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Double degrees: a bittersweet taste
Author:Li Chenruo  Date:2018-05-07  Clicks:

The Cooperation Consortium of Wuhan Universities refers to an association which allows students in seven famous universities in Wuhan to get a cross-school double degree, including Wuhan University Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China University of Geosciences, Central China Normal University, Wuhan University of Technology, Zhongnan Unversity of Economics and Law and Huazhong Agricultural University. In Wuhan University, the proportion of students studying for double degrees has reached 13.39%. The double-degree majors cover economics, accounting, management, foreign languages, law, computer science, psychology, journalism, communication and so on. The courses occupy every weekend from 8:00 to 18:00 for four consecutive semesters.

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Statistics indicate that students from the College of Foreign Languages and Literature are more likely to couple their major with another degree than students from any other schools. And majors in the School of Economics and Management and the School of Law are the most popular among students. As to the reasons why students in WHU choose to get double degrees, according to a survey conducted by the Student Union, more than 50% admitted that they wanted to be more competitive in the job market in the future; 45% of the students made the decision out of their dissatisfaction with their own majors. Anyway, it is undeniable that many students still have the interest in absorbing more knowledge.

However, making the decision is much easier than going through with it. After two weeks, the number of students sitting in the double-degree classrooms decreased dramatically. Some of the students gave up after attending classes for one or two semesters for many reasons, including lack of free time or some overseas exchange programs. Zhang, a sophomore majoring in English translation and interpreting gave up the double degree because he thought it was different from what he had expected. “The highly concentrated courses make me feel like listening to teachers in high school with a cram school teaching method. It became a burden for me and I don’t think it is worthwhile to spend two whole days of a week on it. I would rather focus on my own study in my own way than follow the compulsory format.”

Many students gave a similar view of it. Qin, a student who chose finance as the second major does not approve of the current teaching mode. She said, “double-degree courses should have started earlier, when there were not so many courses of our first degree. If it were so, we would feel much less stress. So I really don’t understand why our university adopted this mode which has put intensive pressure on us.”

Yu Zhen, a professor from the School of Economics and Management gave his response on this matter. He mentioned that, currently, Wuhan University is cooperating with six other universities, so the class schedule must be arranged in accordance with these schools as well. The Cooperation Consortium of Wuhan Universities is meant to widen the range of course choices for students so that they can make full use of the educational resources in Wuhan. For example, the pioneering discipline in Central China Normal University, Psychology, has attracted many students in WHU. On the whole, Prof. Yu holds a positive attitude because various possibilities are readily accessible to students under this mode. But Yu also expressed some concerns. “To be honest, as a teacher, I feel that these influences condensed the intensive courses on students, as I always find some students sleepy or tired in class. And it is a challenge for them to persist with getting the second degree. But I can’t come up with an alternative to solve this problem. After all, it is much more difficult to arrange a time that fits both teachers and students if we decentralize the courses to weekdays.”

In addition, it is hard to make up the missed classes for those students who choose to take overseas exchange program during the time. Therefore, they have to give up the degree if they decide to study abroad for one semester.

Nonetheless, as the old saying goes, one reaps what one has sowed. For those students who finally do get the double degree after great resilience and hard work, it will prove to be a worthwhile decision. Han Mengyu, a graduate in the School of Philosophy who now has received the offer from UCL says that she will continue her postgraduate study in global media and communication. Without the courses she had taken on weekends for two years, she thought she would not have focused her mind and qualified for the standard of her dream school. Mengyu said: “What one needs to consider is not the courses or the degree itself, but to envision a plan for the future. That is the opportunity cost. We need to ask ourselves whether it is beneficial for us. But it is not right to have the mentality that the more courses I take, the better job I can get. I appreciate my learning experience in my second major because it helps me find my passion.”

Zhang Yunhan, a junior student majoring in engineering from HUST also expressed his opinion. He came to WHU every Saturday and Sunday for his financial courses. He admitted the difficulty of traffic. “It’s not easy for me to give up sleeping in till noon. But I really think the opportunity of learning in WHU is valuable. I have made some friends from WHU and I experienced the campus culture there, which is different from that of HUST.” He wants to combine his knowledge in both engineering and finance to increase his capacity and competitiveness if he wants to step into the job market directly or to continue his academic study.

Professor Yu added that he never wanted to lower the standard for the students who choose economics as the second major because he hoped that the limited class time could be fully used by students and could cultivate them to think from a different professional perspectives. “It is a precious opportunity for students to get out of their original mindset shaped by their first major,” he said, “a student who major in English can keep updating his knowledge if he is willing to broaden his mind and look at what is going on in the world economy and financial markets.” The increasingly fierce competition requires students to be well-rounded. The double-degree courses provide a multidisciplinary approach to students. As Yu said, he would be satisfied to see more students come to class and try their best to absorb more knowledge when they are still young.

All in all, whether a student should take double-degree courses or not is a personal choice in connection with their individual career plan and interests, because what double-degree courses need is not short-term efforts but long-term energy-consuming persistence. Therefore, for those students who have made it to the end, it is very rewarding because the bittersweet process will pay off.


(Photo from the Internet)

(Edited by: Xu Yixian, Wang Wei, Edmund Wai Man Lai, Liu Jiachen and Liu Xiaoli)

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