Overhaul college admissions

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Overhaul college admissions

An increasing number of college freshmen are dropping out of school or taking time off to retake the state-administered college entrance exam in the hopes of getting admitted to a better university. Those who retook the annual standardized exam increased from 68,000 in 2013 to 75,000 in 2014. And this figure has risen for three consecutive years. Among college freshmen, 17 percent have voluntarily dropped out of school. Tuition from dropouts amounted to over 50 billion won ($43 million), while some regional universities cannot even operate normally because too many students are dropping out mid-semester.

This phenomenon has exacerbated the financial burden for the parents, most of whom have been financially backing private tutoring for their children since high school. Now, many are paying college tuition as well as the cost for their children to attend cram schools in order to prepare for the college entrance exam. This fee is usually around at least 100 million won.

More students began to retake the college entrance exam after standards for the test were eased. Those who didn’t make it into the schools of their choice are now retaking the test, hoping that they will perform better this time. They are better advantaged than high school seniors, too, because they can focus entirely on preparing for the exam. Students unsatisfied with their current university or their majors are leaving their campuses on the expectation that they can get into better schools if they get their scores just a little higher.

The college entrance exam was made easier with the idea that it would decrease private tutoring costs. But so far, it has helped little to ease the burden on students or their parents. The increase in second- and third-time test-takers is proof.

In fact, education has only become more polarized, with students from well-to-do families making additional attempts.

Instead of sticking to the principle that the exam should be easier, authorities should instead revise it to test students on their academic
proficiency, not on the chances that they may not err.

College admissions procedures could also use some improvement. Students can apply to six universities, which include safety schools, and then they regret when they are accepted to their lesser preferences. The overall college entrance system needs to be revised to lessen the social costs and wasteful spending.

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