Summer break officially started for every international schools and boarding schools. Students who went to study abroad all came back to South Korea to have a reunion with their families as well as to study for next year’s classes. Some students did go on a vacation with their family members, especially seniors who are done with their high school lives. On the other hand, for rising freshmen, sophomores, juniors, and seniors, summer academic program, this is considered by many students worse than school, started.
If you go to Apgujeong anytime during the day, the whole area is filled with international and boarding school students roaming around with heavy backpacks hanging loosely from their shoulders. High School is when official tests begin to matter. For example, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT 1), SAT subject tests, Advanced Placement (AP) tests, Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) test, and American College Testing (ACT) test all become mandatory for students who are planning on applying to foreign universities. Students devote a huge amount of their summer break preparing for these tests because they act as a major part in deciding which college students can apply for. Lowerclassmen focus on SAT and for upperclassmen who are finished with SATs, APs, and other summer activities such as internships are waiting.
[Finishing academy homework at a cafe in Apgujeong.
As a person who is preparing for these official tests as well, I’m devoting majority of my summer break by attending academies just like the rest of high school students. I start off my day by waking up at 7a.m. and memorizing vocabulary words to prepare for a quiz in the academy or finishing the remaining homework. Then, I go to the academy 30 minutes before the class in order to get my homework checked and take the quizzes. After that, class goes on for 4 hours straight with 3 minute breaks in between. After the class is over, I go outside with my classmates for about an hour to eat dinner, and come back to the academy in order to finish extra work or retake the quizzes I didn’t pass. I get home at around 9 to 10pm, and homework takes approximately 7 to 8 hours to finish. Therefore, I get to sleep at about 3am, and wake up at 7am to start the day again. This inhuman cycle of studying applies to most of the students attending international or boarding schools. Some even work out, do internships, or attend different academies on top of this test preparation academy. “I’d prefer to go to school instead of being stuck in an academy,” complained Jiwon Shin, a rising sophomore at Seoul International School.
|[Arriving home late with Hannah Kim (10) after academy, Photo by Katherine Suk]|
Students are not getting enough rest during this “break”. Instead, they are getting more academic pressure and stress than ever before. When summer break is supposed to be a time which students want it to go on forever, for high school students, it is now a time when students desire for it to end as soon as possible. Attending school seems like a better option, and experiencing this extreme schedule, it became clear to me that there is a necessity for students to stop what they are doing and take a good rest. What students need are a good, long sleep, more exercise, and at least a short vacation to somewhere relaxing.
Seoul International School
Katherine Suk email@example.com
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