Readers in Council,
The Japan Times,
5-4, Shibaura 4-chome
Minato-ku, Tokyo 108-0023
I have to admit that I do not get the annual university students job hunt, which starts now in December (“University students start job hunt,” Japan Times, Tuesday, December 3, 2013). My problem is that the students have not graduated yet. They will not graduate until the spring. Therefore to search for work now by presenting themselves to potential employers as university graduates is a blatant misrepresentation. It’s a lie. In North America, where I am from, university is more challenging. Students there seem to have to study harder than Japanese university students seem to have to do. For Japanese the big challenge is just getting into university in the first place. After that all they have to do mostly is to show up. Graduation is practically guaranteed so long as they stick with the group and show up. How pathetic. North American students’ graduation is not guaranteed until they actually accomplish it by doing the work. They have to show up and work harder, prove their mastery of subject matter, understanding of it and demonstrate their ability to use that knowledge and understanding to analyze things, make new discoveries, generate novelty, and thereby move society, business, politics, the arts and the economy forward. There is no guarantee until it happens.
When I was in college I did not look for work until after I graduated. Until that time all my energy and focus were on my studies, as was right, proper and fitting. I think Japanese students ought to be similarly focussed because it would be a better use of their time, a more honest use of their time, and reflect an appropriate priority. Of course, that’s not how Japan works. Students have to do what they do because the entire society is tooled to function the way it does. But often I would describe it as misfunction rather than function.
Published on Thursday, December 12, 2013 as "A better use of students' time."