For Miss Liu, the daughter of poor farmers, a degree was to be her passport out of a life of poverty, a way to escape working in the fields, or toiling as a humble migrant worker in a far-off factory in southern China.
But her dream of making the huge leap from farm girl to college graduate will never become reality. Deeply depressed and ashamed about her failure to find a job to take up when she graduated, and consumed with guilt about the financial sacrifices her family had made for her, Miss Liu brought her studies and her life to a premature end by drowning herself in a ditch full of freezing, filthy water.
[…] Miss Liu’s reaction to her predicament was extreme, but not unusual. In April, a report by the Shanghai Education Commission listed suicide as the leading cause of death among students. And with one in three of this year’s graduates unable to get a job, according to education ministry figures released last week, Miss Liu’s anxiety about finding work is shared by most students.