For anyone who is or has been interested in studying abroad, have you heard of the SKY Universities? In Korea, the SKY Universities are known as the top three prestigious schools: Seoul National University, Korea University, and Yonsei University. It is known that if you attend one of these Korean “ivy league schools” you are bound for success as many famous idols, politicians, and top businessmen and women have attended there.
As an American student, I have always dreamed of what it is like to be an exchange student in a foreign country. It happened to be that one of my favorite YouTubers had attended one of the SKY Universities (Yonsei), and inspired me to do the same as well. It was my goal during the last few days of my trip to visit all three of the top Universities and give my honest opinion. Though I was not able to explore much at each of the three campuses, I still was able to get a feel of each school as well as some research to help me decide which place I would want to exchange in.
Read on to see if you could possibly be interested in studying abroad in Korea and attend one of these top three Universities!
SKY #1: Seoul National University
Seoul National University is the first piece to make up SKY. It is ranked #41 in the QS World University Rankings 2024. SNU has 15 colleges and 12 professional graduate schools, with a total enrollment of over 27,000 students. The university's main campus is located in Gwanak District, Seoul, and it also has campuses in Yeongeon, Pyeongchang, and Siheung. SNU is a highly selective university, with an acceptance rate of around 15%.SNU's alumni include many notable figures in South Korean society, including former presidents, Nobel laureates, and CEOs of major corporations. Some of SNU's notable alumni include former South Korean presidents Roh Moo-hyun and Lee Myung-bak, as well as many Nobel laureates, Fields medalists, and other distinguished scholars. Seoul National University is a major research hub, and its faculty have made significant contributions in a wide range of fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, medicine, and the humanities. SNU is also a major cultural center, and its campus is home to many museums, libraries, and art galleries.
If you are interested in attending a prestigious university in South Korea, Seoul National University is a great option. The university offers a wide range of academic programs, and its faculty are some of the best in the world. However, it is important to note that SNU is very competitive, and the acceptance rate is very low. If you are serious about attending SNU, you should start preparing early!!
I believe my visit to SNU had an unfair comparison to the other two universities I visited. One, the day I visited the university was one of the worst rainy days. July in South Korea is known for its monsoon weather. My time was limited here, and it was raining the entire week that I had no other day to reschedule. Two, from where my accommodation was located (Mapo-gu) the university was a far transit, hence another reason why I could not reschedule my visit. But overall, I am glad I did because I was able to see one part of it.
When I first arrived at the university, I noticed that the architecture of the campus building was a mix of brick-core to modern business buildings. Seeing the brick buildings reminded me of my own university back in Florida. As I was walking through the campus, I was able to come across the famous track and field the campus had. It was gorgeous and huge! Apparently, this university is known for having Olympic-sized courts and swimming pools! It must be an honor to be an athlete at the university.
As I was walking around, I noticed that the university had a lot of picnic benches and seating areas, which is perfect for students to hang out or study. There were a lot of gorgeous architectural structures within the campus which brought out uniqueness to the school. Overall, the school did feel very high-class. I could see why this university was known for its research.
As gorgeous as this place was, I knew it was not a place I would like to attend. Though I did not get to visit many parts, the campus did seem a little simpler compared to the other two schools. I was also told by another student that SNU remains to be independent and does not participate with Yonsei nor KU (Korea University) in sports or pep-rally activities. I am the type to love attending big events especially with rival schools as it brings out your school culture. That being said, I would love to come visit again and really get the full experience of the campus
Address: 1 Gwanak-ro, Gwanak-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: line신림선Gwanaksan Station Exit number 1
SKY #2: Korea University
Next up, we have the second part of the SKY universities: Korea University.
Korea University (KU) is a private research university in Seoul, South Korea. KU's acceptance rate is around 20%, making it very competitive to get into. The university's mascot is the tiger, and its motto is "truth and service." KU's campus is located in the heart of Seoul, and it is a vibrant and lively place to be: Anam-ro. KU is a major research hub, and its faculty have made significant contributions in a wide range of fields, including physics, chemistry, biology, engineering, medicine, and the humanities. KU is also a major cultural center, and its campus is home to many museums, libraries, and art galleries.
Like SNU, if you are interested in attending this university, you must have a strong academic record and work hard!!
