In 1918, the Kyung Sung Public Agricultural College was founded. This foundation later became the Seoul Agricultural College, and was promoted to four-year university status in 1956. After several other changes in its history, the name University of Seoul, has been in use since 1997. UOS presently has a vision towards its 100th year anniversary in 2018, which is becoming one of the top five universities in Korea.
As our school works towards its goal, it cannot be achieved without the efforts of all of its members to accomplish it. The members that form the real body of the school are us, the students. In order to step up to the challenges of 21st century, the voices of the students are important, which is why we collected various opinions from the UOS community, from freshman to seniors and alumni.
First off, we met two of our freshmen, Ko Eun-bi, and Ryu Hyeok-jun. As freshmen, their faces were shining brightly. We had a glimpse of their thoughts and of their first days of university life.
Ko Eun-bi (School of Economics) says: “Now I realize that UOS was a great choice for me.” Eun-bi did not know much about UOS before she enrolled in our university. One of the few things she knew was that the tuition fee is one of the cheapest in Korea and that students here study hard. She came to the university with uncertainty, but now after being enrolled as a student for about three weeks; she speaks about the true benefits she is receiving here with optimism.
“I once was worried that I would have difficulty in keeping up with academics,” she says. In contrast, she currently enjoys the lectures of professors that are challenging yet not too difficult. She is positive that the high-quality education provided here will guide her in fulfilling her future dreams. “After graduation, one of the directions I am considering going in is to find employment in a financial supervisory service organization.”
“However, I have an underlying dream of becoming a mental issues counselor,” she says. What has driven this thought is her passion for helping to heal peoples’ minds through listening to their stories and giving them thoughtful advice. But in the short-term, her focus is to find the balance between her ‘personal life,’ that includes her extracurricular activities, and her ‘professional life,’ which involves academics. She has not made a precise decision on her goal for the long-term future yet, but we wish her the best in the coming university years as well as for her dreams to come true.
Our next freshmen Ryu Hyeok-jun (Department of Urban Engineering) also did not know much about UOS before the semester began. But now he feels pride of being a UOS student. “What is important to me is not the university’s ranking or level of reputation, but the great experiences and teaching I am receiving here. I now feel proud of our school.”
His major requires a lot of active involvement in doing assignments and assessments. It enables him to acquire first-hand experience through directly participating in the activities required for his area of study. As he himself is a person who prefers ‘dynamic’ activities, he thinks this major was a great choice for him. In the future, after graduation, he wants to widen his perspective and contribute in increasing the living standards in different areas around the globe - by utilizing his acquired knowledge and skills. He wants to help increase the convenience and efficiency of welfare system, by formulating and providing the right plans and designs.
But above all, he wants to live a life that is not for securing his own needs but devoted to helping others. Money, reputation and occupation are also important but he wants to keep his faith in helping society head towards equality and equity, also aligned to his belief in God. He is aware of the importance of ‘giving,’ and in order to become a competitive individual who can give, he is determined to build professionalism and capability through devotion in studying in UOS. We also wish the best for Hyeok-jun in fulfilling his life’s purpose and look forward to his future role in society.
Secondly, we listened to the voices of two groups of students who were already attending our school. The first group, comprised of female sophomore and junior students, were Yoon Bo-ram (Department of Geo-informatics’ 09), Kim Sun-mi (Department of Korean Language and Literature’ 10) and Kang Bo-mi (Landscape Architecture’ 10).
Q: What is the reason why you chose to enroll in our school rather than the other private university that you got accepted into?
SM: When I came to the school for the entrance interview, I was overwhelmed by the view of the school. The campus was very pretty and neat. It was a big part in making my decision.
BM: For me, I really liked the major that I got accepted to this school. It seemed very interesting. Also, the image that I had about UOS was good because of the brochure that I saw when I was in high school.
BR: I agree with BM’s opinion. The slogan that UOS showed to the high school students was ‘The University that Seoul raises’ and it seemed very attractive.
Q: It has been one or two years since you chose our school and first attended it, what is your opinion now?
