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Noogah
April 13th, 2015, 07:28
Good afternoon fellow people-who-love-Japan-enough-to-abandon-a-good-country-to-teach-snotty-kids!

Most forums have an 'Introduce Yourself' area, but I didn't see one, so I thought I would just get started right away.

I'm currently finishing up my freshman year in college, and I have my whole life ahead of me (minus ~20 years, so not really). I've had a certain level of Japan fever for the majority of my adolescent/young adult life. My love for the country began with Miyazaki films, and developed over time into a better founded appreciation of its history, culture and philosophy.

I say all this simply to spare you the trouble of typing out legitimate but (in this case) unnecessary warnings about coming to Japan with naive expectations of a Sakura filled biome amuk with ninjas, geisha, ramen and slice-of-life drama. I know what Japan is like, I've given much thought to this, and I have a number of reasons (both 'sophisticated' and 'naive') for still firmly desiring to spend a good amount of time in the country.

So when I found out about the JET program, I was thrilled. It syncs with my life-goals, expertise, areas of interest, and basically it's perfect for me (which clearly isn't an unusual situation; hence this forum).

I have been somewhat discouraged to find out from lurking, however, that the JET program seems to be losing steam in Japan, and that placement may become extremely difficult in the near future.

So I thought I would pitch this to those of you who are informed: what are the prospects of a 2018 graduate for getting into JET? Just assume I'll have good grades, pass JLPT N1, and really solid paperwork skills.

TL;DR I love Japan, and JET sounds awesome. Assuming I play the game as well as one can, what are my chances (or the chances of any 2018 graduate) of getting into JET?

Jwang
April 13th, 2015, 09:22
I thought the JET program was expanding in the run up to the Olympics?

ambrosse
April 13th, 2015, 09:48
Welcome~
Actually since the announcement of the 2020 Olympics, the government is expanding the program! :D
So I wouldn't feed too much into negative media feedback prior to the news ab out the Olympics.

As for chances in general, it's all relative. The program may be expanding, but the number of applicants may be growing as well (I actually think that for the 2015 pool, there weren't as many applicants as Tokyo had hoped, haha).
Either way, just get involved in the community, tutor, teach in any way, interact with international folks, be a part of student organizations at your Uni that relate to Japan.
Study abroad if you can. Most of the people I know who shortlisted or wait-listed have studied abroad, did an exchange program, or just visited Japan for some level of time (oddly enough, I' m not one of those people, but shortlisted anyway).
All of those will help boost your chances of being selected. Know yourself well in order to write a compelling Statement of Purpose letter, and make connections with professors, leaders, etc. as you will need two letters of reference at some point.

weepinbell
April 13th, 2015, 09:59
I can tell you right off the bat Japanese skill should literally the least of your worries... obviously studying it can only help you, but I'm pretty sure 90% of us 2015 shortlisters blew that section of the interview and we got in. It's the last thing they score you on, they take people of all levels, really.

You'll have a good shot if you present yourself as a competent person with a real interest in Japan/cultural exchange, etc, and don't only go on about why you love Japan. You've seriously got a ton time, don't freak out yet, enjoy your time in college and get involved in stuff that interests you - no matter what it is, JET will be see that you're getting involved in your community, and probably want to know how you'll relate that to being an ALT.

Like ambrosse, I hadn't studied abroad either, but they asked me about my vacations abroad (and I didn't go to Japan, I went to Europe). I'm sure overseas experiences is something they're interested in.

Fantasylife
April 13th, 2015, 10:38
Double ditto what Ambrosse and Weepinbell said about studying abroad or traveling abroad in general. They focused a bit on that in my interview, particularly how I handled situations where I stood out as a foreigner. Thankfully I had good answers for those questions, having done a year-long degree program in Great Britain and studying abroad in Japan. I think what they really want to know is how you will hold up living in another country for an extended amount of time. And going abroad, even if it's just for a vacation, will definitely give you something to draw on should you be asked that question.

ambrosse
April 13th, 2015, 10:49
I can tell you right off the bat Japanese skill should literally the least of your worries... obviously studying it can only help you, but I'm pretty sure 90% of us 2015 shortlisters blew that section of the interview and we got in. It's the last thing they score you on, they take people of all levels, really.


