Chinese culture

Chinese graduation: 5 things you didn’t know the Chinese did to celebrate the end of the GaoKao and school

How time flies! It’s already graduation season in China and everywhere else! Graduation is the right time to celebrate the end of the school year – or of one’s student life – with classmates and family. Let’s discover how to celebrate this event with amazing expressions in Mandarin you can use with your friends to talk about their Chinese graduation.

In China, as you probably know, education matters a lot. It is a very stressful and labor-intensive experience for Chinese students, who are closely monitored by their parents, anxious to see their prized [zh zh=”宝贝” py= “bǎo bèi”] (meaning baby)be certified with high honors and go on to holding excellent positions in well-off companies. As such, getting your diploma is quite a big deal in China, both for parents and graduates. So much so the period between June and July is called [zh zh=”毕业季” py=”bì yè jì” en=”graduation season”] in China!

Let’s learn some of the key words and expressions related to the Chinese graduation period and the Chinese school system so you can celebrate the best times you spent at high-school or university with your Chinese classmates.

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[zh zh=”青春万岁!”]

[zh py=”Qīng chūn wàn suì!”]

[zh en=”Long live youth!”]


The period around Chinese graduations is an occasion to commemorate the best moments spent at the university. But before they can celebrate, students in China must take exams. The GaoKao might be over for high schoolers, but university and college students are most likely still knee-deep in their thesis…

Final ordeal before graduation: the dissertation!

In the Chinese higher education system, to be able to graduate, you need to do a [zh zh=”毕业论文” py=”bì yè lùn wén” en=”graduation dissertation”]. It’s the last step before getting a diploma and being able to put your books away. I’m sure a lot of Chinese students getting ready to be certified are completely focused on their dissertation right now.

At times like these, you often hear people saying:

[zh zh=”你的毕业论文写完了吗?”]
[zh py=”Nǐ de bì yè lùn wén xiě wán le ma?”]
[zh en=”Have you finished your graduation dissertation?”]

Once they’ve finished their [zh zh=”论文” py=”lùnwén” en=”thesis”], students have to face the terrible [zh zh=”毕业答辩” py=”bì yè dá biàn” en=”graduation dissertation defense”]. During this defense, you must submit your thesis. After all these tasks, undergraduates and graduates finally get their precious [zh zh”毕业证” py=”bì yè zhèng” en=”diploma”].

If you’re around a campus at that time, in China, you’ll hear delighted students exclaim:

[zh zh=”我终于拿到我的毕业证啦!”]
[zh py=”Wǒ zhōng yú ná dào wǒ de bì yè zhèng la!”]
[zh en=”I finally got my diploma!”]

A pretty cool thing during 毕业季 in China is that students that do a really good job during their entire study year,are awarded an [zh zh=”优秀毕业生” py=”yōu xiù bì yè shēng” en=”outstanding graduate”] title. [zh zh=”优秀” py=”yōuxiù”] means excellent and [zh zh=”毕业生” py=”bìyè shēng”] means graduate(s).

After the stressful period of defending a dissertation and obtaining one’s diploma, the degree celebrations in China are the perfect opportunity for the students to let go and celebrate all the hard work they put in. The event is full of special events and activities that grads must take part on, starting with, of course, a ceremony.

How is the Chinese graduation celebrated?

The fun starts with the Chinese graduation ceremony

A Chinese graduation ceremony is the first order of business for many educational institutions, once the exams and dissertations are over. Each university carefully prepares their [zh zh=”毕业典礼” py=”bì yè diǎn lǐ” en=”graduation ceremony”]. It’s a time for congratulatory speeches, to honor the outstanding graduates and to give all the degree holders a chance to shine, as they can put on shows to showcase their talents. 毕业典礼 is also the grads’ chance to thank their teachers and spend one last time with their classmates and professors. It’s a very memorable event for everyone, and you may overhear someone say:

[zh zh=”毕业典礼令人十分难忘。”]
[zh py=”Bì yè diǎn lǐ lìng rén shí fēn nán wàng.”]
[zh en=”The graduation ceremony is very unforgettable.”]

As unforgettable this event is, everyone wants their little souvenir. What about pictures? Everyone could pin it in their room and remember this graduation ceremony for ages!

Say “cheese”

If there’s one thing every Chinese degree holder can’t wait to do, it’s the [zh zh=”毕业照” py=”bì yè zhào” en=”graduation photo”]. If you check Chinese social networks such as Weibo, Wechat, and QQ right now, you’ll run into all sorts of photos.

Guangzhou University Students Graduate Wearing Qipao


These past few years, the trend for postgraduates in Chinese universities has been to wear [zh zh=”传统服饰” py=”chuáng tǒng fú shì” en=”Chinese traditional costumes”] in their photos, such as [zh zh=”旗袍” py=”Qípáo”] or [zh zh=”汉服” py=”Hànfú”. Maybe these outfits are more eye-catching and original than the [zh zh=”学士服” py=”xué shì fú” en=”academic dress”].

After the mandatory graduation pictures, graduates and teachers have the opportunity to say goodbye to each other during a delicious farewell meal.

Make sure you have no regrets during the farewell dinner

For some, it’s not only the end of the school year but it’s also the end of their student life and the time to find and embrace a new career. Therefore, before leaving your student life for good, properly celebrating their diplomas is a must! The last thing we want to introduce you to is the famous [zh zh=”散伙饭” py=”sàn huǒ fàn” en=”farewell dinner party”].

This meal represents the last perk of being a student; it will be their last memory of the school years and marks the end of studies celebrations. The farewell dinner party also the last opportunity for degree holders to exchange email addresses, phone numbers with c before leaving each other. This dinner also represents the last chance to dare to say or to do things before student life ends. If they secretly love someone, don’t you think it’s the right time for them to declare their love before leaving each other?

Icing on the cake: go on a graduation trip!

After all these ceremonies, awards and farewell dinners, some lucky former students go on a well-deserved [zh zh=”毕业旅行3 py=”bì yè lǚ xíng” en=”graduation trip”] before entering the job market. A good way to remember forever your last moments as an undergraduate forever, this trip can also be the occasion for the postgraduates to celebrate all their years of hard work and prepare for a new start! So before going on a trip and leaving the educational institutions forever, don’t forget to say goodbye:

[zh zh=”永别了,我的母校!”]
[zh py=”Yǒngbiéle, wǒ de mǔxiào!”]
[zh en=”Farewell, my college!”]

Final words:

Whether you’re going to pass your exams or one of your Chinese friends is, you’ve got now all the vocabulary in Chinese you need to talk about the graduation season. After seeing how the students graduate in universities in China, don’t you think it’s really close to the Western way of celebrating the end of the school year?
How do you celebrate it in your country? Let us know below in the comments!


Yanjie, Pauline and 

The Nincha Team

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