Sunday, May 12, 2013

University is easy!

The minibus number 26 was making a big half-circle around the Hong Kong Polytechnic University.  Inside the minibus there is a family of 4: a father, a young mother, a 5-year-old boy, and a 2-year-old girl. 

Mother: “This is a university.”
Boy: “The university is SO big!”
Mother: “If you study hard, you will get to university.”
Boy: “...”
Mother: “Kindergarten and primary school are the hardest. Secondary school is easier, and university is the easiest.  That’s why you have to study hard now. You won’t have to study so hard when you get to university.”

Unfortunately, this seems to be the prevalent view among many Hong Kong people, students, parents, and teachers alike.  Students are told that once they get through the CEE/ALE/DSE, and secure a place in a university, then they will not need to work as hard.

At the O (orientation) Camp, they are told that the most important thing in university is to 上莊 (get on a committee).  Many feel liberated that they only have to attend classes for 15 hours a week instead of 30, no one even checks whether they come to class, no one tells them when to study, they have months to hand in assignments, and no one chases after them if they do not turn in assignments.

At the end of the first year, some of them are kicked out of university because they fail to maintain a GPA (grade point average) of 2.0 out of a maximum of 4.0.  Some are genuinely shocked to find that university is harder than they were told.  Many times, students plead that they perform poorly because they "have to" spend a lot of times serving in some student association.  

Of course, most students make a smooth transition, or adjust the way they study successfully.  But a significant number never recover from the shock.


Anonymous said...

I actually heard something similar from students and parents: primary school is very hard, but once they get into a good secondary school, it will be relaxing from then on.

In addition, many students and parents have the misconception that only those who can't get into a university in Hong Kong go overseas to study!

StephenC said...

Both views are quite common. But both are wrong.

Sadly, many who should know better are perpetuating the myth. And it is the students who got misled that suffer.