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American Boarding School Popular Among Wealthy Koreans

Posted April. 23, 2003 22:19,   


Entering an American private school is booming business among children of the wealthy in Korea.

It was reported on April 23 that the ratio of admission into a famous American boarding school, which recently completed admission procedures for new students reached 1 out of 10, because so many Korean students had applied. The increase in Korean applicants to some boarding schools has doubled in the past five years.

Boarding schools are private schools that have a dormitory. Children of wealthy and high-educated parents usually attend these types of schools. Graduates of these schools are almost guaranteed entrance into the Ivy League.

Entrance status

According to one of our reporters, who contacted persons in charge of admission at 9 top boarding schools, admission competition of Korean students for the September semester was 10:1 in average, with the highest competition reaching 30:1. Korean applicants to one of these schools have doubled in the past five years.

In the case of Philips Academy, from which President George W. Bush graduated, the number of Korean applicants increased from 36 in 1999 to 69 in 2003. Philips Exeter Academy saw an increase from 40 in 1999 to 74 in 2003. These two schools admit 4 to 5 Korean students every year. In the case of Choate Rosemary Hall, which takes first or second place among boarding schools considering SAT (Scholastic Aptitude Test) results, six students are admitted out of sixty candidates. Brooks School takes 4 students out of 75 candidates, and Stevenson School accepts 4 students out of 58 applicants. Groton School and Deerfield School said that this year they admitted 5 to 6 students out of around 80 students.

“12% of the total new student population is Asian, and around one third is Korean. The number of Korean applicants is almost same as the total of all other Asian students.” said Mr. Gross, in charge of admissions at one of the schools.

Students preparing for entrance exams to study abroad increasing

`Admitted to Phillips continuously for years…` `Admitted to Groten…` These messages appear on large banners in front of language institutes near Kangnam and Yeoksam subway stations in Seoul. There are more than 10 institutes that advertise themselves as `institutes to prepare for entrance exams to American high schools` in the Seoul area alone.

`Student candidates for entering American high schools` currently study at these institutes to prepare for the SSAT (Secondary School Admissions Test), which will be held on November and December. In `weekend classes,` students from many areas of the country travel long distances from as far away as Daejeon and Busan.

There are about 250 boarding schools in the United States. According to personnel from the Overseas Study Association, it is estimated that more than 1500 students are currently preparing for admissions to boarding schools.

The Office of Education in Kangnam, Seoul reports that this year, 303 students out of 12,014 students in the Kangnam area are regarded as `long absence students.` The person in charge there analyzes that 99% of these long absence students most likely are studying abroad.

The merit of boarding schools?

Some parents value American boarding schools because they provide an `elite education` for students, something that cannot be found in Korea.

Mrs. A, a mother who attended a briefing held by an institute for entrance to elite boarding schools said: “I want to send my child to one of these schools because they are located in an English-speaking area. Not only will my child be able to make friends in mainstream American society in the future but will also have more opportunities to learn etiquette and physical education there.”

She also mentioned the attraction of these schools in that parents don`t need to live with their children because dormitory-centered life is required for most students, even though tuition and board sometimes amounts to over 50 million won for one student per academic year.

“The tendency that the number of students going abroad to study is increasing because wealthy people are not satisfied with the generalized education in Korean schools,” said Yeon Mun-hee, a professor in the Education Department of Yonsei University. “However, parents should realize that some of their teenagers fail to adapt in these schools because of the unfamiliar school environment.”

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com