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Hamilton College

Publication Date

Spring 2016

Program Name

Vietnam: Culture, Social Change, and Development


The Vietnamese education system has shifted drastically in recent history. From the influence of the French colonial period, to Ho Chi Minh’s literacy campaigns, to recent changes in the higher education system, Vietnam’s development has largely impacted students and educators. Even as the education system begins to modernize, many of the original Confucian values still dominate the field. With this dynamic in mind, this project aims to discover students’ expectations and preparations for university. By conducting a case study at the Experimental High School of Hanoi, I was able to hold class discussions about university plans with nearly 400 students and conduct interviews with eight students and one teacher. This enabled me to learn the type of work the students and the school value when researching, preparing, studying, and applying to university, but also the student’s thoughts, feelings, and expectations for university. Additionally, two focus groups with current university students allowed me to obtain both a retrospective and prospective point of view on the university process.

From these data, I was able to examine how factors such as parental influence, stress over choosing a future job, and immense focus on the university entrance examination drive students’ university process. Students, especially students who plan on studying abroad, must put ample time and effort into attending university. Overall, they aim to gain strong academic growth in areas about which they are passionate, applicable job skills that will make them strong candidates after graduation, and also important life skills.


Disability and Equity in Education | Education | Educational Assessment, Evaluation, and Research | University Extension


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