Hui Xin, an oil painting major, stayed away from the white-hot job market when he graduated from a southwestern China university for fine arts two years ago.
When most of his classmates spent sleepless nights preparing for job interviews, Hui rented a small apartment close to his school, where he devoted himself to painting and selecting his favorite works for various shows.
"I don't want a full-time job because I need time for free artistic creation," said Hui. "That's my choice and I've got to keep to it -- my future is in my own hands."
Hui is not alone. As competition on the job market heats up year on year, many graduates have decided to postpone looking for a job, or even not to seek a full-time occupation at all.
A Ministry of Education report suggested that 5 percent of the nationwide college graduates chose to remain unemployed in 2002. But the percentage is going to rise sharply this year, according to sources from the education sector in the southwestern municipality Chongqing.
At the City Planning and Construction Institute of Chongqing University, over 40 senior students, or 20 percent of the total 209, are not planning to enter the job market this year, says their tutor who gives only her family name Li.
The percentage is as high as 45 percent at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts, according to Hou Baochuan, a school official in charge of the students' employment work.
"It's not that the job market is gloomy for them," says Li, whose job is to help senior students find jobs, "In fact, each construction major gets six offers on average."
The prospect is quite rosy for them, given the immense competition heated up by more than 3 million graduates from nationwide colleges and universities this summer -- 53,000 in Chongqing alone, insiders say.
Instead of looking for a full-time occupation, many senior students are preparing to enter graduate schools at home or abroad.
Dou Xiaoming, an official with the Chongqing municipal recruitment office, said some 19,000 senior students in Chongqing,or 35 percent of the total, sat for the national graduate school entrance exam in January 2004. The figure was 12,000 in 2002 and 15,000 in 2003, he added.
In addition to further schooling, some senior students plan to become freelancers or start their own businesses after graduation. Meanwhile, some female graduates have chosen to get married and become full-time housewives.
Despite their different reasons for staying away from the job market, these students normally have something in common: most of them are from well-off urban families and have open-minded parents.
"We won't force him to do what he doesn't want to do," said a Mr. Guo in Chongqing, whose only son, Guo Hongze, a sculpture major, chose to start his own business after he graduated from the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts in 2000.
"It was a frustrating experience," said Guo, whose business is booming today, "If I could choose again, I would have chosen to take up a steady job to start with -- life could be much easier that way."
Some officials say these students have helped relieve the bottleneck issue on the job market, but many others express concern over the "cumulative burden" they may bring in the long run.
"The number of unemployed people will rise year on year and competition would be more fierce if these people suddenly decide one day they want a job," said Xie Jiansong, an official with the Chongqing municipal education commission.
Though the growing trend mirrored the young people's pioneering spirit and their confidence in life and themselves, Xie warned these students, most of whom were brought up as the only child in their families, could be expecting too much from the employment market.
"Some students simply think they deserve the best job: they'd rather stay home if they can't get what they dream of," said Xie. "This, of course, is not a proper attitude toward life."
(Xinhua News Agency May 4, 2004)