Question from a reader: scholarships and studying at a Korean university

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A reader named S. writes:

I am [S.] and I stumbled upon your blog while blog-surfing, doing some research for my university admissions. I am planning to apply for the Korean Government Scholarship (KGSP) 2010 for undergraduates. However, I have my reservations as I will have to go through 1 year of Korean language training before entering a University for an undergraduate course. This means that I’ll take my 4-year Undergraduate programme fully in Korean. I am worried that the 1 year of Korean language training may not be sufficient in helping me take courses in Korean at a university level. Do you have any opinions regarding this?

A reader named S. writes:

I am [S.] and I stumbled upon your blog while blog-surfing, doing some research for my university admissions. I am planning to apply for the Korean Government Scholarship (KGSP) 2010 for undergraduates. However, I have my reservations as I will have to go through 1 year of Korean language training before entering a University for an undergraduate course. This means that I’ll take my 4-year Undergraduate programme fully in Korean. I am worried that the 1 year of Korean language training may not be sufficient in helping me take courses in Korean at a university level. Do you have any opinions regarding this?

On the other hand, I know of colleges such as Yonsei that have international studies/ liberal arts programmes that are fully conducted in English. I wish to enroll in such programmes, however, there is a tricky situation of the scholarship programme dateline (end-jan) closing before the release of my GCE A level results (march). (This means that I’m applying for the scholarship based on my year-end school results not of the national examinations – A levels.) If I were to enroll in the international studies/liberal arts programmes, I will be applying in March/april instead, using my A level results and I will have no chance of receiving the KGSP.

I hope I haven’t confused you much! And I hope to hear from you soon!

Hi S.

I will be honest – this is one question I don’t have a wealth of personal knowledge about. One blog about coming to Korea to study can be found at http://www.mstrum.com/onmywaytokorea/ – he may have some additional information about applying to Korean schools. The scholarship, as described in this PDF, is essentially a full-tuition scholarship to a four-year Korean university (or two years for a Master’s program) with a year of Korean lessons beforehand – a pretty sweet deal that pays for virtually everything and then some.

I’m afraid growing up in the U.S. means I learned little about ‘A levels’ and the like. A hat tip goes out to Wikipedia for the basic information if this term is unfamiliar. While comparing it to the American SAT or ACT isn’t perfectly accurate, getting a good score to submit to universities is the key factor these tests have in common. OK, now to your question 🙂

From the descriptions I’ve read and anecdotally heard about, the 1 year of Korean language training will be intense, but not necessarily completely comprehensive. To be fair, it’s difficult to make someone fluent in a foreign tongue in that short a time. It should, however, be enough for you to understand the lectures. Some of your fellow students will be English majors – making them good people to help bridge any language barrier that remains. Consider whether knowing Korean will either A: help your career prospects (it usually can, if relevant) or B: assist with life after university (that depends on where you’ll live, what you’ll do, etc.). That it’s an excellent scholarship means you’ll have some competition, so take your time and make the application sparkling.

The good news is that some Korean universities offer programs entirely in English – and many of them will have plenty of scholarships for their foreign students. You’ll find out a lot more by contacting the school of your choice, but their English-language websites are good places to start. Yonsei’s scholarships are a good example of what you can find out online with a little bit of research. In other words, the Korean government scholarship isn’t the only one that’s out there. It may be one of the more visible ones, but there are other fish in the sea as well.

Regarding your test scores, it’s possible that they can be considered with a special request. Surely you’re not the first person to have had this unfortunate timing – and the school may have established a workaround. It’s worth contacting them to see. At worst, they have nothing and you’ll have to go on your grades from school instead of a big test.

Are you involved in a university program in Korea? Any advice for this budding scholar? Comments are open.

Creative Commons License © Chris Backe – 2010

This post was originally published on my blog, Chris in South Korea. If you are reading this on another website and there is no linkback or credit given, you are reading an UNAUTHORIZED FEED.



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