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Fudu for PKU: to repeat or to reshape?

Peking University, July 8, 2014: On Jun 23rd, 2012, a summer day with heavy rain raging outside, Xu was anxiously seated in front of her computer, holding the mouse tightly, and clicking the button again and again.

 

“How I wish this was just a nightmare!” Because of 7 points below, she failed to realize what had long been her dream—coming to PKU. Unsurpassed in almost every field, she was the rotating president in Beijing Student Union with all those high grades and first prizes. Everything was just perfect for her. No one had ever expected, Xu herself included, that she could fail.

 

Then there she was, at the front gate of a Fudu school. No time to be squandered on feeling sorry for herself, she just picked herself up and carried on, for her PKU dream.

However, there was always a question besetting her: “Is it worth it?”

 

Fudu, a quite common phenomenon in China, means some students choose to retake a year of high school study, for they cannot be admitted into any schools or “satisfactory” universities. It seems distinct that a growing number of students who have already got high scores in the first year determine to Fudu nowadays.

 

Some statistics from Jinghua School, a well-known institution especially noted for Fudu education, can’t be ignored: about 20% students with scores above 600 in this year’s college entrance exam choose to participate in a new round of competition. Among them it is not difficult to find a group of top students with difference less than 20 points who make their minds to Fudu just because they don’t want any offer except that from PKU.

 

This has long been a heated topic along with Chinese education system itself, especially for those top students sticking to their PKU dream.

 

“It is never an unwise choice to retake a year for me. If I get lower scores than the first year, I still have nothing to complain.” Liu Zheng, a freshman in PKU, also has a Fudu experience for her PKU dream. Probably opposed to what people may think, she doesn’t define it as a year of suffering. Instead, she really appreciates that period which “shaped my character and prepared me for PKU, such as the courage to face failure.”

 

Jia, a freshman in English department, PKU, shares Liu’s opinion. She said she felt a sense of security when she was on the way to the examination room for the second time. Moreover, she mentioned that the top scorers in Hebei, Heilongjiang, Hubei, and Chongqing this year also retook a year to advance themselves.

 

True enough, since 2000, there has been 50% of the provincial top scorers are “Fudusheng” (Fudu students). It seems that compared with fresh graduates from high schools, those who retake a year are more competent and can get fruitful result easily.

 

But is this the whole story? Definitely not. There are students who take three, four, even five years but still cannot attain the goal. On tieba.Baidu.com, a student surnamed Li, taking a third year of Fudu and suffering from great pressure, said she was struggling with insomnia and something like Schizophrenia.

 

Though other examples may not be such extreme ones, there is no doubt that Fudu brings about risks and enormous mental pressure. “More time and efforts aren’t absolutely in proportion to more possibilities of success,” Xu said, “Who knows he or she can work to the best at just that time?”

 

To be sure, many Fudu students sometimes even get more disappointing results than their previous ones. Zhu Yuntian, a famous blogger and teacher on high school education, noted the main reasons bringing about risks for high-score students to retake the exam: mental pressure, superfluous repetition and rigid way of thinking.

 

No one wants to toil for another fiasco. In order to preclude any risk of failure, Xu practiced singing in order to get extra marks, took classes for independent recruitment exams, and applied for several universities in Hong Kong and Macau.

 

“These were not my goals, though.” She said, “I did all these just for one reason: to make myself impregnable to strive for PKU.” In order to be admitted by the ideal school, it seems that Xu needed “insurance” to secure her especially when some uncontrollable factors included.

 

“I won’t blame the system, but I have to mention the defects existing.”Talking about Xu’s failure in 2012, she said it was mainly because she was too confident and didn’t consider a relatively conservative way of filling in the application form.

 

Though the regulations of college application vary from different provinces and districts, the problem shown is similar: it needs “techniques”, and sometimes has to resort to one’s “luck”. For example in Beijing, once you fail, it is likely to be admitted by a school with 100 points or more below the recruitment line of PKU.

 

Wang, a senior in PKU, who has taken CEE three times, also pointed out some problems in educational system such as unfair distribution of educational resources, the risk of “one CEE a year” etc.

 

The 3-day exam is a checkout for 12 years’ painstaking, and the impact may be lifelong. “Sometimes we demonize Gaokao,” said Wang, “And it is so vital to be admitted into prestigious universities to secure us a place amid today's tightening job market."

 

In Europe and America, the situation is somewhat different. High school students can even have a year off to do what they want and choose their favorite universities and majors. And exams like SAT are available for students to attend several times a year.

 

What about the domestic policy? Recently, Chinese government has released new policies: In English subject, for instance, students can take several tests a year. And there are, indeed, the heralds that indicate the potential reform in our educational system, like the enlargement of application limits in Beijing which is going to be put into practice next year.

 

Now along with other students, Xu has already fitted well in PKU. Though every day is filled with tasks and things to do, what she feels is fulfillment.

 

"My teacher in Jinghua told us when we first met that it was not a year of repeat study, but a year of reshaping” she said, “But I know Fudu for PKU, THU and the like may always be a paradox. No one could tell whether it is worth or not to Fudu, for you can’t back to the past to give another try.”

 

Written By: Wu Zhangxinan,Liu Shiwei, Luo Fei

Edited by: Zhang Jiang