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UPDATED: January 4, 2015 NO. 2 JANUARY 10, 2013
Can Chinese Students Replicate Bill Gates' Success?


China will see 7.49 million students graduate from college this year and how to help them find jobs poses a tremendous challenge. The Ministry of Education has recently issued a notice, calling on colleges to offer a more flexible schooling system that allows students to suspend their studies to pursue business opportunities off campus.

The ministry said it would offer favorable policies, including entrepreneurship training, for students who wish to start their own businesses. Schools are required to offer courses on entrepreneurship that award academic credits and invite entrepreneurs and investors to share their expertise with students. Students are encouraged to try their hand at a wide range of businesses including online shops and they would be supported by NGOs, financial institutions and other companies.

The announcement soon attracted extensive public attention. Some have praised the measures as more students will be able to do what they really like without having to wait until they graduate. Others, however, are worried that these measures will do little to tackle the employment challenge, as this is not something that most students are capable of doing.

Flexible schooling

Xu Dafa (www.nen.com.cn): In the past, it would have been unimaginable for a student to defer studies to start his or her own business and be supported by the school. Parents would not be likely to support such a practice. It's risky because students might fail in their ventures while their studies remain incomplete.

In recent years, due to the difficulty in job hunting, a certain number of students can't be employed after graduating. If students are allowed to start their own businesses before they graduate, maybe they will find themselves in a better situation in the face of the fierce employment market.

College students are adults, who should be able to make plans for their careers and even lives independently. However, under the current education model, they often lack the capacity to do so. If they can create their own businesses before graduating, on the condition that they can continue their studies someday in the future, college students will find it easier to adapt to society.

Thanks to such a flexible schooling system, students in college will be able to freely choose how to move on with their studies. Of course, to ensure the maximum of success in business operation, supportive polices such as tax reduction are crucial.

Jing Yishan (Xinhua Daily Telegraph): The significance of this policy is that it can flexibly meet students' personal demands for college education. For so many years, college students are subject to one single model of education. They have to leave school after four years' study, or they can't get their diplomas.

Under such a rigid education system, students who are eager to start their own businesses often have to face a dilemma, and most of them hesitate and wait until graduation. With the new policy, capable students can go bravely into the market as early as they want, without worrying that they can't get their diplomas.

Starting a business and achieving success is a Cinderella tale that few people have lived. Different colleges should take different actions in terms of this new policy. Vocational colleges may provide more favorable measures to encourage their students to start businesses of their own, while research-oriented colleges should continue to encourage their students to study more and research more in college, instead of taking the risk of starting businesses.

Bian Guangchun (Guangzhou Daily): U.S. business magnates Bill Gates and Steve Jobs are two examples of great minds that left college to create their own businesses. However, students and their parents also have their worries. To go to college is not an opportunity easy to come by, and thus to suspend college studies for a new business is a tough choice. The road toward the success of one's own business is often bumpy and no one can predict the future. To spend the prime time of one's life starting a business is a big risk. Despite successful examples like Gates and Jobs, it's hard to replicate another person's successful.

Nevertheless, this is an attractive policy. It is not about quitting school, but postponing studies. Students can return to the campus and carry on with their studies if they want to. For those who are determined to start their own businesses, it's better for them not to hesitate. Although it's a risky choice, the joy of success will turn out to be greater than if they choose to stay and find a good or bad job just as most of their peers do.

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