This qualitative study explores what private tutoring means to university students in their preparation for process of university entrance. It analyzes on what twenty eight students from two different universities reflect their experience in private tutoring. The participants are taking teacher training courses and were born in 1990s, the period when private tutoring was released from legal prohibition. They have been through private education for university entrance in institutes, face-to face tutors, and on-line lectures. In order to decipher students’ experience, this study focuses on three questions: ① who made decisions on private tutoring? (subjectivity) ② what make them think they need to take private tutoring? (motivation) ③ what do they realize from their experience in private tutoring? (viewpoint)
In terms of subjectivity, students who took private education by decision made by their parents say of both appreciation for their parents and emotional hurts. After all the parent-led private tutoring, they realized themselves in identity crisis and passive attitude to learning, while students who made decided to take private tutoring themselves tend to see their educational experience as a process of ‘learning to live on my own.’ The students mention of ‘motivation’ as competition for prestigious universities, and describe the process of private tutoring as a jungle, a battlefield, or an inferno. They appreciate of effectiveness of private tutoring while they feel regrets for they relied on private tutoring excessively and ignored the value of school. They accept private tutoring as a part of their schooling experience and as a means of maximizing their personal interest. Also, it is described as institutionalized unfairness and collective selfishness by students who say they have experienced differences in availability in private tutoring due to socio-economic backgrounds and residential area. It is insisted that private tutoring intensifies social inequalities.
Based on analysis on students’ reflection, this study discusses the importance of subjectivity of learning experience, value of public education, and critical consciousness to social issues.