Why do American college or university students study hard?

American college or university students commonly study very hard. In some of upper level universities in the US, it is said that only 60 percent of all the students who entered at the same time can graduate. So many students pay tuition fees with student loan or money which they have saved through working and their attitude towards a class is pretty serious.

University or college students’ average age in the US is older than that in Japan and each one of students has a strong sense of purpose on why they come to university or college to study.

Teachers and professors are really strict to a result. For example, a couple of teachers instruct few classes and give a unified test and judge student’s result by consultation in a freshman class of physics in a university. All the freshman students need to break through the difficulty of a test but half of them miss a credit. Some of them forms a group and study together and others study earnestly in a library until midnight.

Teachers are really serious about education. It is common that the time that a teacher uses for preparation for a class is 3 times more than the class time. If a teacher completes one course, he/she can write a book with his/her instructing note about a course. If a teacher teach students easy to understand, students, of cause, wake up to interest of study. Thus, a class room naturally consists of earnest teachers and motivated students.

Why do Japanese students not study hard?

Most of Japanese students don’t study hard at a university or a college. Even they don’t study hard, if they know how to jockey for credits, satisfying graduation requirements is not a difficulty that faces students.

Japanese students lacks sense of purpose of why they need to study. If academic development is personal problem and there is seriousness in Japanese students during a class, that is only reflected to some motivated students.

Rating impartial results makes teachers have great effort and the stricter towards student’s result a teacher becomes, the more problems he/she is in for in Japan. If a teacher rates strict results for students like an American university, students need to repeat the same course that the other teachers are in charge of. Making result rating strict is not necessary to encourage student to study more and self-righteous rating stance causes trouble to other teachers who is in charge of the same course.

Forcing through your way produces a conflict from both colleague teachers and students. Strict rating is generally thought to be one of important education process but peer pressures drive teacher into a dilemma.

In addition, it is also problem that Japanese companies don’t place importance on student result when recruiting. Companies people don’t rely very much on university result. If a report card becomes a very important factor to recruit students for Japanese companies, student should become more serious about studying.

My slight question about both Japanese teachers’ and students’ attitude towards education

Why student don’t ask a question during a class

American teacher faces a barrage of questions from students unless they prepare thoroughly for whatever they are asked . For that reason, teachers can’t tell students vague information which is told by an unreliable source. In Japan, no students put their hands to ask a question to a teacher during a class. This clearly makes a teacher lazy to preparing for what he/she is going to teach to students.

Why a Japanese teacher has instructed the same course for many years

Generally, teachers of American universities need to instruct new course after they finish teaching the previous course for 3 years. This is really tough work for teachers but students end up not getting stuck in a rut for a class. Teachers can get great advantage by learning wide range of knowledge in perspective.

It is sometimes too tough for teachers to have new courses one after another but it is also not really great difficulty for teachers because teachers instruct contents of a course as difficult as student understand.

Why Japanese universities positively let students evaluate the contents of a course anonymously

Japanese course evaluation system has started in a specific university and has gradually got support from other universities and spread around in Japanese Educational Institutions.

Basically, American university’s course evaluation from student is done anonymously the questionnaire is collected by not a teacher who is in charge of the corse but another teacher. Questionnaire result is published and if going to a library, anyone can see it.

Questionnaire result is really important evidence to get a rise in teacher’s salary and get promotion. For that reason, teachers regularly hold study meeting to brash up their skills or ask a colleague to inspect a class and get some advice from a colleague. Teachers need to really make effort to receive good evaluation from students.

It is really terrible that student’s evaluation directly influences on teacher’s salary but this is very effective way for qualitative improvement of classes and teachers.

The problems of American education

If drawing a comparison between Japanese education and American education, only Japanese education’s defect emerges out. However, there is, of course, problem in American education system. For example, that is rigorousness and complication of human relationship caused by harsh competitive society.

I heard some of students cheat on an semester exam for their results and push other classmates aside to win good mark of an exam. At this point, people would rather have a favorable impression to Japanese students, who are quite pure and honest but feel really easy.

Tenure system which is also introduced in Japan is hiring young talents for 6 to 7 years experimentally but there seems to be doubt on whether its operation is appropriate. It is very difficult for young students to get tenure in famous universities and they tend to be clearly a sacrificed piece as a cheap labor. If a famous scientist transfers from a research laboratory of a private company, young fine researchers are kicked out of the university.

Some young researchers becomes burn-out even after getting tenure position with great effort and are labeled as “dead wood”. So many young potential talents force themselves to overwork not to become dead wood. Unstable employment job imposes a burden on person’s mentality and it is not rather favorable.


American education system is the one unlocking the full potential of students by taking in competitive principle. Teachers make effort to support student’s ability development and their effort is reflected on their salary increase and promotion.

In Japan, teachers are not seriously evaluated by students even if they give a good class to students. Japanese education relies fully on teacher’s obligation and conscience after all. American students attend a class with serious attitude because they have a sense of purpose to whatever they learn. Japanese students go really easy during a class like chatting each other and taking a nap even during a class.

While international competitiveness goes to be intense, it is obvious that Japanese education needs to change.


  1. AI

    Thank Yuoi for writing that kinda articles in English. In my opinion, part-time jobs are also the reasons for irresponsibility with their study in Japan. After I started my study in the UK, I found only a few students do part-time work. It really helps them to focus on their course and I regret having worked during undergrad …

  2. Akuru

    Thank you for sharing your opinion on education:) I am a Japanese student studying at graduate school in Tokyo. I think one of the possible reasons for low morale of Japanese university students is overheating competition in entrance exams. I’m saying this from my experience. I spent a year for study after I graduated from high school and fortunately passed university entrance exams. What surprised me after the enrollment was that a large part of the students lost all motivation and passion for study, even though they are in the top university in Japan. This happens because most Japanese student spend too much energy for getting into “better” university but lack ideas of what they expect from higher education. Only few students have a real purpose and consistent career planning. As a result, after released from Juken, students lost their purpose of learning and spend 4 years (or more) without studying seriously. This problem is highly complex with many stake holders including juken industry, educational institutions and a job market. might be the biggest challenge for entire Japanese society…?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *