May 22, 2012
By Shamoiya Washington
Before traveling abroad to Japan, my understanding of Japanese education was based solely on my impression of the exchange Japanese students at USC we met earlier in the semester. Because of their level of success at the university I assumed their commitment to their studies back home took just as much if not more dedication. Yesterday I learned from American exchange students that the university experience in the United States was far more challenging than in Japan. According to several students I spoke with, the intensity and stress American college students feel because of examinations and term papers isn’t the same in Japanese universities. Instead, colleges in Japan have much more leisure time than schools in the U.S. and students are given quite a bit of freedom to engage in extracurricular activities.
Upon learning this I was extremely surprised because I always thought the education in Japan would be more intense and stressful than schools in the U.S. I was interested to learn more about why academics at the university level weren’t as challenging as I imagined. Upon further inquiry, I found that the reason why universities are a lot more relaxed is because the process by which it takes to get into a university is far tougher than it is in America. Access into a college institution in Japan is much more limited than it is in America. Even getting into a high school requires an application from middle school. Japanese students spend much of their K-12 experience working arduously to reach the next level. So when comparing the their grade school experience I find the U.S. to be more relaxed for the youth. This is why the process is reversed when Japanese students enter universities in Japan. College is now the time for Japanese students to gain more experience from activities.