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Growing number of SNU students leave school

Posted April. 25, 2001 13:28,   


The prestigious Seoul National University (SNU) is on an alert. It is because a growing number of students are dropping out of school or leaving in order to change their majors to more popular ones.

In this connection, departments in basic studies, which are not favored because they don`t lead to well-paying jobs, see their student numbers shrinking, whereas popular departments have too many students.

SNU students leave:

Recently, two SNU students, who are applying for Harvard University, had an interview with an SNU professor who was commissioned as Harvard`s interviewer. They said that they were disappointed at SNU`s educational environment, saying that the library is full of students preparing for job or state tests.

Mr. Sohn, 20, who was admitted to SNU last March at the recommendation of the high school where he graduated, was expelled from school as he failed to register this semester. He won bronze and gold medals at the International Physics Olympiad in his first and second years of high school. He enrolled at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) last August, as the college offered a scholarship.

Mr. Huh, 20, who also won a gold medal at the Olympiad, also quit SNU and enrolled at MIT. During the past several years, a growing number of high school students are applying for prestigious colleges in Europe and the United States. The phenomenon among honor students to avoid SNU is spreading.

Quitting to apply for popular programs:

In 1998, Mr. Hong, 22, enrolled at the Economics Department at SNU. Yet he moved to the law school last year. He said that it is better for him to change to law school in order to take the state law examination, adding that some students even dare to quit school and enter the law school as freshmen.

According to SNU, the number of students who left school increased from 129 in 1999 to 204 last year and 219 as of April this year. Of the students who left school, nearly 90 percent moved to popular departments within SNU or other colleges.

SNU`s analysis showed that students who majored in liberal arts and agriculture mostly moved to departments of law, business management and economics. Of the freshmen in the Agriculture Department, 44, or 10 percent, took college entrance exams again and enrolled in popular departments.

Many SNU students take entrance exam to apply for popular departments:

Even sophomores are changing their majors to popular ones. Only four changed their majors in 1997, but the number increased to 11 in 1998, 44 in 1999 and 75 last year. As of April this year, as many as 119 students changed their majors. Many of them enrolled at departments of business management (14) and law (10).

Among SNU students who major in science or engineering, 10 percent, or 38, failed to be enrolled in the department they wished. Of them, 18 students applied for the major for the second time and they are now juniors. The remaining 20 are planning to take the exam again. SNU`s engineering college professors formed a task force to deal with the situation.

An SNU official said that the concentration of students in popular departments would accelerate from next year as enrollment will be made on a broader basis.

``At a time when investment in basic studies is poor, students would favor popular departments and the college would face a critical situation,`` he said.

Another official said, ``It is necessary to greatly improve the research environment of SNU in order to soften such a runaway situation.``

Kim Kyoung-Dal dal@donga.com