Word. I over-estimated my Japanese skill level, failed miserably at the "test," but I tried to have fun with it regardless.


Like ambrosse, I hadn't studied abroad either, but they asked me about my vacations abroad (and I didn't go to Japan, I went to Europe). I'm sure overseas experiences is something they're interested in.

Just got my passport in November ;)
Experience abroad isn't required, but it definitely does help.

frayedflower
April 13th, 2015, 11:31
Also, try and see if you can do some kind of work with kids. Volunteer work, tutoring at your school, summer camps, whatever tickles your fancy. Even if it doesn't -make- your application and mileage will probably vary, it definitely doesn't hurt. My experience working with kids was a solid chunk of my interview. Then when I gave my mock lesson, even if it wasn't stellar or anything, I remember one of my interviewers remarked with a smile 'I can tell you're used to working with kids'.

Gizmotech
April 13th, 2015, 11:33
Dude. Seriously, come back in 2 years, after having some fun in Uni, and talk to us again. DO NOT MAKE JET YOUR LIFE GOAL, your chances are always less than 50%, and I've seen people devastated from not getting on the program.

Also, JLPT is only relevant for the CIR position, it has nothing to do with the ALT side really. Grades are irrelevant. Your interests are only part of the game.

What will you bring to the table that matters? You haven't mentioned anything about that at all.

x_stei
April 13th, 2015, 12:11
Have fun in college/university. Have a bit of work experience in your home country before you apply. I feel knowing what professional life is like might be good to have so you know what working might be like. <- This is my personal opinion, but many people might disagree.

Don't focus all you can on Japan; have experience and exposure to other cultures and languages and show off those experiences in your application and SOP (when it comes to that). Knowing Japanese isn't necessary to getting shortlisted; JLPT isn't necessary unless it benefits your future career goals or if you only want to be an ALT.

My best advice is to know what you want in your life and career and how JET will make them better.

weepinbell
April 13th, 2015, 12:19
^^^^ Yes. I totally agree with Gizmo and stei. I knew I wanted to go for JET my junior year, but I literally didn't really think about it again until two years later, a few months before the 2015 application opened up.

I didn't actively do anything to prepare for JET in college, I just had a good time, got wasted probably too many times, and got involved in stuff that I liked... I feel like if I went through my last 2 years of college worrying about JET, it would have seriously sucked. And then if you happen to not get in, that's two years of your life you could have spent having the time of your life, gone. Even if you do get in, same thing. You have 3 years left, seriously, HAVE FUN. There is really gonna be no time in your academic life like college.

JET doesn't have to be your holy grail... if you wanna get to Japan and teach, there are seriously so many ways to do it, even if it's not through JET. I don't think it hurts to make it your goal right now, but again, you really don't need to be so early to the game.

Also, to tag onto stei, know how you will benefit JET through your interests/experiences, too, which definitely shouldn't be ALL related to Japan.

greyjoy
April 13th, 2015, 13:15
Whereabouts do you live, and what are you thinking of studying at university? Also, what is your level of Japanese right now? Just a year of university level work, or did you have some instruction prior?

Your chances are both low and high. It's very easy to get into jet, and yet every year thousands of people apply and don't get in. Many of them have studied Japanese, gone abroad, majored in East Asian studies, run Japanese clubs, taught English as a second language or some combination of all of these. Some people get in and have done none of them. It's not entirely random, but just understand that it's not a recipe you have to cook with certain ingredients. You have to display in your life, your statement of purpose, and your interview that you value international exchange and a willingness to face uncertainty and adapt. Any of the above things can develop these qualities in you, but they won't do so by themselves.

Noogah
April 13th, 2015, 13:36
Thank you all for your insights! I am encouraged to hear about the 2020 Olympics, and the advice some of you have given gives me some notion how to better my chances of being accepted, although I am also very prepared to fail.

I have always said that one must hope for the best and expect the worst, for then he will never be disappointed.

