Classes in South Korea

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Starting my semester, I felt a lot of pressure from the stereotype of receiving an “Asian education.” I was warned that I may struggle with my professors; that they may not all speak English. It is common knowledge that school in South Korea is very competitive. From what I have been told, it is extremely difficult to be accepted into university. Exceptional test scores are vital in the the decision making. High school students study day and night, receive tutoring, and take night classes to get ahead. They begin preparing for entrance exams months and months in advance. Naturally, I feared that I would not perform in my courses as well as these students. At Konkuk University, I took engineering courses that work towards my major. While I found the content rich in detail and thorough with the methodology, I discovered the homework was light. It was such a nice surprise. Not that school in South Korea is “easy” in any sense of the word, but compared to Ole Miss, I turned in a lot less homework. The relative grading makes the classroom dynamic extremely competitive. The professors are required to allow a percentage of only so many As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs; depending on the number of students enrolled in the course. There is only a midterm and final exam. To do well in South Korean classes, you must compete against your peers. I like this system. It feels like a more “real world” application of how to truly learn the content of the course. I often heard other exchange students complain about how they couldn’t control their final score by earning points on assignments here and there. It is a mystery as to where you stand in the class, because professors do not share the top, average, or bottom scores from the two grades. With this said, after receiving my final scores, it is possible to level with the ‘studying machines’ found din my courses.

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