Studying Chinese before College

Studying Chinese in high school (or earlier) has several advantages for future Flagship applicants:

  • Familiarity with tones and characters
  • A sense of how difficult Chinese will be (strength or weakness in another language is not always a good indicator)
  • A less stressful first summer experience (perhaps the most difficult and critical stage in the program)

Extended time in China during high school (or earlier) provides additional advantages:

  • Context for learning new words and sentence patterns during the semesters in preparation for the next stint abroad
  • Confidence that culture shock will not be defeating
  • The ability to maximize language gains abroad, with no time lost on acclimation

For all of these reasons, we advise all high school students to strongly consider the following Chinese programs:

  • Mississippi Star Talk is a selective all-expenses-paid summer program for rising juniors grants 6 college credits for 1 month of study on our campus. Students gain exposure to the Flagship program and have the opportunity to showcase their abilities in person before applying to our Flagship program.


  • UM Summer Language Institute (SLI) offers high school students opportunities to study critical languages while earning college credit. This program emphasizes the linguistic and cultural competencies required for real-world applications, affording students an experience that is both academically intensive and personally rewarding. In addition to coursework, students participate in co-curricular explorations of career and educational pathways, preparing them to compete for scholarships and selective programs after high school graduation.


  • National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y)
    This federally funded program provides opportunities for highly qualified students to study Chinese abroad for a summer, or for an entire academic year. We are very supportive of both types and regularly grant deferments to the high school seniors who commit to our program but wish to first spend a year on NSLI-Y. Such students are typically able to skip our freshman level (the equivalent of 3 intensive years of Chinese) and join their peers, who will then be sophomores. This gives them more time and space in their academic schedule to take on other programs and/or majors. It also increases their scholarship opportunities for an additional summer abroad and makes them prepared to attend Capstone at an earlier point.


  • Other programs:
    We cannot possibly be aware of all the high quality language learning opportunities for high school students that exist throughout the country and beyond. We highlight the programs above because they provide excellent scholarships and have a near immediate effect on a student’s subsequent application to our Chinese Flagship program. In general, we advise students to prioritize programs with rigorous language components over those that mainly involve tourism.

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