I hope to stay somewhat active on these forums over the next few years, unless something seriously changes. Certainly I won't devote too much time to JET right now, but it always helps to plan.


You've seriously got a ton time

That is what I told myself when I was eight. And then I was eighteen. Tomorrow, I will be eighty: and then I will be dead.

"As for man, his days are as grass: as a flower of the field, so he flourisheth.
For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone; and the place thereof shall know it no more."
- Psalm 103:15-16


DO NOT MAKE JET YOUR LIFE GOAL....

Also, JLPT is only relevant for the CIR position, it has nothing to do with the ALT side really. ...

What will you bring to the table that matters? You haven't mentioned anything about that at all.

This quote summarizes most of the points others have brought up that I ought to respond to.

Rest assured, I have a fairly clear idea what my life goals are, and they are definitely bigger than the JET or even Japan. However, there is overlap. I'll (try very hard to) pass N1 whether I get into JET or not (I think of it as a bonus qualification rather than a requirement), and I'll go to Japan either way.

Life has taught me well enough not to put all my eggs in one basket. But (if I am not misled) JET would give me the chance to passively observe Japanese life for an extended period of time, without the artificial sugarcoating of a vacation. And at the same time, I could make a small living, and interact with students.

I am no tourist. I am interested in Japan for its raw, impure vitality, rough edges and all. JET's mission statement is close to my heart; I am devoted to being part (even if an infinitesimally small part) of the bridge between Japan and the west.


you really don't need to be so early to the game

But neither can it hurt. For (although I tire of using trite English maxims) the early bird catches the worm.

frayedflower
April 13th, 2015, 13:50
I don't think it's necessarily bad to have an interest in JET early on - it was never my life goal or anything, but when I was short on goals and ambition, JET was something to get me moving. One small thing like that led to a lot of bigger things along the way. Since I was pursuing activities that I thought would make me a better applicant, people knew where my interests were and helped me network and make connections that were beneficial way beyond the program itself. I found a lot of great opportunities that were life goal worthy to pursue along the way. I ended up having a ton of options open in case JET didn't pan out, I was excited for all of them, and ultimately they'll still be here when I get back.

I mean, honestly, I'm sort of a weird ass case; but if I had to give any advice to people who were interested in applying way off in the future, I'd say go ahead and pursue what excites you. But use that thing as a launching board, not something to hold you back from pursuing other things, and make sure to always keep an open mind.

(Back to lurking I go!)

Zolrak 22
April 13th, 2015, 13:55
The Olympics is the big event that's opening up placements all over, heck even Tokyo, which is known for being an impossible position, is starting to have more and more JET placements.

An applicants chances of being accepted might actually be better by the time you graduate. [emoji14]



(Back to lurking I go!)

Awww [emoji29] .

BifCarbet
April 13th, 2015, 14:45
You're right. It can't hurt to start bettering your resume, but the JET Program selection process is so damn fickle. Do some work with kids, study the language a bit, study abroad in Japan, take a self-funded trip to volunteer somewhere, maybe even teach some classes. Try working for a parks and rec department part time as a counselor/coach/whatever. Put yourself in a good position, but please, god, don't spend the next couple years on JET forums or writing your Statement of Purpose over and over again.

Note: Even if JET does dwindle down, or for some reason you don't make it, the dream doesn't die there. You can still go with a private company.

BifCarbet
April 13th, 2015, 14:49
heck even Tokyo, which is known for being an impossible position, is starting to have more and more JET placements.

105 ALTs in Tokyo as of last July. I couldn't believe it.

greyjoy
April 13th, 2015, 14:54
The plan supposedly is to increase Tokyo's numbers by 100 each year so that by 2020, there are 500 jets in Tokyo. From what I remember of the press release.

Frap
April 13th, 2015, 15:00
I'm so relieved I only found out about JET last July, because if I'd have waited for three-/+ years rather than the already excruciating ten months from discovering the programme to getting shortlisted, I'd have gone insane.

