China vs. America: The College Admission Process

Karen Wu, Reporter

Ever since the beginning of time, cultural differences have played a major role in the course of history. For example, Europeans believed they were superior to the Native Americans, because Europeans had clothes and an almighty God. Although cultural differences today do not often lead to genocides and wars, these differences can be used as a lens into another world. One difference to look at is the difference between the college admissions process in China and America. China uses standardized testing as one of the most influential factors in the college admissions process, while America considers a variety of factors. 

From June 7th to June 9th, roughly 10 million high school students in China are taking the GaoKao, also known as the National College Entrance Exam. With years of constant studying, students are burdened with tremendous stress to excel on this exam, which defines the fate of many students. Many students start studying for this test in primary school until high school. The students who score high on the GaoKao gain admissions to China’s top universities. According to The New York Times, Stanford studies show that freshmen enrolled in these top universities are two to three years ahead of many American students in critical thinking skills. Although the GaoKao can be seen as a golden gate towards one’s future, one or two points less can place you into a lower class than the students who scored those points.

In comparison to the GaoKao, the SAT is the dominate standardized test in America for college admissions. The SATs are a walk through the park for Chinese students. The test is 4 hours, with a chance to retake them multiple times, and the ability to combine the top scores from each section. While a student in New York can take the SAT 3 times, and can combine their highest Math and English scores into one score. However, a student in Beijing can only take the GaoKao once a year. Along with America’s eased testing policies, America’s college admissions process considers other factors about students, besides academic achievements. Factors such as activities outside of school, leadership skills, talents, special circumstances, and personality play a big role in many students’ applications. With an emphasis on these factors, American colleges and universities are looking for students who do not only have the academic ability, but the social skills, to become future leaders. 

With China’s emphasis on academic talents, and America’s emphasis on being well rounded, both cultures differ in what they value in the next generation.