

Math Jams are a free online chat format sponsored by AOPS. You will want to go to the site a bit before the start to make sure your computer is set up properly. If you cannot make this time a full transcript of the event is generally available the next day.

Date: Oct 23 (Thu)
Time: 7:30 PM Eastern
Instructor: Matt McGann

Matt McGann, Associate Director of Admissions at MIT, and Kiran Kedlaya, Associate Professor of Mathematics, will discuss MIT and the admissions process.

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