ISTANBUL - Turkish Daily News
Being a student in an undergraduate program at Princeton or at one of Turkey's top universities, such as Boğaziçi University, may not be satisfy some. Especially if one is a high school student in Turkey and needs to pass the University Entrance Exam, or ÖSS, that can have tragic effects on one's psychological state.
This year, four youngsters had their second go at the ÖSS, but not with the aim of qualifying for a better program. They just wanted to achieve higher scores than in their first try. All four of them were already in the first 10 from among 1.5 million high school students who took the test in 2007. Çağrı Berk Onuk, who is currently at Princeton on a scholarship, ranked first in two different branches of the test this year. Onuk took the exam one more time just to become the champion this time, daily Radikal reported.
Çağrı Sert, who ranked among the best of 2007, came second, and is currently studying economics and mathematics at Boğaziçi University. Sert took the test once again just to taste the feeling of being first and he was left heart broken, as the private institution that prepared him for the exam did not keep its promise to reward him.
Car for a high rank:
Private institutions offering courses to prepare for university exams, or �dersane� in Turkish, are very common in Turkey, to the point that most students and parents think that passing the exam will not be possible without them. Dersanes, on the other hand, seem to do everything to promote themselves. Some offer cars to those ranking at the top, or scholarships abroad. However, experts harshly criticize this system as a whole.
�This system is raising competitors,� said Can Candan, director of a documentary film on the ÖSS, called �3 Saat� (Three Hours). �The mentality of commerce is settled in every part of the education system, and it is difficult for students to think outside that box,� said Zübeyde Kılıç Öztürk, head of the Education Employees Trade Union, or Eğitim-Sen. �Students are encouraged to win the race. And they are presented with rewards,� she added.
Fatih Berk Onuk, Çağrı Berk Onuk's brother, also tried his second chance. The private institution attended by the two brothers declared the possibility of attaining the top two ranks in this year's ÖSS. Çağrı Berk Onuk received online tests while he was in the United States and for the last six weeks before the exam he came to Turkey to study more.
Murat Ahıskalı, another student who ranked second last year, came third this year. Already a student at Boğaziçi University, Ahıskalı received his tests and books for free from the private institution he had attended and agreed with the dersane that they would declare Ahıskalı's name if he earned a rank.
This is all commerce, said Abbas Güçlü, an education columnist at daily Milliyet. Almost everyone is giving out rewards, and successful students naturally want to take the exam several times, he said. The Education Ministry should oblige private courses and schools to declare the exam results of all their students, not just the successful ones, he said.
This year, 1.5 million students took part in the ÖSS. Almost 1.3 million earned the right to choose a university. But only around 500,000 will have the right to register for a program.