Students Seek Easy Entry Into US Schools
Admission officers at Carnegie Mellon University have had a rude awakening that has revealed loopholes used to gain access to the prestigious private college in Pittsburgh.
When they opened up an envelope with a Phoenix emblem, they certainly weren't expecting a letter from a former Korean President, Kim Young Sam. To prove the authenticity of the letter, The Korea Times succeeded in reaching aides of the former President, who replied "neither former President Kim nor his office has ever made such a recommendation for anybody."
According to data provided by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, the number of Korean students studying abroad reached 243,224 in 2009, and 69,124 of them are currently studying in the U.S. Jennifer Lee, a senior in the U.S., complained about the competition among Korean students to gain access to Ivy League colleges and prestigious public universities. "No matter how hard I try, there is always someone out there who has better scores and essays than me."
The American admission system, which comprises of selecting students not only based on their score, but also their extracurricular activities, volunteer services and essays among others, has created its own field for "ghost writers."
A ghost writer is someone paid to write an essay for somebody else to use. Currently, 827,000 academic ghost writing services appear in a Google search. These web sites are becoming a home-ground for writers.
Ghost writing is one of many problems that U.S. admission officers are facing. Furthermore, an inside source from a reputable university claimed that most students from foreign language high schools in Korea have a GPA score of 4.0. The exaggeration of GPA scores among Korean high schools is widely known.
Even though foreign language high schools succeed in sending their students to reputable universities abroad, concern still exist. Ms. Ku, who goes to MyeongDoek Foreign Language School, quietly acknowledged the ongoing competition: "I study until I almost pass out. The competition is choking me."
Korean society is known to focus only on entering college, not graduating. This greatly affects the minds of young students studying abroad.
The extent that some students go through in order to gain access to prestigious colleges is indescribable. One of the "loopholes" in the U.S. college entrance system that Korean students target is entrance to an art school.
Mr. Kim, a graduate of Hongik Art University, still remembers his entrance exam. "I sat there. The professor sat in front of me. They asked me to draw a picture on the spot. I got so nervous, almost peed in my pants."
Luckily, Korean students who wish to gain admission to American art schools never have to experience this.
In the U.S., in order to apply to art school, you only need to turn in a portfolio normally consisting of 15-20 works of art. Portfolio evaluation had been adopted in Korea, but was abolished after a few months due to the questionable authenticity of artwork turned in by the prospective students.
However, portfolio evaluation is used as an "easy way" to enter reputable universities in the U.S.
Recently, Korean universities have begun adopting the American admission system which looks beyond just test scores.
Park Ju-won is a high schooler studying at Madison Academyin the U.S. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.