Overhauling admissions

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Overhauling admissions

Yesterday 200 universities released their requirements for regular admission for the 2009 academic year. Students and their parents will estimate how the students preformed in the recent College Scholastic Ability Test and decide which universities to apply to.

For this year’s regular admissions, the CSAT’s weight in the process has been significantly increased. Last year, only 11 universities had a system to select students based only on their CSAT scores, compared to 71 this year.

While this is partly due to a change in the scoring system, it also shows that universities are still obsessed with scores, allowing one student get in while another fails with only one or two points’ difference between the two.

This places a limitation on finding students with potential and means that universities will not become competitive quickly.

The Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology last year introduced in-depth admission interviews.

This is a good model that can change the practice of lining up students only according to their scores.

In the new system, Kaist has increased the ratio of the interview component in total scores so that it can select students who have talents in certain fields even though they have a relatively low score on paper. This aims to stop selecting students based only on test scores and to admit individuals with character, creativity and leadership.

All universities should adopt a similar method. The most important task is to establish a system to employ experts who give an overall evaluation on applicants through their documents and interviews.

This system is still in a very early stage. Last year, 10 universities implemented it and this year 12 universities introduced it for the process of accepting students for the autumn term.

But this is not enough. The education authorities and the Korean Council for University Education must make efforts to spread the system and enhance support for it.

Universities must abandon their lax idea that scores tell everything about students and diversify ways to find new students. The entrance system that only emphasizes objectivity and lists students only according to their scores must be abolished.

High schools will then change. Students will not come under so much pressure to get higher scores, but will be instead encouraged to develop their own potential.
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