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Private Institutes Say: “We Have the Keys to College”

Posted December. 16, 2003 23:06,   


It was December 14 at the “A” private institute in Seocho-gu, southern Seoul.

More than 50 parents rushed to the institute for the “promotional explanation event on college entrance based on the result of the trial College Scholastic Aptitude Test provided by the Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation.” It distributed a small booklet on the characteristics of the Seventh National Curriculum that it had made itself.

Institute personnel persuaded the participants, saying, “By analyzing the new college entrance system, you can possibly raise the points,” and, “The difficulty level will go up for some subjects, so the necessity of prep studies at private institutes becomes stronger.”

Like the “A” institute, many institutes specialized in helping students to enter college are busy soliciting new customers, who will be the first examiners based on the Seventh National Curriculum next year.

Conditions and problems – There has been a big increase in numbers and sizes of promotional explanations of college entrance, planned until the end of this month, held by big and small institutes as well as online institutes.

In the case of major institution “B,” it already finished promotional explanation tours in the Seoul area and is planning to draw audiences of 20,000 at four cities in different provinces.

Middle- and small-sized institutes in the Gangnam area are drawing 50 to 100 parents to each promotional event by inviting college professors and instructors at famous institutes. As some universities announce that they will expand early recruiting, the institutes specializing in specific subjects are holding explanation events featuring “Seize the Prime Opportunities at Early Recruiting System Next Year.”

Mrs. Choi, 51, a mother of a student, said, “Especially on Mondays, around 20 leaflets for promotional explanations of college entrance by private institutes are delivered together with the newspapers, and many institutes give reservation numbers by receiving parents’ cell phone number and home address.”

The core feature of the College Scholastic Aptitude Test based on the Seventh National Curriculum relies on the expansion of selective subjects. Among 11 selective subjects in social studies and eight in science studies, students can choose one to four subjects and take the exams following the required standards by universities. For this reason, lectures in private institutes are getting more specialized.

The “C” institute located in Apgujeong, Seoul, which provided classes on English, Math, and Science studies, this year opened new classes such as “Intensive English Listening,” “Intensive Differential and Integral Calculus,” and “Intensive Physics II.”

However, some point out that the overheated prep classes can add enormous chaos to parents and students before they comprehend the outline of authorities’ questioning style for the CSAT.

The Korea Institute of Curriculum and Evaluation also emphasized that the trial version of CSAT was experimental and provisional.

Positions of Parents and Authorities – “Uneasiness is rampant as you even hear of the ‘Seventh’s chaos’ among parents,” said Kim Jeong Meyong-shin, the chairman of the Citizens Union for Participatory Education, adding, “Although the reliance on private institutes is increased, each school should hold an explanatory event on college entrance because parents can’t totally trust commercially supplied information.”

According to Lee Byeom-hong, the head director of the CSAT, “There is false speculation that the difficulty level will go up all around, but I affirm it to be textbook level,” and “It’s hard to predict which subject among selective subjects will be beneficial to each student due to the variance on standard score, so it would be the safest for students to choose the subject that fits well with his or her aptitude.”

Mr. Lee also said that until next March the KICE would distribute an information booklet on the CSAT based on the Seventh National Curriculum to prevent students’ confusion.

In-Jik Cho cij1999@donga.com