I am back from a speech in Shanghai Jiaotong University tonight.
This is the second time I visit SJTU this month.
I just observe something very different between the students of this year (especially the first year students) and the students of two years ago.
The Reform of Higher Education
The change was triggered by the recent reform of higher education. According to the students, when they enter SJTU, they don’t know their majors yet. They know which school they will go to and will study for 2 years before they were assigned a major, depending on how good their first two years are. (Correct me if I am wrong. This is what I heard, but not necessarily the truth).
This way, the first two years of university students are very different from the previous years. They have to study hard. Everyday they wake up, go to class just as middle-school students, study hard, and go back to dorm when the whole day’s study is over.
They don’t watch TV as much, and they don’t watch movie, and even fewer people find a boy/girl friends than before. Because, the major assignment is just as the second “National College Entrance Exam“.
To be short, the recent reform changed the first two years of university to continued part of middle school.
Change in Students
To be honest with my readers, and even to the students I met in the last two speech, I am very disappointed of the first year students in Jiao Tong University (I didn’t visit other universities this year yet). They look like middle-school, and behave like middle-school. The biggest difference between the current first year students and students of the same age two years ago is, they don’t show any excitement.
I am a big fan of going to universities to talk with students. I enjoy that a lot. The reason is, I found the students are full of creative ideas, and full of passion. They want to know more – they want to know everything, and that kind of passion also inspires me a lot. When I run Kijiji, we hosted about 200 speeches in many universities. Unfortunately, this was only in my memory.
The current university students I am facing are more concerned with their score than any generations before. They don’t care about many things, and — I cannot describe the feeling more exactly than just to tell you, they are exactly middle-school students to me.
The other changes are, two years ago, when there is a speech like this, the whole room (sometimes with 1000+ seats) are full of students. People from all grades gather and listen to the speeches. Recently, according to my friend who organized many event, very few people come to lecture, because everyone is busy preparing for exams. They are so busy that they even miss the campus recruiting of big or small companies. It seems nobody worries about the fact that only 30% of students can find a job in one of the best universities, like SJTU.
I don’t want to hide my disappointment of the recent reform initialized by the Ministry of Edcation.