SPECIAL NOTE: I read with deep interest in this latest report of the New Breed of College Students in China, of today. I am truly impressed and encouraged by this optimistic portrait of today;s students and their interests. The students that I met from 2008 to 2014 were of a different breed, and they seemed to come from a different world, compared with the freshmen of 2018: interest in group discussions or activities or studies. This is American, not Chinese. Chinese students that I knew were not interested to work or study with their classmates for fear that someone might get a better grade than me! Not that they were selfish, but that they did not trust their friends or roommates. So I am surprised with this new breed of students who desire to work together or discuss together! Also what they would bring to improve their dormitory rooms…to reflect who they are. Not the students I met earlier. They came to study, not interested to decorate their rooms. Also about sending their personal things to the campus before they arrive! I guess the new kids have money, and they could send their personal belongings to the campus instead of carrying them to the campus…I did notice something when I was there in China, that at the end of the school year, many students would go to the post office and send their personal belongings by post…I do not see that in America…most |American students would simply throw them away after their graduation…I used to pick some of their thrown away items when I was in college in America. The biggest problem we face then in USA was many animals were left behind after the students graduated…sad but true. Few students in China have small dogs while they are in campus…not many. It seems many of the new breed would want to extend their education, advanced education overseas…for better future and careers. I am encouraged by this new breed of college students…the article seems to indicate the new kids are more independent making their own decisions of what to study, when to study, how to study, and why to study…and less dependent on others for their life, career and future! I hope this is true! I wrote in details about the students I had privilege of meeting, and there were many because I was interested to write about them in THIS IS CHINA, just published in 2018, now available at Amazon.com I hope everything in this article is true about the new breed of ambitious young Chinese…they will be the future of China! Good for China! And good for the world! Steve, Oct 5, 2018 WeChat 1962816801 email@example.com BlogL https://getting2knowyou-china.com
New generation, new campus life
By Cao Chen | China Daily | Updated: 2018-10-02
Jin Zilong added something special, besides the essential requirements, like important documents, clothing and stationery, to his packing list for college fresher year.
Jin packed items to decorate his dorm with, including posters and fitness equipment such as yoga mats and dumbbells.
“I want my personality to be reflected in my dorm room. That is where I will spend the most time during college,” said Jin, a student at East China Normal University.
“When the dorm is cozy, our life at campus and our relationship with roommates – vital parts of our university life – will be easier for us to adjust to,” he added.
His college life was further enhanced when the 18-year-old set up a study group and invited a few classmates to join.
“We plan to discuss questions related to our major, education, during spare time in the dorm or study rooms, said Jin.
Jin, born in this century, is representative of a new generation who grew up in an era enriched with economic, scientific and social breakthroughs.
Just a few years separate freshmen from the older students but the differences in attitude are clear. Li Tianhang, president of the student union at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, said she saw a cyclist carrying a guitar and a ukulele during registration at college’s welcome week.
“They care more about fashion and personality than students of my age,” said the 21-year-old.
According to data from Shanghai Jiao Tong University, over 68 percent of new students, accounting for approximately 2,800, were born this century. The youngest, born in 2004, is only 14 years old, and the oldest was born in 1994.
At Fudan University, the percentage is even higher, more than 75 percent.
These young people generate a new vibrant atmosphere at the campus and lead the latest fashion trends, which used to be the “territory of people born in the 1990s or earlier”.
Two-wheel self-balancing electric vehicles, drones and mini projectors have become three new essential items bought by the new students, aside from “old-fashioned” cellphones and computers, according to the purchasing list based on data collected at school-opening day in September from Tmall, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd’s business-to-consumer shopping site.
“Universities are often too large to walk from one place to another, especially during peak time for classes. Electric vehicles, which cost around 2,000 yuan ($290), are a great alternative for bicycles or cars, and are easy to store in a dorm,” a student told Xinhua net.
Meanwhile, a mobilephone-sized miniature projector, if connected to Wi-Fi, can project a 250-cm screen on the wall, turning any room into a cinema.
However, for Wang Kaiyue, a 25-year-old starting her postgraduate year at Liaoning University in September, these accessory trends are something “she would never consider taking to university”.
Wang jokes that she may be “too old to understand the fashion among the younger generation”.
Based on an online investigation conducted by MyCOS, a Chinese enterprise for higher education data management and consulting, in August, 46 percent of 949 new students who took the survey purchased electronic devices, such as mobile phones, laptops and game consoles.
Around 25 percent bought new clothing.
Different economic situations and purchasing power have also triggered various trends, that is, nearly half (43 percent) of the students surveyed in rural areas spent no more than 2,000 yuan on college essentials.
However, the percentage for nonrural students surveyed is only 26 percent, and 20 percent of nonrural students spent over 10,000 yuan in preparation for campus life.
In September, Cainiao Network, an Alibaba Group logistics arm, released the list of universities in China where new students sent luggage ahead of their arrival to campus, instead of taking it themselves.
