January 17, 2024

From failing A-levels to SKY: How I got into Yonsei University on a full-ride scholarship

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sungongmatjelli from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

From failing A-levels to SKY: How I got into Yonsei University on a full-ride scholarship

A little foreword…

Hi everyone! I know, this title probably means nothing to most of you as Borderless has grown a lot since I last was a member. If anyone remembers, I was one of the scholars of the original Borderless community in Russian, back when it was a thing😄 My name is Svetlana, good to be back!

I first joined the community when I was about to graduate high-school and desperate to get any reassurance about my background or discover any tools that would help me to get a scholarship in a korean university.

Here I am now, doing the same thing for you🫶🏻 Hope you find it helpful and enjoy!

A little about me…and GKS

I graduated from an international school based in Kazakhstan, called Nazarbayev Intellectual School, meaning I studied for 12 years. I also had to take an exam called MESK (equivalent to A-Levels), which I failed miserably🙈 (I got four C’s and two B’s, when the highest possible mark is A* (then goes A, B, C, D, E, U). They are much worse per paper, I even got the lowest possible grades for geography).

Although I am not the greatest academic performer, and the opposite is very valuable in Korea, I wanted to study there as it was the best option from every perspective I could possibly think of. And Global Korea Scholarship offers the most generous conditions. You can find full details here. The only two things you should know now:

  1. It covers 100% tuition fee, a year of korean language program, roundtrip airfare, medical insurance and gives a monthly stipend.

  2. There are only 2 quotas per country in Central Asia and Russia.

I know, I was terrified too! But very glad I didn’t back down. Sharing my background so you know - everyone has a chance!

  • GPA: 4.3

  • IELTS: 7.5

  • TOPIK: 4급

  • Awards: 2 certificates from volunteering organizations, 2 certificates for participating in cultural programs (MUN and school’s drama club) and several certificates of completion for studying at a korean language institution.

I thought, I was just lucky, but competition is no joke. I am an ethnic korean, although a minority, fierce too!

GKS: application process and my experience

Global Korea Scholarship program offers three different ways of application, they are called tracks. I will only describe the Embassy track, as I went through it myself. Information about the other two is available in the official guide, which you can find here. It comes with teeny tiny changes every year, approximately in early September for Undergraduate applicants.

Through embassy track you are offered to choose three universities and a major from an impressive list. Take your time to find the one that fits you!

Embassy track has three rounds, but the first one includes two sub-parts:

  1. Embassy round (Document scanning and interview)

  2. NIIED (organization that sponsors the scholarship reviews the documents)

  3. Universities (each university conducts its’ own evaluation)

Since I wasn’t sure if applying was worth a shot in the first place (documentation requires a lot of time and financial investment), I only had about a week to get everything done for the scanning. The fact that everything ended up a mess and I was lacking a lot was not surprising. But I still received ✨the call✨ from my local Embassy with a remark that now they want everything re-done neatly for the interview.

Interviews are held a little differently per country and per candidate. But the commission is always very friendly and sweet, there is nothing you should worry about! Just be sincere.

No one knows for sure what happens once you pass the Embassy round and your portfolio is sent to Korea. But it takes NIIED about a month to do whatever they need to do and you can see the results on the same website you found the guide on. This part is particularly important for the “reserve”s (second candidates to those that were prioritized by the Embassy) as their GKS fate is decided here. Most of the “prioritized” candidates get through with no problem.

Finally, your documents are sent to your universities of choice. Mine were UNIST (Ulsan National University of Science and Technology), Pusan National University and finally my "reach" school - the great Yonsei. The only university to reach out for some additional information and request an interview was UNIST. However, I got accepted into all three!

Nothing special happens afterwards, a simple medical examination for NIIED and then it's all about visa.


Looking back, everything seems simple and easy. But it certainly didn't feel easy after I graduated high school neither it felt simple during the preparation process. I've experienced an emotional rollercoaster and there were times I wanted to give up but kept going.

What I am trying to say is that you shouldn't give up on your dreams and goals easily, even if you don't feel like you are enough. Hard works always pays off!

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from Kazakhstan 🇰🇿

Duration of Study

Mar 2023 — Mar 2028


Business Administration

Learn more ->
Global Korea Scholarship

Global Korea Scholarship

South Korea🇰🇷

Yonsei University

Yonsei University

Seoul, South Korea🇰🇷

  1. User Image


    5 months ago

    Thank you for such an elaborate guidance! SKY is SO impressive :)

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      5 months ago

      Thank you for reading~

    2. 🧸


      5 months ago

      Thank you for your story. It really motivated me to keep going and never give up.

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        5 months ago

        Glad to hear you found it helpful~ Good luck with whatever you have going on!

      2. 😊


        2 months ago

        Hello thank you for your recommendations and can i ask a question? by taking sat test can we get a scholarship from Yonsei university

        1. 😀

          3 weeks ago

          Im so happy for you. So, I was wondering when did you start the process. I'm a junior in HS and am confused about the deadlines for when to submit different things.