The entrance of the NYU Shanghai Campus.


You’ve just finished your college entrance exam. And you are embarking on your last vacation as a high school student—the summer before NYU Shanghai. Incoming students always ask me, an NYU Shanghai admissions counselor, one question during this period. How can I use this summer break to fully prepare for NYU Shanghai? Students especially want to know what they can do to smooth the transition from a Chinese language learning environment to an English one.

Instead of sharing my own answer, I thought it’d be more helpful for you to hear directly from our students. So I invited five current Chinese students to share how they arranged their summer break to prepare for the newest chapter in their life at NYU Shanghai. I asked them the same question: What would you do if you could go back to the summer after high school knowing what you know now as an NYU Shanghai student?

Hereʼs what they had to say. 

Wanyun Shi

Major: Mathematics, Class of 2023

The summer after my senior year of high school, I mainly relaxed. I traveled and learned how to drive. After finishing the stressful college entrance exam, I thought I deserved a good vacation. In addition, I read the book Educated and two reading materials from the Global Perspectives on Society syllabus to get a taste of what studying here would be like.

In retrospect, it is clear that my efforts were inadequate. But, then again, any preparation you think is sufficient during the summer is insufficient when you actually start college. Something will always catch you off guard. Whether it’s understanding lectures, writing essays, or preparing presentations that are all in English, youʼll experience new challenges. 

But don’t worry. We already proved we are capable of joining NYU Shanghai through Candidate Weekend and the college entrance exam. And abilities like reading textbooks and writing academic papers in English can be learned and cultivated through a series of required and extracurricular courses. So there is no need to be anxious during the summer.

If I were given another chance to experience the summer before NYU Shanghai, I would do more activities that interest me. First-year students, enjoy your summer. There are many exciting and challenging things to discover about college life once you get there!

Peirong Li

Majors: Economics and Computer Science, Class of 2024

After the college entrance exam, I signed up for NYU Shanghai virtual events and the in-person campus tour. This tour gave me a more immersive glimpse of college life on Century Avenue and increased my anticipation.

Attending events at this stage is very helpful. Youʼll develop a more comprehensive understanding of all aspects of university life at NYU Shanghai.

If I had another chance to go back to the summer after my senior year of high school, I would read a few more English books to improve my reading skills. When college starts, many courses, including Global Perspectives on Society and English for Academic Purposes, require a high level of reading and textual analysis skills. You’ll need to read a lot of materials on different topics every week, so it is important to build a good foundation. I would also watch fun YouTube videos in English to improve my listening skills.

But don’t forget to relax. You deserve to after the college entrance exam!

Shuchang Lu

Major: Neural Science, Class of 2024

During the summer of my senior year of high school, I read the NYU Shanghai orientation book, Just Mercy. Since I was interested in psychology and neuroscience, I looked up online open-access courses to learn more about those areas and familiarize myself with English lectures. 

During my junior year of high school, I spent a semester-long exchange in Canada. But I hardly read any humanities or social science books in English. Therefore, I thought it would be a big challenge for me to read the original English textbooks at NYU Shanghai. So I knew I had to do some training over the summer.

I also tried to memorize words and phrases to help my English writing. But that only lasted a few days. If you don’t use phrases regularly, you are soon to forget them. Instead, I found it more effective to read, learn, and use the words as I did for all of my courses.

If I were given another chance to go back to the summer, I would relax and have a good time. It may be hard to have a stressless vacation once college begins. I wish I got out more, did more interesting things, and talked more with my family and friends. Incoming first years, we are a warm, diverse, and inspiring community—may you find a place to belong here!

Kehan Qian

Majors: Business and Finance and Data Science, Class of 2024

I focused on four things in the summer before NYU Shanghai. First, I worked out to improve my health and develop my tenacity. Second, I studied TOEFL vocabulary and mastered over 4,000 new words. Third, I watched a lot of movies to improve my English expression skills. Finally, I asked the orientation ambassadors for advice on selecting classes before my first year.

While listening to upper-level students share their experiences during virtual events hosted by NYU Shanghai, I felt that improving my English and adapting to the full English learning environment were two things I needed to do if I wanted to succeed academically. I also knew that I should get out of the mechanical exam–oriented learning mode and explore and develop more of my personal hobbies and interests.

The preparation I did during the summer laid the foundation for learning and communicating in English in my first year. However, my preparation was not enough. The Core Curriculum requires students to have strong independent thinking and analytical skills, which still posed a challenge to me in the earlier stages. If I were given the opportunity to do it all over again in the summer after my senior year of high school, I would have read more books. What’s more, I would have actively reflected and analyzed those books in light of my prior knowledge and understanding of the world to cultivate my critical thinking abilities.

Incoming first years, read more, travel more, experience more, and think more. 

Xiaochen Yu

Majors: Interactive Media Arts and Computer Science, Class of 2024

Being admitted to NYU Shanghai is proof your personality and academic standing are a good fit. So don’t be anxious. Over the summer before NYU Shanghai, you can improve your English ability or prepare for some courses that you might be interested in, but it is not necessary. You will find your way once you start your college studies.

Be ready to adjust yourself for the transition from high school to college. For instance, at NYU Shanghai, it is up to the student to plan their schedule and figure out how to make use of the large amount of free time outside of the classroom. So it is time for you to be independent and find an effective time management plan that works for you. 

As Chinese students, I know we might be worried about the Core Curriculum courses that require a lot of reading. You can spend the summer reading some chapters from the textbook or increasing your vocabulary through some apps. But again, once you are at NYU Shanghai and immerse yourself in the English learning environment, you will progress rapidly without even realizing it.

Lastly, first years, take the time to relax after your college entrance exam! If you want to prepare, just learn about NYU Shanghai and practice as you see fit. 

Yida Ma is a Senior Assistant Director of Admissions at NYU Shanghai, mainly working with Chinese applicants. She has spent most of her career in Shanghai, but lived and worked in New York for three years. Besides seeking and recruiting excellent students across China, she loves playing with other people’s cats, watching HGTV, and riding indoors with Zwift. She is originally from Xi’an, which is famous for its terracotta warriors, as well as its famous foods.