Regular FeaturesOpinion
“Universitism”, a Pest of Contemporary Korean SocietyViewing the university craze with a critical mindset
Seo Hyeon-dong  |
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승인 2014.05.09  14:04:24
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UNIVERSITY ADMISSION is a critical part of Korean students lives nowadays. They are endlessly compelled by their family and friends to study hard in order to be accepted into prestigious universities, as most people think they are the stepping-stones for attaining success. Consequently, not only high school students, but even children attending elementary school are brainwashed into believing that attending prominent universities will make their lives a lot easier, and are sent to different *hakwons*, or private educational institutes, which plague them with continuous assignments. Some people claim that such a phenomenon is inevitable, since it is undoubtedly true that those who graduate from well-known universities have a greater chance of securing a stable position in our society. However, the belief that getting into universities will compensate for all the pain and allow one to achieve whatever he wants entails many hazards.

   Due to the current university craze, students are forced to take part in fierce competition even before knowing what they truly want to engage in. Fundamentally, university is where people should be able to pursue their academic interests. Nevertheless, the purpose of attending universities has been greatly distorted in contemporary Korea. People nowadays perceive university as a place where students are merely trained to attain success after graduation. As a result, young people are encouraged not to ponder upon what they want to pursue, but first to set concrete plans for university admission. Otherwise, students end up studying aimlessly, and such utilitarian obsession hinders them from finding what they are truly talented and interested in. Unable to follow their dreams, adolescents are apt to be dissatisfied with their lives, being deprived of true happiness both before and even after entering universities.

   Immoderate obsession with university admission not only hinders students from pursuing their dreams, but also induces severe depression. Korean students are led to believe that the moment they set foot inside the university campus gates, their lives will become a lot more enjoyable. They will no longer have to suffer from excessive studying, since they have found themselves a shortcut to future success. However, there is no shortcut when it comes to becoming successful. Even upon entering renowned universities, students have to continue preparing themselves for life after graduation. They should compete with their colleagues for a decent Grade Point Average (GPA) and work on building spec, or certifications that prove ones competence, so that they can make themselves more appealing in the job market. Accordingly, they are unable to relax in the leisurely atmosphere prominent universities were *supposed to have provided them with*, and such a disappointment often induces depression and lethargy among newly accepted freshmen.

   As crucial as this matter seems, excessive focus on universities embeds serious misconceptions about them in peoples minds. Students should be motivated to search for fields that can draw their genuine interest, for this is the right path to a satisfactory life. Their future should not to be principally determined by social norms set by the majority, but rather by the beliefs they hold, which can ultimately lead them to happiness.

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