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A major question for Chinese high school graduates

(China Daily)

10:51, August 12, 2011

High school graduates and their parents attend a fair in Shandong province for consultations on how to choose a major at university. (Photo: China Daily)

BEIJING, Aug. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- Even as college graduates battle for jobs, high school graduates are agonizing over which major they should apply for at university.

The issue stirred lively discussion on Sina Weibo, after this year's National College Entrance Examination, which concluded on June 9, after testing 9.33 million university candidates.

More than 60 percent of 4,094 university freshmen were very dissatisfied or dissatisfied with their majors, according to a survey released in November 2009 by MyCOS Institute, a consulting company that specializes in surveys of university students.

Another survey of 6,276 university freshmen published in December 2010 by the institute, revealed that 55 percent of students were not interested in their compulsory courses.

Many students leave the choice of college major to their parents, says Guo Xiaochuan, executive chief editor of College and University Admission who has been tracking trends in college majors for nearly a decade.

He says parents usually start to think seriously about their children's majors a week or two after the university entrance exam.

They often turn to consultancy companies, such as Beijing-based Compubridge Center, founded in 2004, to help determine which majors best suit their children's talents and temperament.

Since 2006, about 50,000 parents in the capital and neighboring Tianjin municipality have paid 398 yuan ($62) to buy software developed by the company which claims to help students assess their chances of university admissions for select majors based on past trends in 10 provinces.

Every year around 200 parents ask for further consultation, and fork out 4,800 yuan for the two-week session after the national exam, says Zhao Jing, director of the company.

Those seeking more time have to pay more.

The editor Guo's micro blog has had queries from at least 300 parents every day after this year's entrance examination.

He says more than half of these students and their parents are misled by what are perceived to be the most sought after majors in the job market. Very few parents take into consideration their children's desires.

Some are forthright and ask plainly which major is the most marketable, he says.

"They (parents and students) should bear in mind that the demands of the job market are ever-changing," he says. "So-called popular majors in the past, such as bioengineering, international business and trade and computer science and technology, are currently not much in demand.

"There is no better major than the one a student truly desires."


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