Week 4: CSAT

The Korean education system has been the center of controversy for decades. The CSATs that take place only once a year is powerful enough to stop planes from dawn till dusk that day. It was, is and will be the source of woe for most Koreans. Even after taking the test, even after getting accepted to a college, students are not free from the grasp of CSATs. Many students take a leave of absence from school retrying to get in a more prestigious school. Some drastically drop out entirely, refusing return. Even students from Seoul National University, the undoubtedly most prestigious school in Korea, retake the CSATs in hopes of studying a better major and such. The article has a disapproving tone towards these students; why leave a perfectly good school to study a major that has higher employment rates, or simply to study in a school with better social prestige?

Despite the dismissive tone of the article, the reasons why students retake the entrance test are perfectly good reasons. Admittedly, the current situation of students dropping out of college only to retake college entrance exams is depressing and a serious issue that should be addressed. However, in the meantime, students cannot be blamed for this phenomenon because in a way, they are forced by society to make these choices. Korea has always been an elitist society but nowadays, the emphasis on people’s education background has gone to the point of absurdity. As a desperate attempt students choose to take their chances on the CSATs yet again in hopes of raising their chances of competitiveness in the job market with a more well-known school name or a more practical major.

Korean students barely have time to deeply think about their aptitudes and choose a major that suits their abilities the best. Even if they do, sometimes the major they want do not match majors currently in demand. Some students get to study a major that they have always dreamed of only to quit studying it and pursue a major that will give them an advantage in the job market. There are also students who chose such a major only to find it so trying that they give up the subject completely and drop out. Either way, it is unfair to blame students for making these drastic choices when they are practically coerced to do so by society.

While studying for college entrance exams, students are pressured by teachers, parents, society to get into a good university over a long span of 12 years. All this pressure seems to end with college acceptance but it does not. Instead, young college students who just turned 20 are now pressured to get good grades not for the purpose of education or knowledge but as preparation for job hunting. This is not a recent situation but something that has been prevalent and intensifying in Korean society for over decades. It is a chronic and manifold problem that needs to be addressed in many ways and to only cut a chunk out of a certain phenomenon, present it in mere statistics that do not represent the situation accurately and even shift the blame on to those suffering from it is nothing short of outrageous.

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