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Private high schools have more success in admissions

Nov 06,2019
The Ministry of Education found that private high schools have been more successful than regular high schools in early and regular admissions at 13 major universities in the past four years.

The ministry studied the admissions records of 2.02 million applicants at 13 universities in Korea including its top three Seoul National, Yonsei and Korea Universities and found that in both early and regular admissions, private or specialized high schools did better than regular high schools.

Early admissions in Korea can be based on varying criteria, including GPA, teacher recommendation letters and extracurricular activities, while regular admissions are based on scores on the College Scholastic Ability Test, Korea’s standardized college entrance exam.

“Among the students who applied in the early admissions process based on the student’s GPA, teacher recommendation letters and extracurricular activities, 26.1 percent of applicants from specialized public science high schools were successfully admitted,” the ministry said in its statement. “We found a 13.9 percent success rate among foreign language and international studies private high schools; a 10.2 percent rate among autonomous private high schools; and a 9.1 percent rate among regular high schools.”

The order of success rates when it came to the regular admissions process was the same. A higher proportion of applicants from specialized public science high schools, private foreign language high schools and autonomous private high schools were admitted than from regular high schools.

“Yet we found that the GPA scores were highest among regular high school students, followed by autonomous private high school students, foreign language high school students and by specialized public science high school students,” the ministry said. “There are traces of graduates of certain private or specialized high schools being more favored by admissions offices of some universities, but we will have to research more.”

The ministry said its findings are just a sample and that it will need to expand its examination into admissions records at other universities in the country before it can make a sweeping analysis of the high school education system in the country.

“We will carry out additional examinations and determine if and how we have to reform the early admissions process,” said Education Minister Yoo Eun-hae.

President Moon Jae-in announced to the National Assembly last month that the government will reorganize the college entrance system, including raising the portion of students who are accepted solely on the basis of CSAT scores.

The proposal was in response to the growing public rage toward the rare opportunities for internships and extracurricular activities that only children of the power elites have enjoyed. Such opportunities often helped them gain admissions to top universities, which selected some students through the early admission system.

A recent admissions fraud scandal involving Cho Min, daughter of Moon’s key ally and former Justice Minister Cho Kuk, laid bare the practice, forcing him to step down.

The Moon government intends to reduce the number of private high schools in the country. Moon has been calling for the scrapping of autonomous private high schools since his campaign days to achieve what he describes as a more equal education environment.

BY CHUN IN-SUNG, ESTHER CHUNG [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]