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JET Qualifications?

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JET Qualifications?

Postby piepiepie75 » Wed 04.09.2008 1:37 pm

Even though it's nearly 2 1/2 years until I'll begin applying for JET, I'm really becoming worried about my chances already. All I hear from people is that "It's so impossible, only like 10% of the people get in..." etc. etc.

Needless to say, the so called "Qualifications" on the JET website didn't do much to stall my confusion. They are so vague that it is almost laughable. "Be interested in Japan" and "Be interested in the Japanese educational system" don't do much to tell me what things I should be doing to prepare for application.

So basically, my question is: What kind of things should I be doing now, as a college freshman, to improve my chances of being accepted into the JET program? I am, obviously, already studying Japanese, but some have told me that this will actually hurt my chances of becoming an ATL. So, if I do have a sizable knowledge of Japanese by the time I apply, should I just keep that to myself?

Thanks ^^;
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.09.2008 4:19 pm

JET is a crapshoot.

I was told by one of the interviewers one time that they look for three primary things: (1) Japanese knowledge, (2) an interest in Japan that can be proven, and (3) previous experience living out of your home country. The person said that someone with all three of these would be considered a very strong candidate, but that you didn't necessarily have to have all these three to get in. This is of course not an official statement of what you need. I personally did qualify for all these three and I got in, but I knew people there who only fit (3), or who only fit 1&2.

I would say, then, that probably the best thing you could do other than taking Japanese courses is find an opportunity to go to Japan for some kind of study, even if it's just for a short time. If your school has a Japanese department they should be able to help you find opportunities -- many of them don't require more than a year of Japanese.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby piepiepie75 » Wed 04.09.2008 4:55 pm

Thank you very much!

I think I will probably have (1) and (2), as I will be in Japan club at my University, so I guess that qualifies as (2). As for (1) well, I just gotta keep on studying ;). (3) is troublesome though. Although I've been outside my own country many times, I can't say I've ever stayed for some period of time. I will see what kind of exchange programs my University offers. Do you think there is something else I could do to overshadow my lack of out-of-country experience? I just doubt I'll have the money to actually do a study abroad thing.

Oh, and one other thing. I know they require a college degree, but do they actually look at your GPA? I'm shooting for a 3.5 by the time I get my degree, do you think that will have any barring on their decision.

Thanks again :D.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Wed 04.09.2008 5:15 pm

Yes, they do look at your GPA. Mine was not as high as 3.5 so you should be fine.

You might be able to get funding for a study abroad -- you should at least look into it. For me, the study abroad semester was cheaper than my normal semesters, but I went to an expensive college.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby piepiepie75 » Wed 04.09.2008 5:25 pm

Good to know! Thank you so much, you have been a great help :D.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby spinizuey » Thu 04.10.2008 10:26 am

I was just accepted into JET for the upcoming 08-09 year. My qualifications fit all 3 mentioned above - however I did NOT visit Japan for my out-of-the-country experience. I actually took a class (urban studies) in London for 3.5 weeks. Apparently this was enough to judge my ability to stay away from home for a little time (more than a typical vacation). During the interview, they specifically asked about how I felt while I was in London, and I answered honestly. If you can take a class overseas (any KIND of class), that will definitely help you out.

2 things that I believe helped ME the most were: Having a BA in English Education, and tutoring ESL as a private contractor. I'm not saying you have to have a BA in English ed - there are people accepted with all types of degrees (many of which aren't related to teaching), so don't worry too much about that. However tutoring ESL is something that ANYONE (who speaks English as a native language) can do! It isn't a full-time type job and you can usually set up your own schedule. Look for tutoring organizations or schools around where you live to see if ESL tutors are needed.

As far as proof of interest in Japan is concerned, just joining a Japanese club or even learning the language (not fluently, but know enough to prove interest) will help.

I think there is a such thing as being over-qualified though. I don't think they want to accept anyone that actually knows more, or has more experience than their staff/teachers.

I should also say... rumor has it that they are trying to weed out the anime/manga people. It seems that way because anime is so popular in the US now that they have an influx of people who want to go just because "that's where anime comes from". Even if you're a fan, avoid mentioning this at any point of the process. There are so many other wonderful aspects of Japan to talk about :) Based on my interview experience, they REALLY want to know what YOU know about Japan.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby piepiepie75 » Thu 04.10.2008 11:51 am

Heh, alright...So really try to learn about the History and Culture of Japan rather than just the language? That makes sense ;).

