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V. Give a 5-sentence summery of the article. Formulate its key idea.

VI. Write out questions posed in the article. How would you answer them?

V. Should every bright student be offered a college place regardless of his/her ability to pay?



Wanted: College Students

Japanís schools try to lure a shrinking pool of young people


It was a perfect July day in Okinawa -- lots of sunshine, beautiful white-sand beaches and shimmering aqua-colored water. Too bad Koichi Yamamoto, director of student services for Ehime Women's College, a small junior college on the island of Shikoku, was hustling around Japan's southernmost island in a stifling-hot business suit. Yamamoto was on a recruiting trip. After he chartered a taxi, he spent three days visiting 41 high schools in Okinawa. Sweating heavily, Yamamoto distributed Ehime college catalogs and promotional videos at every stop, and tried to persuade female students who'd listen to enroll in his college. It wasn't an easy sell: Ehime Women's College is located in Uwajima, a small city in southern Japan, 700 kilometers from Okinawa. At Chinen Senior High School, Yamamoto slapped an Ehime poster on a wall and told several female students about the college's job-placement program. At Haebaru High, he chatted up the school's student academic counselor, Masahiro Nakama. It wasn't the first sales pitch that Nakama has heard. "During the last two months," he said, "we've had visitors from more than 30 universities." Japan's rapidly graying population is no secret. But while many people worry about a looming worker crisis, a sharp falloff in the number of young people is having other effects -- most notably, a shortage of college students. College applications in Japan have been declining steadily since 1992 -- and the problem promises to get much worse. Japan has 1.5 million 18-year-olds this year, but only 1.27 million 10-year-olds as future college prospects. And in Japan, roughly half of all high-school grads go to college. The trend spells trouble for the country's 1,200 junior colleges and universities, which are scrambling to fill student seats. A recent survey conducted by the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corp. for Private Schools in Japan shows that nearly 60 percent of private junior colleges and nearly 30 percent of private universities failed this year to achieve their quotas of new students. "These days, students get to choose colleges instead of schools' selecting students," says Yasuhiko Nishii of the Promotion and Mutual Aid Corp. He asserts that to survive, Japanese colleges "must restructure and make [certain] departments and courses as attractive as possible." That is already happening. While prestigious national universities like Tokyo University and Kyoto University retain their allure, many colleges are becoming less selective about the qualifications of incoming students -- and resorting to increasingly aggressive marketing ploys to fill their classrooms. For example, Hakodate University, on the northern island of Hokkaido, has begun inviting top corporate executives to give lectures on business. And Hakodate plans to lower its admission requirements beginning next spring. Tokai University, whose main campus is in Kanagawa Prefecture, plans to expand its information and technology curriculum and will begin a creative-writing course featuring well-known poets and critics. According to a survey by a leading "cram school" in Japan, a significant number of college departments no longer pay attention to applicant test scores -- a radical move in Japan. The media now call such institutions "free-pass colleges." Even elite schools are sending professors out on recruiting tours. Okinawa is fertile territory because it's one of the few places in Japan where the population growth rate is still strong. A major Tokyo newspaper recently noted that by 2007 the number of college applicants in Japan will equal the total number of first-year-student slots. In other words, every applicant could conceivably be admitted. The implications are troubling. "If the trend continues, I'm afraid the academic level of higher education in this country will decline," says Manabu Sato, professor of education at Tokyo University. Before that happens, education experts worry that many universities may simply go bustunless the Japanese government opts to boost the money it already spends ($2.75 billion a year) subsidizing private colleges and loosen qualification standards for such help. Yamamoto, the Ehime Women's College recruiter, started his job in 1994. That year the college had room for 150 first-year students, but could fill only 70 seats. Thanks to his determination and bubbly personality, Yamamoto has turned things around. In recent years Ehime has been full. More than 100 Okinawan girls alone have attended the junior college since 1996and 72 have graduated. But Yamamoto knows Ehime is fighting for its survival. "I feel a great responsibility," he says while making his rounds in Okinawa. "When my mission goes well, colleagues welcome me back with a big round of applause." In the meantime, Yamamoto has a hatched new idea to attract recruits -- a dual "friendship scholarship" for high-school buddies who want to attend the same college. It's a little corny, he admits, but you can't teach without the students.

Hideko Takayama

/Newsweek, August 14, 2000/

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Date: 2016-03-03; view: 512

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