July 23, 2011 10:07
Crammers are doing lively business offering crash courses for students who want to apply to Korean universities through a special entrance scheme for those who were educated abroad. A comprehensive package of classes on Korean, English, math and essay writing costs nearly W1 million (US$1=W1,052) a month.
A TOEFL class alone costs around W700,000-800,000 a month. Some crammers charge students W1.8 million for a four-week SAT course, which could earn them extra points when applying to universities through the special scheme. "Because these students tend to have only their summer vacation to take crash courses, the schedule is tight and the fees are high," one crammer staffer said.
A number of crammers are branching out into Southeast Asia. A 30-year-old teacher in one school said, "The importance of TOEFL score in the special admission scheme is huge, which has prompted an increasing number of crammers to go to Southeast Asia and provide private TOEFL tutoring to Korean students there."
One 18-year-old Korean student in high school in the U.S. has been coming back to Korea every summer for the last two years for these crash courses. Although he has no problem with his English as he has lived in the U.S. with his family since he was in middle school, he comes to take courses that offer secrets to improve his TOEFL score.
Another student said, "In the U.S., there is no customized private tutoring like in Korea, so I have no choice but to come back every summer to prepare for university entrance."
Yonsei University has abolished the written component in the special admission scheme because it believes that abuse of the system is rife and mainly benefits private crammers. An admissions officer at Yonsei University said, "They say the rent in Daechi-dong [where crammers are concentrated] in Seoul skyrockets during the vacation because of these students. We need to re-examine the whole special admissions scheme for Korean students who live abroad."
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