Thursday, July 28, 2005

Sibilence, Sibilence

Back to the education topic.

Which is a bit difficult, as I forget where I left off and I can't view my own blog.

Pre-school, Grade School, Junior High, and High School are spent by the average Chinese student worrying about "The Test." Everything they are taught, the entire curriculum and the methodologies implemented by the teachers aims to prepare students for the collenge entrance test. Seriously, these kids are worrying about it even when they are 10 years old.

The Chinese college admission test takes 3 or 4 days to complete. The major sections of the test cover Chinese, Math, and English. The test is taken at the same time on the same day all over the country, but the tests themselves vary from province to province differing in regard to the local educational standards. However, the test is only given once a year. That is it. You can get a second chance, but you have to wait a year for it and pay a fine.

You take the test in July, after you've graduated from High School. Yup. So you graduate, but you haven't applied to any school, havent even taken the test, but you'll be in a college dorm come August.

Basically, the kids take the test then go home to try and figure out their scores, because the following week they have to "apply" to college. By "apply," I mean they have to fill out a betting form, one based on their potential score where the college of your choice is your payoff.

The 'betting form' divides your score into different levels, that is to say, you can list what schools will be your preference if you score this high, or this high, or this high, as your score (and options) go down.

Then, in each tier, you rank the schools as you'd prefer to attend them. Then, if your score is high enough, and if the freshmen class for your #1 choice hasn't already been filled, you go there. If the enrollment is full, then onto your second choice, and so on.

But the universities CAN reject you. How? Why? If you rank their school too low, or if you don't list it as a preference high enough to suit their egos, they can refuse admittance. So you need to weigh your potential, unknown score against your options and the various egos of those options.

And you still don't know your major yet.

Once you are fit into a school, you enter another raffle, once again based upon your test score, where the school determines your major. The higher your score, the better chance you have of studying what YOU WANT.

Certain majors fill up quickly, ie: Physics or Engineering or IT type stuff. The dumping ground? English. Yup. English majors are often English majors because their scores were not high enough to merit them entry to the study of their own choice. There are two English majors commonly offered in the universities here: Travel English and Business English. The difference? One teaches you how to discuss ordering a sandwich at KFC, the other teaches you how to discuss ordering a sandwich at KFC in various provinces across China.

Which makes most of the college students I've dealt with rather disillusioned, disheartened, and flat out embarrassed to be an English major. More on colelge later.


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