Also known as “Effective Monday,” the last Monday of April declares the beginning of study leave every year for sophomores and seniors attending Seoul Foreign High School (SFS).
With exam season soon approaching, the two grades receive a generous study leave for their respective curriculums. The sophomores who take the International General Certificate for Secondary Education (IGCSE) receive a full School-Related Absence (SRA) day sporadically, so they are exempt from coming to class both the day before and the day of the exam. However, if students do decide to attend classes, they receive a self-directed study hall.
Seniors, however, take the International Baccalaureate (IB) curriculum, and thus receive a study leave starting the last friday of April. All IB classes have been completed, and each full-diploma student is exempt from coming to school, unless they have to be there for an exam. Accordingly, the high school is much more empty in the last few months of school.
It is often noted that such a study leave is not used to the students’ benefit. It has also been debated whether Seoul Foreign students should be allowed to be exempt from so many days of school. Natalie Cho, a current senior taking the full diploma programme for IB, admitted that a downside to a study leave is “not receiving any direction” for it is completely independent. In addition, she explained that “with that much ‘free’ time, it is difficult to solely dedicate all that time to studying,” as people naturally become easily distracted. It is inevitable that high school students end up spending a portion of their time with friends or on social media.
However, a multitude of students claimed that the study leave was the best thing a school could offer to those taking an exam worth two years of covered material. Daniel Hahm, a current sophomore taking the IGCSE exams, revealed that “those who use their study leaves to commit their time to purely academics [do] reap its advantages.” In addition, Natalie also explained that the study leave is especially beneficial because students can “divide [their] studying time based on individual needs.” She concluded by agreeing that “most students do allocate their time to studying. After all, these tests are the accumulation of two years of hard work and sleepless nights […] most of us wish to do well.”
In all, it appears study leave does prove to be fruitful, for many students at SFS greatly appreciate the generosity of the administration in recognizing the need for a self-directed study period before exam season begins in full force.