Keys to Success

About 120 secondary school students, parents and teachers participated in an undergraduate admissions and scholarships seminar organised by the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences (CLASS) at City University of Hong Kong on 8 July 2017.

“Our society not only needs business and science people, but also professionals in many different fields of the liberal arts and social sciences,” said Professor Xiaowei ZANG, Dean of CLASS, in his opening remarks. “Liberal arts and social sciences education is important in training our young people to embrace creativity with cultural diversity and to cultivate critical thinking that encourages people to look at all human dimensions.”

Dr Peppina LEE, Associate Dean (Undergraduate Curriculum), introduced the features of undergraduate studies and department-based admissions at CLASS and the CityU Scholarships for talented students. Dr LEE advised students that to make the right decision about their university education, they should first examine their interest and abilities and then get more information about the majors and institutions that attract them.

Three noted scholars from CLASS shared some keys to success with the secondary school students. They were Dr CHEUNG Chor-yung, Senior Teaching Fellow of the Department of Public Policy and a well-known commentator on current affairs; Dr CHAN Hok-yin, Associate Head of the Department of Chinese and History, who is a winner of the Hong Kong Book Prize; and Professor WONG Sing-wing Dennis, Associate Dean (Student Life and Learning) of CLASS.

Know your society, know yourself

“To know yourself, you have to know society,” stated Dr Cheung. “Different majors in our College provide you with different perspectives on the liberal arts and social sciences to help you to know yourself and to know society.”

Dr Cheung believes that there are two indicators for assessing whether quality education has been provided in a university. “Ask if you know yourself as a human being and if you had transformational experiences when you graduate from university,” said Dr Cheung to the students. Dr Cheung ended his talk by sharing an idea on university education from Professor PAN Guangdan, a distinguished Chinese sociologist, that university education is targeted at the whole person.

Self-realisation and self-fulfilment

Many people think that a liberal arts education is of no value and that liberal arts students are not able to find good jobs. Dr Chan disagrees. He believes that a university without a liberal arts curriculum is only a vocational school, and a society without liberal arts education lacks cultural sophistication.

“In CLASS, we foster holistic education. We help students develop ability in independent thinking, critical analysis, self-awareness and social commitment, accompanied by a keen sense of moral responsibility and an ardent respect for cultural diversity,” said Dr Chan. “The College and its departments provide many opportunities for students to explore different cultures and cultivate a global vision.”

In his talk, Dr Chan encouraged students to choose a major that matches their personality, interests and vision, while also focusing on things that have long-term value and meet the future needs of society. To illustrate his point, Dr Chan told the audience that he received technical training in secondary school, but decided to major in language and literature in college. It turned out that in studying language and literature at CityU, he found his passion, his mission, and above all, his vocation in teaching. Dr Chan urged students: “Be creative in realising your potential, fulfilling your dreams, and mastering your own future!”

Life is a matter of choice, not feelings

As an acclaimed educator and an experienced social worker, Professor Wong advised young people who aspire to tertiary education not to make decisions on what to study simply based on feelings. “Choosing a major is a rational decision-making process. One has to analyse systematically, take into consideration all the relevant concerns, and select among possible choices based on reason and careful judgement,” said Professor Wong to the students. “Discover your core values. Your values represent what you believe is most important. Values are the driving force behind your action, the guiding lights on your path.”

“To me,” said Professor Wong, “love is the most important value in my life. Lack of love is often a cause of crime. I want to bring love to the people who need it. I love my students and I want to nurture them with love.” Professor Wong ended his talk by sharing with the audience the Prayer of Saint Francis, which encapsulates the Christian values he strives to live by. An outstanding student, Miss YAN Ying-fong Gigi, was invited to share her learning experiences at the seminar. Gigi believes an outstanding student possesses three qualities. She told the students: “Keep a curious mind, do not restrict yourself, and try to look at things from different angles!” Gigi has been the first student at CLASS to graduate from the Joint Bachelor’s Degree Program between CityU and Columbia University.

As well as the talks, an exhibition and programme consultation session was held. Programme leaders, admissions tutors and student ambassadors from the seven departments of CLASS provided participants with useful information and answered their questions.

HKDSE candidate CHAN Chun-yin and his parents were impressed by the talks. “The seminar helped us gain a better understanding of the mission of CLASS. After today’s event, we firmly believe we have made the right decision in supporting our son to study at CLASS at CityU,” said Mr Chan.