I’m helping out at an education expo in Beijing this weekend. I couldn’t believe that I was greeted outside the expo centre by scalpers selling tickets. “我有” (I have), is my reply, but one guy keep trying assuming that I am brushing him off instinctually. Once he realizes that I’m actually speaking Chinese with a strong accent, a TRU rep brings me my entrance badge and the scalpers are left to find their next target.
This expo brings together many schools from around the world so that parents can easily get information about each university. I think I’ve learned a lot in the past year about how difficult it can be for Chinese families to painlessly get answers about foreign schools. I remember how complicated the university system seemed to me when I was trying to enroll after working in industry for 8-years, but 15-minutes of talking with an Academic Advisor (thanks Peter!) gave me clarity and understanding. It may be some comfort to my friends to know that the systems can also seem a little strange to native English-speaking people too.
These families also face differences in how the academic system functions from country to country. For example, Chinese schools (and individual departments) are ranked numerically by the government so it’s easy to know what school is officially the best or most famous across the country or region. It’s very different in Canada where two schools can each excel in a particular aspect such as where I’ve heard some PhD programs are excellent if you want to be a published researcher while the same PhD program could be a bad choice if you prefer to work in industry.
To my Chinese friends out there (and even my Canadian ones) who are thinking about studying abroad, don’t let all the regulations and details frustrate you. When the websites and brochures aren’t making sense to you, just pick up the phone and call the school. For my Chinese friends who have a difficult time with speaking on the phone, I know many schools (including TRU) have Chinese speaking people who can make your life easier. JIA YOU!