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University in Japan - Tons of Questions! (Waseda)

Alex Franke

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Hello everyone! This is my first post, so I hope I am welcome here! Anyway, let me get to the reason why I am creating this post: I am going to be studying in Japan, and I have some questions. I know that this is a huge post, but I have italicised the general question so that it is easy to scroll through
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My Situation
To properly answer my questions, I think it would be best to know me. I am from the US, and I am spending my 4/4 year of high school on exchange in Slovakia. Although I am in my 4/4 year, I am going to have to go back and spend another year in the US studying to be able to have the credits to graduate. I return to the US on July 19, 2018. However, I would like to apply to a Japanese university in the fall of this year, and attend the following year. I am looking to study in their English program, in the school of Fundamental Science and Engineering, in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering.

My Questions
I am planning on applying to Waseda university, and I have quite a few questions on the process of it. I have quite a few questions here, and some of them are specific to Waseda. I have separated between the two, so you can just scroll past it if you know nothing of Waseda!

- [WASEDA] How strict is the application/admission process, and where is it strict? What I mean by this, is where do they look at for admission? GPA, SAT, ACT or something else?

- [GENERAL] During the application/admission do they look at achievements of the individual/will exceptional achievements help my chances of admission? For example I am an exchange student, private pilot, boy scout, etc.

- [GENERAL] Is it possible for me to get the MEXT scholarship? I am currently in a position to go into the university privately funded, but I have heard many things about the MEXT scholarship. My issue is, as far as I can tell you need to discuss it with the consulate in your home country. Is it possible to discuss these things over the internet, or is the deadline for it late enough in the year I can do it in person?

- [GENERAL] What department would be best for study? I have heard many things about the university in Japan, about how it's standards are much more lax than in places like the US or Canada. Of course I am going into this fully aware of that, but I would like to make the most of my time/money. Is studying Computer Engineering worthwhile, or should I study another engineering field?

- [WASEDA] Are there sports at Waseda? The sports site is broken in English on the Waseda website, but as far as I can tell, they do offer sports there? I play baseball, run cross country, and was once a fairly successful gymnast. Would I have the opportunity to continue in any of these sports there/would they accept a foreigner on the teams/clubs?

- [GENERAL] What are the housing/living expenses like? I am coming from California, which is a fairly expensive place to live, so is it comparable to there? More? Less? How so?

- [WASEDA] Waseda entrance exam? I am under the impression that most Japanese universities have entrance exams, although I couldn't find any kind of requirement on their website. Do they have an entrance exam, and if so, what is it like?

- [WASEDA] What are my chances of being accepted? I have found this university, because it is the only one I have found that offers studies in Computer Engineering, but it is a fairly prestigious school (#1 private school in Japan if I read correctly). So, basically, what are my chances of getting in? If I were to be applying to American universities, they would look for something like this: GPA, SAT, personal achievements, application letter, letter of recommendation, and maybe some other things I missed. My GPA isn't all too good, 3.3-3.5 by the end of next year, although my SAT score would be fairly decent being anywhere from 1400-1500/1600. Also (not to butter my own bread here but for the purpose of this question I must elaborate), I have had a very active high school life, doing a fair bit of achievements. To summarize: Eagle Scout, Private Glider Pilot (first 4th generation in the world!), 1st All-Around AAU Gymnastics Nationals, Rotary Exchange Student 2017-2018. So, with all of these things into consideration, what would my chances of entering be? Because of my fairly low GPA, should I look into a less-prestigious university, or will my other "stats" carry the weight?

- [WASEDA] What is the Japanese requirement? As far as I can tell, there isn't one, but I can never be sure with English translated sites. If there is a Japanese requirement for the school, what might it be, and would it be possible to prepare for it in a years time?

Anyone that has made it this far, you have my many thanks. I have been struggling to find answers to these questions, if I could get these answered, that would be amazing! I will probably add more questions as I think of them, but these are the big boys that I have had on my mind for a while.
 

Mike Cash

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If your Japanese is currently zero, then you would have to be Mr. Super Genius to get to the level you need in one year through independent study.
 

Alex Franke

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If your Japanese is currently zero, then you would have to be Mr. Super Genius to get to the level you need in one year through independent study.

From what I have found on the website, they don't have any language requirements. Obviously I am not going to go in knowing nothing, but they don't seem to require business level Japanese. Do you know if you can answer any of my other questions?
 

