[2011 Essay Contest Top Essays]How can POSTECH Improve and Mainain Students’ Mental Health?
[2011 Essay Contest Top Essays]How can POSTECH Improve and Mainain Students’ Mental Health?
  • .
  • 승인 2011.05.18 20:45
  • 댓글 0
이 기사를 공유합니다

The recent suicides at KAIST have shocked the whole society and brought attention to the pressures on students at Korea’s top universities. One of the suicides was a talented student who gained an unconventional admission to KAIST as a graduate of a vocational high school. Although he had an outstanding ability in robot research and did his earnest effort to catch up with the class and adapt, the specialized atmosphere of that university did not allow him to communicate well with his peers and made the robot prodigy incompetent. It seems that the immoderate emphasis on academic ability and competitiveness damages students mentally and diminishes the diversity of KAIST.

Already six years have passed since I entered POSTECH in 2005. Looking back, POSTECH has provided a lot of good opportunities both at home and abroad for students, so I was able to make the best use of them without difficulties. Above all, I’m very grateful to our professors who constantly have guided me onto the right path and to my peers who always have shared joys and difficulties together. All of them gave me a chance to learn more things and improve my mental health.

However, I think that there are still many serious obstacles for POSTECH students to enlarge their experiences and come to full maturity in this university. POSTECH’s somewhat specialized and standardized atmosphere sometimes hampers to develop students’ mental growth. Whenever I met other students or people in a company, in the military, or anywhere outside of the university, I was often surprised at their various interests and adaptability. Particularly, I feel sorry when I see freshmen who are extremely busy all week with their studies these days. Now I’m taking one of the ground courses with them and mentoring some freshmen through SMP, so I have many chances to observe and listen to them. Their huge amounts of studies make them hardly have interests in extracurricular or other activities. Some students already lose their confidence gradually, and I was shocked about the fact that many of them even did not take their mid-term exams.

I admit that POSTECH has tried very hard to motivate students and enlarge their experience with many good programs, such as celebrities’ lectures, mentoring programs, presentation contests, but it seems that the importance of those programs are not sufficiently conveyed to overall students. I think that’s mainly because it’s difficult for students to have time to think about them under the burden of huge amounts of studies and homework. Sometimes POSTECH’s small-scale and engineering-only environment aggravates the problem since it prevents students from having diverse experience. As a result, their priorities and standards are becoming unified gradually and the variety of POSTECH diminishes little by little.

I believe that it’s vital to create a climate in which diversity is respected in order to improve students’ mental health. Preventing suicides and providing comfortable living environment are not enough. If the policy makes students be inflexible, standardized, and complacent, then it is the exact way that harms their mental health. Supporting diversity is very important in building students’ upright character and motivating them to have great ambition. An undergraduate is not a student who just learns more advanced courses, but an active adult who should learn social responsibility, consideration for others and professionalism by himself through diverse experience. However, it’s somewhat hard for POSTECH students to get such experience who usually spend the whole day in the campus and have little opportunity to meet different kinds of people. Besides, students might lose their composure to try something new no matter how they have spare time, if the university overemphasizes the academic standards.

Above all, I firmly believe that the great men are those who have their unshakable faith and mental health. They have established their own ideals and earnestly aspired after greatness since long before. An outstanding academic ability may enable someone to become competent, but it’s not a sufficient condition for being a great man. These days it’s so clich? to hear that the 1% upper stratum of the students with backgrounds in science blindly prefer medical schools. This phenomenon is not just limited to them. Many outstanding university students, who are on the verge of their graduation, become busy seeking a stable and prestigious occupation no matter how much they had dreamed of becoming the president, a scholar, or an entrepreneur. They do not want to be adventurous, and their surrounding people also want the same. The general consensus among the whole society drives them into a stable way and makes them unable to discover what they really want. This means that something different is strongly required to make students have their own aims and follow their ideals. The sole emphasis on academic ability cannot change them fundamentally.

I hope that POSTECH will provide students with more opportunities to find their own values, meet others and share mutual experiences together sincerely. I know that our university already has prepared a lot of good programs for this as I mentioned above, but those efforts are valueless if the students don’t know the importance of them. POSTECH should encourage their participation, and more importantly, motivate them profoundly so that they can realize what their weakness is and make an earnest effort to improve it. To achieve that goal, I think time and mental composure are primary conditions. 

On the front page of POSTECH’s homepage, there is an expression that says, “Unconventional thoughts make it earlier to reach the top of the world.” This can be achieved only when students become mentally healthy and are motivated in a different way. I believe that POSTECH has selected the most talented and active students in Korea, and all of them are truly able to find their own ways if they’re well supported. Now is the time to improve their mental health and give them an opportunity to find themselves.

Third place winner, Jeong Hyuncheol / CE‘05