A teacher surnamed Cho at a specialized high school in Seoul let out a sigh, saying that every second semester, around 10 students in each grade request to be transferred to a general high school, apparently to prepare for non-regular college admissions or the College Scholastic Ability Test (CSAT).
The Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education said Sunday that a total of 777 students were transferred from specialized vocational high schools to general high schools last year. Since the second semester of 2014, the country’s high school students have been allowed to request a transfer between general and specialized high schools considering their talent and aptitude.
Preparation for college admission turned out to be the No. 1 reason behind specialized school students returning to general schools. Perception that college education is necessary is still prevalent among students and parents alike.
What also drives students to make such a decision is that it is easy to get transferred. Under the current system, the students of specialized high schools can go to general schools as assigned by the superintendent of education, without any evaluation process.
Another reason behind the falling popularity of specialized schools is the decreasing rate of the students landing a job upon graduation. The employment rate of specialized high school graduates across the country was 65. 1 percent on average last year, an approximately 10 percentage point drop from 2017 (74.9 percent). With a specialized high school even in Seoul having had a shortfall of applications since 2015, some argue it is inevitable that some schools need to be shut down or merged.