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Major is no minor choice for students

By LI YANG | China Daily | Updated: 2021-06-09 07:49
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A high school senior studies behind piles of books at a school in Handan city, North China's Hebei province, May 18, 2021. [Photo/IC]

The national college entrance exams, or gaokao, began on Monday. Although 90 percent of the 10.78 million students sitting the gaokao this year will receive an offer from a university or technical or vocational school, only the top 160,000 will secure a seat in the 45 key universities of the Education Ministry's "985 project", a Chinese version of the Ivy League.

Compared with the top students, the large numbers of students who pass the exams but are not among the top performers have comparatively fewer options when it comes to the number of universities they can apply for and the majors they can choose to study.

What major they study will have a big influence on their prospects in the job market after graduation, or even their lifelong career development. Many of those going to college come from backward rural areas and blue-collar families in cities, and they lack guidance on their applications for universities, and choosing of a major.

Although they can receive a recruitment handbook published by the local education department before applying for a college, it only provides the basic information on the schools and subjects they offer. Most of the high school graduates who have spent three years cramming for the exams will not fully comprehend that the moment they open the recruitment handbook, they are coming to an important crossroad of their life.

They need to make a decision on what major they will take, and try to ensure they can earn their living or go on to further education after graduation with the knowledge and skills they learn in college.

It is tempting for ordinary students, if not urged by their parents, to choose to study such popular majors, as finance, business, marketing, international trade, law and management, as if that can guarantee them a well-paid job once they leave school.

But most of them will have to accept the fact that with a bachelor's degree from an ordinary college or technical school in these majors, it will be difficult for them to find a job tailored for their majors, as they have no advantages in the competition with those from key universities or with a higher degree.

The mismatch between majors and job markets results in a huge waste of educational resources and talent. But this is often ignored.

The authorities should provide professional guidance and consultations for students to help them make a rational choice when choosing their majors. The uncertainties behind choosing a major are more than those of the exam results themselves.

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