Open Majors, a new university trend
Open Majors, a new university trend
  • 김아현 기자
  • 승인 2008.09.27 17:52
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      A new trend in university admission has come into being this year: the open major. Instead of being admitted into a specific major or college, a small number of elite students at some universities, including Ewha, will be allowed to take whichever classes they like as freshmen and declare a major of their choice during their sophomore year.
      Seoul National University (SNU), Korea University, Yonsei University and Kyung Hee University are going to adopt the open major from next year and have already taken applications. Ewha is also going to receive application for admissions in November when the Scholastic Ability Test (SAT) conducted by the Korean Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is finished.
       High competition rates show students’ interest in the new open major system. The competition rate for SNU’s open major was 11.9:1 in case of arts subjects, 7.64:1 in case of science subjects. The open major of Yonsei University had a 55.2:1 of competition rate, which was above Yonsei’s average rate of 48.81:1. Korea University opened registration for 32 students in its open major and 1,396 applicants, a 43.63:1 ratio.
Students in Ewha’s open major system will be able to choose any major in any colleges except the College of Art and the College of Education when they become sophomores. Since the open major will be a part of Scranton College, students who are accepted will also become members of the Scranton honors program that provides them with various opportunities to study abroad, full scholarships for a year, and free dormitory housing for students from other cities.
      According to Kang Hwa-jung, a staff member at Scranton College, the open major is beneficial to freshmen because they are given the chance to think about their major more carefully than other freshmen who have already chosen their major. Kang said the open major is part of the interdisciplinary movement in different studies that has been spreading all over the world. “By breaking the wall between studies, there will be more creative students,” said Kang.
      However, there are some flaws in the open major system that need to be addressed. According to the student council at Kyung Hee University International Campus in Yongin City, which already has an open major, there is no student activity space or student council representation for open major students, even though it has been almost a year since the school established the open major for 2008. “It is hard for open major students to convey problems to the council because we lack a representative,” said Hwang Ho-young (Kyung Hee University, 1) who is currently on open major.
      Even where there is a student council for open-major students, as at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (HUFS), problems still arise. “Since students in the open major get separated into various majors when they become sophomores, it is hard for students to feel a sense of belonging,” said Seo Jin-ho (HUFS, 3). Also, the purpose of an open major can sometimes be missed. “The open major is definitely a good chance for freshmen to think about their majors in depth. Yet, for some students who don’t pay attention to their majors, it can be confusing and waste of time,” said Kim Eun-hye (HUFS, 1), the president of the student council for open major in HUFS.
      Another problem some Ewha students worry about is a high chance of students concentrating in a few popular majors such as Business Administration, Economics and English Literature. “If too many students from open majors get to choose a few popular majors, students who have been originally majoring in these subjects will become worse off,” said Park Jung-eun (Economics, 2).
      To avoid this kind of problem, HUFS requires open major who choose to major in English to have a certain grade point average. “I think that is because most open-major students want to choose English as their major,” said Seo.
      Responding to all these problems that open major may bring, Kang said that there also would be no problem in Ewha, as Ewha is going to accept only 40 freshmen in the open major this year. “The number is so small that it will have no effect on students in other majors,” said Kang. Kang also said that Ewha will make a student activity room for the open major and a student council for the open major students already exists because the open majors are going to belong to Scranton College, which already has a student council.

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