Monday, 5 August 2013

Planning Ahead or More Stress?

Hong Kong parents are an extremely anxious bunch. From the moment they conceive a fetus in the womb, plans are made, from the hospital they will give birth at, to where the child will start pre-pre-school and from then onwards, kindergarten, elementary school, high school and then university...

Already kids in the city are going to "school" by the age of two or three. What can they learn at such a young age? We were still at home and playing with friends from what I remember when I was a kid.

And now I'm hearing parents are already getting their children into the mindset of university at the age of 11.

Those fathers and mothers send their children to different countries every summer to experience university summer camps there. It's apparently not really focused on academics, but more on activities and giving the students a taste of college life.

Again can I repeat -- these children are 11 years old and it is usually the first time they travel abroad and look after themselves without the help of a domestic helper.

So these parents plan to send their kids one year to Canada, next to Australia, the UK and United States. And they hope by the end of the exercise when the child is about 15 or 16, he or she will have a good idea of where they want to go to school and perhaps even what they want to study.

I heard one parent is carefully watching his son's math scores, and if he continues to do well, he will encourage him to enroll at UC Berkeley. If he doesn't get the high grades in the next few years, then he can choose where he wants to go instead.

But how is a teenager supposed to be able to make this decision, as their experiences from when they were 11 will be very different from when they are 14?

Too much pre-planning or just ahead of the curve?


  1. As a tutor of expat kids here, the pressure that I see they are under is astonishing. They do so many classes out of school time, leaving them so little time to just be kids! I'd not heard about the uni programs before but it doesn't surprise me.

    Coming from the UK, I can see both sides of the argument. Asians often do better at UK universities than the British kids do because they work so hard. However, many of the British kids come through the British system (at good universities) with good degrees and are motivated to find good jobs - all this without having such great expectations pushed onto them.

    1. HI littlekoo -- yes I was very surprised to hear about these university camps! They did not exist when I was that age! I just think they are too young to comprehend what university is about and be able to decide where they want to go to school...