[Letters] High schoolers should get head start on college creditsA university-level program is a system that will provide opportunities for high school students to take university-level classes, which would then be acknowledged as credits after the students enter into a university.
This new system is expected to promote the students’ academic level, help discover talented people earlier on behalf of the nation and allow a liaison between high schools and universities. But the system has not been getting much attention.
According to a newspaper report, 46.8 percent of UP classes, which is 104 classes out of 222 that were opened up from 2007 to the summer break in 2009, had to be closed due to an insufficient number of enrollees. There even were frequent occasions when opened classes fell short of enrollees, barely reaching half of the initial volume of recruitment.
On the other hand, the AP system (Advanced Placement) of the United States is very popular; 26.5 percent of public high school students took one of the classes in 2009. The system is also recognized as a compulsory path for entry into Ivy league universities.
The reason why UP courses are not as popular in Korea is mostly due to the fact that they are not reflected in college admissions.
But if additional points are given out to those who took the UP courses, it could lead to negative effects such as triggering overheated competition or a boom in the private education sector.
Moreover, the current method of opening up courses during university holidays rouses controversy about how evenhanded opportunities are to take UP courses.
The current state is that not many people are paying attention to UP courses since the system has no bearing in college admissions. In order to vitalize the UP system, it needs to alter its purpose so that it provides intense academic courses for excellent students in specific fields.
In turn, it should make efforts to establish ties between university majors and high school curriculums. For example, UP courses should be systemized to give opportunities to those students who wish to major in natural sciences or engineering to take intensified courses in mathematics or sciences.
For this, various UP courses should be included in regular high school curriculums.
In addition, for those classes that cannot be opened in high schools due to problems such as a shortage of teachers or only a limited number of students want the class, a liaison between universities and high schools should be established so the courses could be held in universities.
Intensified subjects should also be turned into credits when students enter universities.
But this definitely needs much effort. Above all, a groundbreaking transition in operating high school education courses is a must.
Liberalization in forming curriculums, the expansion of focused schools in different fields of study and a credit-based system in high schools would be the few basic standards to revitalize the UP system.
Moreover, active ties between high schools and universities are required. The two should discuss which subjects should be made mandatory for high school students to take before they move on to the university level and they should establish intense classes, not to mention preparing effective scoring systems. These efforts will certainly pay off.
a researcher of the Korean Educational Development Institute