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Frequently Asked Questions

When considering a new course of study, you may find you have questions. If you cannot find the answers you seek on this page, feel free to contact our office. We would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Questions Relating To Curriculum:

What is IMPAC?

IMPAC stands for Intensive Mandarin Program At Cornell. IMPAC's comprehensive, full-time approach to Chinese instruction is designed to build the linguistic foundation, cultural understanding, and real-world Mandarin Chinese language skills that students need to function independently in China.

How is IMPAC different from FALCON? What happened to FALCON?

FALCON (Full-year Asian Language CONcentration) was a full-time intensive language instruction program, offering instruction in Chinese and Japanese through the summer, fall, and spring terms of each academic year. Unfortunately, we were unable to continue offering a full-year intensive program; however, we still run the intensive Chinese summer-only program under the new name of IMPAC. This program retains FALCON’s teaching approach, but since it is not a full-year program, a name change was necessary.

How would IMPAC benefit me?

IMPAC is a full-time intensive language instruction program, offering both beginner and intermediate courses during a nine-week summer program at Cornell. In one summer, the student learns approximately one year's worth of traditional academic language instruction. Chinese is a difficult language to learn; IMPAC helps you speed up the process and still build a solid foundation in all four language skills.

I see that Cornell offers many exciting summer classes. Can I take other classes while in IMPAC?

No. IMPAC is a full-time course load. Classes are in session Monday through Friday 9:00 to 4:30, with only small breaks during the day, plus an additional three to four hours of preparation in the evenings. 

How many students are in IMPAC every year?

In any given year, as many as 30 students are enrolled in IMPAC.  The program is designed to have small sections of 6-8 students. This allows for plenty of individual attention from instructors. 

I live in Syracuse.  Could I commute to Cornell?

This wouldn't really be feasible.  The course schedule runs Monday through Friday, from about 9:00am to about 4:30 with practice time in the lab and prep for the next day's class.  Adding drive time on top of the schedule would likely be too exhausting for you to maintain, and you would get far less out of the program than your potential.

I want to study in China. How can IMPAC help me?

While we do not place students in study-abroad programs, many of our students have applied and been accepted to such programs.  Students who do well in IMPAC are very desirable candidates for overseas study programs in mainland China and Taiwan.

My goal is to work in China. Will IMPAC afford me that ability?

 IMPAC only offers beginning and intermediate courses, so if you wish to find a job in a Chinese language-only work environment, you’ll need to continue your Chinese studies after IMPAC.   However, IMPAC does provide you with the skills to continue learning Chinese once you’ve left the classroom.  Many of our professional students have gone directly from our beginning intensive course to job assignments in China, and continued to develop their language skills as they worked. 

I'm a non-native English speaker.  Can I succeed in IMPAC?

Plenty of non-native English speakers have done well in IMPAC. Your English would need to be strong enough that you could understand explanations of Chinese language and culture in English, but most of your other work would be conducted in Chinese. IMPAC does not require the TOEFL exam for admission.

What does Intermediate Chinese cover?

Chinese Intermediate IMPAC (Chinese 2201-2202) offers the equivalent of Cornell's regular Intermediate Mandarin course sequence in a 9-week intensive program. The goal of this program is to help students reach at least the Intermediate-Mid level on the ACTFL Proficiency Scale. Cornell University students who have achieved a B+ or better in Chinese 1101 and 1102 are qualified to enter this summer program. Applicants from outside Cornell must qualify for the intermediate program through placement testing. Please note that because first-year Chinese courses at many other universities are not as intensive as Cornell's regular Beginning Mandarin course sequence, one year of Chinese at another institution is no guarantee of qualification for Intermediate Chinese through IMPAC.

Questions Relating To Applying:

Am I a "degree" student or a "non-degree" student? What's the difference?

Students who are currently enrolled at Cornell and are working toward a Cornell University degree would be "degree" students (at either the graduate or undergraduate level). Students who are NOT in Cornell degree programs are welcome to apply to IMPAC as "non-degree" applicants.

Should I include a language attachment form for languages learned in high school?

Yes, include your high school courses. The admissions committee likes to see all the languages you have studied formally. This helps them determine your experience as a language learner.

Should I have my high school transcript and/or SAT scores sent?

If you are currently a student enrolled in a college/university for two or more years, then you can send the transcripts from your university. If you have not yet enrolled as an undergraduate or have been at your university for less than two years, then we will need your high school transcripts so that the application review committee has materials to reach a decision.

What happens if after my summer with IMPAC I decide to continue my education at Cornell?

While you're here, you would be attending Cornell as a non-degree student, not as a Cornell degree-seeking student. You'd certainly be welcome to apply to a Cornell degree program if something sparked your interest. However, you would simply be applying to the university just as any new applicant would. (You would have Cornell transcripts and grades to strengthen your application, though.)

