Kang Min-hee (International Office Management, 4) enters the Ewha-Posco Building to take her first class of the day. She has three other classes after this class, but as soon as the class ends she rushes out the door to be on time for her job interview at She asks each of the professors in advance for an understanding that she must miss her three other classes. Kang arrives in time for her interview, but does not have a moment to catch her breath and go over the anticipated questions.
As students are coming close to the end of the semester, they are busy than ever, handling all the papers and team projects that are due. Needless to say, senior students like Kang, who are also attending job interviews during the semester, are even busier. According to Monthly Job Trends, a report provided by the Korea Employment Information Service, approximately 20,000 jobs are offered every month for university students. Currently, there are more employment opportunities available as it is the employment season.
Most Korean companies offer employment twice a year, each during the first and second half of the year. Usually, students apply for jobs at the beginning of their senior year since companies offer job opportunities even to prospective graduates. Naturally, the employment procedure is executed during the semester and students who have job interviews during their class time have no option but to either miss the class or cancel their interviews.
These days, since most companies are accepting applications from prospective graduates and because government affairs have a wide range of age qualifications, more students have the opportunity to be employed before their graduation. However, when they are employed, it is solely up to the students to manage both their job and school work. Lee Yeon-seung (Economics, ’05), who got her job during her seventh semester, had to suspend her chance of early graduation because she could not take seven classes while working at the same time. “Most of the professors considered my situation and offered me alternatives, but they said I shouldn’t expect more than a C for my grade.” Thus, Lee withdrew from four of her classes, delaying her graduation and fulfilled her required credits the next semester by taking online classes.
Like Lee, the biggest concern of these students is their grades, especially those affected by attendance. They can take exams by studying with the notes borrowed from their classmates and turn in required papers, but missing the class has inevitable consequences. According to the Administrative Offices, the school cannot engage in the evaluation process because it is solely within the professor’s prerogative.
Since there is no fixed regulation on grading such students, the grading system varies from one professor to the other. Professors give grades, mainly in three ways. First, students can be considered exceptional in one of the factors such as attendance, team project and papers, but must take exams. Second, professors provide extra paper assignment instead of taking attendance into account. Third, there is no exception. Students are graded the same without any consideration.
In this case, students are likely to fail the subject, which in turn hinders some students from graduating. Choi Yoo-kyung (International Office Management, 4) says, “I have actually seen some cases around me, where students couldn’t graduate because they got an F, even though they were already offered the job.”
In addition, students worry about the negative impact their grades can give when they are planning to transfer to other jobs in the future. However, according to Professor Jason Grasse (International Office Management), “Grades only matter if you stay with a company for less than two years. If they need a reference, they could ask the professors as the Ewha policy states it, so that employers would see why the C appeared in the report card.”
There are also students who are working as an intern during the semester. Lee Eun-joo (English Lang. & Lit., 4), who is working as a part-time assistant at a broadcasting company this semester, works during the morning and takes classes in the evening. Lee said, “Our priority lies in the position as a student and it is fundamental that we fulfill such duties. However, considering the reality of job shortage problem, the school should provide some counter plans for such students.”
Delaying the recruiting period of companies to winter vacation might seem like a solution, however, Lee Hak-chul, who is the Director at HR Department of Korean Air says that it is impossible to change the period considering the schedule of the company. “New employees recruited during the second half of the year start working from January, which leaves only one month for the training period since the recruitment is finalized around December.”
To ease the burden of students, the
Most students do not blame the school for the absence of a system that provides certain guidelines to students who need to miss classes unintentionally due to jobs or job interviews. They understand the school’s position as an educational institution and believe that they should serve their duties as a student. However, Kang mentions that schools should provide students with at least some kind of fixed grading system. “It would be helpful if there were certain kinds of agreed evaluation system for students who miss classes because of job interviews and work, which will at least lead to maintaining a balance in grading among such students.”
Professor Grasse, who gives Cs to students who miss classes due to their jobs says, “I really can’t give A or B to students who miss classes for a job because the others would say it is unfair. Students at Ewha are too competitive to allow that. However, Ewha should have some guidelines for all.”