"Who is No.1 in this test throughout the school?" "Is it the genius from class No.4?" "You bet. Also, You know, No.2 is a new guy in class No.3. I haven't seen him before. Shall we take a look?" "Sure. I know him and I can point him to you" Three students then stand near the classroom door, looking through the windows. A boy with a thick reference in his hand is asking a teacher questions after class. "You see, he is there". "Oh, it is him. I did not know that the guy is so gifted!" Three all looks admired. Here is my schoolmate's admiration for an academically well-performed student. Studying is the priority in many Chinese high schools. Studying hard is a common phenomenon in many competitive schools. Because of the pressure of college entrance exam, although study culture varies from schools, academic performance is always regarded as priority. My high school is regarded the best school in Suzhou, China. Top students filter into the school through tough exams. Being popular in that scenario is simple: you behave well academically. It is the prevailing culture in my high school that popularity is determined by your academic performance, not sports or artist achievements. Our school day is mainly devoted to studying. In the morning before 8 am, we arrive at school, reading textbooks aloud. Then we will have a day’s class in the same classroom, because a class of students has the exact same schedule, saving the cost to move from one place to another. Finally, we head back home without much hesitation, hoping to finish homework as early as possible, saving time to review the notes and do extra practice. The study culture in my high school provides challenge for normal students to become popular because the culture cultivates an admiration for top-score students. Yi, for example, is a transfer student from an ordinary class to my class, the all-star class with high-score students and good teachers, because he performs extraordinarily well. But he used to be an unpopular student who only sticks with several best friends and he is known only to his classmates. Every time when the ranking of exam result is released, his name will only be in the unnoticeable middle place. He cannot have a strong say in question discussions because he is not an academic star. Peers do not consult him for academic questions because it seems only academic stars can give a satisfactory answer. His classmates do not have a deep impression of him, not to mention kids from other classes. However, after a winter holiday, all changes. When he comes back to school, to everyone’s surprise, he scores No.1 in his class and continues to be No.1 in the following exams. He becomes an academic star immediately. Suddenly, classmates flood to him for academic questions. Teachers look at him differently, asking much more challenging questions in class, showing preference for his ability. His success even becomes a sensation in the school. Then he can walk in the campus, holding the head up high confidently, to greet everyone he meets, believing everyone knows him. Many girls in my class already know Yi before his transfer and gossip more about him after the transfer. Some girls turn to him for questions rather than to the teachers, admiring him. And even one of the girls becomes his girlfriend then. In contrast, Guanrui, the best friend Yi has in his former class is not so lucky. His academic performance is average, which results in his unpopularity. Seldom do boys consult him for questions, not to mention girls. I wouldn’t have known his name if he was not talked about accidently by one of my friends. I believe most of my classmates do not know the existence of Guanrui. Also, Guanrui plays basketball much better than Yi. But because of the popularity Yi has due to academic success, Yi can win a louder applause than Guanrui each time one scores. People just don’t cheer for those academically poor-performed “bad” boys who excel in one-hand overhead shot. Under the influence of the study culture, which links popularity with academic achievements, arts and sports people become marginalized. Although a lot of my classmates learn piano quite well in their primary school, when they enter high school, they choose not to practice it, regarding it as unimportant compared with studying. Even if some still play music and become members of the school’s orchestra, they are seen as mysterious existence. Yu is a member of traditional Chinese instrument orchestra. She is regarded as a geek, someone who skips class because of music performance, who does not achieve a handsome academic result and, as a result, is unpopular. She seems to be out of the study culture. She has her own orchestra friends who we never seen. We never see her performance as well because no one has the luxury of time or desire to see a music performance, not to mention the lack of promotion. She is mysterious and marginalized. The same mystery lays in sports athletes. The only thing we know is that they are called to exercise after class at 5 pm and they might be on the sports page of the school’s newspaper, marking their achievement in a competition. Yue is a track runner. He spends tremendous time training. Still, he does not want to be marginalized because of sports. He struggles in his academic performance. Sometimes he has to stay up late. Sometimes he has to hurry up his meal to squeeze in time for studying. He wants to be admired and to be popular so he has to make extra efforts to sustain his good grades before he joins training. Although the study culture is more obvious in my high school, it is not something exclusive to my high school. Because the society focuses a lot on diploma, entering a first-class university is crucial. The major way to enter a first-class university is to achieve high scores in college entrance exams, which fosters the culture that put priority to studying. Too much focus on studying simplifies the standard for popularity, limiting students’ other talents. The achievement in arts and sports is not so much recognized in school. Hopefully, the college entrance exam is being reformed. I hope the situation can get better for the overall development of students.