Gao Kao Was A Disaster – Now What?

I don’t know how you kids handle taking that horrifying Gao Kao college entrance exam. That’s some scary business. The entirety of your academic future left to the performance on a single three-day test? I’d cry myself to sleep every night if I had that thing looming over me.

Well don’t be too nervous about it, kiddo. You’re a Shenzhen student, and you’ll have phenomenal (perhaps even better) educational opportunities abroad if your Gao Kao holiday ends in disaster. Maybe you won’t go to Qinghua or luscious Zhejiang U, but you’ll be alright.

You probably know what British students do after they graduate high school, right? They take a year off! A Gap Year is a great way to explore your non-classroom academic interests while taking the time to plan out and apply to colleges overseas. I suggest enrolling in some additional language classes and doing some travel-charity work. Just because you’re not in school doesn’t mean you can’t enrich your life.

When it’s time to apply to overseas colleges, you’ve got plenty of options. Everyone knows about the loads of excellent foundation programs in Australia that help Chinese students move seamlessly into a college atmosphere. In fact, many Australian colleges have representatives here in Shenzhen that can help you plan your applications.

The UK would be a perfect place to consider, simply because by taking a year off, you’ll be right on pace to apply along with British students of your own age and talents. Not to mention the fact that the UK university application system is ten times easier than ours in America.

Many students have their hearts set on the great US of A, though, which has always been a bit trickier for Chinese students. Our applications are complex and confusing. Our visa requirements are a pain in the butt. Guess what though — we’re making things much easier for you in 2009!

Over the last few years, the US government and its universities have seen what a tremendous cultural and financial boost Canada, Australia and the UK have received from Chinese international students. Many state university systems are now creating specialized transition programs for Chinese young people that allow you to apply and start classes any time of the year. Google admissions information for California, Wisconsin, and Virginia to learn how you can start classes at a smaller college, but graduate with a degree from UCLA, UVA or UWM. Best of all, some of them don’t even require the SAT.

The key to maximizing your potential to receive a diploma from an elite US university, even after bombing the Gao Kao, is to really rock out during your Gap Year (or semester). Don’t get an internship. That’s just boring. Travel to India and live on an artist’s commune. Spend three months building houses in Sichuan province. Those are experiences that will truly enrich your life and make you a shoe-in for an elite diploma.

Don’t be nervous, big boy. You’ve still got options!

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