Difficult to Enter, Easy to Graduate — A Brief View upon Characteristics of Japanese Universities

(written by: Willy Yanto Wijaya)

One thing which made me surprised regarding characteristics of university in Japan is that, as long as you fulfill all the required credits and follow the instruction of your supervisor, you will surely be able to graduate. No matter even if you have a bunch of bad scores. I wondered then, why students don’t strive to get good scores (GPA), and I found out the answer after talking with my Japanese friend. Very simple reason, because companies which will recruit the students don’t care about the GPA.

The picture is very different when compared to universities in Indonesia. In Indonesia, good companies always require a high GPA as one of the conditions for the application. And to make matters worse, high-rank university such as one that I attended during undergraduate study, won’t be generous in giving high scores to its students. And if we cannot pass the minimum requirement of GPA, we will be kicked out from the university. The truth is that approximately 10% of my comrades majoring in Physics dropped out.

Considering the above-mentioned agony of my dropped-out comrades, I cannot say that Japanese universities characteristic which is “difficult to enter, easy to graduate” is totally a bad thing after all. The question is then why Japanese universities possess such kind of characteristic. One reason is, in my opinion, rooted within the inherent nature of Japanese society. If a student cannot graduate, public will view that the supervisor or the teacher of that student is not capable of educating. Instead of losing face, surely it is better to make the student graduate. Besides, the supervisor also has to make a long report explaining why the student could not graduate.

Another interesting thought is upon why companies in Japan do not care about students’ GPA when doing recruitment. One reason is that because companies have their own training and education for the new employees. Companies usually assume that the knowledge and skills obtained in universities are not always sufficient for doing the job. An additional possible reason is because companies think that it might be unfair to use GPA as the yardstick due to the fact that different universities have different standards. This is also the reason why some companies prefer graduates from certain universities rather than others.. and consequently students are aiming more on which universities to target rather than what specialty they are aiming for their futures.


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