THE IDEA of fall semester freshmen is still unfamiliar to some Yonseians. Since 2012, Yonsei University has accepted freshmen in the fall semester. Although the number of those students has been increasing, many Yonseians still do not know the admission process through which they entered or who they actually are in terms of their background. Moreover, the many inconveniences that fall semester freshmen have been facing have yet to be resolved. Indeed, the number of these students is so small, relative to the number of spring semester freshmen, which is perhaps the reason why the school fails to recognize their needs. However, the attention of school should not be simply proportional to the number of students.
Fall semester freshmen, who are they?
The eligibilities for application of fall semester freshmen are as follows: either the applicant along with both his/her parents must have non-Korean nationality, or applicants must have completed the entire elementary, middle, and high school education outside Korea. In other words, it refers to students who have no experience of attending school in Korea, which is certainly different from the majority of Yonseians.
According to the 3rd article of Act on the Educational Support etc. for Korean Nationals Residing Abroad, the country is obligated to guarantee the admission of a certain number of students who have been educated overseas. As the number of Korean citizens living abroad has increased, Yonsei University began to increase the acceptance of such students. From 2012, the university started to accept them as fall semester freshmen for their convenience. This is because Korean students from international schools abroad graduate in May. This resulted in their waiting about half a year to enter the university because the admission period of Korean universities used to be only in March. Thus, the school gave them the opportunity to enter university right after they graduate by allowing them in as fall semester freshmen. The fact that the school took the situation of such students into consideration is to be applauded. However, the school does not seem to be looking after their school life *after* their admission.
Difficulties of fall semester freshmen
The main inconvenience of fall semester freshmen is that the school does not provide an academic schedule with fall semester freshmen in mind. Most of the major academic events are designed based on a March to December school year rather than a September to June school year. Thus, fall semester freshmen face many difficulties. For instance, only students who have completed at least two semesters are eligible to apply for teacher-training program. Currently, students from 31 different majors including Dept. of English Language & Lit., and Dept. of Math can apply for teacher-training program. However, the application period opens only once a year in May, fall semester freshmen cannot apply for the program in their second semester. Thus, they can apply after they have completed at least three semesters the following year. As such, fall semester freshmen, as the minority group, may have difficulties and feel confused while planning out their course of study. Furthermore, a guide exclusively designed for the fall semester freshmen does not exist, which makes it more difficult to figure out what courses and programs are available to them and when.
Another problem that fall semester freshmen face is that many of the basic mandatory courses are not provided in the second semester. For instance, students in the College of Science and College of Engineering have to take first level courses in Chemistry, Biology, Calculus and so on. However, only one first level course in each subject area is offered in the second semester, or fall. As a result, fall semester freshmen not only have no choice regarding the professor or the time slot, they also have trouble getting into these courses due to the limited space. The problem arises when they are unable to enroll in these first level courses or their timetable conflicts with another course. Consequently, many of the fall semester freshmen end up taking the second level course, which can be quite difficult for students who did not take the first level course. According to Chae Seok-kun (Soph., Dept. of Electrical & Electronic Engin.), the last year’s fall semester freshman, he had difficulties understanding the second level course in Calculus since he could not take the first level course. Furthermore, even if the students successfully manage to register for the first level course, another problem still exists. The fall semester freshmen that are enrolled in the first level course in their first semester cannot continue the second level course, because the second level course is only offered in the fall semesters in Yonsei International Campus (YIC). Chae also expressed his irritation that a similar problem with course offerings happened in his sophomore year at Sinchon Campus, which resulted in him submitting an application for a leave of absence for a semester.
To make matters worse, the quota for fall semester freshmen in some mandatory classes such as General Education Requisite courses is relatively low. Although the fall semester freshmen are considered as first year students in their first spring semester, the quota designated for them in many courses is different from the rest of the first year students. For instance, one anonymous student stated that the maximum number of fall semester freshmen allowed in a class capable of holding 100 people was only five. Although the Office of Academic Affairs made some changes to the quota after complaints were made, such situation shows a lack of consideration for the fall semester students’ unique situation. However, with the new course enrollment system implemented this fall at Yonsei University, students may have more control over enrolling in the courses they want.
In need of more after-care service!
Fortunately, as the number of fall semester freshmen increase every year, the school community is paying more attention and making improvements. One notable change was that the Students’ Union Synergy held a freshmen orientation exclusively for the fall semester freshmen. This is a huge improvement as the fall semester freshmen are students from all around the world who are not familiar with Korean university culture and have less personal connections to get information. Furthermore, the Global Seminar, which provides the fall semester freshmen the opportunity to meet their upper class seniors, was held separately for University College, Underwood International College, and Global Leadership Division. In the past, the Global Seminar was held only once for all fall semester freshmen regardless of their affiliated colleges. Thus, fall semester freshmen had to collectively listen to one Global Seminar even though university life and course enrollment and such were different for different colleges. However starting from this year, students could benefit from the information that specifically applied to their college, which was impractical when all the divisions were gathered together. All in all, it seems that improvements are being made for the fall semester freshmen.
Nonetheless, there are problems that still need to be addressed. That is, the administrative problems that plague the fall semester freshmen so much still remain the same. As already mentioned, this is mainly due to the lack of awareness of the challenges and inconveniences that fall semester freshmen face. However, as the number of these students is increasing the voices of complaints are becoming louder. The fall semester freshmen, arriving in the “second” semester, are stuck in the middle. It is time for the school to pay more attention to their complaints.
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In accordance to the increasing number of fall semester freshmen, more attention is necessary university wide, not only from the Office of Academic Affairs or the student Union. Colleges and departments also need to ensure a variety of courses and programs are available to accommodate these students. Accepting freshmen in the fall semester is certainly appreciable, yet it seems that more of “after care” is needed. The fall semester freshmen are not demanding nor expecting “special treatment,” but a lot could be changed with just a little consideration.