Monday, July 28, 2014

학원 in Pittsburgh? Murrysville man starts SAT academy based on South Korean models.

Yesterday's Tribune-Review profiled Jesse Lee, who started mySchooler Academy and Education Consulting after being dissatisfied with options for preparing his own son for the SATs:
Lee moved to the United States from South Korea in 2000, earning a master's degree in information science from Carnegie Mellon University.

“A couple years ago I thought about it, that I just needed (to provide) that for college preparation,” said Lee, 46, who lives in Murrysville with his wife, Kyung, and son Jay, a junior at Penn-Trafford High School. “Originally we started this year in January: Saturday classes started at that point and then we just expanded them. Our students just needed more, so we set up doing a summer schedule for them.”

. . .
“[Korean students] spend most of their time – 12 hours per day at least – improving their academic skills or scores,” Lee said. “They go to the private learning center at 8 a.m. and get back home at 8 p.m. during the summer breaks. It seems weird but works well.”

The mySchooler Academy introduced its intensive SAT and SAT II summer courses this year. The nine-week SAT prep classes meet Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in Winchester Thurston School in Shadyside. The SAT II course started July 1 and runs for seven weeks, meeting Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the mySchooler Academy office in Monroeville.

“It's definitely an Asian perspective. In a lot of the bigger metropolitan areas in the States and abroad, this style of school, the intensive style, is readily available, especially in cities with large Asian populations,” said Grace Park, a mySchooler SAT prep tutor.

“It's a bit of an Eastern philosophy in terms of school prep,” she said. “It's very rigorous. You have to do a lot of practice, and it's a lot of hands-on instruction.”
학원, hagwon, is an after-school academy ubiquitous in South Korea where students spend an additional three to eight hours per evening drilling subjects, preparing for tests, and supplementing the public school program.