Mike Cash

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From what I have found on the website, they don't have any language requirements. Obviously I am not going to go in knowing nothing, but they don't seem to require business level Japanese. Do you know if you can answer any of my other questions?


The only strong hint I find is this sentence in the Application Guidelines:

All students in September admission must obtain 4 credits in the Japanese language class to graduate.

Four credits out of 136 required for graduation certainly gives the definite impression they don't expect any Japanese ability at all prior to admission.

It looks like you may find yourself in the farcical position of having to take a test of your English proficiency, though.

Your chances of being accepted may be roughly gauged by looking at their past admissions.

http://www.waseda.jp/admission/en/w.../2013/12/undergrad_statistcs2013_9-2016_9.pdf
 

Alex Franke

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It looks like you may find yourself in the farcical position of having to take a test of your English proficiency, though

Kind of ironic a native English speaker would have to. Thank you for the info/confirmation! I really appreciate it :)
 

nice gaijin

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When I was at Waseda as an exchange student, there were international students there seeking degrees, but as I recall, most of them were either in SILS (their international, mainly-English program), or were already fluent in Japanese. There was very little opportunity to spill over into other departments, so the SILS students were mainly confined to the subjects that program offered, which did not include Computer Science or STEM courses. This was some time ago and may have evolved since then.

At least as an exchange student, Japanese classes were a requirement (everyone took a placement exam at the beginning of the school year, which separated them from beginner to near-native). We all came from colleges and had at least one or two semesters of Japanese under our belts, but the ability levels dipped quite low so they accommodated the range of students. Since not all high schools offer Japanese classes, I imagine it would be difficult for them to enforce a Japanese requirement prior to attending, and it is a mainly English program. There was no English proficiency required of those of us from English-speaking countries at least. That said, you ought to look into opportunities to get the ball rolling on learning the language if you're serious about this. Apps, books, private classes or local community college courses (which are credited at least), meetup groups etc.

Waseda has a very active club/circle lifestyle, depending on how much you want to commit to that interest. I recommend looking up Japanese bukatsu (club life) culture, and the difference between clubs and circles in order to better understand what you might be getting into.

Have you made contact with anyone at Waseda to get your admissions questions answered? Couldn't hurt to start making connections, and they would be a much more reliable source than someone that hasn't been a student for over a decade.
 

Alex Franke

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most of them were either in SILS (their international, mainly-English program)

From what I have found online, the majority of the applicants apply to the SILS program, as it is one of the "oldest" English based degree programs at Waseda.

From what I have found on my own research, was this from the site " A global-standard curriculum available only from Waseda University, taught in English" (School of Fundamental Science and Engineering). Of course, I could be misinterpreting it, or missing the place in the fine line where it says "just kidding only the first semester is in English" but I haven't found that yet.

Japanese classes were a requirement

In the admission guidelines it says this: "All students in September admission must obtain 4 credits in the Japanese language class to graduate." (thanks @Mike Cash). Although this doesn't directly claim that there is no Japanese entrance examination requirement, I haven't found anything otherwise. Although it could be lurking in some dark corner on the site, for all I know.

That said, you ought to look into opportunities to get the ball rolling on learning the language if you're serious about this.

An excellent suggestion, and I will begin immediately. :)

Waseda has a very active club/circle lifestyle, depending on how much you want to commit to that interest

I keep getting a 404 whenever I try visiting the athletics page, do you know if you could tell me about what they offered there/how competitive they were? Any information would be great :)

I recommend looking up Japanese bukatsu (club life) culture

Fortunately for me, I have a cousin studying up in Hokkaido, and has told me a bit about club life. But I will take the time to do some of my own independent research.

Have you made contact with anyone at Waseda to get your admissions questions answered?

Not yet, as I wanted to try my best to get the "basic" level questions out of the way first. Would it be best to contact the admissions officer, or perhaps an alumni/student? If it is the later, do you know of anyone that has gone through the same situation that I am going through, and would be willing to answer some questions?

Thank you so much for the response! Venturing into this alone is quite disheartening, and having support (even if it is from internet forums (lol)) is really uplifting. Thank you!
 

nice gaijin

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From what I have found online, the majority of the applicants apply to the SILS program, as it is one of the "oldest" English based degree programs at Waseda.

