Before class let out for the summer, we checked in with the former students of Beijing's Second High, whom we profiled in "The People's Education Army" (September 2011). Now that their first year of college was behind them, what had they most enjoyed? Independence. "In high school, everything was arranged. In college, you're on your own," says Bob Zhao Tianshu, now studying Chinese literature and French at Peking University. Though college culture in China includes three weeks of military exercise and parties that are organized by school authorities, the students still feel a sense of control. "You have to self-discipline. It's easy to get lost on Renren," says Sophie Bai Yang, now an accounting major at Tsinghua University. "But the habits we learned at Second High stay with you."
[Image: Flickr user Alva Chien]
A version of this article appeared in the September 2012 issue of Fast Company magazine.