Thanks to my supervisor, she was able to introduce me to a student who attends Korea
University and was able to give me a tour of the campus! Shout out to Hajar! First arrival at the university, I felt like I was in Europe. The architecture of this campus was my favorite out of the three universities I visited. The buildings gave a clean, modern, castle vibe to it. Hajar informed me that the campus was going through renovations hence why the buildings looked so clean. I still was in awe.
It unfortunately was raining on this day too when we visited the campus. One thing I would say is that this campus is built on so many hills. As a Florida resident, I am not used to having much elevation so walking through campus was tiring. Hajar told me that students use scooters to get around campus, like the western university students. What made up for the tiring walk was the gorgeous view this campus had to offer. You can see the city at a distance when you look across the sky, and there was a beautiful mixture of greenery that blends perfectly with the European-inspired buildings. As on the outside, the buildings were gorgeous on the inside as well. I will never forget walking into the lecture hall building and being amazed at the layout. It felt as if I was going to a fancy banquet.
We also visited the school’s museum that explained the history of the university. We were able to see what the cap and gown looks like as well as the attire cheerleaders wear. I also learned that KU was known for their concerts and the events held on campus. Not to compare, but KU has had some of the biggest K-pop celebrities to perform on campus such as PSY. Hajar was proud to say that KU beats at every school when it comes to entertainment.
Overall, after my visit with this university, I am going to consider being an exchange student. The whole tour I was just amazed to hear stories about the campus and hearing what life is like as a student here. Though there are many challenges you face when attending such as being on your own as the faculty don’t really guide you as much. I was grateful to have Hajar give me a tour of this place as it really enhanced my experience. So for anyone that plans on visiting all three universities, I do recommend finding someone who goes or has gone to the school to get a better idea of the campus.
Address: 145 Anam-ro, Seongbuk-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Line 6, Anam Station Exit number 2
SKY #3: Yonsei University
Finally, we have what completes the SKY universities list: Yonsei University. Not to be bias, but this is the one I looked forward to the most!
Yonsei University is the oldest university in Seoul. Yonsei offers a comprehensive range of undergraduate and graduate programs across various disciplines, including humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, engineering, and medicine. With its strong commitment to research and innovation, the university has earned a reputation as a leading research institution in the region. The university places great emphasis on internationalization, welcoming many international students and offering various programs taught in English. Moreover, Yonsei University is known for its lively annual festivals, such as the "Yon-Ko Games," a friendly rivalry event with their neighboring school, Korea University, fostering a sense of camaraderie and school spirit. Over the years, Yonsei has been home to several notable alumni, including prominent politicians, business leaders, and entertainers, further contributing to its reputation as a cradle of excellence and talent.
As I mentioned earlier in my blog, this university is where one of my favorite YouTubers attended and inspired me to come as well. I will admit that I have a bias perception, but this university was the best one I have visited. First, the campus is STUNNING. They made their own trademark in the sense it is the university with vines and greens on the building. But what makes it special is how clean and well-maintained it is. As much as I love the city, this campus brings out the beautiful nature aspect of Seoul, which is relieving for the mind in a metropolitan city.
The gardens everywhere were just so pretty to the eye that no camera can capture. There were students around who were relaxing and taking in the view. This place is perfect for studying and my friend can voucher that as she works here and notes how beautiful the campus view is from the library.
And the best part about Yonsei is their food. This university is known for having the best campus meal out there. We visited the cafeteria, and it was so crowded, yet so clean. They had a whole menu for students to order as well as dessert bar. Who doesn’t want dessert after a meal!? I thought that was genius.
I then visited the merch store because Yonsei’s school color combination of blue and white is gorgeous. I was not planning to buy anything, until I caved with my friends and bought a jacket. I am praying this jacket manifests that I get in.
I was very happy after this visit.
Address: 50 Yonsei-ro, Seodaemun-gu, Seoul
How to Get There: Line 2, Sinchon station Exit number 2
After visiting all three of the SKY Universities, I can confidently say that I would love to come back to South Korea as a foreign exchange student for these schools. It is important to travel and learn in different environments as it allows you as a person to broaden your perspective about topics and adapt to different living situations. I do recommend that when traveling abroad, having a local friend to help guide you will make your school life easier as I heard it is difficult to get help from the school. I hope this blog helped you learn more about South Korea and perhaps made you think in being an exchange student. Hope I see u then!
You can also follow @Shuttledelivery on YouTube to see the vlog of me visiting the three universities. Hopefully it gives you a visual of what each place looks like. For an even better view, you should book a ticket and fly to South Korea to enjoy its many goodness!