Alternatives to university

Vocational and technical schools

Alternatives to university

While university is by far the most prestigious form of education in Japan, many Japanese students choose to attend technical schools, junior colleges, and vocational schools instead. These schools provide them with job skills without the intense pressure of the university admissions process.

Japanese students that would rather complete a technical education begin to do so in senior high school. These students take technically oriented courses, and some attend school for half days while working part time jobs in the evenings.

In order to enter special vocational schools (senmon gakkou), students are required to have finished secondary school. Many students attend specifically to get professional certifications, and it is not uncommon for university students to take classes at vocational schools to complete these same skill certifications. Most vocational programs last four years.

Colleges of technology

There are close to 70 colleges of technology across Japan. These schools specialize in educating students for specific career fields not served by vocational or university educations, such as many engineering and industrial careers.

Students are eligible to enter colleges of technology halfway through their senior secondary years. College of technology programs usually last a full 5 years, though a small percentage of students transfer to universities midway through their technical educations.

Graduates are awarded “Associate“ degrees, which are respected but are below Bachelor degrees in prestige. Nevertheless, technical graduates usually find employment immediately upon graduation.

Junior colleges

While junior colleges are, in theory, schools that offer two-year programs in fields such as technology and nursing, they are often treated as schools women attend to pass time before getting married. Many junior college course offerings are centred around home economics, and while only 40% of university students are women, women make up 90% of the junior college population.

Further reading

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