Day 2: An Introduction to College in China

Today’s activity involved traveling to the Central University of Finance and Economics (CUFE). The university is about an hour and a half away from central Beijing and is the 12th best business school in the country. Here we got the opportunity to meet and speak with current college students enrolled at CUFE. The Chinese students were very welcoming and engaging and actively tried to make us feel comfortable and answer our inquiries.

In China the university students go to is determined solely by a single test score; the higher the score a student earns on this exam, the better the university a student goes to. Students take this test over one weekend during their last year of grade school. Other factors like extracurricular activities, financial status, leadership roles, or community service are not taken into consideration during the college admissions process. In theory, the process sounds effective and logical. To me, it seems like a lot of pressure and places too much emphasis on the test and not enough on the value of learning. On the flip side, college in China is much more affordable; it only costs about 1,000 USD!

University in China is structured differently than in the U.S. As a point of comparison, their school days are much more like American high school. They have set hours throughout the day that students attend classes. At the beginning and end of each class period a minute long song plays instead of a bell, signaling to students that the next hour of class has begun. Students in each grade all go to the same classes together every day and live in the same dorm, so they see each other a lot. In addition to the classes for their major, Chinese students have required PE and computer classes as well as an optional music class. In PE class the students have to practice running around a track and high jump.


The university facilities are well kept and modern. For example, the entrance to the library has a touch screen computer where students can view open seats and select a seat to reserve. Outside, they have tennis and basketball courts, a soccer field, a track, and volleyball nets. They also have devices that are a cross between exercise and playground equipment that students can play on in their free time. There was a lot of open field area and when I asked a student about it, she explained that the university will be constructing new buildings there in the next two years. Apparently, buildings in China are built much more efficiently than in the U.S.


The visit to CUFE also featured a lecture from a professor at the university that sought to explain some key points involving the smart phone market, with a focus on the industry’s growth and uses today. In China, the amount of smartphone users grew much faster and is still growing faster than in the US. In addition to more people buying cell phones, the Chinese people appear to be more accepting of the idea of using a cellphone as a form of payment. There are two main payment platforms, WeChat and Alipay, that users can use to make purchases or send money to others. To pay for a meal for example, many restaurants and food carts have unique QR codes that WeChat users scan with the app to pay for the food.

One particularly interesting use of these QR codes is on bikes. The are many companies that allow customers to borrow bikes, but Mobile seems to be the biggest. Mobike has an app that an individual can use to view the location on a map of nearby bikes that haven’t been used in a long time. The user can then find the bike, claim it, and ride it where ever they’d like for however long they want. At the end of their ride the user simply scans the bike’s QR code in order to pay for the ride.


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