This qualitative study was designed to investigate the experiences of Korean male college students within the context of higher education and the military. Twenty Korean male undergraduate students, recently discharged from compulsory military service, participated in this study. The data for the study were collected through semi-structured interviews, each lasting approximately 70-90 minutes. Data analysis was based on Charmaz’s constructivist grounded theory. Findings indicate that these students are more academically motivated as compared to their own freshman year. During their term of military service, they have experienced goal commitment, leadership, and diverse relationships. Upon returning to school, they exhibited a developed set of strengths including a sense of confidence, perseverance, and courage. This attributes significantly contributed to their academic motivation and potentially to their success on campus. For Korean males, it was a challenge to complete their military duty; however, this unique experience gave them strength and helped them to establish their own academic and social lives. This study suggests that specific college experiences that serve to enhance students’ self-confidence should be continuously offered to encourage academic motivation in students. Furthermore, this study is significant in that it recognizes successful academic transitions made by Korean male students and documents the potential educational implications of mandatory military experiences.


academic motivation, compulsory military service, Korean male college student, student retention

Author Bio(s)

Sun Young Kim is currently an assistant professor at the Institute for Innovative Higher Education at Kyungnam University who received her Ph.D. from the University of Florida in 2012. Her research area has focused on developing educational service models customized for academically underrepresented college students and analyzing their college experiences to provide them academic support. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed to Sun Young Kim at Email: sunyoungkim0707@gmail.com

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 4.0 International License.





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