A month after this year’s college entrance exam, called Gaokao in Chinese, students begin receiving acceptance packages from their dream colleges. This year, many colleges have taken innovative approaches to increase the sense of ceremony for prospective students. The hashtag #ShareAdmissionLetter has amassed about 870 million views on Weibo as of today.
The Gaokao is a big deal for students and families in mainland China, especially for people coming from rural areas. To them, the Gaokao offers the only opportunity to change a kid’s future and move up the social ladder. Unlike university applications in many countries which consider a whole range of metrics, the Gaokao score is the only factor that basically determines your college admission results, and can make a big difference in a young person’s life. This year, over 10.7 million students nationwide took part in the exam.
To win over students with high test scores, many colleges have added their own characteristic touches to acceptance packages as first-time gifts for freshmen, which also serve to promote the school.
Shanghai University: Blind Boxes
How do you make friends with your new schoolmates? Shanghai University offers a new icebreaker question idea: What color is your school badge? It’s almost like being picked for a wizarding house at Hogwarts – Shanghai University randomly chooses a school badge with one of nine different colors and puts it in the acceptance package along with other gifts like postcards and USB flash drives.
The school has promised that students who collect all the colors will get a special gift at the beginning of the school year. Therefore, freshmen will have to talk to each other in order to find all the colors and redeem this gift.
Southeast University: Music Box
Southeast University welcomes its incoming students with its school hymn. The song will auto-play when students open the acceptance package, much like a music box. The package also includes postcards, stamps as well as pen drawings by Qi Kang, a Chinese artist and architect teaching at Southeast University.
Tsinghua University: 3D Gate Model
Laser engraving, paper art, splice joints… Tsinghua University has been sending freshmen hand-made 3D models of its second campus gate. In addition to this, Tsinghua President Qiu Yong gives new students a book titled From the Soilalong with a letter.
“I hope you’ll read ten thousand books in the beautiful Tsinghua Garden and travel ten thousand miles in the vast world,” reads the letter. “Be sure to remember your roots and forge ahead.”
University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences: Phonograph Record
This is probably the most technologically advanced package of the year. The University of the Chinese Academy of Sciences recorded “voices from the depths of the universe” that consist of 15 pulsar signals captured through a 500-meter aperture spherical radio telescope (FAST), which is the largest and most sensitive single-antenna radio telescope in the world and is also known as the “Chinese Sky Eye.” According to the college, 13 of the 15 pulsar signals have been first introduced to the world through these acceptance packages.
“I hope students will experience the purity and beauty of science in the two minutes and 30 seconds of the cosmic reverberation across time and space,” said University President Li Shushen.
Peking University: Plaque
Peking University was founded during the late Qing Dynasty in 1898 as the Imperial University of Peking. This year, Peking designed the cover of its admission letters to resemble a historical plaque from the Imperial University of Peking, where students will see their information after opening the plaque. The letter is wrapped in a red envelope with the Chinese characters for “Admission Notice” written by Yuan Xingpei, professor of the Department of Chinese Language and Literature at the university.
Nankai University: Slideshow & Lotus Seed
Nankai University is trying to show students the bright future they are destined for through its acceptance packages. When students move the inner page of the well-designed card to the right, they’ll see the two campuses of Nankai displayed in day and night, indicating the school spirit of “learning from each other and changing every day.” The timeline at the bottom marks the historical development of Nankai University- from its establishment in 1919 to its relocation in 1937, then to its 100th anniversary and lastly the time when “You join Nankai in 2020.”
Not stopping there, Nankai is also sending each student two lotus seeds in a purple purse (purple is Nankai’s school color) representing the power of newborns. The school said that it hopes students will plant one of the lotus seeds in their hometown, symbolizing the unchanging nature of their original intentions, and bring the other one to school to witness their own growth.
“I was really looking forward to getting the letter,” said Deng Shiyun, the first freshman who received Nankai’s admission notice this year. “I’ve seen it online as it went viral on social media. It looked really special!”
Nanjing Agricultural University: 360 Degree Model
Getting lost on your first day of school? Take out your admission letter and you may get some hints. For this year, Nanjing Agricultural University has made its acceptance package into a 360 degree 3D school model.
When you look at the opened notice from the top, you’ll see a five-pointed star with characteristic buildings on each page. The five corners represent the five majors the school offers: Plant Science, Animal Science, Biology and Environment, Food and Engineering, and Humanities and Social Sciences. As new students play around with the letter, they’ll also become familiar with the campus.
Shanghai Jiao Tong University: 3D Paper Art
The school gate card that Shanghai Jiao Tong University is sending out this year seems like just a cute picture at first sight. But after you pull the gate to the side, you’ll see the inner campus shown as five-layer paper art.
“I felt extremely excited when I got the notice,” said Zhao Jiajun, a freshman of the medical school. “Because this is my dream school and the letter looks so cool. It makes me even more excited about future college life.”
Now there is an opportunity to get this card without even being admitted to the college! The school said on Weibo that 10 cards will be raffled off on Aug. 22.
Beijing Forestry University: The Dajue Temple
Beijing Forestry University has been designing new packages every year since 2014. This year, it named its acceptance package after the Dajue Temple located in western Beijing, which was a temporary campus for the university at the very beginning.
The package consists of three parts and each has its own name. The envelope is called “Ning,” meaning the starting point, the admission letter is called “Qi,” meaning creation, and the notebook is called “Jue,” meaning development.
The design was inspired by the main roof of the Dajue Temple, while the gray green color represents the bricks. The school also said it used recycled paper to make these packages.