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Many high school parents apply for 'winter schools'

Posted August. 12, 2019 07:31,   

Updated August. 12, 2019 07:31


A, parent of a high school student, is busy collecting information about “winter schools” of boarding academies these days. Winter schools are special lectures for high school students in winter season. Students should apply early because boarding academies are especially popular. A hesitated at first when he heard students may be stressed to study in a closed environment. But he decided to apply for the winter school thinking that it would be more efficient to study in a boarding school rather than waking up early in the morning to go to academies in Seoul's affluent Gangnam district of Seoul.

Big and small changes in the university entrance examination system such as the expanded regular admission procedure are why applications are pouring in for boarding academies. The College Scholastic Ability Test will be more important in 2022 when current sophomores in high school go to college as the ratio of the regular entrance system will be expanded to more than 30 percent. Korean and Math will be divided into common and selective subjects. Students will not be deciding between liberal arts and natural sciences in math, social studies and science. More students will be selected through the regular system next year as well. The level of difficulty in math will be adjusted for liberal arts students. Students to attend high school from next year choose winter schools to adapt to the learning environment as a lot of them are likely to be assigned to regular high schools rather than autonomous private high schools after many private schools are de-designated.

Students have to follow a tight schedule from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. in winter schools. Winter schools advertise that they “build up the brain and the body for university entrance.” Classes start around eight in the morning and end around six in the evening. Students study on their own afterwards. They write a letter of self-introduction or prepare for essay tests or interviews for rolling admission. B academy administers daily and weekly integrated test before students leave the academy. It even publishes everyone’s score on the board to “motivate” them.

Winter schools select students based on mock test scores and school records. Students are divided into “Seoul National University Class-Medicine·Dental College Class” or “Yonsei·Korea University” based on their placement test result taken on the first day. They cost around three million won including tuition, accommodation and food. “It’s not that expensive considering the stress I get when I send my children to academies and get them to study,” said parent D. Many students from rural cities enroll in winter schools because accommodation and food are provided. “Around 40 percent of students are from the Seoul metropolitan area such as Seoul, Gyeonggi and Incheon and the rest is from other cities,” said a staff member of MegaStudy.

Ye-Na Choi yena@donga.com