Noonsong is considering which major program to complete among Sookmyung Women's University's major systems. Since Noonsong wants to choose her major carefully, she looks for various information on the school website. Having explored all the public information, Noonsong thinks that it is difficult to choose a major track by herself and wants to get more information.
Roadmap leading Sookmyungians
Since 2015, SMWU has required students to complete an intensified course of their first major, a dual major or a minor course as well as their first major. They introduced Sookmyung Module & Track (SMT), which encourages students to complete their curriculum flexibly regardless of major. Also, this can contribute to students' competency development. It consists of three tracks from which students can choose one: a single major track, a convergence major track, and an industry-academia-linked major track. Students can meet the graduation credits by choosing an intensified course of their first major. The convergence major track consists of subjects from their first major and other majors. SMWU makes this major curriculum by linking two or more related majors. This major track can broaden the range of choices by bringing students in to choose a dual major, interdisciplinary major, or student-designed major. The interdisciplinary major is classified as one of their dual degrees. In addition, the student-designed major is one where the curriculum is designed according to one's own interest without following the curriculum of an existing major. This allows students autonomy and means they can take major classes suitable for their careers. This major can also be one of their dual degrees. As such, SMWU has expanded its range of choices by establishing various major systems to help students' careers and interests.
The Sookmyung Module & Track curriculum helps students to strengthen their capabilities in various fields by expanding the range of major choices. The curriculum application can be accessed through the Sookmyung Portal every June and December. In addition to the intensified course of the first major or some dual majors, minors, student-designed majors, and interdisciplinary majors can be applied for without separate exams or qualifications. Through this system, students can choose their preferred major as much as possible. However, it is not possible to apply for a dual major in Le Cordon Bleu Hospitality Management, pharmacy, or orchestral instruments, and a separate exam needs to be taken to major in music, dance, and painting. Currently, the Department of Statistics, Division of Artificial Intelligence Engineering, Department of Social Psychology, College of Economics and Business Administration, to which many students apply, restrict enrollment according to the average of students' grades. It supplements the limitations of the major system by limiting the number of students who can take some popular majors. The major system acts as an important factor in students' learning as it is closely related to graduation and degree acquisition.
When limitations affect a career path
To find out what major courses students are currently taking and what difficulties they encounter, SMT conducted a survey. Respondents were allowed to give multiple responses. According to the survey, 70 out of 123 respondents (56.9%), which was the largest group, are taking or planning to take a dual major course.1) This was followed by the intensified course of the first major, 26 students (21.1%), the interdisciplinary major, 20 students (16.3%), and the student-designed major, 7 students (5.7%). These results suggest that students are most interested in pursuing dual major course. In this regard, 67 out of the 70 respondents (95.7%) who are taking or planning to take a dual major course, gave their reasons for choosing it. 49 out of 67 (73.1%) said that they chose it for graduation and career. Next, 39 out of 67 (58.2%) chose it for their interests or concerns, and 15 out of 67 (22.4%) because a lot of other people were taking it. Even though most students are taking or planning to take a dual major course, 61 out of 70 respondents (87.1%) have had difficulties in pursuing that kind of course. 46 out of 61 (75.4%) said that it is hard to succeed at the registration stage. It shows that there is a limitation of the number of people who can experience the major system. In the survey, some students mentioned that additional classes are necessary for attendees. In addition, 25 out of 61 (41%) said that completion of the course required many credits, and 19 out of 61 (31.1%) said that information accessibility of the dual major course is poor. Such difficulties hinder students from designing their career vision related to their dual majors. It seems necessary for the school and each department office to provide direction on students' careers by alleviating the information gap.
