Japanese Univ. and American Univ.

Japanese college
I had no idea what I wanted to do and which University that I wanted to go in high school. I was born and raised in Japan, and kids study really hard and jump through hoops in order to get into college. College competition starts as early as elementary school. I am glad that my parents didn’t force me to go to a cram school (after school program in Japan) or to study until 12 am to get into a private middle school. So I went to a regular public junior high near my house. It sucked but I studied like normal kids who wanted to go to a decent high school that will help us prepare for college entrance exam. It was all about college entrance exam in Japan. I managed to get into one of the top four high schools in my town. I was happy…but was not so happy once we started the rigorous curriculum. I literally could not go to bed until 11pm everyday because of the assignment and preparing for the test the next day. So what’s the point? Why did my high school teachers make us study so hard?  Because how we do in high school determines your future..in Japan. Which University you go determines your future. In Japan, parents want their kids to go to a well-known University because large companies like Honda, Toyota, Sony, Panasonic…hire new graduates from top schools. Work experience doesn’t really matter for new graduates. But the brand of your college and reputation matter… I had a friend who would switch major from science to literature just so she can go to the National University in Japan. I was like..what is the point? Science..and literature..that is a huge difference and doesn’t it matter what you study? This trend continued among Japanese international students in California. Of course everybody wanted to go to UCLA or UC Berkeley because these are the top UC schools recognized by Japanese companies. So I had another friend who changed the major from Economics to East Asian Studies…?! so she can get into UCLA. hum…I am not sure if she has gotten far in life with the East Asian studies degree. Nothing is wrong with that..ultimately we have to major in our interests although we do have to think about productivity and job market..my sister has a degree in Literature in Japanese college. She gets administrative assistant jobs, secretary positions,.she is so called “OL” and she hates it. She now regrets she didn’t study engineering … that’s a drastic change but name of the University is important but it is much more so in Japan or than in America. When I tell my American friends that I went to UCLA, they are impressed. “Wow, it is UCLA..that is a nice school. What did you study.” This is the question that I don’t like. I just want them to just stop there..yes UCLA. As soon as I tell them I studied “sociology:, they are like..”hum..that is not a very good major” In America, your skills and the degree in specific fields (computer, business, accounting) matter more than the name of the University. Even if I graduated from Harvard with Japanese studies, for example, people would have cared less about it in America. She might have a much better chance of finding an employer who is willing to train her to move to the management job. (it is called Sogo shoku in Japanese) Not only the University systems in America and in Japan are different but it is very interesting that hiring manager’s perceptions are also very different between the two societies. 

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