[LETTERS]High tuition fees, but no choice

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[LETTERS]High tuition fees, but no choice

Faced with high tuition fees, parents of students attending special-purpose high schools and private high schools are struggling to pay for their children’s studies.

“I encouraged my son to study hard for his middle school exams because I thought that going to a distinguished high school will ensure him a better future” said Kim, who asked to be identified only by her surname. “But I did not expect the price to be this high.”

The private high school that Kim’s son is attending ranked first on the list of most expensive educational institutions in South Korea, published by the ministry of education last year. The list included colleges and graduate schools as well. According to Kim, she paid an additional 18 million won for her son’s tutoring and hagwon during weekends and school breaks. ”I thought going to an expensive boarding school would mean no more hagwon and private tutoring, but I was hugely mistaken.”

Kim is not the only person stressed by the high cost of school and hagwon.

“I decided to attend this school despite knowing of its high tuition fees because of its past successes in getting students accepted to prestigious colleges abroad. Still, I think the financial burden is too much,” said Jeannie Kwon, a junior at a foreign language high school located in Yongin.

“Additionally, I have to pay exorbitant fees for AP [advanced placement] and SAT [scholastic aptitude test] hagwon as well. I have no choice since only a few hagwon offer SAT and AP courses.

“Schools do not simply set high tuition fees. We set our price in accordance with the provincial ministry of education,” we are told. “Our curriculum costs more because it is better; this is why so many compete to get into our school. They simply have more trust in special-purpose and private high schools.”

“It is kind of understandable” said Eric Nam, who will be graduating from a foreign language high school located in Goyang next month and will attend Yonsei University. “As far as I know, tons of money had been spent on establishing these schools, and the quality of education exceeds that of general education high schools. Although the expensive tuition fee has been a burden, I do not regret my decision.”

Suh Do-wan, student,

Hankuk Academy of Foreign Studies
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