What are the language requirements for an M.A. in East Asian Studies?

Students usually take one Chinese language course each term during the M.A. degree program.

What are the requirements to be accepted into your school?

If you are interested in applying to and being accepted by Cornell as a regular Cornell University student, you should contact Cornell Admissions for details.  Realize that if you apply to and are accepted into Cornell, you would still have to apply to IMPAC separately. Similarly, if you apply to IMPAC and are accepted, that does not mean that you are accepted to Cornell as a regular student.

Is it possible for a junior in high school to attend?

While we welcome high school students who are motivated and mature, the program is not designed for high school students. They would be among undergraduates, graduate students, and professionals. On one hand, younger people tend to internalize a new language much more easily than older people, so our high school students are often very successful. On the other hand, they do not always have experience with this level of rigor and this degree of structured demand for their time, so it can be a hard adjustment for some.

Do I need to have a recommendation from a Chinese teacher?

A recommendation from someone who taught you in a language class is a good thing to have, since s/he can attest to your general language-learning abilities. However, a letter from any professor who knows your work ethic, intelligence, etc. would also be fine.

Should recommendation letters be from teachers only?

Former teachers, in languages or not, are the best, although we do sometimes see letters from employers as well. Basically, you want to select people whose recommendation will paint a clear picture of your likely language-learning skills, or at least the types of skills that make a good language learner: discipline, analytical ability, etc.

Questions Relating To Funding:

Undergraduate Students

                          Please click here to see Financial Aid information

How can I fund IMPAC?

Undergraduate students are eligible to apply for merit based IMPAC scholarships which can offset a portion of the tuition. Another alternative offered by many private loan companies is a career loan.

Can I use the G.I. Bill?  How do I do so?

You'd need to contact Sofia Salce, the Veteran's Affairs contact. Please be aware that the G.I. Bill has predefined limits and may only cover part of your time at IMPAC, leaving you to find additional funding.

Which private loan company is most highly recommended for career loans?
Please click here for financial aid, loans and scholarship information. You might also try looking into the bank that you or your parents use for checking—sometimes they will offer good rates to existing customers.

Graduate Students

                          Please click here to see Financial Aid information

How can I fund IMPAC?

In terms of fellowships, funding for summer-only study is not especially abundant. There is one option that you may want to look into: it’s called the FLAS, or Foreign Language and Area Studies Fellowship. There is a separate summer-only competition for FLAS awards, and the fellowship pays tuition and a living stipend. The FLAS Fellowship is restricted to U.S. citizens or permanent residents. It is specifically designed for intermediate language learners, so those enrolling in the beginning level will not qualify.

The IMPAC application does not require transcripts, but the FLAS competition does require them. Since the FLAS deadline is in the spring semester, we would want your transcripts to include your fall grades.

Do I have to submit GRE scores for the FLAS, or can I substitute other standardized test scores?

In the past, we have accepted GMAT and LSAT scores from FLAS competitors, although this is not really an optimal approach. The GRE is a better measure of the types of skills needed to succeed in language study and you’d be competing against people who took the GRE. The FLAS competition—especially in Chinese—is quite intense. Thus, to be a more competitive applicant, you may want to consider taking the GRE.

To clarify, are non-Cornell graduate students eligible for FLAS Fellowships?

Non-Cornell graduate students are eligible as long as you have a Bachelor's degree. Highest preference is given to those in degree programs at Cornell. Since the FLAS is a “portable” fellowship, your odds of receiving it through your own school may be higher.  Applicants should look into competing for this fellowship at your home institution and using it to study here.

When are admissions decisions made for IMPAC and the FLAS Fellowship?

If you applied to IMPAC in the fall, it’s possible that the director would review your application and make an admission decision before the start of the new semester in January. As for the FLAS decision, the committee’s goal is to decide by the beginning of April.  Applicants will hear about IMPAC admission before they hear about fellowship competition results.

Can I use the G.I. Bill?  How do I do so?

You’d need to contact Sofia Salce to discuss your specific situation. Please be aware that the G.I. Bill monies will only cover part of your time at IMPAC, so you’ll need to find additional funding.

Which private loan company is most highly recommended for career loans?

Please click here for financial aid, loans, and scholarship information. You might also try looking into banks that you or your parents use for checking—sometimes they will offer good rates to existing customers.

I am a graduate student at another university, and I am not a U.S. citizen. Am I qualified to apply for the IMPAC Summer Scholarship? 

Yes, you are qualified.  You should be aware that preference is given to Cornell University students. Also, the International Students and Scholars office might be able to help with international student funding.