CHINA / National

Business studies a 'major' problem
By Zhao Ziran (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-07-24 05:53

In another survey on the same website that asked 91,882 college students about their majors, economics came in second behind Chinese, while business administration was third.

"Nowadays, most people are very pragmatic, said Yin Bihui, a teacher at the Beijing Foreign Language (middle) School. "The whole society around them is focusing on developing the economy, so most university students are thinking about how to make more money."

But now the impractical choices are causing some embarrassment, educators say.

Xiong Bingqi, a professor at Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told China Youth Daily: "Many pick the ones that, at first glance, are popular ones. What they don't realize is that social needs determine whether a major is useful or not."

Zhuang Youming, head of the admission office at Jinan University in Guangzhou told Guangzhou Daily that some students and their parents were "chasing majors like fans chasing pop music stars."

Another problem is that the universities teaching the "hot" majors are sacrificing quality for quantity, said Xiong, and "the quality of the large number of graduates has been falling short of the market's needs."

It is not that students are unaware of the problem. Ran Xudong, a marketing major student at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing, complained that businesses graduates need to gain practical experience, but most of the courses were "too vague and general."

So, Xiong suggested, it might be time for senior middle school students and parents to start thinking about how to choose a major more wisely.

"Don't be swayed by what seems popular," he said. "Selecting a major should be based on students' interests and future social needs."

Huang Xinwei, a student at Tsinghua University, said he chose to study chemical engineering because he believes that every nation needs to develop its energy resources. The industry is vital to the country, and chemical engineering graduates are now in high demand.

"But you can't be certain that a wonderful job will be waiting for you after you graduate," he said.

His advice: "First, the major you choose should be in the range of your interests. It might not be your favourite one, but certainly not something in a totally different area like, say, you like maths but choose law. That will be a disaster."

Yu Xiaolong, headmaster of the Beijing Foreign Language School, said: "A wrong major is not only a tragedy for the teenager but also a waste of the nation's human resources."  

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