Regarding the Feb. 5 article “Why can’t Japanese kids get into Harvard?”: The answer is that they are not interested. Harvard is difficult, expensive and far from Japan. Although there are many promising Japanese candidates for Harvard, they usually go to medical schools or to Tokyo University. Therefore, there are three answers to the question:
• Even if Harvard is one of the greatest universities in the world, we don’t have much information about it. Harvard doesn’t have any open house in Japan. We have never seen any campus advertisements.
• To increase Japanese enrollment, Harvard must invite highly motivated students, prestigious high school teachers, famous cram school teachers, and mothers to its summer program, and convince them that Harvard is better than Tokyo University in all respects.
• Japanese kids’ English competence is absolutely poor. Therefore, TOEFL or TOEIC must serve as the university entrance examination instead of Center-Test. It must motivate them to study abroad. Then the broadcast industry must air animated TV programs in English all day long so that kids can enjoy learning English naturally. It is said that around 12 is the critical age for learning foreign languages — when brain circuits for learning a foreign language are networked more easily.
• As for medical school and law schools, the Japanese education system is different from that in the United States. Even if they don’t graduate from a university, Japanese students can enter a medical or law school. On this point, I think the American system is superior to ours.
But to tell you the truth, we would prefer that Ivy League schools like Harvard not grab our prominent youngsters, since we, too, are suffering from a serious recession now.
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