Although most students are pursuing or planning to take a dual major course, others choose to take an intensified course of their first major, an interdisciplinary major, or student-designed major. 25 out of 26 respondents (96.2%) who are taking an intensified course of their first major gave their reasons for doing so. 13 out of 25 (52%) answered that they have a high level of interest in their first major. In accordance with this, 3 out of 25 (12%) said that they had missed the deadline to pursue other majors. According to the school's major system, students who are eligible to apply for or change their major programs are those who are in their 2nd to 5th semesters and students on leave. Therefore, students who fail to choose a major within the specified deadline are left with no choice but to pursue an intensified major. Among them, 8 out of 25 (32%) pointed out the problem of diversity of subjects related to a major course, and 6 (24%) noted the problem of a lack of in-depth information about the course. Meanwhile, 15 out of 20 (75%) stated the reason why they are pursuing the interdisciplinary major is to take various major courses that match their interests. Among them, 9 respondents (45%) said that information accessibility of the interdisciplinary major course is poor. Regarding the student-designed major, 6 out of 7 (85.7%) answered that they wanted to explore areas that will be in the spotlight in the future or majors that are suitable for their interests. This seems to align with the purpose of creating one's major program and to work properly. However, 5 out of 9 (55.6%) experienced difficulties due to the complex process of establishing new majors by themselves and the high variability of graduation requirements. These issues can act as factors that hinder students' proactivity and autonomy in their career choices.
The essential effort of our university
With students' opinions on these major programs, SMT interviewed the Office of Academic Affairs, which handles intensified majors, dual majors, and student-designed majors, and the Academic Affairs team at the College of General Education, which deals with interdisciplinary majors. Regarding intensified majors, the Office said that the curriculum is reorganized every year for diversity and expertise in the operation of the curriculum. In this process, classes that have not been opened for three years are abolished and new ones are established to replace the abolished ones. This contributes to the Office addressing the needs of students by opening the new classes that they want. In addition, since the second semester of 2022, they have not limited the number of subjects when opening them. It could work as a tool to secure diversity. Also, in the survey, students responded that there were excessively high completion credits for teaching in the Division of Education. In this regard, the Office said it is difficult to change the criteria since it is possible to obtain a teacher's license only when the credit criteria for the major set by the Ministry of Education are met. On the other hand, many students completing the interdisciplinary major said that there was a lack of public information on the major program. The Academic Affairs team announced the establishment of an Online Interdisciplinary Major Fair on Snowboard to provide an annual major-related curriculum and introduction videos to promote it to students. In addition to this, it is told that the departments related to the major program are making various efforts to reflect students' opinions and guarantee their right to study at SMWU.
For the dual major, which is the most frequently chosen, many students answered that they had difficulty registering for lectures to complete the dual major. In this regard, the Office of Academic Affair said this problem is caused by the process of guaranteeing students' rights to choose their majors. Also, they said the difficulty of applying for lectures is not only because of the free dual major selection system but also because students flock to the classes of certain professors. The Office is solving these problems by expanding cyber lectures, which seems to be a measure to guarantee students' choices. Another major program, a student-designed major, raises difficulties due to the complexity of the application process. Currently, to follow this major, there are two ways to apply: applying for an existing student-designed major or creating a new one. In the former case, the approval of the head is needed, so it doesn't take much time relatively. However, in the latter case, it takes about a month to go through the whole procedure. The Office said that due to the nature of the major, the role of the professor is more important than that of other majors. According to them, to solve this problem, they are looking for ways to simplify the process through the development of the system. They are also aware of the low accessibility of the major track system, which includes all these major programs. Therefore, it has been holding 1:1 briefing sessions with students since 2022, which will continue this year and they are planning to distribute offline promotional materials. This briefing session could help students who feel difficulties with the major system. To give more helpful advice to them, there is a need to develop a way to include information about how to use the major track system in a labor market as a means of certifying their interest.
Making a better way for students
In addition to the first major course, SMWU requires more professional skills by allowing them to complete intensified courses or multi-major courses in a major. Students have reported dissatisfaction such as the registration for classes and low information accessibility of the major systems. Accordingly, SMWU is making various efforts to help the students by opening some briefing sessions or making promotional materials. Despite these efforts, students' discomfort in choosing and completing majors still lingers. For a true road map for students at SMWU, it seems there is a need to guarantee students' right to class and actively support their vision.
1) The total number of students enrolled is 12,249, with a survey participation rate of about 1%.
Kang Kim Hyojung / Woman Section Editor
Lee Han Jiwon / Woman Section Editor