Yunnan University in Yunnan province, Xiangtan University in Hunan province, and Jiangnan University in Jiangsu province are ranked the top three respectively, where over 10,000 parcels were transported to each venue every day.
“Growing up with new technology, and in a rather open society, students born in the 2000s are always following trends and bringing new ideas to college culture,” said Wang.
“They will definitely lead new lifestyles and make new requests to the university.”
Birds of a feather
Universities, on the other hand, are keeping pace to provide better services for these millennial students.
Customized dormitory distribution takes the lead in meeting student demand for a comfortable dorm life at Shanghai University.
“We conducted an online survey on students’ basic information, including habits, schedules for study and rest, and hobbies, to generally avoid possible dormitory strife,” said Sun Yuhua, deputy Party secretary at the university’s school of sociology and political science.
“For instance, people in one dorm share similar bedtime schedules and study goals,” Sun adds.
Wang Ziqing at Shanghai University favors the new system, because he wants roommates who “keep early hours” and adopt a healthy lifestyle.
New technology has been applied to facilitate the admission process for international students.
Fudan University established an online bilingual student information system in Chinese and English for more than 300 foreign freshmen from 46 countries.
At Shanghai Jiao Tong University, the identity of international students can be recognized, when they stand in front of an AI device which collects real-time images and compares the information with that in the database.
Yang Zecheng, a freshman at East China Normal University, agrees that the development of the internet has led a more convenient and colorful life for the new generation.
“Thanks to mobile payments, everything is cashless at campus, either paying for tuition or using washing machines,” said Yang.
“Compared with former generations, most of my friends choose online shopping for new things, instead of packing all their stuff at home.”
To diversify extracurricular life, new rooms for multiple functions, like yoga, calligraphy and chess, have been constructed at Shanghai Jiao Tong University.
Also, at Fudan, 31 buildings for undergraduate accommodation, which are equipped with more than 1,000 items of environmentally friendly furniture, have been renovated during the three-month-long summer holiday.
“I hope these changes will help students easily adjust to the challenges and changes,” said Li Shuhua, instructor at Shanghai University of Finance and Economics.
Master of my own
The impulse to catch up with new trends nevertheless does not hinder the millennial freshmen’s ambitions.
The clues can be found when students start to make their own decisions and take the consequences in deciding majors.
Normally, Chinese parents take part in or sometimes dominate their children’s decision making.
Jin Zilong found his ambition in his last year of high school.
“Being a teacher doesn’t guarantee a handsome salary, but I want to impart knowledge, answer students’ questions, and teach them how to think independently,” says Jin. Interests and strengths are also key elements to pick a major.
Yang Zecheng has been world champion four times at the VEX Robotics Competition, where teams of students are tasked with designing and building a robot to play against other teams in a game-based engineering challenge.
“So I made up my mind to pursue math at university to lay the foundation for further robotic research and studies,” he adds.
Deciding majors is only a start. Students have diversified goals in the hope of becoming a better and well-rounded person after university.
Xie Fengze from Shanghai Jiao Tong University is studying mechanical engineering and plans to return to Chongqing to work as a qualified engineer there.
“That is where my parents are and the city provides a sense of belonging,” he said.
“I hope I can play an important part in the building of that fast-developing city.”
During university, most of the students are determined to put their studies first, followed by social activities, personality cultivation and relationship building.
Liu Wanxin from Tongji University said school exchange programs and voluntary activities were also chances to explore the world and broaden their horizon.
Chen Miao at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics carries calligraphy as well as cosmetics in her bag.
As for the long-term goals, most freshmen are willing to further their studies after graduation.
Tang Linxia, deputy director of student affairs office at Shanghai University, claimed that the new generation are “more independent and keen to express their opinions and feelings than ever”.
“The millennials share an obvious characteristic that they prefer taking proactive actions to being passively arranged,” said Tang.
Li Lu, a 25-year-old graduating from University of International Business and Economics, encouraged freshmen to make use of every minute at university.
“I deeply regret not having any future plans at university. It’s good to see the new generation has foresight,” said Li.
Jiang Xinhong, a 25-year-old graduated from Dalian University of Foreign Languages in 2011, but the heavy luggage she brought on her 10-hour train journey from her home to the university was an experience she does not want to repeat.
“The development of transportation and technology has really brought great convenience,” said Jiang.
Young people are no longer worried about a material life, no longer need to strive for learning opportunities, and are pursuing a more independent lifestyle.
So what are the new goals and development directions for them?
Qiu Yong, president of Tsinghua University, expected “a spirit of science” from the freshmen.
“Over the past century, scientific breakthroughs has seen huge changes to society. The boundary of knowledge is being extended,” said Qiu at the university’s opening ceremony for a new semester in August.
“I encourage the students to keep learning and be precursors of the new age.”
Yu Ruyue contributed to this story.