I've been putting off this post for about two years now, because let's face it - the EPIK application process is not exactly a sexy topic. It's lengthy, convoluted, and includes several new vocabulary words. However, when I was applying, it was blogs that I found most helpful. So, I'd like to pay it forward.
The first step is to head to the EPIK website, found here. Though you can apply through recruiters, I honestly think it's simpler to just apply independently. Why incur extra steps, extra time, and unnecessary expense if it's more than possible to manage everything by yourself?
In reality, the process of applying to EPIK is pretty simple. It's the paperwork that comes after your acceptance that gets super complicated. But, let's not get ahead of ourselves. This guide is a comprehensive guide to your EPIK application process - starting with the necessary requirements, and ending with tips and tricks that will help you ace your interview.
1. You must be a citizen of where English is the primary language (Australia, Canada, Ireland, New Zealand, United Kingdom, United States or South Africa)
2. You must have a Bachelor's Degree (in anything)
3. If your Bachelor's is not in education, you MUST have a TEFL/TESOL/CELTA certification
For more on EPIK eligibility check out this page.
Step 1: Choose Fall or Spring Intake
EPIK has two application periods - one in the spring and one in the fall. The first intake arrives in February, and the second in August; however, there are also "late intake" periods in both March and September. I believe the program is slowly trying to phase out late intakes, but as of now they are still available. Personally, I would suggest that if you can, do your best to apply for the Spring Intake.
Though you can arrive in the fall (that's what I did), it makes everything more awkward and difficult for both you and your students. Arriving in the fall means that you will be coming in the middle of the school year. Your students will have had a different foreign teacher all year (and possibly for longer before that).
This makes an already tough transition that much more difficult. The previous teacher will have had their own habits in terms of lesson planning, student relations, and classroom management. Students will already be used to the old teachers way of doing things, so it's not easy trying to transition everyone to a new perspective.
My second semester was SO much better than my first, because I was able to start fresh, set up my personal expectations from the get-go, and get in at the ground level with the students. On top of arriving at an awkward time, you're also leaving at an awkward time.
Because you came in the middle of the year, you will eventually leave in the middle of the year too. Though I am definitely ready to be done in Korea, I feel bad that my students will go on summer break and then come back to a stranger.
As I said, it's up to you and if you feel you need to come in the fall than it is a possibility. However, I think it's awkward, significantly more difficult, and not the best set-up in terms of best teaching practices. If you can, aim for spring!
After you choose which intake to apply for you can start your application paperwork.
Step 2: Application Paperwork
1. The most current application form [Found here]
2. Two letters of recommendation (From professional contacts or professors... not your Mom)
3. South Africans must submit proof that their schooling was conducted in English
How Long Does Application Take
Not at all that long... However, start your application process as early as possible!! Seriously.
As I said, the application part of the process does not take all that long. The application itself is several pages long, but can easily be knocked out in an hour or two. The letters of recommendation depend on who is writing them, but hopefully shouldn't take more than two weeks. Ask your writers as soon as possible, as they are probably busy themselves. As to the interview, the EPIK website says it can take up to three weeks after you apply, but with me mine happened exactly seven days after I emailed my application.
From start to finish, my application process took about three weeks.
But as I said at the start, the application itself doesn't take that long. It's the post application paperwork that will have you tearing out your hair. After acceptance into the program you will need to complete an FBI background check, notarize a copy of your diploma, obtain two official apostilles, and buy more express mail envelopes than seems possible. I completed my post-acceptance paperwork in about four months, but I was stressed out the whole time and ended up having to go a month later than I planned.
I suggest applying at least 6 months ahead of time. Seriously, just don't it - you'll thank yourself later.
Step 3: The Interview
After submitting your application paperwork, you will receive a confirmation email. If your application is accepted, the next step is the interview. As I said earlier, EPIK says it can take up to three weeks to even hear back from about your application, plus the time to set up the interview. However, in my case the interview occurred exactly a week after I pressed send. So be prepared for anything!
All interviews are conducted over Skype, so all you need to do is make sure you've got the program, and that your world time conversions correct. I actually did my interview while on vacation is Maui, so I had to take a break from my hanging loose and Aloha-ing to make myself presentable.
All in all, the interview is pretty simple. It's not an interrogation. They are just trying to get to know you, hear about why you want to come to Korea, why you would be a good teacher, and how you aren't just coming to party and screw around. When EPIK was younger, many native teachers came over with unrealistic expectations about the program.
They approached their position as a study abroad/excuse to be lazy and party. As you can imagine, this led to a lot of problems so as the years have passed the program has become increasingly strict. Make it clear that you are approaching this a legitimate job, and that you take the opportunity seriously.
As with most interviews be sure to look presentable. Yes, it's on Skype but they can still see your head and upper body. Don't show up on screen looking like a mess. Wash your hair. Put on make-up. Shave your bear. Take out piercings. Put on a nice top and maybe even a blazer. Take it as seriously as you would a normal interview.
As to the questions, there are usually about 20. Like I said, it's nothing crazy - tell me about yourself, teaching experience, travel experience, why you want to come to Korea, etc. I won't share the exact questions with you myself, because that would be... wrong? However, I have it on good authority that with a few well-placed Google searches one might find an exact list of the exact EPIK interview questions.
After interviewing, you should have your answer within three days. Though most people have reported that EPIK is actually really good about the three day rule (as in you won't be waiting around for weeks), with me it actually took about five days. On the fifth day (having a serious panic attack), I actually Skyped my interviewer politely asking when I would hear back. He promptly informed me that I had been accepted... he had just forgotten to email me. Not cool, dude. Not cool.
If you make it past the interview you're officially in! You still need to climb the mountain of paperwork, but hey, celebrate the fact that you're taking the first steps in what is sure to be a grand adventure.
For more information about Korea, be sure to check out the Korea section on this blog. There you can find information about choosing EPIK vs. Private Schools, important tips for living and teaching in Korea, what to pack for your big move, as well as some beautiful destinations to check out once you're here.
The Next Step?
Paperwork. Then more paperwork. The even more paperwork. Like I said, the application process is the easy part, it's what follows that gets kind of crazy. I'll be publishing a detailed post that walks you through this process step by step later this week - so keep you eyes open!
Enjoy the beautiful view!