EVERY YEAR on every February, freshmen are invited to orientation held at Auditoruim; they are required to follow Yonseian rules as they listen to the words from the President of Yonsei. Becoming the members of Yonsei, the first thing they do is finding their appointed *ban* where students can feel that they belong to a particular group. During the application season, they need to take some specific subjects in order to get their majors next year. Throughout the year, the freshmen interact with their *ban* friends, and make their unique university lives through various types of events and festivals. Additionally, they take different types of classes and broaden their viewpoints and understanding of the world, which would help them finding their own suitable majors. This ideal year of the freshmen shows the original purpose of integrated system. Despite its expected results, many students and scholars criticize that the results have not been satisfied.
What integrated system gave us
First established in 2000, integrated system has been introduced to Yonseians for the better development of education in Yonsei Univ. “In 2000, the admission had a broader range of department where students were selected in big groups; however, the admission has slightly changed into smaller admission.”says Lee Won-kyung, an academic advisor in Division of Social Sciences. Students are now chosen in narrower departments where they are able to feel more identity in their freshmen year.
The integrated system was introduced to Yonseians for three goals. First of all, the admission would encourage students to be more considerate in choosing their right majors. Considering Korean education system until high school, students do not have opportunities to think about what majors they want to get. Many professors expected that the system would decrease the rate of changing one’s majors after it was decided, because by listening to different types of classes, students would be more prudent in selecting their choices. Secondly, students would have a broader understanding of many categories by taking lots of required classes. “Even though majors might seem to be the most important thing for students, it is essential for students to take many classes which are not related to their majors in order to become the world leaders.” said Shin Eui-soon, Dean of University College. Last of all, integrated system was first made for the reinforcement of liberal arts. Many people in Korea still do not consider liberal arts as important subjects. However, in the United States, universities actually put more values on liberal arts than majors. The reason is that they want students to have a diversified knowledge about history, people, and culture around the world.
Through integrated system, Yonsei Univ. has made some progress in developing its education. Compared to the year 2000, students are more well-controlled and cared by advisors in the departments. “Last fall, the department decided to open a subject named ‘Gateway to College’” said Kim Eung-bin, Associate Dean of Policy Administration University College. Gateway to College was first formed in order to give freshmen a better identity and unite them among professors and students.
Problems and unexpected results
Despite the system’s benefit and it’s developed progress, there still are many problems and students endlessly complain about them. One of the hottest issues on controversy is that students doubt about how much their freshmen year would help them in selecting their right majors. They are required to take Academic Basis and Department Basis during their freshmen year; Essential Cultural Studies and Selected Cultural Studies need not to be taken during their first year. However, many students feel that the subjects are too much for them to take in. Not only they need to take many classes, but they also need to get high grades in order to get their wanted-majors the next year. The most serious problem of all is that it is hard for them to choose their favorable major just by taking these classes. Lee Ho-young, (Soph., Dept. of Law) says that “The funny thing is that in my case, I wasn’t able to figure out why I need to listen to Department Basis Subjects. The school wants the students to take them because they think they would be helpful in choosing the right major however, I wasn’t able to see how helpful they are.” For this reason, many students feel that such program is just time wasting. In addition, the classes they take in freshmen year require so many homework and projects which become a burden for them. Their stress in getting good grades also becomes a problem.
Students listening to Cultural Studies also have problems. The lectures are given in very huge classrooms where about 100 to 250 students take the class. By having such classes, it is difficult for students to have a good interaction with the professors. Therefore, students are likely to feel bored during the class and pay no attention to what the professor says. Since there are many students, professor becomes quite open-minded about their attendance which would likely to cause the increasement of the rate of Daechul.
When freshmen first come to the university, they are likely to feel the emptiness of identity in the campus. It takes time for them to get used to the new system of the college and since they do not have a specific major, they feel as if they do not belong to a specific group. In order to solve the problem, a subject named ‘Gateway to College’ was opened for students. Even though it made the students able to know the history and culture of Yonsei Univ., criticisms were not avoidable. More than 50 students took the class and it caused a difficulty in interacting and communicating well with the professor. As a result, many students could not participate during the class and there were many who made *Daechul*. Naturally, even though the purpose was for the good of the students, some were not very satisfied with the new program. However, it’s better than having no class at all. Students of Col. of Science and School of Business do not have such classes that are open for them. Students of Col. of Science have difficulties in sparing a single credit because they have too many credits to take in their freshmen year so they have no space to take more classes. After every semester, there was an evaluation about this class by students. Students in Col. of Engin. were very satisfied with the class; however, students from Col. Of Liberal Arts were not. They say that the lectures during the class were quite boring and professors were not very much prepared and they suggest that such problem should be strictly pointed out through revisions and meetings.