Personally, I echo what some others have said. You need to "forget" about JET for a while. Focus on Uni/College and try to have as much fun as possible while doing so. It'll fly by and before you know it you'll be graduating. You don't want to look back and feel like you spent the whole time worrying about how to get onto JET.

webstaa
April 14th, 2015, 09:35
The plan supposedly is to increase Tokyo's numbers by 100 each year so that by 2020, there are 500 jets in Tokyo. From what I remember of the press release.

Abe released statements last year about 'doubling' the amount of ALTs in Japan. Not only JET of course, but ALT/English is gaining steam, both as the 'international business' side that Abe is pushing, as well as the tourist-focused domestically usable English.

Noogah
April 14th, 2015, 11:58
I still have some level of anxiety. If Japan plans to double the number of ALTs in Japan, will it not launch a campaign to spread international awareness about the program?

In three years' time, I fear JET will be swamped.

Jiggit
April 14th, 2015, 12:03
Don't worry about things you can't affect and don't obsess over getting on the JET programme. Go enjoy your college life and worry about JET in 3 years time.

word
April 14th, 2015, 12:18
I still have some level of anxiety. If Japan plans to double the number of ALTs in Japan, will it not launch a campaign to spread international awareness about the program?

In three years' time, I fear JET will be swamped.Try to think about the program from a Japanese politician's point of view. They don't really give two craps how the program is viewed overseas--what matters is how it's perceived by Japanese voters.

The JET programme has always been seen as one of the most desirable exchange programs in the world. They're not going to have trouble finding candidates anytime soon. They don't need to spread international awareness.

What they DO need is to justify it to their taxpayers. JET serves a political function in Japan, and once you realize that, you'll probably be a little less anxious about it. As long as it's politically useful, it will be around, but you shouldn't expect some sort of massive international awareness campaign, because the focus of the program isn't outward, it's (like so many other aspects of Japanese politics and culture) inward.

I'm not criticizing the inward focus--most politics in most countries are inwardly focused--but I think that understanding this will help reduce your anxiety.

frayedflower
April 14th, 2015, 12:51
Basically there will never be a TV commercial with flashing lights, cherry blossoms, school girls, and Mr. Sparkle to promote the JET Program. (Sorry, I'm tired, that's literally the first thing that popped into my head for an international campaign to appeal to the masses.)

word
April 14th, 2015, 13:09
Don't worry about things you can't affect and don't obsess over getting on the JET programme. Go enjoy your college life and worry about JET in 3 years time.

word

Uni is awesome. Spend the next three years Animal Housing your way through it, fraternize scandalously with members of you preferred gender(s) and work on improving your alcohol tolerance. When you're ready, the JET programme will be there for you.

Noogah
April 14th, 2015, 14:46
word

Uni is awesome. Spend the next three years Animal Housing your way through it, fraternize scandalously with members of you preferred gender(s) and work on improving your alcohol tolerance. When you're ready, the JET programme will be there for you.

I literally won't do any of those things.

But thanks for the advice! Your perspective on the Japanese government is quite helpful.

On an unrelated note, I've seen you post in several places. Why do you always say 'word' as a preface to your posts? Should I preface mine with 'noogah'?

johnny
April 14th, 2015, 15:33
Damn these new rules... Maybe you guys are right.

BifCarbet
April 14th, 2015, 15:42
word up

Ananasboat
April 14th, 2015, 15:43
Damn these new rules... Maybe you guys are right.

It's okay Johnny. Take a deep breath and move along. Nothing to see here.

word
April 14th, 2015, 15:43
I literally won't do any of those things.

But thanks for the advice! Your perspective on the Japanese government is quite helpful.

On an unrelated note, I've seen you post in several places. Why do you always say 'word' as a preface to your posts? Should I preface mine with 'noogah'?I just like using the slang. "Word" is often used alone to indicate strong agreement with a previous or quoted statement. It stems from "Word to your mother," which in turn came from "you're preaching the Word to your mother," which of course has the same meaning as "you're preaching to the choir."

Basically, when I use it, it's me saying "I agree strongly with the above" or something; it's not intended to be self-referential.

