Since you’ve entered university, I am sure you heard the word - ‘spec,’ at least one time from everywhere in the campus. What does ‘spec’ mean? If you find the word ‘spec’ on DaumTM search engine you could find the explanation - among who are looking for jobs, including an educational background, GPA, TOEIC etc.
Let’s go back to Mr. Kim’s diary and arrange what he is doing plus what Korean universities students are usually doing on their university lives. First, he is preparing for the ‘official English test’ such as TOEIC, TOEFL, TEPS and so forth. And so are the students. Even more, we can see a lot of students stop their studies at least one semester when they are in the 3rd or 4th grade and go to study abroad for practicing their English.
This is quite normal occurrence these days. Second, students are studying for specific certificates which range from the basic computer skill certificates (such as, word-processor [I, II]) to professional certificate such as ‘CPA (a Certified Public Accountant).’ Third, there is ‘Higher Civil Service Examination,’ which is similar to a certificate. At the UOS, we have places for students who are preparing for this exam. (I don’t have to explain what kinds of exam it has!)
The fourth important thing is ‘Internship experiences.’ Internship is a period of time during which a student or new graduate gets practical experience in a job, for example during the summer vacation (reference from DaumTM? English dictionary). Fifth are preparations for the contests which are supported by huge companies or government. Finally, it is important to obtain a foreign language other than English. Recently a lot of Korean students are learning Japanese or Chinese as second foreign language.
There are many institutes everywhere in Korea to keep up with the demands to teach these languages. Nowadays, for university students (who are 4th grade, in particular), they are eager to acquire their specs to get better jobs. There are various ways to get higher or competitive ‘specs’ that I mentioned above.
Let me tell you my experience. This experience is related to ‘GPA.’ About few months ago, my friend and I were in the bus heading to Jongno2-ga. There were a lot of people in the bus. We luckily got seats near the rear door. While we were on our way we heard a conversation between two middle aged guys about scores of their students.
Guy A : Some of my students complained about their grades. They told me why I should modify their grades because they were going to apply to companies! It is absurd, isn’t it?
Guy B : Of course. That is not fair! These days, university students are very bold to ask their professors about their grades.
After I heard this conversation, I was wondering if it is really true or not. To find out, I did some research on the Internet and finally found some interesting statistics listed below.
‘Saramin’ is a job seeking website that took a census about the opinion of giving up grades from 672 university students. According to response, 7 out of 10 students were affirmative on what is called, ‘credit cleaning.’ One of the reasons why they are positive is because they could erase their low grades, which took the number one position.
Let’s look at the attitude towards grades. There is a well-known job- seeking site, ‘Albamon,’ which did research on the actual condition of managing grades from 673 university students. It concluded that 8 out of 10 students are aware of that they had better take care of their grades. If we look at the detailed responses, 44% of the whole answered, “The GPA doesn’t take an important role in getting jobs, but they should manage not to make a disaster of it.” Also, 41.6% of students think, “To get a good grade gains competitiveness to get a job, so we have to make an effort to get a good grade.” They expressed their burdened feelings of job seeking competitions.
The more interesting result is how they made an effort to get a good grade in this semester. Some examples were, selective enrollments, cheating and sourcing contents from others’ reports. In addition, 44.3% of university students try to enroll in the classes which the professor gives credits easily or it is less hard to get a good grade. Essentially, 19% of the students who got B or C took the same class again to get an A+. Moreover, 5.8% of the students asked professors to give them an F so they could take this class again.
Do you firmly agree that it is essential to get high GPA to get a good job? Another statistics which resulted from a survey of 985 students who graduated from universities national-wide was conducted by ‘www.incruit.com,’ the other well-known job-seeking website. Among the 985 students only 402 students succeeded to get jobs. The average GPA for the students surveyed was 3.6.
There is an interesting articles on JoongAng Ilbo, the first one said that there has been increase in some companies by changing their hiring specifications. Because they mainly depended on TOEIC scores and GPA, new employees didn’t gain practical work experiences. Therefore, most of large enterprises’ human resource representatives expressed towards their new employess, “English skills and GPA are the best but practical job ability is the worst.” Subsequently, they couldn’t put new employees in charge of work for quite some time.
With reference to this point, we know that the GPA isn’t seriously important as we normally think. I understand why students take the same classes again (I actually did). Then what are the really important requirements to get a job, so we do not have to spend the time and money? I met a graduate to listen to his opinion regarding this question.
Shin Dong-won, (School of electrical and computer engineering, 02’), he graduated from the UOS and succeeded to get a job before he graduated. He stated that the requirements are dependent on what kinds of companies you will apply to. He says, “I will answer this question as an engineering student’s standpoint. First, I think a higher GPA absolutely doesn’t guarantee getting a good job. I think various experiences, such as a part-time job, travel, salsa dancing and so on, are important because these experiences can differentiate you from the other applicants. Be aware that I am telling you to establish prerequisites and I did what others do normally. Then if you get certificates related to your major, it can prove your ability in objective way. Second, research information about companies you will apply to, because it will be very helpful when you do an interview.”
The other interviewee is Lee Mi-sook, a lecturer of the UOS. I asked her three questions. The first question was “Have you ever been asked to modify the grade from your students? If you had, how did you feel about it and deal with it? She answered, “I haven’t been asked for raising the grade, but I have been asked from some students who cannot adimit their grades because they think their grades are lower than what it should be. Most of students who complained to me had a comparatively good attitude and they were active in class.
I was so sorry after I listened to their complaints, but in my position giving credits, I have several things to consider. Obeying these rules, I was compelled to give lower grades than what the students expected. When the students inquired about the reasons why I gave them such grades, I explained these points. The second question was, “Do you think there are ways not so much to stick to the grades? If so, what would it be?” The answer was, “I personally think it’s not bad that students are stuck to their grades. It’s because one’s desire and this desire can be a motive of social development. But, if one’s grade is lower than what they expected, it would be better to figure out themselves why they did not get a good grade. After the reasoning, they had better admit it and try to strengthen what they didn’t do well.
For example, a lot of students are not good at expressing and explaining their ideas and knowledge in a logical way. In this case, it is really hard to get higher grade even though they studied a lot. I think students need to recognize it as well as try to do better.” The last question was, “What do you think of the relationship between getting a job and grades? Is it highly related to each other?” The answer was, “Lots of companies consider abilities like techniques that a company wants, certain certificates, and language abilities when they hire employees.
So GPA can’t have a much influence on what students think. Especially, a qualifying exam or opened hiring exams has fewer consequences for employment. However, I think GPA could be an index for evaluating school life so students shouldn’t neglect it.”
Overall, university students nowadays spend so much time only on what are good for specifications. They spend most of their time studying for English tests, certificates and GPA. They seem to look at doing extracurricular activities but if we look into those deeply, they are actually for specs or money, volunteer activities, study groups and tutoring. So now, we have to think about what university education really means and find a way for students to be properly educated in university.