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Persist in confidence in the disadvantages, most Chinese (especially the second generation of X, including the second generation of immigrants) do not have this psychological quality.

Going to top universities: Chinese parents misunderstand their children and do not know
By Rao Yi (Professor of Peking University)

Generally speaking, Chinese parents at home and abroad simply think that attending top universities or graduate schools will only benefit their children.This is certainly possible, and it does happen sometimes.However, there is another possibility, which may happen more frequently-that is, for most Chinese children, going to top schools may also have a negative effect on them for their lives.

Generally, people in China find this statement surprising, and it is not circulated among overseas Chinese. The reason is that the vast majority of Chinese do not know this is true: because the vast majority of Chinese have not attended top universities, or Even though they have entered, they are unwilling to tell all the facts-especially the unpleasant facts; it is also because Chinese parents often simply believe in superstition or speculate on the benefits of top universities.

First define "top class".The top here means at least in the top 10, especially those in the top 5.In terms of universities, the recognized top comprehensive undergraduates include Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Stanford, and the top technical colleges are California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).From the perspective of graduate students, the top not only depends on the comprehensive strength of the school, but usually only achieve top departments in a certain professional field.

Of course, the total number of graduate students in the top five departments is very small.For a long time, there have been few Chinese students in the top graduate departments in the United States. For example, the biology department of MIT is very strong, but it should accept less than one Chinese student every year for more than 30 years.I am a graduate student at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). For more than 1 years, the Department of Neurobiology has probably enrolled less than 30 Chinese students, and the Department of Biochemistry is estimated to have less than 15.Chinese students entering these departments understand the situation, but fail to tell the truth for various reasons, leading to the ignorance of the outside world.

I estimate that the number of Chinese graduate students who specialize in biology at MIT, Rockefeller, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, UCSF, California Institute of Technology and other schools is not only small, but the success rate of later talents is actually not high.The best way to engage in biology research is usually to be a professor. However, not many Chinese students and Chinese Americans from the above-mentioned schools became American professors.

The science is doing very well, including the Chinese who later became professors in the above-mentioned departments. I am afraid that most of them did not graduate from these schools, but from those schools in the United States with good majors but not the top ones.

The reason behind this is: the graduate schools of the top faculties in the United States will come to apply for very good American students (including undergraduates who have done research in the Nobel Prize winner’s laboratory), so they not only do not actively recruit Chinese students, but also recruit It will not be considered the main force of its research in the future.Teachers care for American students with outstanding performance. In various subjects of experimental science, American teachers often regard Chinese students as wage earners. They are not enthusiastic about discussing scientific issues with them, and ask more about labor output.Not only that, the American graduate students in these top departments may perform very well in all aspects, and it is especially easy for Chinese students who are new to the United States to lose confidence and even embarrass themselves, thereby changing the path of life.I have 4 students in the same class as a postgraduate student in neurobiology at UCSF.The father of one of them is a professor of neurobiology at Stanford University. He graduated from Harvard and went to France for a year of research, and published 3 research papers before enrolling.After enrolling, this classmate actively spoke in class. He scored first in each test and was very good to classmates.A British student in the Department of Biochemistry who is a few years higher than ours, comes from an academic family, and graduates faster than everyone else. The papers he published during his postgraduate studies soon became the content of cell biology textbooks all over the world.There is also a female in the Department of Biochemistry who grew up in mathematics, and her biology research is also very prominent. Later, she was the editor-in-chief of the journal Cell.In my postdoctoral lab at Harvard, there was a postdoctoral fellow who was von Neumann’s grandson. He himself discovered a new important enzyme (PI3 kinase) when he was a graduate student at Harvard, which is widely known in the biological community.The father of another postdoctoral fellow was once the chair of the Department of Chemistry at Harvard, and his brother was a Nobel Prize winner in physics. He sometimes asked in public whether the teachers in our laboratory could understand what he was saying, as if the latter was his student. Similar.This colleague studied physics in Princeton with a bachelor's degree, a master's degree from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a PhD degree in biology from the University of California, Berkeley.With such an academic background, who should I talk to about interdisciplinary issues?

