02 July 2011

Why Bother With College?

Why Bother With College?
By Jiang Xueqin

I’ve always been sceptical about Chinese students studying in the United States. Many go to study business, and I used to tell them that they should take $10,000 of the $200,000 tuition money and become a fruit vendor. After four years of dealing daily with ignorant customers, arrogant policemen and thugs, they’ll have acquired the requisite knowledge of how to really do business in China, and with the $190,000 they can start their business career. I also told a former student, Zhou Yeran, that he was so talented that he ought to use his tuition money to make low-budget films for four years. (I was popular neither with those students who wanted to study business, nor with Zhou Yeran’s mother.)


Since then I’ve grown up a bit, and nowadays I tell my Peking University High School International Division students that, as China becomes increasingly more international and increasing bilingual in Chinese and Chinglish, the ability to read and write well in English is what will guarantee their professional success and personal happiness in life. While Chinese may speak fluent English, they’ll eventually hit a glass ceiling in a multinational because they can’t write well enough in English. But if our students develop the habit of reading, they’ll discover that new worlds would immediately open to them: the Internet would suddenly become an infinite continent...

Our plan is to have students avoid applying to large state universities and the Ivy League, and apply only to humanities programmes at liberal arts colleges. This is ironic because when Americans mention overpriced, useless degrees they mean the humanities programmes at liberal arts colleges. ...



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