Tokyo Academics is proud to release a research paper we have created in collaboration with an outstanding recent graduate of a local high school. Over the past semester, Christina Nikitin, a Hiroo Gakuen graduate and current freshman at Stanford University, interned with Tokyo Academics to conduct research and survey almost 50 and interview 16 Japanese students to better understand the hurdles and difficulties they face when they try to go overseas.

To avoid survivor bias in our work, we decided not to focus on Japanese students currently enrolled in the United States and elsewhere. Instead, we focused on those students who ultimately decided not to go international for school and are currently attending universities in Japan.

We had quite a few interesting insights coming out of the work, which is fully downloadable below. Some of our key findings were:

  • Many years of preparation are required before applications. Most respondents felt that they did not have enough time to research and prepare before applying to overseas colleges. Lead-time to prepare for English and application requirements and to translate and inform teachers about how to help, while simultaneously maintaining a high school GPA, makes applying for overseas colleges extremely difficult; some students estimate it can take at least five years to fully prepare.
  • Applying for overseas college is extremely time consuming on top of the rigors of Japanese high school. It is difficult for students to maintain their grades, obtain foreign standardized test scores, and prepare the myriad documents needed to apply to overseas colleges. Combined with a societal expectation to only apply to top colleges, this can perpetuate the perception  that only top students can study abroad.
  • Overseas colleges are seen as overly expensive. Cost is the most influential factor for most students. However, our interviews revealed that this is often an assessment of relative value against other options as opposed to a bar for entry.
  • Familial pressures are paramount, especially around cost. Many students feel guilty about letting their families pay for them to study abroad, especially when they hope to become financially independent.
  • Overseas study is a lonely road, even before applicants leave Japan. Since deciding to study abroad is an unconventional path, students can feel isolated from their peers, teachers, and school administration. This isolation can prompt Japanese candidates to retreat psychologically and change their minds about going overseas.
  • Access to resources and relevant information is particularly difficult for non-urban students. Students living outside the Kanto region ­– or in urban areas of Osaka, Tokyo, and Nagoya – often struggle with lack of resources and information. Further, commuting costs (and time) for college fairs and cram schools are added burdens.

We at Tokyo Academics are passionate about creating opportunities for students, and this research is being used internally as part of a larger effort to make resources and information more widely available to all students in Japan, whether on our website, our blog, at our learning center, or elsewhere. Stay posted for further announcements about this here!

Download the report