大学生为何后悔上大学 – Why do Chinese students regret entering University?

最近,一项上万人参与的调查显示,34%的人后悔读大学,51%的人认为,在大学里没学到有用的东西。而感叹学无所用的不仅仅是专科、本科生,甚至不乏硕士、博士。

大学生为什么不能在学校学到有用的东西?学生们四年的时间不读书又干什么去了?有人总结现代大学生的在校状况是:30%的时间和精力用来应付学校的思想政治教育以及大堆无用的课程,30%功夫用在学英文、考级,剩下40%大部分用来谈恋爱、社交、享受风花雪月,还忙不过来。青春虚掷,一无所成。四年大学,缺少了坚实的求知过程,留下的只有梦幻泡影,如雾亦如电。

在对大学持否定态度的人看来,现在的大学更象“围城”,没去过的以为里面多姿多彩充满诱惑,呆在里面的人却索然无味如同嚼蜡。进去时满怀期望,出来时什么也没得到。也有人认为:大学是不是“白读”,学校固然有不可推卸的责任,个人主观的努力却能起到关键作用。同样的土地,同样播下龙种,有人收获了跳蚤,有人却找到了人生的方向和意义。

应该承认,事情往往就是这样,人才和庸才都是经过同一条路走出来的。是上大学还是被大学上,并非单一某种因素可以决定。然而,对于大学教育表现出的越来越多的悖论和困境,不能不引起公众的重视。

大学价值被完全否定的主要依据在于,它对学生毕业后的人生毫无帮助。传统认为,大学应该教给学生安身立命的本事,让他们有个好前途。如果不能带来可见的好处,大学教育就没有价值。这种观念是从上世纪“精英教育”一路延续下来,它对教育的理解仅仅停留在工具理性的阶段,可以说非常片面。可惜的是,国人大多持这样的态度,对大学价值的评价标准更侧重功用,简单而实际。但现代教育理论却认为,在一个实现了高等教育大众化的社会,大学教育理应有着更丰富的人文内涵,并不以知识传递和技能训练为主要目的。

人们不禁会追问,即使对大学教育的理解各有不同,即使学校理念不能对每个学生发生影响,但学生在大学中学到什么还是由学校决定的,为什么什么都没学到仍然可以毕业呢?

这一点可以对照美国大学的情况。有人说,美国大学和中国大学都是不成功的教育,因为中国大学的就业率低,美国大学的毕业率低,如此,等等。这是事实。在美国想读大学是很容易的,基本上只要高中能毕业就不成问题。可是仍然有很多美国人认为,大学并不是非读不可。由于美国大学的门槛低,也没人把读大学看得很了不起,中途辍学的现象很普遍。据统计,大学新生头一年申请辍学的比率达20%。除了辍学,延迟毕业的更多,四年学制读五六年的大有人在。所以近三十来美国大学的毕业率很少高过八成,21世纪更达六成左右的新低,将近一半学生毕不了业。毕不了业怎么办?一直读下去。理论上,美国大学是可以读一辈子的,总归要各科合格拿够学分为止,否则就拿不到学位。不知道美国学生会不会认为大学白读了?

简单地说,学生在学校能学到什么,怎样把好最后的质量关,让什么样的产品流出社会,体现出大学对社会承担的责任。美国大学的原则是“宽进严出”,他们的高等教育门槛低、姿态低,毕业考核却很严格,要拿学位非得拿出成绩不可。而中国的大学生们为了进大学都曾经吃尽苦头,好不容易才能脱颖而出,高考被喻为“最残酷的战场”;一旦考上之后则万事大吉,不思进取,反正毕业考试容易过,论文抄袭剽窃也没人理会,这就是“严进宽出”。事实证明,实行“宽进严出”还是“严进宽出”,结果大不一样。

不同的水土带来不同的生态,不同的生态造就不同的出品。可以说,国内大学的弊病是整体性的。二三线大学问题突出,还可以说是受资源限制,顶级大学情况也差不多。以国内最好清华、北大为例,这两所学校的学生毫无疑问学习能力是最强的,毕业之后表现的平均水准也相当优秀,偶尔出个猪肉佬也是有水平的猪肉佬。但即使读过最好的大学,结果又是怎样呢?少数留在国内,多数选择了出国留学,在国外“回炉”。据统计,清华北大最好专业的毕业生有七成都选择了出国,没有出去的也只是因为条件不允许。

我们相信,绝大多数的中国大学并不缺少改变的意愿,只是能力有限,心有余而力不足。原因在于现行的大学管理体制。大学并不是完整意义的“独立法人”。无论办学还是管理,无论是教学内容,专业设置还是教师素质,都必须服从国家行政部门的统一意志。学校不能自己决定,也就不需要承担责任和风险,是对行政部门负责而不是对公众负责。官办大学、官管大学的模式,直接造成了大学与社会脱节,与教育精神脱节。

