[LETTERS to the editor]High school seniors must stay strong

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[LETTERS to the editor]High school seniors must stay strong

During the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT) national-level achievement test on June 4, the sighs and cries of grade 12 students could be heard in almost every high school in Korea. The so-called June Preliminary Test, developed by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation, is considered important among teachers and high school students. Teachers urge the students to study harder and tell them that the scores received at this point will likely stay the same or even fall without perseverance and harder work.

As a grade 12 student preparing for university admission in 2009, I understand the hardship and suffering students have to go through in order to survive in this competitive world. It sometimes surprises me how Korean high school students endure the monotonous daily routine of school-tutor-home from as early as 6 a.m. to midnight.

In Australia, where I spent my junior high school years, students did not have to torture themselves and go to school half-awake. They spent the afterschool hours participating in sports and extracurricular activities, which were considered equally important as academic subjects. After the completion of junior high school, students select from a wide range of subject choices to prepare for and deepen their understanding of the subjects they will study in college.

However, the case is quite different in Korea. All students pursuing higher education are graded purely by the scores they get on school exams and on the CSAT. Their subject choices are limited as there are a number of mandatory subjects over which students have no real control. Moreover, the Department of Education changes educational policies and exam guidelines almost every time a different political party comes to power. Yet, most students endure all the inconsistencies and constraints quite well. It seems a pity that not all of these hardworking, patient students can gain admission to the best universities.

Many teachers advise us to trust ourselves and develop confidence and self-esteem. If too stressed out, students must consult their teachers and parents, who will be always open to listen to their concerns.

It is undeniable that high school students tend to feel insecure and anxious about their future as the CSAT approaches and university application due dates draw near. Some students, including me, even put D-Days on school calendars, counting the number of days left until the CSAT. But although the time flies by, students should learn to stay calm, maintain self-control and try to stay confidant.

For many students in grade 12, college admission is their first opportunity to reveal their inner potential and achieve the adolescent dreams they have longed for. With patience and determination, students can overcome any adversities they face. Go, 12th graders of Korea!

Cho Soo-hyun, a student

at Sehwa Girls’ High School, Seoul

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