Keith Eckerling, college advisor at Korea International School (KIS)
By Kang Shin-who
Keith Eckerling, college advisor at Korea International School (KIS), said Korean students need to be honest when they write essays or resumes for U.S. college admission.
``Too many people lie and try to create things and exaggerate what they did. However, those things don't usually work,'' Eckerling said.
``You need to be yourself. Don't try to play games. People working for colleges are smart,'' he added.
Eckerling was also a college advisor at an international school in Taiwan for five years and moved to Korea last year.
The advisor is proud that he worked hard to establish an ethical approach to college admissions at schools in Taiwan and Korea.
He hopes to see some of this year's class at KIS obtain gain entry into some top colleges in the U.S. such as Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, University of California Irvine and University of California Los Angeles.
Especially, he said that he is happy to have so far endured supervising SAT tests with no significant problems. SAT test results of some Korean students were once canceled over cheating scandals.
Although most Korean high schools don't have college admission counselors, international schools have teachers who are specialized in guiding students for college admission.
Eckerling helps them with every aspect of college admissions, essays, and course selection.
``I write school recommendations for almost all the seniors. I also work for helping students in taking the right courses throughout high school,'' he said. ``Career guidance is another aspect of our program. Additionally, I am the SAT supervisor at our school. I try to help students enjoy and take advantage of everything high school has to offer.''
Eckerling mentioned that as students who apply for top schools tend to be quite similar, whether they get admitted or not is very subjective.
``They have outstanding grades in college prep classes in addition to good test scores, good range of activities, fantastic rates. The admission process for the top schools are like a lottery,'' he said. ``However, it would be better for them to develop what they like and be outstanding in a certain field rather than try to do everything,'' he added.
Lastly, Eckerling pointed out that Korean students are not trained well in thinking creatively and independently despite their high motivation and academic achievement. ``I think that in terms of critical thinking they are lacking compared to many U.S. students. This can be seen in mathematics. Korean math students can compute with the best students in the world, but their English language proficiency along with their drill and memorization methods often hurts them when solving word problems,'' he said.
``English education in Korea needs to be improved and valued. Another area that Korean students can improve is their commitment to outside activities.''