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Monday, February 8, 2016

Why Chinese Students Study Engineering

Chinese families have always placed a heavy emphasis on practical jobs. Chinese parents just can't understand college majors that don't lead to "successful" jobs. Occupations fitting the mold are Doctors, Lawyers, Engineers, Computer Science/Programmer, Pharmacists and Finance/Business related jobs. Technical schools such as those for Architecture, Hotel/Restaurant Management and Dentistry are also accepted. College majors that traditional Chinese parents and relatives understand are pre-med, economics, business, math and any type of engineering or physical science related major.

Naturally this would lead to ignorance and disdain for the more "useless" liberal arts majors such as sociology, Asian studies, any languages, art, performing arts, history, etc. Chinese people can't understand majors that do not translate into a practical job. If you have a liberal arts major, the best way to save yourself the trouble of having to explain to the older traditional Chinese is to say you are going to become a lawyer. Being a Spanish major means nothing to Chinese parents but being a Spanish major with the intent of going to Law School is infinitely more respectable (in Chinese eyes of course, no offense to Spanish majors).

Although this may seem ridiculous to some, just look at the percentage of Chinese people for each major and I guarantee that it will be heavily skewed to the more "practical" majors. If you are Chinese, just look at what major you and your other Chinese friends chose to pursue. I'm pretty Americanized yet my major was Chemistry and Economics during college and most of the Chinese people I knew were engineers, math, economics or in physical science majors.

One thing that ranks higher than obtaining practical jobs on the Chinese list of priorities is the stability and safety of a certain occupation. Chinese parents love their children and they also expect them to take care of them when they become old (more on this in another article) so any job that may have inherent risks and dangers are frowned upon. Positions that are consider dangerous and/or heavily frowned upon are policemen, firemen, inner city teachers and positions that pay solely on commission (including freelance work) and have no health benefits.

Perhaps one day, Chinese people will break out of this mold and accept more liberal arts majors but having many of these beliefs hard-wired into our system, I wouldn't hold my breath.

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