Because there are not many American students who love natural sciences, they are concentrated in top departments.In this way, American students are often inferior to Chinese students in outstanding but not top-notch American graduate departments (let's call it the "second top"). Therefore, American departments below the second top not only admit more Chinese students, but teachers generally value Chinese students. .The messages that these Chinese students "satisfied" sent to the outside world are also the reason why China mistakenly believes that its students are better than American students.

Not only is there a difference between top and second-tier schools, but also disciplines.In the past 20 years, Chinese students have grown up and finally become American academicians. The most popular subject to date is plant biology (the same is true at Peking University): 5 of the more than XNUMX American mainland Chinese academicians in the United States are plant biologists.The reason is not that China's botany education is better than the United States, but because of the long-term surplus of agricultural products in the United States, the vast majority of outstanding students in the United States do not study botany.Our outstanding performance in the field of botany is the result of Tian Ji's horse racing. It is not that the Chinese have the inherent expertise in botany, nor that our country's botany education is particularly excellent.

The top undergraduates should also have these problems: the top American students gather there, some have extremely good homework, and some have strong family backgrounds.The average Chinese will be frustrated because of this, so most of the Chinese students in these faculties later failed to achieve academically because of the loss of self-confidence.

They will not tell their parents, let alone write articles to tell everyone.Persist in confidence in the disadvantages, most Chinese (especially the second generation of X, including the second generation of immigrants) do not have this psychological quality.

Gilbert Chu, the elder brother of U.S. Department of Energy and Nobel Prize winner Zhu Diwen, had extremely high test scores in elementary and middle school (so high that his two younger brothers were ashamed of themselves in elementary and middle school. Abandon school and run away after finishing high school). Gilbert Chu later went to Harvard for undergraduate studies, got two Ph.Ds, and then went to Stanford as a professor, but his name is not known to most people because he didn't make any special achievements later.And Gilbert Chu’s two younger brothers, one went to Rochester (Rochester) and the other went to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). They are not top universities. As far as undergraduates are concerned, these two universities are even "second top". Not even that.But the second and third of the Zhu family have achieved remarkable results: the second became a physicist; the third became a barrister and set a record for the highest compensation in a patent case.

Of course, not every Chinese must avoid going to top universities or graduate schools, but certainly not every Chinese should go to top universities as long as they can be admitted.

Does the rich second generation necessarily have no obstacles in top universities?Every year, the top universities in the United States open special channels for the rich and powerful around the world. Their children are not only long-term wealthy, but some are famous entrepreneurs, and some are chief officials of many generations.Even if China's rich second-generation and official second-generation do not worry about negative news such as parents' double regulations, they may not be able to achieve a balance of mind easily.

Of course, this article is probably basically useless, because most Chinese not only don't understand what these schools actually mean to their children, but they also don't want to understand.Many parents hope to make up for their lack of academic qualifications through their children. There are also more Chinese parents who regard the name of their children’s university as a "graduation certificate" for their parents, regardless of the specific colleges’ The specific effects that may occur in a lifetime.

Going to an undergraduate or graduate school at a top university, for most Chinese, it may be really better to go to a "second top" university or graduate school to get better development.

Why are Chinese people superstitious about famous universities?
By Xie Yu (Professor of University of Michigan)

There are many social reasons for Chinese people's superstition of famous universities.

Generally speaking, when we want to evaluate a person, we need to really understand a lot of his specific personal information, but this information is often lacking.Therefore, in Chinese society, knowing which university a person graduated from, especially an undergraduate university, can obtain an estimate of the person's IQ or ability, which contains a lot of information.

On the contrary, in the United States, when we learn that a person has gone to a certain university, the amount of information for judging the person's ability and IQ is very limited.

In Chinese society, the amount of information contained in school signs is mainly caused by extreme examination stratification.The selection mechanism of students has led to students of different abilities and backgrounds entering schools of different levels, and this kind of educational stratification occurred very early.In this way, those good schools not only have good material conditions and teachers, but also have a good source of students.

One result of this is that, compared with the situation in American schools, the differences within Chinese schools are low and homogeneity is high. That is to say, students with equal intelligence and abilities are together, while students with different backgrounds are less likely to enter the same Schools.

