Korean School Preps Students for Ivy League

The article below discusses an elite and rigorous Korean preparatory school that sends many of its graduates to Ivy League universities here in the United States.  This story is far from unusual: many elite colleges and graduate schools have an international population topping 30% of their total class size.

With increased global competition for these already-coveted spots at Ivy League schools, what can American students do to stand out?  Test scores and grades are clearly important, but are not the answer in and of themselves.  As the article notes, the South Korean students are not merely academic “robots” – they have a wide array of interests outside of the classroom.

LifeBound’s Director of Business Strategy, Kelly Carson, is currently completing her MBA summer internship at our offices while enrolled at Harvard Business School.  She describes the admission process this way:

“You definitely need to do your best to get great test scores and have an impressive academic record.  Unfortunately, as many schools note, these metrics are what can keep you out, rather than what will guarantee you a spot.  Once you’ve surpassed a basic level, it’s your job to distinguish yourself from the rest.”

“Use your admissions essays to tell a compelling story about yourself – who you are, what you’re passionate about, and why, specifically, this school is the one for you. If you can tell a story that demonstrates a clear history of leaderhsip and makes the admissions panel connect with you and want to know more about you, you’re head and shoulders above many other applicants.”

As Kelly notes, you need to be in touch with what you are passionate about to tell a compelling story on your admissions essay.  As our Gifts and Talents for Teenagers text emphasizes, being in touch with your strengths, weaknesses and passions can make you a compelling candidate – no matter what school you may apply to.


Korean School Preps Students For Ivy League

All Things Considered, July 2, 2009 · With admissions getting more competitive every year, spots at top American colleges are becoming a globally coveted commodity. In Seoul, one elite South Korean prep school has become the envy of many upper-crust U.S. prep schools with its success at getting its students into Ivy League colleges.

The Korean school’s formula is simple: Select the country’s brightest and most ambitious students and work them extremely hard.

Continue Reading…


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3 Responses to “Korean School Preps Students for Ivy League”

  1. Rhonda Curbo says:

    The ability to write a strong admissions letter/essay is also essential to admission. The GPA , leadership, and extras are worthless if the student is not able to articulate her positive qualities.

    As educators, we are training educators to teach to test. Many of our youth never learn how to write an effective argument until they get to college. They learn how to take a test. We cannot put all of the blame on the high schools because the high school teachers are taught to teach as a preparation for standardized tests that measure how much financial support schools will get.

    This is a vicious and degenerative cycle. There is still time to reform in our school systems. American educators on all levels must step up to bat!

  2. carol carter says:

    I agree. American students are often lacking basic critical thinking skills. Time to write, reflect, analyze and discern issues are often not part of our standardized-based emphasis. This produces students who don’t question or bring new ideas to the table.

    We have just published a new book for freshmen and sophomores in high school called Critical and Creative Thinking for Teenagers to promote these very skills.

  3. Peter says:

    Good to see that Korean schools are helping their students have access to the best schools in the world.

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