From what I have found on my own research, was this from the site " A global-standard curriculum available only from Waseda University, taught in English" (School of Fundamental Science and Engineering). Of course, I could be misinterpreting it, or missing the place in the fine line where it says "just kidding only the first semester is in English" but I haven't found that yet.

In the admission guidelines it says this: "All students in September admission must obtain 4 credits in the Japanese language class to graduate." (thanks @Mike Cash). Although this doesn't directly claim that there is no Japanese entrance examination requirement, I haven't found anything otherwise. Although it could be lurking in some dark corner on the site, for all I know.
OK, things have changed! The program you're applying for is fairly recent, compared to my experience at Waseda. I could try a contact in the SILS exchange department, but their own admissions are likely siloed from the one you're applying to, and they may just point me in that general direction anyways. The language requirement you quoted seems to be while you are attending school there, and my guess is they would give you the same placement exam and your language classes would be alongside SILS students.

As the information they have online is not sufficient to answer your questions, and the landscape has changed in the years since I was there, I would reach out to the admissions officer for your program to get yourself on their radar and get some reliable answers.

I keep getting a 404 whenever I try visiting the athletics page, do you know if you could tell me about what they offered there/how competitive they were? Any information would be great 🙂:

Fortunately for me, I have a cousin studying up in Hokkaido, and has told me a bit about club life. But I will take the time to do some of my own independent research.
I participated in a karate circle, and had some tangential involvement with the expedition club. For the most part, clubs are much more serious and demanding endeavors, meaning there aren't enough hours in the day to be involved in more than one. Also, you might be surrounded by students that don't speak much English, so the onus is on you to communicate as best you can in their language. Again, the earlier you start on that path the better.

Actual college athletics, I can't speak for, if that's what you mean. But as the levels of competitiveness increase, expect a proportional demand on your time. There's a "rush week" of circle and club recruitment that happens early in the semester, so you'll have a chance to see what's out there. The groups you decide to join will greatly affect who you spend your time with, so choose wisely 🙂:

Just searching "waseda bukatsu" will bring up a lot of relevant stuff for you to look through.
 

Alex Franke

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I would reach out to the admissions officer for your program to get yourself on their radar and get some reliable answers.

A good idea, and something I will do immediatly. I have been putting off asking their admissions office questions, as I wanted to try and get the "basic" questions out of the way.

Just searching "waseda bukatsu"
Will do :)

You have been a great help! Thanks a ton :D
 

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Hi! Based on your grades and ECs you shouldn’t have trouble being accepted to the private school international programs.


The two major ones in Tokyo are Waseda SILS (as you know lol) and Sophia FLA/FST. My warning to you right now (as a soon graduate of FLA) is that these programs have very little to do with the prestige of the actual school.. The biggest question you have to ask yourself is "WHY do I want to get a 4 year degree from Japan?" Sorry if you’ve already been through this but you don’t mention in your message so I’m a little worried, haha. Most of the students in these programs are returnees or Japanese students who want an English background (I’m a returnee aka Japanese citizen who lived abroad and came back) or students from other parts of Asia and Africa where a Japanese degree and education can be more effective when seeking employment. When I say most I really mean that across all FLA/FST students I’ve known less than 10 are non-Japanese Westerners, and they either really love Japan (I guess) or are from diplomatic families. Most Westerners come to Japan for a semester or year exchange to experience Japan or as graduate students who have already decided that their field is East Asia. This degree is primarily for seeking employment in Japan/Asia.

I haven’t visited SILS but in the FLA/SILS gossip mill (lol) the general consensus is that FLA/FST is the one you go to if you want to like, study (lol). The reputation for SILS students is clubbing all week (lol). The professors from both schools are of course all at the tops of their fields, hugely respected, and very good at their jobs… For SILS this really means their day jobs, as I’ve heard. SILS/FST professors are not necessarily fluent enough in spoken English to teach a class properly. FLA professors are all perfectly fluent and the quality of the classes varies but at the end of the day the education doesn’t match up to an equivalent Western institution. If you KNOW you want to live and work in Asia you will find yourself happy with the name of the school on your degree, but if you want a deeper education and more fulfilling student life, I would highly recommend going to school in the US and coming here on exchange. 4 years can feel like a long time, particularly if you don't speak Japanese.