近年来,对中国大学的整体堕落,公众有目共睹并不断发出质疑,但往往得不到回答。也许往后很多年,我们仍然不得不面对这些令人心痛的现实,看着国家未来的主人翁在大学中浪费青春、丧失活力。大学教育没能给他们带来可见的未来,也不能支撑起他们对未来的信念,不是“白读”又是什么呢?哪里可以找回大学失去的价值?进一步思考下去,就不能不回到核心的理念问题上来,选择工具理性还是价值理性,培养建设者还是培养公民,恐怕都是中国大学未来无法回避的关口和瓶颈,只有突破才能生长。亿万公众期待大学教育的理念转换和价值回归,也许就在这一轮又一轮的拷问和反思中悄然接近。

Source: Xin Lijian’s blog, June 27 2012 – http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_48b0011f0102e4b9.html?tj=1

Recent research shows that almost 34% of Chinese people regret entering university. 51% of the respondents claim they did not get useful knowledge there. What is more interesting, those regretting include not only undergraduate students, but also those with a Master and even a PhD degree.

Why do they say that? What do the students do during those 4 years, if not study? In short, this is how the students’ situation look like: 30% of their time and energy is wasted on political courses as well as other useless classes. 30 % of their effort is spent studying English and preparing for exams. The remaining 40% of time include dating, social life and all the stuff that makes you busy. That means the students’ youth is practically wasted. The 4 years pass like a dream and leave you without any solid education.

Pessimists say that the university is like a “ Fortress Besieged” . Those who never attended it can only imagine its attractions and temptations, while those who actually stay there lead rather uninteresting and dull life. Young people enter university with high hopes that remain unfulfilled till graduation.

We have to admit: talent and mediocrity often takes the same way. To finish University, or to be finished by University – there is no single factor that decides about this. However, there are more and more dilemmas and paradoxes attracting the public attention to this issue.

As a matter of fact, university completely negates its values – it does not help students after graduation in any way. From the traditional point of view, the university should give the students an ability to settle down with a bright future ahead. This idea, originated in last century as “education for elites”, focuses mainly on education as an intellectual instrument. Unfortunately, many people are still attached to this attitude, appreciating its functionality, simplicity and practical aspects. However, according to the modern theory, in order to popularize higher education among society, universities should not only focus on transferring knowledge and training skills, but also use a rich cultural background.

People keep asking: though the understanding of university education can vary, and its values may not influence every student, yet all in all, the students learn what the school decides, so how could students that did not learn anything still graduate?

Comparing American and Chinese education systems, one might say they are both somewhat ineffective – the Chinese one because of the low enrollment rate, the American one due to the low graduation rate. It is quite easy to attend college in the U.S., as long as you graduate from the high school. However, once you enter university, you must study. The threshold is relatively low, so studying at university is quite common, but it is also easy to drop out. According to the statistics, the dropout rate after the first year is about 25%. Also a lot of students procrastinate their graduation, extending the study period from 4 to 5-6 years. Therefore, the graduation rate at 30 American universities is rarely higher than 80%, and in the 21st century, it has fallen down to as low as 60%. That means that almost half of the students do not graduate. What to do then? Keep on studying. In theory, you can study at an American university all life long, until you collect the necessary amount of credits and only then can you get a degree. Do you know that American students do not consider their studies useless?

Simply speaking, the quality of knowledge taught at university is the input into society – that also bears the responsibility. The American universities principle is: “wide entry, narrow exit” – they have a low threshold, however the final exam is very hard – in order to obtain a degree, one must have good grades. Chinese students already suffered a lot to enter university. The college entrance exam is often called “the most brutal battle”. Once admitted, the student will be fine. No need to think ahead – the graduation exam is easy, the final thesis is often plagiarized (anyway, nobody cares about it). That is “narrow entrance, wide exit”. It is proved – “narrow entrance, wide exit” or “wide entry, narrow exit” – this makes a huge difference.

Different environments result in different ways of life. Different ways of life result in different products. You can say that Chinese universities suffer from a holistic illness. The problem of second- and third- tier universities are the limited resources, more or less the same as the top ones. The learning abilities of the students of the two top ones, Tsinghua University and Beijing University, their average performance after graduation is also quite good. Only occasionally there are some losers. But even after graduation from the best universities, lots of people go abroad for further studies. Statistics show that 70% of the best graduates from Chengdu Tsinghua and Beida choose to go abroad, not only due to the bad conditions.

We believe that most Chinese universities are willing to change, but they lack the ability to do so, because of their management system. Universities are not independent legal entities. School management, teaching content, specialties and teachers – they are all dependent on the governmental administration. Therefore, universities cannot decide for themselves – it is the government that takes responsibility. The direct result of this way of school management is not being in touch with society and far from the essence of education.

In recent years public opinion has worried about all the weaknesses of Chinese universities. Perhaps after a few years we will have to face the painful reality, when the leaders of future will lose their youth and vitality. Studying at university does not provide bright and foreseeable future – if this is not studying in vain, so then what is? Where can I get back the time and effort lost at university? The core problem is to choose from an instrumental and value rationality – or in other words – is it better to create constructors or citizens? These are the questions that Chinese universities will not be able to avoid. The only way to make progress is by a breakthrough. Millions of people want the educational system to transform and bring back its values, which can only be obtained by the painful process of changing of all the structure.

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