You're probably right to take your uni education seriously, but I do hope you manage to have a little fun in there sometime! All work and no play...

johnny
April 14th, 2015, 15:47
It's okay Johnny. Take a deep breath and move along. Nothing to see here.

This can't be real.

Zolrak 22
April 14th, 2015, 15:47
In essence, try to make the best out of college.

How you do it is really up to your personal goals.

I knew "word" meant agreement, but quite frankly I always thought it was an ego thing. [emoji14]

Ananasboat
April 14th, 2015, 15:48
This can't be real.

I'll be the shoulder you can cry onto when your perception of reality finally cracks. I have a lot of history dealing with profound mental illness.

Mods that be: I'm talking about my own profound mental illness. Don't ban me for mocking myself.

BifCarbet
April 14th, 2015, 15:49
I literally won't do any of those things.

I beg of you, do not spend the next three years reading this forum and planning your JET application. You WILL die of heart failure before you open the e-mail telling you whether or not you got an interview. If you somehow make it through that stress (that you'll definitely create for yourself), you'll die before opening the results e-mail. If you manage to get through that, what happens if you don't make it? Good people get declined. Qualified people don't even get interviews sometimes. You'll seriously be taking years off your life if you focus your next three years on getting on JET. You can't do it. Get out of here.

If you want it this bad and you do some stuff to make yourself a good candidate, you'll get in. But don't make it your life.

johnny
April 14th, 2015, 15:51
Wise words.

acpc2203
April 14th, 2015, 15:56
My advice is to stay on ITIL for the next three years in order to gain knowledge in the ways of JET from the wizened posters on here.

BifCarbet
April 14th, 2015, 16:19
My advice is to stay on ITIL for the next three years in order to gain knowledge in the ways of JET from the wizened posters on here.

Agreed.

word
April 14th, 2015, 16:31
I knew "word" meant agreement, but quite frankly I always thought it was an ego thing. [emoji14]It's really not; the reverse is actually true. I chose the username "word" because I was fond of using the slang (I agree with people often... I'm an agreeable person!), and because it was one of the most "anonymous" usernames I could imagine.

Lorenzo
April 14th, 2015, 18:01
I knew since secondary school that I intended to apply to JET, but I put it out of my mind until it was relevant. I didn't do anything towards it until the application window opened, really.

That said, I ended up writing my SoP the night before the deadline, so maybe I shouldn't be giving advice.

ambrosse
April 14th, 2015, 21:57
I knew since secondary school that I intended to apply to JET, but I put it out of my mind until it was relevant. I didn't do anything towards it until the application window opened, really.

That said, I ended up writing my SoP the night before the deadline, so maybe I shouldn't be giving advice.

Yep, I knew about JET since my freshman year of college, forgot about it, hopped on the bandwagon a week before the app was released and then "studied" for my interview for 30 minutes on the plane from Minneapolis to Chicago.

mrcharisma
April 14th, 2015, 22:15
This can't be real.

Sooner or later someone has to address the elephant in the room but for the minute I'm as baffled as you.

x_stei
April 14th, 2015, 23:30
I literally won't do any of those things.

But thanks for the advice! Your perspective on the Japanese government is quite helpful.

On an unrelated note, I've seen you post in several places. Why do you always say 'word' as a preface to your posts? Should I preface mine with 'noogah'?

Having fun doesn't necessarily mean doing any of those things.

I heard about JET my first year out of high school. I didn't dedicate my life to getting into JET until October of last year. I had done research on JET and its details over the years sparingly, but focused on school, or at least attempted to focus on school. Honestly I didn't think I would ever get to do it when I first heard about it.

Between applying and first finding out about JET... I studied Biology and Physics, dropped out, moved countries, started school on something else, volunteered, got an associates, started school on another thing, got an internship, got a job, went to an intensive workshop, got published, graduated with a bachelor's degree, got a job, got another job, somehow got another job, and here I am, shortlisted.

Was any of that fun? Yes and no, but it felt fun because I did them with a purpose. Would it have been fun for anyone else? Perhaps not, but this is not their life. I didn't do any of those things word said; fun means different things to different people. Find out what is fun for you and do it.

