The Korea Times, October 3, 2008
Forty-four percent of Korean students at top American universities give up their studies halfway through. This data is contained in Samuel S. Kim's doctoral dissertation "First and Second Generation Conflict in Education of the Asian American Community'' delivered at Columbia University Friday.
The drop out rate is much higher than 34 percent of American, 25 percent of Chinese and 21 percent of Indian students.
The results come from tracking 1,400 Korean students registered at 14 top American universities - Harvard, Yale, Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Davis, Amherst College, Duke, Georgetown, Brown, Dartmouth, Pennsylvania and Princeton - between 1985 and 2007.
As of 2007, 62,392 Korean students were taking undergraduate or graduate courses in America schools, accounting for 10.7 percent of all foreign students in the country, said the Institute of International Education, a non-profit organization. For instance, Harvard University has 37 Korean undergraduates, the third largest behind Canada and Britain.
Kim said in the thesis that such a high dropout rate is largely attributable to Korean parents forcing their children to study rather than participate in extracurricular activities, an essential part of overseas education for foreign students to acclimate themselves to American society and get a good job in the long run.
While teaching in Korea, I'd wrap up my lessons with my high school students at 3:00 PM, and bump into them again as they left their other cram schools at 10:00 PM. The poor kids were heading home to complete their regular classroom homework with the hours they had left in the night. The amount of time, effort, and money that families put towards education in Korea is mind boggling. But that's precisely what it takes to move up in Korean society today.