So I’m thinking that the students of top universities in China are relatively good, maybe because these schools have better choice of students, rather than the students receiving better education here.Therefore, even if the education level of these top schools is not so different from that of other schools, this selection mechanism can give their graduates an advantage over graduates of other schools when looking for jobs or facing other opportunities.

From the perspective of personal ability, we know that the final success of a person is decisive in many aspects, not only intelligence, but also non-intelligence factors, such as self-confidence, good communication, ability to persist, honesty and trustworthiness, etc. .

In China, colleges and universities conduct student selection and stratification mainly through intelligence tests. As a result, the development of their non-intellectual abilities will be adversely affected.

From the perspective of social psychology, personal satisfaction comes first in the personal living environment.When the people around you are good, although you are actually good, you may not feel it, and you will not be satisfied.On the contrary, in a relatively poor environment, people around you are not so good, and when you look better, you will get a good sense of satisfaction.This is the so-called "big fish in small pound (big fish in small fish pond)".

When we study the problem of population heterogeneity, there must be two situations: gaps within groups and gaps between groups.Large gaps between groups indicate small gaps within groups. This causes serious group stratification, and there will be a lot of information when comparing groups.

This is one of the reasons why China's trademark social characteristics are particularly obvious.Why is there a trademark society?Because we have no way of knowing the specific situation of others, especially strangers, we will often judge them based on their explicit characteristics, that is, the attributes of the group they belong to. What brand of clothes or watch to wear.This practice is very marketable in China.

Speaking back to the university, because its internal homogeneity is very strong, and the university classifies students according to their abilities, this will also cause many social problems.

One of the social problems is that people with high IQ don't know what ordinary people and ordinary people think, and rich people living in high-end communities don't know what ordinary people think.Therefore, in the United States, it is often said to break this separation or separation. For example, to achieve racial equality between blacks and whites, it is necessary to break the segregation between blacks and whites.

The division of Chinese society is also very serious, and the current practice of universities, middle schools, and elementary schools, that is, isolation and stratification through IQ and family background, I think it is harmful to society.

In particular, many graduates from China's top colleges and universities do not know the ordinary people in society when they are looking for a job. Even if they get a good job and a high salary, they may still feel dissatisfied.why?Because they think the jobs they find are better.But they don't know the level and situation of the income and job of general school graduates.Therefore, the classification between schools gives too much information.

In fact, in a relatively immature society, the situation would be better.For example, our 1977 and 1978 college students, because the college entrance examination system was not perfect at that time, so this stratification phenomenon is not so obvious.

In the United States, because there are many excellent local state universities, such as the University of Florida, the University of Michigan, and the University of Texas, there are actually many first-class students who would not choose to go to top universities such as Harvard or Yale.

There are concrete examples around me.I have a proud student who is currently an assistant professor at Harvard. It can be said that she is a rising star in our field and should be able to become a tenured professor in the future.When she was admitted to college, she was admitted to Princeton University and the University of Michigan at the same time, but instead of following the advice of her parents, she gave up Princeton University and chose to stay at the University of Michigan.Such examples are not uncommon around me. I often encounter students who tell me that they had the opportunity to go to prestigious universities such as Princeton, Harvard, and Yale, but chose to stay in local colleges due to family or other reasons. .

The result of this is that, perhaps local colleges and universities are not as good as those star schools in general, but the best students in them are not too different from the best students in star schools.

Of course, there are also many differences between different universities in the United States, each with its own characteristics.In fact, we can see that the homogeneity of primary and secondary schools in the United States is relatively strong, the teaching tasks are relatively simple, and the curriculum settings are not much different.However, as individuals grow up, the more they are in the later stages of education, the greater their degree of distinction, and therefore the greater the individual gap they exhibit.At the stage of graduate and doctoral students, the education they receive becomes more specific and personal.In general, this degree of distinction increases with the improvement of the education stage, with universities surpassing middle schools and middle schools surpassing elementary schools.

But the interesting thing is that in China, everyone wants to go to top universities such as Peking University and Tsinghua University. It is true that not everyone wants to go to Harvard, Yale or Princeton.Because the United States really has a relatively mature higher education market, and China does not have such a market. China only has a monopoly, so those better schools can overwhelm other schools in all aspects.

Article reprinted from World Chinese Weekly


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