High hopes

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High hopes

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[Letter to the editor]High hopesHigh hopesAmerican writer Curtis Sittenfeld’s best-selling debut novel “Prep” seems to ingeniously mock both The New York Times and Harvard University. Lee Fiora, the naive self-conscious narrator of the novel, gets a bitter reaction from her friends after being skillfully manipulated in an interview by a female New York Times reporter. The reader would naturally want to harshly criticize the newspaper. However, The New York Times recommended the book as one of its “best novels of the year” for 2005.
In addition, the image the book portrays of Harvard University is not flattering. According to the novel, it is practically a law that the president of the student council at the boarding school featured in the book always gets admitted to Harvard University. The president, whom Lee Fiora adored, is a playboy. He rejects her after having a sexual relationship with her. Harvard seems stupid to allow such a brazen student to enter.
However, Harvard seems indifferent to the criticism. Entrance to the university is highly competitive and a record number of students have applied.
Last year, more than 23,000 students around the world applied for admission. Among them, 80 percent were perfectly eligible. Half of them were rated to be “excellent enough to pass the entrance examination.” However, only 1,662 were admitted, a university admissions expert said. Despite their prestigious scholarship, more than 18,000 students failed to get in.
Admission to Harvard University is one of the most difficult goals to achieve in life. However, campus life does not seem so happy to the students. There are many scribbles on the desks of Harvard’s central library. They include: “If you sleep now, you will have a dream, but if you study now, you will realize a dream”; “Even though happiness is not based on a person’s performance records, success is the likely result”; and “If you study one more hour, you will have a better husband.” The scribbls reflect the desperation many Harvard students feel.
The number of Korean students studying at Harvard recently reached nearly 300, the third highest in the world. The number is smaller than Canada and China, but larger than the United Kingdom and Japan.
In general, the graduation ceremony held at Western universities is called Commence-ment Day. The word commencement indicates that students should be eager to survive new competitions in another world. It is my sincere hope that Korean students entering universities, despite all the hardships they face, will generate tangible results in the near future. newsty@joongang.co.kr
The writer is an editorial writer
of the JoongAng Ilbo.

[Letter to the editor]High hopesHigh hopesAmerican writer Curtis Sittenfeld’s best-selling debut novel “Prep” seems to ingeniously mock both The New York Times and Harvard University. Lee Fiora, the naive self-conscious narrator of the novel, gets a bitter reaction from her friends after being skillfully manipulated in an interview by a female New York Times reporter. The reader would naturally want to harshly criticize the newspaper. However, The New York Times recommended the book as one of its “best novels of the year” for 2005.
In addition, the image the book portrays of Harvard University is not flattering. According to the novel, it is practically a law that the president of the student council at the boarding school featured in the book always gets admitted to Harvard University. The president, whom Lee Fiora adored, is a playboy. He rejects her after having a sexual relationship with her. Harvard seems stupid to allow such a brazen student to enter.
However, Harvard seems indifferent to the criticism. Entrance to the university is highly competitive and a record number of students have applied.
Last year, more than 23,000 students around the world applied for admission. Among them, 80 percent were perfectly eligible. Half of them were rated to be “excellent enough to pass the entrance examination.” However, only 1,662 were admitted, a university admissions expert said. Despite their prestigious scholarship, more than 18,000 students failed to get in.
Admission to Harvard University is one of the most difficult goals to achieve in life. However, campus life does not seem so happy to the students. There are many scribbles on the desks of Harvard’s central library. They include: “If you sleep now, you will have a dream, but if you study now, you will realize a dream”; “Even though happiness is not based on a person’s performance records, success is the likely result”; and “If you study one more hour, you will have a better husband.” The scribbls reflect the desperation many Harvard students feel.
The number of Korean students studying at Harvard recently reached nearly 300, the third highest in the world. The number is smaller than Canada and China, but larger than the United Kingdom and Japan.
In general, the graduation ceremony held at Western universities is called Commence-ment Day. The word commencement indicates that students should be eager to survive new competitions in another world. It is my sincere hope that Korean students entering universities, despite all the hardships they face, will generate tangible results in the near future.

The writer is an editorial writer of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By Lee Chul-ho [newsty@joongang.co.kr]

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