I don’t mean to discourage you but it’s important to consider if you value your college degree :-( However, if you don’t think it will be that important when looking ahead to your career or further education, then Tokyo can be a great city to be in, so why not apply. (along with other schools please! Just in case! haha)

To answer some of your questions from the first post,

- ECs are more closely looked at during employment than university acceptance, but because it’s a separate admission it shouldn’t hurt

- Again because it’s a separate admission you don’t have to take the general entrance exam which is in Japanese (for the private schools at least)

- Clubs are BRUTAL, they require hours of practice every day and you barely get weekends and holidays. Sports are open to all students but you’ll be very busy! Circles on the other hand are what you might call “clubs” abroad, but they’re mostly a circle of drinking buddies, lol. They might be fun to make friends.

- Housing prices might be similar to California, but it’s sadly very xenophobic and you might have trouble even though you’re white, as landlords don’t like having people who don’t speak Japanese. However the schools should have dorms available for exchange and international students.

- There is no Japanese requirement for the SILS-type programs (although, if it’s like FLA, there is a requirement to take some Japanese credits once you enter), and if you graduate from a US/UK/CAN/etc HS, you don’t need to take TOEFL.



Good luck! Please take some time to think about it since you have a year to go :)
 

Alex Franke

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Ok so I have to start this off with a quick story. I woke up this morning, got dressed, and sat down to check my email. I see I have a reply on the forum, and I go to look. And oh boy did it put me in a good mood for the rest of the day.
Hi! Based on your grades and ECs you shouldn’t have trouble being accepted to the private school international programs.
This is what I have been wanting to hear/looking for the past two weeks. I have been really worried about the whole admittance process, as my GPA isn't all too great, but to hear this from someone with experience really put me at ease (I also heard back from the admission office today confirming this!).
The biggest question you have to ask yourself is "WHY do I want to get a 4 year degree from Japan?"
I have written out a bunch of why I want to go to university in Japan so I am going to give a quick TLDR: I am currently on exchange in Slovakia, but I really intended to go on exchange to Japan. I told myself at the beginning of this exchange that if I was serious about going to Japan, I would still care about it after my exchange to Slovakia. And well, here I am now.
4 years can feel like a long time, particularly if you don't speak Japanese.
I can say with confidence I understand this completely. Well, at least 25% :p
Clubs are BRUTAL
I have a cousin in Hokkaido currently, and he kept complaining that his Kendo club was too much for him. I never believed him because I thought he was being a wuss... Whoops.
Housing prices might be similar to California, but it’s sadly very xenophobic
:(
Good luck! Please take some time to think about it since you have a year to go
Thank you so much for your reply, it has really helped ease my heightened levels of worry. Do you have any recommendations for preparation for this endeavor? Anything I should do or know specifically before going? Thanks again :D
 

Mike Cash

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Do you have any recommendations for preparation for this endeavor?

Learn as much Japanese as you can. Develop as much Japanese literacy as you can. While your school program may be in English, you will probably be shocked at how oh-so-very-not-in-English practically everything else about life here is.
 

Alex Franke

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Learn as much Japanese as you can
Absolutely. With the exchange program that I am using to be in Slovakia right now, there is always one thing they say to do before you go overseas: learn the language!
 

Shutainzu

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Waseda has dozens of sports clubs so you think of it they've most likely got it, and every year they have the “Waseda-Keio Regatta,” the Tokyo Big6 Baseball League held at Meiji Jingu Stadium, a new year’s relay race held in Hakone, and a Rugby competition between Waseda and Meiji University as well.

If you have any other questions referring to activities, or anything about Waseda I can ask her and see if she knows. She can't really tell you about entrance exam or japanese level qualification needs because it varies depending on what you're doing there etc.
 

Alex Franke

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If you have any other questions referring to activities

I have a few questions on some of the sports, if that wouldn't be too much of a bother:
I have looked online and found a bit of information on their men's gymnastics club, but could you tell me how competitive it is?

Could you also tell me how competitive the baseball team is, in terms of how well the team does compared to other schools in the area?

Thanks a ton for the reply!
 

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Could you also tell me how competitive the baseball team is, in terms of how well the team does compared to other schools in the area?
Do you just want to play, or play only for a winner?
 

Shutainzu

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I have a few questions on some of the sports, if that wouldn't be too much of a bother:
I have looked online and found a bit of information on their men's gymnastics club, but could you tell me how competitive it is?

Could you also tell me how competitive the baseball team is, in terms of how well the team does compared to other schools in the area?

