(ECNS) -- Tang Shangjun, a perennial exam taker, announced on Saturday that he would take Gaokao, China’s national college entrance examination, again in 2024.
In this year’s Gaokao, Tang scored a total of 594 out of a total of 750, surpassing the entrance threshold of 119 points for first-tier universities. Unfortunately, he failed to be enrolled by any university.
"At this juncture, it would be a pity to relinquish my pursuit. However, with the impending reforms in the college entrance exam in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region,I will face many challenges," he said.
A few days ago, Tang took to social media to dispel speculations surrounding his plans. He denied retaking the exam at a school in Hebei Province or becoming a tutor at any coaching institution.
Tang, who is now 35 years old, has made 15 attempts at the college entrance exam since 2009.
Over the years, he had been accepted by decent colleges including Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China University of Political Science and Law, and Chongqing University.
However, he decided to give up these opportunities due to the "unsuitable majors", driven by an unwavering aspiration to secure admission into the prestigious Tsinghua University.
Before the admission results were announced, Tang had previouslydeclared his firm commitment to university enrollment this year, thereby ending his 15-year journey of retaking the college entrance exam.
Due to age restrictions for employment, he had chosen teacher training programs as his only option. Unexpectedly, he was rejected from all four of his choices. He opted out of supplementary enrollment due to the incompatibility of the offered program and his reluctance to settle for less prestigious institutions.
"I never anticipated such heightened popularity for teacher training programs this year. I originally intended to go to university this year. Regrettably, now it seems that even this aspiration has been thwarted by an unforeseen twist of fate," he said.
Tang’s persistent pursuit of Tsinghua University though 15 consecutive times has left many perplexed. Somespeculate his motivation is rooted in financial incentives tied to professional test-takers.
Controversies surrounding him include the rewards for high scores in college entrance exams, retake policies, and the prevailing education paradigm excessively centered on exam scores.
In his conversation with the journalist, he acknowledged that it was his obsessiveness that trapped him in this dilemma.
"At times, I lie in the dormitory, staring at the ceiling, a sense of regret engulfs me. How have so many years passed in the confines of these high school walls as if I've been trapped in a long dream?"
On one hand, his resolve remains steadfast, clinging to his unfulfilled dream of attending Tsinghua University."I can't let it go,"Tang said.
On the other hand, he doesn't mask his feelings of helplessness and detachment.
"I feel most guilty towards my mother. Four years is too long. In the previous years, I had thought about giving up on college and returning to my hometown to pursue aquaculture."