Things you need to know before applying to Seoul National University as an international student - tips from a 3rd year Engineering student

Aug 11, 2022
1 min read


Seoul National University
Seoul National University


πŸ’Ό Bachelor: Civil and Environmental Engineering
⏳ Mar 2019 β€” Aug 2023
πŸ“ Seoul,
South KoreaπŸ‡°πŸ‡·
πŸ—£ English, Korean
βœ… Student Visa
Seoul National University
Seoul National University
πŸ“ Seoul,
South KoreaπŸ‡°πŸ‡·
πŸ—£ English, Korean
πŸ’° 100% Financial Need Met
🌏 11% International

I am a 3rd-year student at SNU majoring in CEE - Civil and Environmental Engineering. I’ve always wanted to study at a place with high-quality education, technological advancements, and safety. Korea became my top choice when I realized that I felt the closest to Asian cultures and lifestyles.

My step-by-step application journey to SU

  1. Studied and took standardized tests. I took them in June, but the results came out on the 45th day instead of the 13th, which was unusual. Due to this delay, I missed the application deadline to KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) for the fall semester. By the way, KAIST was my first choice at that time. But it turned out just fine as I applied to SNU in the spring. My scores were:

    • IELTS - 7.5

    • SAT maths lvl 2 - 780/800

    • SAT physics - 710/800

  2. Asked my teachers for recommendation letters in advance. I went to those with whom I have a good relationship, and who knew me well not only as a student but also as a person.

  3. Learned how to write motivational letters. To be honest, I didn't spend too much time on it, mostly read a few tips. I was decently good at writing and understood how motivational letters should be written. They play a very important role.

  4. Collected all the documents that were mentioned in the guide on university's website. They were:

    • copies of my and parents’ passports

    • birth certificate

    • transcripts

    • high school diploma

    • certificates & awards

  5. I prepared everything in advance and sent it by mail. Make sure to account for the shipping time, as my documents to KAIST were late.

Late-night study sessions
Late-night study sessions

Scholarships in Korea

There are many scholarships in Korea, here are some examples:

  • from state universities: stipend + tuition or tuition only. For example, SNU, GIST, KAIST, UNIST, etc.

  • from private universities: discounts on tuition up to 100%, but rarely a stipend + tuition. Examples are Ehwa Women U., Yonsei U. , Korea U., etc.

  • from private companies: Samsung, Daewoo, etc.

  • from different organizations: Lee & Won Foundation, Yes24, etc.

  • from various programs: KGS (formerly KGSP), OKF, etc.

I’ve applied for a scholarship from the SNU itself, which is given for either 1 year or all 4 years. As I filled out an online application form, there were two questions:

  1. Do I want to apply for a scholarship?

  2. Will I be able to study without a scholarship?

I answered "Yes" to both questions, and ended up getting a scholarship for freshman year only. I was afraid I would not be accepted if I answered "No" to the second question. However, my friend answered "Yes" and "No", and received a scholarship for all 4 years. Since then SNU has revised the application form and removed the 2nd question.

After the first year, each semester I apply for another scholarship from Engineering College, and get it to cover my tuition. Living expenses are covered by my own budget.

CEE Department
CEE Department

Common Myths about SNU

SNU is a very popular university, so I would like to bust a few common myths:

  • Education is in Korean. No, not all subjects are in Korean. But the majority (80-90%) of specialized classes are in Korean.

  • Education is in English. Only a few classes are in English. As international students, we are sometimes struggling to survive.

  • SNU is only for nerds. Although SNU is considered one of the best universities in Korea, there are students who truly don’t care about their grades, although they are a minority. Students know how to chill: soju, games, relationships, karaoke, sports, etc. I haven't met a Korean student who is consumed by academics only.

  • SNU is only for elites. You don't have to be born into a wealthy family to enter the SNU. This is a state university, therefore there are scholarships for both foreigners and Koreans. And tuition cost is very reasonable compared to prices in Kazakhstan.

  • You can easily make Korean friends. It was very difficult for me in the first semester, as foreigners are usually avoided, especially if you don't know Korean. But there are always a few local students who will try to make friends with you and help you out from day one. Over time you learn the language, and other Koreans open up to you and start communicating. In the second semester, it was much easier!

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