Rising number of students reject offers from SKY universities
Korea’s most prestigious universities are seeing a rising number of prospective students drop out before they even arrive, rejecting initial offers from the top schools and choosing to study elsewhere.
Korea’s SKY universities — Seoul National University, Korea University and Yonsei University — have all seen an increase in the number of waitlist spots available this year, meaning initial offers made by the schools were rejected to create space for waitlisted students.
According to Jongro Academy, a cram school that helps students prepare for Korea’s College Scholastic Abilities Test (CSAT), or suneung, 25.7 percent of students offered a regular admissions spot at one of the SKY universities this year decided not to enroll. The academy announced the statistic on Feb. 14, at the same time that Seoul National and Yonsei announced a second round of waitlist offers and Korea University announced a third round.
With students rejecting their initial offer, universities seek to fill the spaces with waitlisted students.
At Yonsei University, 596 students, or 35.6 percent of the incoming class, received offers after being waitlisted. That’s 30 more than last year’s figure. Another 468 waitlisted students from Korea University, or 28.5 percent of the incoming class, were offered admissions, up by 96 students from last year. Seoul National University offered admissions to 134 people on its waitlist, which is 10 percent of the incoming class and up 16 students.
The Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Yonsei University had 34 spaces available and ended up making offers to 38 students on the waitlist. That means that not only did the department see a large number of initial offers rejected, but also at least some of the first round of waitlist offers as well.
The same thing happened in the Department of Semiconductor Systems Engineering, where there were ten spaces but 11 offers made to waitlisted students.
The number of offers to students from the waitlist at Korea University was significantly higher than last year. The number of the students additionally admitted to the college of liberal arts at Korea University increased by 6.4 percent on year to 183 this year, and the number of natural sciences students increased 39.3 percent to 273.
“Considering Korea University went through five rounds of waitlist announcements last year, it is presumable that Korea University could even go through more than five rounds this year,” said a spokesperson for Jongro Academy. “The number of waitlisted students being accepted will also rise.”
Initial offers from SKY universities are likely to go to the very top achievers in the CSAT, and those students are also likely to receive multiple university offers. While it is likely that some of that 25.7 percent rejected one SKY university for another SKY university, Jongro Academy officials have also reported an increase in the number of students turning down the prestigious universities for medical school.
“Whether students get into medical school is entirely out of our hands,” said Lim Sung-ho, the head of Jongro Academy. “Despite government measures to encourage the development of semiconductors, students are still drawn to medical schools.”
Low employment rates also mean that students could be choosing to study degrees with what appear to be a more concrete career path, like becoming a doctor, rather than struggling to get a job at a prestigious company.
“As there are more students choosing not to study at Yonsei University and Korea University, we speculate that there is a similar phenomenon at other top universities in Seoul.” said Lim.
Across all three SKY universities, 529 waitlisted students were offered places in the humanities departments, up 9.1 percent compared to the previous year. A total of 627 waitlisted students from the natural sciences departments were offered spots, up 7.2 percent.
The same drop is visible on business courses. Yonsei’s School of Business filled 75.8 percent of its entrance from waitlist offers, while the Department of Applied Statistics and Data Science filled 67.7 percent. Korea University’s Business School filled 64.6 percent of its entrance from waitlisted students.
Jongro Academy staff think that the drop in acceptance for liberal arts and business courses is due to the preference for natural sciences and medical schools, with students receiving offers from multiple schools and tending to go for the later option considering the perceived greater job security.
BY CHEON IN-SUNG, KIM DONG-EUN [email@example.com]