I'll look into ESL tutoring, I know they actually have these classes at the college I go to. Do you think just tutoring English for native speakers (I.E. Helping them organize papers, do research, etc.) will be helpful?

Oh, and thanks for the heads-up about the anime/manga thing. Anime was actually what first sparked my interest in Japanese, but now I hardly ever watch it. Luckily, I love learning about Japan in general, so I don't think I will have trouble explaining other aspects of Japan that I love :D.

Thanks!
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby Yudan Taiteki » Thu 04.10.2008 4:18 pm

About the anime/manga thing, a lot of that depends on the interviewers themselves. The interviewers have a lot of say in whether you get in or not. I would advise people not to mention anime/manga, but I seriously doubt that there is a concentrated, planned effort in the JET program as a whole to weed out anime/manga fans. There's always the risk that you will get someone who hates anime/manga fans, though.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby richvh » Thu 04.10.2008 4:51 pm

I understand you have a better chance to be accepted if you ask for somewhere out in the countryside. They don't need anybody in Tokyo...
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby piepiepie75 » Thu 04.10.2008 6:10 pm

Yeah, I looked at the Current Statistics of JET employees, and there were only a handful of JETs in the entire Tokyo Prefecture. From my estimates, less than 10% of JET students live in large cities like Yokohama, Sapporo, or Osaka.

But yeah, I'll go pretty much wherever they put me. It'll be a less expensive to live in the countryside anyways, and I've always lived in more rural places. I am curious though, are places in the countryside generally connected by train to bigger areas? I would like to see some other places while I'm there...and of course, I'd like to go shopping :P.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby fielle » Thu 04.10.2008 7:10 pm

I was in north-western Kyushu for a little while, and I could get to both Nagasaki (a smallish city) and Fukuoka (a pretty big city) within about an hour on the train. It's not big like Tokyo, but I really liked the atmosphere in Kyushu. I'd recommend it for anyone looking to travel or live to Japan, unless they were really only interested in seeing Tokyo. Tokyo is about 5 or 6 (not sure) hours by shinkansen from Fukuoka, so you could do it for a holiday or long weekend trip, if you were there.

There are places that are further from the train lines, and sometimes people get placed at island schools, but I think they try to limit the amount of time you spend that isolated.
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby DigitalDuck » Thu 04.10.2008 11:42 pm

I just made it to the short list for the 08-09 year and by all the research I did prior to applying, interviewing, etc., my process seemed sort of easy.

First off, I've known about JET for four years but didn't do any Japanese specific extra-currics. I'm in a community-service fraternity and was an executive leader of a club for Engineering majors. I'm an Art major (New Media-based). My experience outside of the country is that I went to Mexico City for a week two summers ago (big difference from visiting Mexicali, especially if you live in California... it's not really like visiting Mexico) and I spent the previous summer watching Mexican news at a broadcasting internship.

I don't speak Japanese. My brother, Uncle, and Grandfather have all been to Japan while they were in the military (my bro actually taught himself Japanese before he went). In my interview I told them I do like some anime and stuff, but I'm not hella otaku.

They didn't ask me any culture specific questions like I'd read somewhere that they would. I'm from the Bay Area so I talked about how throughout my life I've always had friends of other cultural and ethnic backgrounds. My interviewers seemed really cool and kick-back, totally awesome people.

I think it really just boils down whether or not you have a true appreciation for their culture and being a mellow, interesting person who will respect the Japanese culture for what it is and not try to force your Western ways on them.

Good luck!

P.S., they don't care about GPA
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Re: JET Qualifications?

Postby OitaFish » Fri 04.11.2008 6:12 am

fielle wrote:I really liked the atmosphere in Kyushu. I'd recommend it for anyone looking to travel or live to Japan


I don't know anything about JET but I do know about living in Kyushu and I second this recommendation. I live in a small town in Kyushu. We are a 2 hour train ride to Fukuoka and from there, you can get anywhere.

I will say, though, most people move around here by car and there are many things to see that may not be real accessible by train.
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