Professor Robert Rhoades’ third blogpost in this week’s series on Chinese higher education (from the 21st Century Scholar blog) is on the topic of college student life in China, and the glimpses it offers into the cultural differences between China and the U.S. He points out that:
- Students live together in a tight-knit group (often as many as 8 students to a dorm room)
- Students also take classes together as part of a cohort – thus friendship networks are often tied to their majors
- It’s difficult to change majors in college, as Chinese students are admitted to university AND a major based on their gaokao scores (see our blogpost explaining the gaokao and its significance in the life of a Chinese student)
Given these facets, Rhoades writes:
On the one hand, this may be a structural drawback to the Chinese system, given that young people often have little idea about what they truly want to study or do as a vocation upon completion of their studies. But on the other hand, the social and academic support structure of a cohort model encourages college completion.
Rhoades goes on to acknowledge that there are problems facing Chinese college students, some similar to their American counterparts (worries over the job market), and some very different (most students are only childs and will mostly shoulder the responsibility of caring for elderly parents, due to China’s limited social security system).