The perceptions and realities of higher education in the West versus China.

It was a gutsy decision, but my daughter made the right choice to get her Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources in China and not in the West. She got her diploma from Beijing Normal University, which is one of the top 4-5 schools in the capital.

More and more, going to school in the West is about being entertained, even for studies. Not the case in China, where academic work is rigorous and accountable.

I’ll never forget when my wife and I visited her on campus. After class, lecture halls stayed full of diligent students doing their homework and preparing for exams, only stopping to eat a box dinner. In the 10-story library, demand is so high that students have to make time-slot reservations for chairs, tables and desks. We were there into the evening and at 22:00, when the library closed, hundreds of students poured out of the front doors.

No focus on mascots and competitive sports, like college football in the USA or rugby and soccer in the UK, however the campus has all the facilities you find at a big university in the West: soccer fields, swimming pool, gym, indoor badminton, basketball and tennis courts, etc.

The focus is on scholastic excellence and the competition is each student challenging themselves to succeed. I don’t sense that kind of commitment and sacrifice in the West to gain knowledge, intellectual and life skills. In Western schools, there is way too much “party hardy”, being entertained and having fun first. Chinese students make friends for life, but it is centered on learning and professional careers. In fact, after family, fellow students are Chinese’s most important network. My network from high school, college and grad school? One (best) friend.

The Western Nature Index pegs eight of the Top 11 global universities in China. My daughter’s school, Beijing Normal is a Top 100 school, ranking #99, which makes me proud.

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