Friday, October 03, 2008

Apparently, 44% Koreans who start in "good colleges" drop out. (Please note that the headline is incorrect: the Korean's alma mater is most certainly NOT in the Ivy League. It belongs to Pac-10, and plays far better football.)

The article does not say how the dropout rate breaks down among Korean students studying abroad since colleges, Korean students studying abroad since between middle school and high school, and Korean Americans - which would have been the most useful data, particularly because this data goes so much against the Korean's own experience.

At any rate, that's a lot of disappointed Korean mothers.


  1. Well now I don't feel nearly as bad, but since we are our parents' bragging rights I have to get back into school. Interesting find though.

  2. This was hugely surprising to me also but it does kinda make sense at a first glance. If 34 % of highly academically motivated Americans whose first language was English drop out, then you'd expect Koreans who are equally motivated but learned English as a foreign language to drop out at a higher clip. My initial bias was that Koreans work harder than Americans, but at the level of elite collges, my guess is it wouldn't hold.

    Chinese you can maybe argue have easier time learning English, but other than that I have no firm idea why they are doing so much better. Would love to hear a reasonable analysis. Indians of course cheat by semi-officially ditching their own languages

  3. It's not that they don't work hard, but those who've studied in Korean schools quite literally don't have the skills they need to succeed in the American scholastic environment. Students in Korea are acculturated to do well on tests, and tasks that require memorization, but have very little experience writing and producing work that can be evaluated (such as papers and essays) and even less in synthesizing and analyzing information. It's not the language that's killing them so much as it is the types of work. On top of it all, they're in a very different social environment and expected to be much, much more independent than their peers who stay in Korea. And the focus on "top" Ivy league schools means that many of them are in a social and academic environment that simply does not fit them personally - they'd have higher success rates if they looked at other kinds of schools, but Ivy is the only thing accepted as "good"

  4. I'm sad, but not surprised at this statistic.

    Somebody better call Randy Newman and get him to write a correction, or maybe a footnote, to his song.

  5. I saw the film "Seven Days" recently and there were some interesting attitudes portrayed about college-age young adults and I wonder if they are simply the inflated attitudes of sensationalist movie producers or if they reflect reality.. though I think it's comparable to realizing that the attitudes of Hollywood movies are not the truth of American attitudes. Some of these were college students dropping out and becoming addicted to hard drugs like PCP after smoking marijuana (a far cry from truth) or the goal of a college girl to live alone being only to sleep with lots of men. I wonder if any of those influences have to do with this dropout rate since those sorts of things are generally blamed for the American dropout rate, or if it's simply the pressure of studying and burning out, especially in a non-native language environment. I can't imagine having gone to college in French, for example.


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