Would it have been as fun if I was obsessive about JET as I've been in the last six months? Highly unlikely.

naginataonthebrain
April 14th, 2015, 23:36
The first time I applied, I basically made the JET application my life for several months (I started writing my SoP in the summer, that's how intense I was about the thing). That year, I didn't even make it to the interview stage and I was devastated. This time, I didn't think about applying for JET until I noticed on my twitter feed that the 2015 application was open and I was like "You know what, eff it, I'm going to try again. But I'm not going to put all my eggs into one basket this time". I spent at most a few weeks on my SoP and gathering the necessary documents. This time, not only did I make it to the interview stage, I was shortlisted.

Basically, follow what everyone else said and just enjoy college. And when it's time to apply for JET, don't make it your life.

word
April 14th, 2015, 23:42
...fun means different things to different people. Find out what is fun for you and do it.

I agree with this!

(Like I said, I'm an agreeable person!)


Contrary to what all of these smart folks are advising, I wanted to do JET for a long time and invested a great deal of myself into the application process. I lied to others and myself about how much I cared, downplaying the entire thing, possibly in the interests of protecting myself in the event that I was rejected. Luckily, I was apparently able to hide my intense desire for acceptance from the app screeners and interviewers.

greyjoy
April 15th, 2015, 09:12
I agree with this!

(Like I said, I'm an agreeable person!)


Contrary to what all of these smart folks are advising, I wanted to do JET for a long time and invested a great deal of myself into the application process. I lied to others and myself about how much I cared, downplaying the entire thing, possibly in the interests of protecting myself in the event that I was rejected. Luckily, I was apparently able to hide my intense desire for acceptance from the app screeners and interviewers.

Wearing your Bleach T-shirt underneath your suit is a great way to feel confident during your interview, while hiding your true fervor to get to the land of the rising sun.

I don't understand how people went through or intend to go through college without drinking or having sex. I only did perishingly little of both, and I regret it somewhat. Doing none would be unthinkable.

word
April 15th, 2015, 09:19
Wearing your Bleach T-shirt underneath your suit is a great way to feel confident during your interview, while hiding your true fervor to get to the land of the rising sun. I'm old-school. It wasn't Bleach, it was Love Hina.


I don't understand how people went through or intend to go through college without drinking or having sex. I only did perishingly little of both, and I regret it somewhat. Doing none would be unthinkable.Eh, different strokes. That was kinda me in high school; throughout my SHS years I thought I was a fun-hating dork who stayed away from any sort of party scene and would never do better than my then-girlfriend. Then I went to uni and realized that I was awesome and fun-loving and sexy and one of the coolest people around. Sometimes it just takes people a little longer to find their stride. Gotta give 'em time; they'll get there!

Zolrak 22
April 15th, 2015, 09:27
Then I went to uni and realized that I was awesome and fun-loving and sexy and one of the coolest people around.
This mental image makes me a little sad. [emoji14]


But it's true, that's how it happens.

Ananasboat
April 15th, 2015, 09:58
Book worm, anti-social computer nerd in High School. Thought drinking and partying was for fools.

Went to college. Realized I had a thing for bad boys. Drank, smoke. Still thought partying was for fools, and I was still somewhat antisocial.

Now an ALT (by a snap decision, no less). I no longer have a thing for bad boys (any will do). I drink because I can't smoke. And partying is awesome. I am still antisocial, though.

Some things change in our lives very quickly, and some things never change. Life, yo.

moonbeam
April 15th, 2015, 10:27
I literally won't do any of those things.

Well whatever you do, make sure you at least experience life outside of the library...

Like seriously, you're in college, it's the first time you're away from home and can explore and do things on your own. These kinds of experiences will help you for the rest of your life, maybe even as ALT.

johnny
April 15th, 2015, 10:55
You're assuming he's away from home.

moonbeam
April 15th, 2015, 11:28
You're assuming he's away from home.

Oh, I hope he is. A little independence goes a long way.

johnny
April 15th, 2015, 22:54
A lot of people live at home during university.