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U.S. Taking after Korea?

Posted July. 13, 2005 04:12,   


The Wall Street Journal reported on July 10 that private-tutoring for college admissions essays is prevalent in the U.S.

The major criteria for college admissions screening include school grades, SAT scores, and community service or extracurricular experiences. However, camp training or online tutoring businesses have recently been mushrooming as more students strive to stand out through essays.

The essay score reportedly is a large factor in admission decisions as there are many applicants with similar scores from the 250 to 500 word essays in the application forms.

Riding on this fever, the online bookstore Amazon.com now has as many as 202 essay-related books, including “50 Successful Harvard Application Essays.”

You have to pay $299.95, or 310,000 won, to sign up for membership at “EssayEdge.com,” a website which provides editing and consulting service on applicants’ essay drafts. Kaplan is also busy receiving inquiry calls as it offers tips on writing essays and resumes and on interviews for a fee of $899, or some 930,000 won.

Camp training offered by “Academic Service Association” in New York costs even higher: $2,895, or some three million won. Nonetheless, 118 students registered for the service this year, an increase from over 30 individuals two years ago.

Regarding this enthusiasm over essay tutoring, many are criticizing it as creating standardized writing, money-making on applicants’ obsessions, and a trend favoring high-income students.

“You’ll be living in a house twice as big as your current apartment.”

This is what friends in Chicago said to Kim So-young, who studied in Chicago, when she was appointed an assistant professor of political science at Florida Atlantic University in the U.S.

However, the reality differed. Although Kim and her husband went out of their way to search through the internet after deciding to invest $300,000, or some 300 million won, in a new home, they failed to purchase even a single-story house and had to end up in an apartment paying monthly rent.

Kim said, “I feel as if I’m lagging behind because the housing price is skyrocketing. Now I’ve given up looking for a house with a garden where my three kids can play.”

The Associated Press (AP) reported on July 11 that as the housing price in U.S. large cities is climbing rapidly, the middle class, such as Kim, as well as the low-income group, is finding it harder to own a house.

With housing prices jumping at a faster rate than workers’ income levels, an increasing number of households are incapable of purchasing their own houses in a majority of the states, including Washington D.C., Rhode Island, Florida, Nevada, and California.

Jack Macave, a real estate analyst, says, “The vast majority of U.S. citizens can no longer sustain the overheated real estate market. We are running out of leisure expenses because more than 50 percent of people’s income is being poured into paying off housing prices.”

According to the AP, some purchasers take out high-risk mortgage loans to purchase one’s own house amid the overheated property market.

Kwon-Heui Hong Sun-Woo Kim konihong@donga.com sublime@donga.com