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The Feb. 5 opinion-page article “Why can’t Japanese kids get into Harvard?” explains why it is more difficult for Japanese people to get accepted at Harvard University than for Korean people. The article says it is partially because of culture and partially because of education.

I agree. I attend an international school that takes a field trip to one of our Japanese sister schools. For two days we attend their classes. I have gone to a Western-style school all my life and find many differences in the way Japanese students are taught. For example, in the Japanese school the teacher just wrote notes on the board and there was little to no communication between teachers and students. I’m a very opinionated person and have always been taught to speak my mind in class as long as I can support my answer. I found the Japanese way of learning by memorization very dull.

It is also very difficult to stand out and be different in Japan. For example, if I’m at Disney Sea on the weekend, I might see many Japanese kids running around in a uniform even though they are clearly not on a field trip. Colleges overseas tend to look for people who stick out more, and this example shows how Japanese culture discourages individuality, thus making it more difficult for Japanese to be accepted at Harvard. I believe if the Japanese encouraged students to express their opinion more and to stand out from the crowd, the students would have better chances in the future when applying to Western schools.

elizabeth warner

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