Thursday, December 08, 2005

Korean university students think they can relax after the entrance exam.

Others in the Korean blogosphere have discussed this issue already but I want to share my experiences.

First, for those outside of Korea (hi, mom), Korean high school students go through Hell to study for the University entrance exam. The exam is so challenging because simply getting to the right university sets up your social position for life. My wife has a masters but was unable to teach TOIEC in Seoul because her university was not one of the big ones.

A student entering university has likely been to a single-gender high school and gone to hagwons until late every night. Personally, I love a good sleep and to hear the experssion '4 in, 5 out' fills me with sympathy for the students (if you sleep four hours a night, you will get into a good university; five hours and your won't). They have no experience with social activities, especially with the opposite sex. At university, they have the experiences I had (okay, I was a nerd: ...experiences my classmates had) in high school for the first time at university. Boys being mean to the girls they like, the girls shrieking.... I feel like yelling, "grow up!", sometimes.

The students who choose to study in China have had a rude shock. Apparently, Chinese students actually study. From a Chosun article titled, "Korean Students in China Must Stop Wasting Time", some Chinese universities have
"started requiring Korean students to take separate entrance exams in English, math and general humanities or science, because so many of them have fallen behind in class or taken to absenteeism. Some schools now reportedly organize separate classes and exams for Korean students."

I have just finished exams at my university. Cripes, what a mess. The oral portion of the exam was a converation the students were to work in pairs to create and act out for me. About a third came in with no preparation at all. Another third read from their textbooks. The final third did fairly well to very well, although the 'fairly well' was mostly in comparison to the slackers. I know these students don't plan to use English in their future careers but the oral should have been an easy 10-15% added to their grade.

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