China’s new college graduates released into a jobless void

Nothing is sadder to read about than the dashed hopes of milions of Chinese college students who are graduating this year. Many were sent to college by families that put themselves deeply into debt in hopes of improving the lot of their children. Many went in believing they had a bright future in front of them. I’ve wondered what’s going on in their minds today, as they see just how limited their prospects actually are. This beautiful essay written by such a student captures the sense of hopelessness and helplessness that so many must be sharing. Here’s how it starts:

Like a sudden verdict, each word of this news stabbed at my ears. Hearing it, it was not longer like those other notices coming over the loudspeaker, to be ignored if you pleased. It was a rude administrative command, bluntly telling us, “You’re graduated, you may leave.” Between the lines, though, it was saying, “You must leave!” I’m not walking through the gates of the school – I’m being kicked out. A sense of shame at being discarded rose within me. Having graduated, of course we’ll leave – we can’t just hang around, can we? Perhaps to students who have found jobs, it does not matter either way, but what of the 70% of students who have not found or decided on a job? It’s like we’re being pushed out of the incubator in a stupor, pushed out into some unknown, intermediate void, and the storm’s about to break.

Read the whole amazing, poetic, poignant, agonizing thing. Whoever this student is, he should be able to find a good job as a writer. I’m not sure if the piece was translated or not, but there’s no question that it’s a work of beauty.

The Discussion: 6 Comments

Richard – Nice to have you back.

I read the story, and if the writer wrote it in English themself, employment should be available outside of Guilin. In fact, I think IN Guilin. I would love to have his email.

I am torn however, on several fronts. One, as a person who went back to college after joining the workforce, I put some blame on the expectations of the benefit a degree offers. I think more and more young people should really look at what they are choosing in college.
I know that everyone in the world (rightly) believes, and it is proven, that higher level education pays huge dividend over the course of a person’s life. However, I believe there must be more “Technical” (vocational) graduates in the system.
China companies spend a LOT of money on foreign experts, where suitably trained (2 – 4 years) Chinese individuals could perform the same function.
I know it’s not a simple problem, but another thing that would help is for the gov to help these young people out with more “incubation centers” and perhaps even housing for 6 months.
Finally, the engineering schools have GOT to start doing a better job of teaching “skills” versus theory.
Sorry for the long post.

June 23, 2006 @ 11:43 pm | Comment

That’s the kind of thing you read everywhere when naive kids graduate and discover to their shock that the world isn’t waiting to hand them “ideal” jobs.
Nothing unique about China here.

June 24, 2006 @ 12:02 am | Comment

What’s unique is that opportunities for Chinese college grads have abruptly crashed, down 22 percent from the year before, so a lot of young people will have to re-adjust their hopes and dreams. What’s also unique is the sheer number of jobless grads, quite unprecedented. These kids saw the graduates from just a few years ago facing a far better job market, and assumed they would have good chance of landing a job as well. I don’t see it as naivete or greed on their part; for many years, getting a degree meant an improvement in your life. Now people in college have to face a new and unexpected reality. I wouldn’t insult them for their belief that a degree meant a better life.

June 24, 2006 @ 12:18 am | Comment

Oh, I’m sure they’ll do what the rest of us do: work some dead-end jobs for a while and fall into a career by accident.

June 24, 2006 @ 12:23 am | Comment

recent graduates who wish to study at my school, and improve their english will find themselves offered internships at any number of good international companies, due to relationships i have. should they be interested in that.

June 24, 2006 @ 7:27 am | Comment

A bunch of restless and unhappy college students? Sounds like a bad thing for a CCP–and therefore a good thing for humanity….here’s hoping

June 25, 2006 @ 7:58 pm | Comment

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