BM: When I first enrolled in our school, I really liked the fact that there were a lot of activities that enabled students to mingle and socialize. Many of those socializing events turned out to be an opportunity for making friends and forming social groups.
SM: I like the part where my friends look at me with jealousy when I talk about how much I pay for tuition. My friends who attend private universities pay at least twice as much the tuition and I feel blessed because of this. I also liked the high scholarship recipient rate and the small size of the classes that enables students to concentrate on their studies, compared to those of other schools.
BR: I agree with those positive facts too. When talking about classes, I notice that the liberal arts classes that our school offers are becoming more various in subjects. Compared to that of my freshman year, the school opened many more interesting classes that students like, but I still think we need more classes.
BM: Yeah. I heard that some of the private universities offer classes that can be actually useful in our lives.
SM: I think the problem that we face about classes is not the actual classes that the school offers, but the chaos that we have to go through at the beginning of each semester, when registering for courses. I like the small class sizes, but when we register, it turns out to be a negative factor, since the enrollment of each class is limited.
BR: And that’s another reason why we need more classes to be opened.
Q: In addition to that, what are the things that you like or dislike about our school? What are the things that you feel our school needs to improve?
SM: I feel sad about the level of awareness of our school. Our school is a great school as it is now, but not many people know about it and as a member of the school, it makes me really sad.
BM: Yeah, I think more promotion is needed. Especially since we do not have any landmarks that represent our school image, I think it is one of the reasons why we lack the proper publicity.
What about the voices of the senior students? We interviewed a group of male senior students consisting of Park Su-bin (Business Administration, 04), Yang Tae-hyuk (Sports Informatics, 04) and Lee Min-jae (Business Administration, 05).
Q: Facing your very last year at the University, how do you feel?
TH: Without noticing, one day I woke up and realized that I became a senior. Time really does fly. I thought my senior year would never come.
MJ: When we started the school as freshmen, everyone was standing in the same line. However, after a few years have passed, I see each person in different places now. There are gaps between each individual. I think that emphasizes a lot of things.
Q: What are the things that you notice are different now compared to your freshman year?
SB: When I see freshmen these days, they do not really look like freshmen. Maybe it is just me feeling that way.
TH: It is sort of true though. I remember back in the days when I was in my first year. The image and atmosphere that I remember was gloomy, kind of grayish. However, it is different now. The way students dress has changed; the atmosphere now is somehow much brighter than back then.
MJ: Also the overview of the campus has changed a lot. Due to the construction of new buildings and some other cosmetic changes, I think the campus looks much better now than before.
Q: After the years that you spent in our school, what are the things that you wish the school would improve?
MJ: I have the feeling that our school revolves around faculty members or office workers, and not the student body itself. We endured the long inconvenience of not being able to use the school track field due to construction, but still the full use of the field is not available to us. I think it is nonsense that the students cannot have access to their own school facilities.
SB: I am on the same page with him. When I look at the administration system of our school, I have often felt frustrated. Our school is a public university and the officers are government employees. Sometimes problems and complaints are caused by the attitudes of them towards students.
TH: I think we are what forms the body of the school, therefore our rights to be identified as full members, should be respected.
Q: What are the services that the school offers that you would recommend to other students?
TH: I strongly recommend the exchange student program. I went to Finland for a semester as an exchange student, and it really helped me broaden my perspective. Our school is often referred as “Jeonnong Island”, emphasizing the isolation that the students feel inside of our school. When you go outside, your view changes and it is really helpful. Since our school offers exchange student programs to many different countries, students should take advantage of it.
MJ: Volunteering at a farm village was one of the best experiences that I had while I was in school. Since most of us live in the city and do not have much of a chance to explore the farming experience, these kinds of activities can enable us to develop a mind which respects nature and life.
Finally, we heard the voices from two of our graduates Choi A-young and Namgung Myeong-sook, who kindly granted the interview for The UOS Times.
