Selective admissions

My lecture went very well. The students were enthusiastic and engaged. Their English was great. I had heard that the undergrads generally have better English than the grad students. Undergraduate admission are so selective at Sun Yat-Sen University that the students are really top notch. The other conference attendees were eager to speak with me at the lunch after my lecture. I must say that I did enjoy being the “distinguished guest” who was driven from one venue to the next while others boarded the campus bus.

I was speaking with another junior faculty member who told me that she had a friend who was unable to get their child into the campus kindergarten that our children attend. In addition to the 1000 RMB monthly tuition, the school told her that she would have to make a donation of 30,000 to guarantee her child’s admission. This is quite a bit of money and by the time she had come up with it the kindergarten told her that it was too late to be admitted for this year. I felt a little guilty hearing the story and wondered how much our status as visiting American faculty has played into the ease with which we admitted our children and, alternatively, how much University officials “greased the wheels” with donations and promises.

In the same conversation I mentioned the other campus kindergarten, the one immediately behind our apartment. My friend did not even know that it existed. That furthers my suspicion that it is a kindergarten for the children of staff – the security guards, restaurant employees, etc. Apparently, we cannot even speak of it.

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