Thanks a ton for the reply!

She says it can be competitive but it’s not one of their main clubs apparently. When it comes to baseball however she says they are known as either the best of second best to Keio depending on people’s opinion. She also says the Keio Vs Waseda is quite a famous baseball match that gets a lot of attention every year.
 

nice gaijin

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Not sure if this is current, but this is a list of international student-friendly clubs, the only one of which that seems to be related to gymnastics is trampoline (sounds fun!) https://www.waseda.jp/student/weekly/info/info2012english.pdf

The 早慶戦 (soukeisen, sou is for 早稲田/Waseda, kei for 慶応/Keiou, Sen for FIGHT!) is really something else; the cheering alone feels like a sport, and indeed the Ouendan has turned cheering itself into a competitive sport. They take their baseball pretty darn seriously.

If your language skills are good enough to convey your enthusiasm to join their ranks, you may have a better chance of joining other clubs as well. Just also know that the more serious the club, the more likely they are to adhere to a strict etiquette and seniority structure. Whichever you decide to do, try to know exactly what to expect, and be committed to the experience to get the most out of it.
 

Alex Franke

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the only one of which that seems to be related to gymnastics is trampoline (sound
Ahhh trampoline! As a "full fledged" gymnast, this would be a fairly easy transition. I might have to look into this...

Sen for FIGHT!
I can feel the enthusiasm behind this

They take their baseball pretty darn seriously.
What do you expect from the best private school in the country? As I told Shutianzu: it is time for to start training again...

If your language skills are good enough to convey your enthusiasm to join their ranks
Ah my specialty

Thank you a ton for this information, this is exactly what I was looking for!
 

nice gaijin

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What do you expect from the best private school in the country? As I told Shutianzu: it is time for to start training again...
I would temper your expectations for the quality of your education based on that ranking alone, but definitely keep up that enthusiasm if you end up going there.

The English list of clubs is pretty theadbare, and doesn't include circles, the less strict activity-based group. Here's a list of "official circles" I found, as of 2015 I think. The fact that this is in English means it too it probably not exhaustive: http://www.waseda.jp/student/gakusei/2015_intro_of_alloffcialcircle.pdf

Like I said, your ability to communicate is going to open more doors than anything else, and being able to look stuff up in Japanese will render a lot more results. Just looking up "早稲田 部活" gave me their
Club Guide: 課外活動 – 早稲田大学 高等学院
Athletic Clubs Specifically: 体育各部一覧 – 早稲田大学 競技スポーツセンター
Circle Guide: 早稲田大学公認サークルガイド – 早稲田ウィークリー

...All of which are far better developed than some excel spreadsheet with a typo in the title.

Then there's non-official groups... you might as well google "waseda super free" and learn about some of the darker, embarrassing history of the school.
 

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What do you expect from the best private school in the country? As I told Shutianzu: it is time for to start training again...
I would temper your expectations for the quality of your education based on that ranking alone, but definitely keep up that enthusiasm if you end up going there.

The English list of clubs is pretty theadbare, and doesn't include circles, the less strict activity-based group. Here's a list of "official circles" I found, as of 2015 I think. The fact that this is in English means it too it probably not exhaustive: http://www.waseda.jp/student/gakusei/2015_intro_of_alloffcialcircle.pdf

Like I said, your ability to communicate is going to open more doors than anything else, and being able to look stuff up in Japanese will render a lot more results. Just looking up "早稲田 部活" gave me their
Club Guide: 課外活動 – 早稲田大学 高等学院
Athletic Clubs Specifically: 体育各部一覧 – 早稲田大学 競技スポーツセンター
Circle Guide: 早稲田大学公認サークルガイド – 早稲田ウィークリー

...All of which are far better developed than some excel spreadsheet with a typo in the title.

Then there's non-official groups... you might as well google "waseda super free" and learn about some of the darker, embarrassing history of the school.
 

Alex Franke

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The fact that this is in English means it too it probably not exhaustive
Jesus I almost got an aneurysm just reading through that. But it did have some very interesting circles. Do you have the site that you got that from?

All of which are far better developed than some excel spreadsheet with a typo in the title.
Yea, definitely. I looked through them briefly earlier and they all have some pretty great info. I am going to look through this more in depth now.

waseda super free
Just read about this on the wiki page. Crazy stuff man...

Thanks for the reply!
 
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