Tra­di­tion, tech add life to ad­mis­sion let­ters

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO -

XI’AN — As the sum­mer sun pushes the mer­cury to record highs, mil­lions of high school grad­u­ates in China are anx­iously wait­ing for parcels to de­liver their col­lege dreams.

Zhu Yan­guo, 18, from Yulin, a city in North­west China’s Shaanxi prov­ince, couldn’t wait to get his en­trance ticket to uni­ver­sity life.

His dream let­ter, from Shaanxi Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity, fi­nally ar­rived re­cently. In the let­ter, his name, ma­jor sub­ject as well as the ori­en­ta­tion date were all hand­writ­ten in neat Chi­nese script.

“In an era when print­ing tech­nol­ogy is up­dated so rapidly, the hand­writ­ten ad­mis­sion let­ter shows the school’s ad­her­ence to tra­di­tional cul­ture,” Zhu said with a big smile.

In a meet­ing room some 400 kilo­me­ters from Zhu’s home, more than 20 pro­fes­sors dipped their brushes into ink and wrote the per­sonal in­for­ma­tion of new stu­dents in a 2,000-year-old script.

The cus­tom no­tice from Shaanxi Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity, a tra­di­tion it be­gan 11 years ago, has been called the “most pre­cious ac­cep­tance let­ter”.

“I can still re­call the day I re­ceived my of­fer,” said Duan Yongchang, who is purs­ing his doc­tor­ate in ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­ogy at the same uni­ver­sity.

“It con­veys the ethos, motto as well as the aca­demic at­mos­phere of the uni­ver­sity. Ev­ery stu­dent can feel it,” he added.

The de­liv­ery of good exam re­sults has a long his­tory in China. In the feu­dal ages, the im­pe­rial ex­am­i­na­tion was the only way for or­di­nary peo­ple to en­ter pow­er­ful civil ser­vice po­si­tions. The can­di­date who earned the high­est score was es­corted home with supreme honor.

Even in mod­ern times, the col­lege en­trance ex­ams, known as gaokao in Chi­nese, re­main the most im­por­tant way for young Chi­nese, es­pe­cially those liv­ing in re­mote ar­eas, to shape their lives.

At a time when in­for­ma­tion can be de­liv­ered in­stantly at no cost, cus­tom ad­mis­sion let­ters have emerged to add a per­sonal touch for in­com­ing stu­dents.

This year, the North­west­ern Polytech­ni­cal Uni­ver­sity has sent out the coun­try’s first aug­mented re­al­ity-em­bed­ded ac­cep­tance let­ter. Scan­ning a QR code on the let­ter re­veals a 3D scroll on screen, which dis­plays pho­tos on the his­tory and de­vel­op­ment of the uni­ver­sity.

Three icons on the back of the ac­cep­tance let­ter can be scanned to show off three of the uni­ver­sity’s most pop­u­lar cour­ses — aero­nau­tics, as­tro­nau­ti­cal en­gi­neer­ing and marine en­gi­neer­ing — with 3D im­ages of the Long March rock­ets, China’s self- de­vel­oped air­craft car­rier and an an­i­mated char­ac­ter who in­tro­duces the cour­ses.

“The of­fer is not only an in­vi­ta­tion. It also em­bod­ies the qual­ity and char­ac­ter­is­tics of our uni­ver­sity,” said Xie Dan, deputy di­rec­tor of the ad­mis­sion of­fice. “We hope the stu­dents can see the school’s in­no­va­tive spirit and our high ex­pec­ta­tions for them.”

Uni­ver­si­ties in Bei­jing and Zhe­jiang have also bro­ken con­ven­tions by adding hand­painted em­bel­lish­ments and even giv­ing away books.


A pro­fes­sor of Shaanxi Nor­mal Uni­ver­sity writes an ad­mis­sion let­ter with a brush in Xi’an, Shaanxi prov­ince.

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