In the 19th Party Congress held in September 2017, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng announced the determination to build a comprehensive new national college entrance examination system (or GaoKao in Chinese) by 2020.
Two Radical Changes Brought by the New System
The new system aims to reduce students’ stress of Gaokao by relieving the role the college entrance exam plays in determining their fate. Two radical changes include:
1. It allows students to take sections of the exam several times from the second year of high school onward, instead of the previous system’s one-off, three-day exam at the end of high school year. Therefore, the possibility of inconsistent play caused by stress and tension may be decreased.
2. The rule of college application shall also be changed . The previous system merely allows students to report three to five aspirations from one school each layer (categorized by the level of the school). For example, when a student determines to go to Tsinghua University, he can only choose the major from Tsinghua University. However, the new rule gives students more freedom and diversity. It draws more attention to the major instead of the university only. The combinative choice of university and major renders students change the way of thinking by considering what they like and what they want to take as their career early on. Now when a student wants to study computer science, he can choose several schools with the major he interests in.
Changes Bring New Opportunities
Therefore, it brings more opportunities in the career development field. Like some students claim, the new system, in fact, brings the pressure earlier. In the past, not until the college entrance examination do students have to think about their career path and face the confusion about the future; but now, if they want to take advantage of the new system, at least they need to figure out what they want to learn in the college and what suits them. Besides, under the new system, students do not have to choose between being an art or a science student. They have the right to pick up the subjects they are competitive and interested in. Therefore, how to prepare themselves for the future career through academic curriculum, and then plan for the college admission tests of the favored major becomes unprecedentedly crucial.
Some high schools have opened up courses to give students the sense of how people make for a living and guide them to dig out themselves. They provide students with career competencies assessment to test their potentials and help analyze the model that most applicable to them.
Hengshui High School, a top-ranking high school in Hebei Province, China, shared their exploration and practice in students’ academic and career development courses in a seminar recently. The director of the Development Center claims the key to develop career development courses for students lies in training a large number of outstanding educators. Because all the students are different, each should be assigned teachers who know them well, so that they can be better tutored.
Career and College Counseling in Need
However, for the most of high schools in China, although they realize the importance of career and college counseling, and are aware of the necessity to arrange job shadowing, work placements, and community-based learning programs to allow students to directly experience workplace situations, as well as provide specialized counseling and intervention services to offer students with individualized attention, they are not only lack in teachers who are qualified for this kind of tutoring, but also short of classes to teach students how to succeed in the workplace, how to achieve financial stability and thrive in today’s society, as the reform is just at the beginning stage.
Therefore, at the current stage, more experience, support, tools, and resources are needed both for schools and for students, and opportunities are also huge here. While the reforms of Gaokao is going on, many call for an evolution in high school in China as well.