Integrated system was first established for the development of research. When the system helps students to learn various fields, graduate school can concentrate on the integrated studies. However, since research is a very important part in the education of graduate school, some professors focus too much on the research while teaching students who are not even in the Graduate School. Many scholars and professors worry about Yonsei Univ., becoming a center of research and experiment because compared to the education system seven years ago, some professors are putting more energy on making various types of experiments in order to get better result for graduate school. The university is a center of education and is a place where students are the owners. However, when professors put more values on research, it is likely that there would be less effort in students’ education. “It is important that professors control efforts in both education and experiments” said Shin Eu-sun. Lee Myung-gun suggests that “Even though researching is significant for the development of specific studies, professors and the university should put 49% efforts on research and 51% on education.”
As integrated system took place in Yonsei Univ., a gap among majors apparently appeared. Students have been experiencing difficulties in taking their wanted majors in the campus because most of them want to major in popular ones. However, not everyone can major in what they want to; their major is judged by the G.P.A. (Grade Point Average) in their freshmen year. This is why students get very stressful during their first year in the campus because they can not be sure whether they would be able to have their favorable majors. This has become a serious problem. For example, in Dept. of Foreign Lit., there are five majors: Dept. of Chinese Language & Lit., Dept. of English Language & Lit., Dept. of German Language & Lit., Dept. of French Language & Lit., Dept. of Russian Language & Lit. However, about 95% of the students want to major in Dept. of English Language & Lit. This indicates the seriousness of the issue. “The reason why this problem has not been solved is that Yonsei students consider majors which are related to employments. In Korea, it is very hard to get jobs, therefore students want to have a major which is easy for them to get jobs after graduation” emphasized by the Dean of Department. As a result, many students take classes which are easy to get good grades so that they would be able to get their wanted majors without difficulties. Since many students do not apply for them, professors and students in unpopular majors get very discouraged. So the question is, does the university really consider the problem seriously? Is there anything that the university is planning to solve the problem?
There have been many points discussed about integrated system throughout the paragraphs. Even though a lot of things need to be improved, it is important that professors, faculty members and students in Yonsei Univ. acknowledge the seriousness of the issue and consider about what they could do in order develop the better education. Many scholars in Korea have criticized bad results from the admission; people should listen to their voices and try to use every bit of bitter words to make a perfect piece of work. In order to minimize the problems, professors should be more considerate in their students’ education than their research studies. Professors and faculty members should lead students to have a broader mind in choosing their majors and stop them from merely wishing for the popular majors.
Jung Chang-young, the president of Yonsei Univ. emphasized that “the world has become a place of globalization. Asia will soon become the center of economy and market. Therefore, it is important that students be prepared as a world leader who has a diverse understanding of the world and ability to solve problems.” Many professors concluded that Yonsei students are too worried about their future and jobs. However, it is significant that students consider problems and characteristics of consolidated admission and use the system in order to have multiple experiences throughout the years in the college.
Lim Jung-eun (Soph., Dept. of Chemistry)
The *Annals*: What was the most uncomfortable thing about the integrated system?
Answer: First of all, I was surprised that we had to listen to some specific cultural studies during the four years in Yonsei Univ. In my case, I didn’t want to listen to classes, which are related to history, but the school required me to take at least one. As a result, I had difficulties following up the class.
The *Annals*: What do you think about the students getting majors according to their G.P.A. score?
Answer: I felt very stressful during my freshman year because I had to get good grades for my major. Many students studied very hard during their high school years in order to come to Yonsei Univ. The university should give a chance for the students to enjoy classes during their first year; however, the reality was very different. Many freshmen students applied for classes, which are easy to get good grades. I’m sure that this is not what the professors and department members have expected.
Liberal arts: subjects, which deal with cultural studies and broad understanding of many categories.
Daechul: going to classes for only attendance.