Whether to go back to their hometown for school might be one of the most important decisions that a migrant student will ever make. To fully appreciate its significance, however, we have to multiply this life-changing decision by the number of migrant students—roughly 40,000 per city for both Beijing and Shanghai. Almost 40 per cent of the students in Beijing’s primary public school system have non-local hukou,1 and this figure of course does not include migrant students in the private system. Even at the middle school level, nonlocal students make up about one-fifth of Beijing’s public school system. With so many migrant students in the city, their collective decisions have a tremendous effect on the entire educational system, and those effects have consequences in turn for the students’ schooling experiences.