What comes to your mind when you think of education in Korea? You might think of diligent students studying till midnight, crazy hectic study schedules and plans or maybe even competitive moms who want their kids to be the best. Some people seem to think of the infamous college admission system that constantly changes with frequency. In fact, ever since colleges have existed in Korea, the admission system has changed. The reason for this lies in the controversies it provokes.
The CSAT is problematic in that it can be too difficult for students to get high scores without any private tutoring or any education of that sort. Private education can be gimmicky, expensive and commercial. It does not focus on the virtue of education; instead, it defines education on the functional side. Getting answers right, teaching gimmicks, finding ways to achieve high scores on tests and selling information are their only interest. Because it is commercial and expensive, not all students get the opportunity to benefit from private education.
Since the CSAT was introduced in 1993, errors have always been another problem. Back in the day, even though a question had an error, many students were forced to give up without getting the chance to object to it. However, since 2004, objections are being accepted, which in turn implies that the CSAT is not a complete and perfect test and that inaccurate questions may be set. Not only the questions but the test itself is viewed as unreliable. The reason for such lack of credibility is because the test only consists of multiple choice questions. Multiple choice tests are considered unreliable in their assessment of the potential, capacity, and ability of a student thoroughly and do not measure deep thinking skills, since the students’ thoughts are restricted. In addition, the CSAT can be taken only once a year, and once is not considered enough to evaluate and test students since many variables exist. For instance, whether the exam covers the parts you are confident in can drastically change the results. This shows how full of flaws the CSAT is.
Essay writing-based admissions
The essay writing college entrance exam is commonly known as the ‘classic admission exams brought back.’ Classic admission exams used to be administered by colleges themselves. In this case, the essay a student writes is the main reference for their admission to college, which makes it easy to commit admission fraud. However, the essay writing exam is controversial because it encourages private education, rather than admission fraud. Exams administered by colleges are written by professors. These professors, in general, tend to overestimate their applicants and set the test difficulty to be excessively challenging. Public schools do not teach essay writing and do not cope with these kinds of examinations. This, consequently, makes students pay for extra essay writing lessons, leaving out students who cannot afford them.
Legions of admission systems that deal with student activities exist, but among these systems, the most general way to enter college is the Admission officer system, known as the comprehensive student assessment system (CSAS) nowadays. In order to enter a college through this system, you need to make your own profile and build up extracurricular activities. This is the controversial part of this system. Extracurricular activities require time and money. It would be great if your parents are supportive and provide what you need, but for students whose parents really do not care what their kids are doing, it is hard to build up a so-called ‘career.’ This is the reason why this system is thought of as unfair and as a type of admission for kids who are ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth.’
The purpose of the CSAS is to assess applicants in various ways. Some experts, however, doubt that the CSAS can thoroughly examine the potential ability and learning capacities of its applicants from every angle. Since the evaluation process is done by human beings, the assessment can be quite subjective. This automatically leads to inaccuracy and errors. When it comes to college entrance exams, inaccuracy cannot be accepted, for it is a lethal problem.
In addition to the unfairness and inaccuracy, the CSAS is commonly subject to illicit college admission. There are students out there that fake their profile and that pay for ‘ghostwriters.’ Not just students commit admission fraud, but even schools commit corruption regarding college admission. It is alleged that some universities grade students by what high school they are from. Grading students by their high school is currently illegal by the ‘Three No Policy.’
School record-based admissions
The controversy here is because of the different academic levels among different high schools. This type of admission usually focuses on the school records and the numbers solely, not considering the overall academic level of the school. So, even though your school is one of those special-purpose high schools and has a bunch of intelligent students, your given grade is treated the same as those of other ordinary high schools. Students from such high schools, therefore, do not put this type of admission into consideration when they apply for college.
Performance test-based admissions
This is the case where the connection between a student and a professor is known as a matter of the utmost importance. Private education is, thus, not an option. It is considered mandatory because high schools do not teach you how to play the piano or draw paintings like a professional. In fact, receiving expensive private tutoring by a certain professor from the school you are about to apply for is known to be a way to develop a connection with them. This would eventually be helpful when you are trying to enter the school.
In addition, illicit admission is not a sudden phenomenon in the performance test-based admission. It has been a constant problem ever since. In 2008, professors from a well-known school in the field of arts leaked the college entrance test. In 2009, the following year, they made a student leave a specific mark on the test sheet so that they could let him pass the test easily. It was found, later on, that the student was associated with a certain professor in the department.
These are the controversies and problems that the college admission systems of Korea have, and the reasons why the systems have been changing perpetually. These are also the results of the efforts that various education experts have been putting on for many years to complement flaws. An admission system that caters to everyone is, however, impossible. Nevertheless, it is said that admission systems which cater to as many students as possible should be developed. Therefore, at this point, endless endeavors of experts in the field of education and KNUE students as pre-service teachers to make a system ideal to the fullest is urgent.
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