UOS is privileged to be one of the few universities in Seoul to have a Music Department located on campus. “My dream since youth was to play the piano,” Choi A-young (Department of Music 06) says. After graduation A-young found a job at Yamaha Music Korea and is now working as a professional teacher there. She believes that studying at UOS has prepared her well for her career. “In university I was able to develop my ability to interpret different pieces and express different feelings,” she says.
One of the best things about UOS was the tuition fee being less than half of other universities. Also, as the Music department only admits only a small group of students each year, she was able to keep intimate relationships with professors and lecturers at UOS. However, the disadvantage was that due to its small-size, they needed the help of outside members when it came to big events such as concerts. A-young also wanted to comment on the somewhat biased view of Music majors. “Music as a major requires a lot of studying; as much as most other majors.” One of the unusual questions she was constantly asked was “Do you also need to go to the library?”
We asked her about what she thinks about the potential for development of UOS, for which she provided an optimistic answer. “Compared to when I first entered university I have witnessed various aspects of the university strengthening, such as external awareness and student welfare. I think that just looking at this trend, the future of UOS will continue to be brighter than today.”
Her advice for students of UOS is that “Regardless of the situation we are in it is what we do and how we do it which is the key; not the varying circumstances, environment, or conditions.” Furthermore, she wants to underline that there is no period of life with more free time than life as a university student. Especially in the long summer or winter breaks we are given. Doing part-time work is important as well, but there are so many things we can try to experience such as an overseas volunteer work program. A-young’s vision is to “Deliver joy, happiness and love to people through music.” She is also open-mindedly considering entering graduate school and studying more about music, her passion.
Next is former UOS student Namgung Myeong-sook (Department of Accounting 82). Although it has been a long time since graduation he still remembers his days back in school. “Back then when I was a student there were only about 800 students enrolled in UOS.” The tuition fee was the cheapest of all universities - which was the reason students with a high commitment to study but with financial difficulties, enrolled in the school. He enjoyed his major, and although it did not directly lead to the path of accounting, he was able to build the essential skills that are highly useful when working in a company.
After leaving UOS Myeong-sook worked for Samsung in the field of security and system integration. Later he worked for Samsung Life Insurance. Now his job is a ‘headhunter,’ who links employment candidates to a job in another company with higher pay and status. To the question about how UOS is perceived in the admission process he replied “UOS has a generally positive image amongst employers; and as a university that demands high levels of study.”
However, he mentions that “study needs to be self-driven,” not left to professors or lecturers. As we have witnessed so far, the ‘future’ constantly changes. So our focus should not be on preparing for the unpredictable future, but “trying our best in the activities we do today.” He also tells us that advice from seniors is helpful to consider but have ‘expiration dates’ attached to them - which means we should not completely follow their suggested paths. To put it simply, we should not become the ‘slaves of change,’ but rather take the initiative and set an example. Finally, he added that “we should learn from the philosophies of the past in order to excel,” although reality is continually progressing.
Listening to opinions and suggestions from three different group of members of UOS was a very interesting and meaningful experience. To summarize, all three underlined the great benefits we are receiving in regards to tuition and how the relatively small size of classes enables us to focus more intensely on our studies and have more direct contact with professors and lecturers. The weakness of UOS, however, as pointed out a few times, is the university’s awareness from the outside community. In order to overcome this weakness, UOS can continuously focus on carrying out more realistic promotion strategies. But we are currently in the process of improving the general awareness of our university, so we ought to be optimistic about our future. Competition for enrollment in our university is becoming more intense largely due to the cheap tuition offered. Also, UOS ranked fourth in the university competitiveness evaluation carried out by the Ministry of Education last year.
In conclusion, our goal of becoming one of the top five universities in Korea by 2018 in many respects does not seem impossible. In order to meet our goals today, we constantly need to make sure that we are on the right track and taking advantage of our competitive advantages over other universities. Furthermore, it is not only the effort by the top managers of UOS to secure these advantages which is important - the efforts and challenges that we as the driving forces of UOS take while in university and after graduating will play a key role in determining the future status of UOS. What is also important is that we become innovative and leading models to UOS students in the future. To achieve this, our ultimate aim needs to be to contribute positively to our society both domestically and worldwide.