In this article, we interview Kohei Nagaoka, an undergraduate student at Meiji University‘s School of Commerce, about what academic and extracurricular life is like there. This is the first post in a new series introducing Japanese universities to prospective international exchange students.
Q: What is Meiji University known for? What is its reputation in Japan?
Meiji University is one of the most well-known universities in Japan and is very popular with students applying to elite universities. Yuto Nagatomo, a defender for Turkish club Galatasaray and the Japan national team, graduated from Meiji.
It also has a reputation for providing much better support than other universities for students looking for jobs after graduation. Meiji University was founded in 1881 and is considered one of Japan’s most historically important universities.
Q: Where is Meiji University located? How big is the student body?
Meiji University has four campuses. They are located in Chiyoda, Suginami, and Nakano wards in Tokyo and in Kawasaki. The campuses are divided by academic subject and school year.
Juniors and seniors studying Political Science and Economics, Commerce, Arts and Letters, Business Administration, Law, and Information and Communication go to Chiyoda campus.
At the Nakano campus, students major in Global Japanese Studies and Interdisciplinary Mathematical Sciences. In Kawasaki, students study Agriculture and Science and Technology; and in Suginami, freshmen and sophomores major in the same disciplines as the Chiyoda campus.
Q: What is a typical day like for a freshman? An upperclassman?
This was a typical day for me when I was a freshman. For freshmen, classes usually start at 9AM, so I would wake up at 7AM and take a really crowded commuter train to Suginami campus. I was free to choose the classes I wanted, so classes usually ended for me at around 3PM or 4PM.
After class, I played soccer with my friends at the club and sometimes would go to izakaya (a Japanese pub). Then I would go to my part-time job that would end just before the last train.
Now, as an upperclassman, I don’t need to take classes that start early because I have enough credits to graduate. Instead, I spend a lot of time preparing to find a job.
Q: Do most students live on campus or off campus?
There is no on-campus housing at Meiji University, so students who don’t live at home rent housing nearby. The nearest station to the Suginami campus would be Meidaimae Station. BeGood, a share house, is a place I think would be suitable for foreign exchange students studying at the Suginami campus.
Q: Do you have the opportunity to interact academically with your professors outside classes?
Yes, but it depends on the student. Most students take seminars held by professors and will have a chance to interact with professors outside of class.
Actually, I’ve had the opportunity to go to a study and research camp with my professor and other students over the summer.
Q: How many classes do most students take in a term?
That depends on the undergraduate major. I’m in the School of Commerce. Almost all students studying commerce take twelve classes a week.
Q: What is the average class size for a lecture class?
There are compulsory classes and elective classes. Required classes usually have about 30 students. For elective classes, the class size depends on the professor’s popularity and how interesting the class is. There could be a maximum of 1,000 students in a class and as few as ten students.
Q: What kind of extracurricular activities are available to students?
There are a lot of activities available to students! There are about 300 extracurricular activities offered to us at Meiji University. For example, major sports like soccer, baseball, tennis and basketball, and especially a lot of martial arts clubs.
Q: Do most students have part-time jobs?
Yes. I think a lot of foreign exchange students also have part-time jobs, especially working in Shibuya and Shinjuku. They have a lot of employment opportunities and can earn high wages, for example, working as interpreters for tourists at department stores and at bars aimed at foreign tourists.
Q: Are there many international exchange students studying at Meiji University?
Yes, Meiji University has been focusing on international exchange in recent years and was selected as one of thirteen “Super Global Universities” in Japan by the MEXT (Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology).
In 2023, 4,000 Japanese students from Meiji University will be sent abroad to study, and in 2027, the target will be 16,000 students, so one out of every two students will be going abroad to study, while the university will accept 4,000 foreign students annually.
Meiji University has an excellent reputation among faculty and students of Japanese language schools that prepare students to attend Japanese universities. For example, from 2012 to 2015, Meiji University received first place in the “Study Abroad Awards,” where faculty and staff of Japanese language schools rank universities recommended for international students.
I also recommend Meiji University to foreign exchange students because of the range of academic programs available, as I described earlier.
Q: How do you rate your academic/extracurricular/social experience at Meiji University? Would you recommend Meiji University to international students?
I think that at Japanese universities the “subjects of study” tend to be the professors’ fields of research, and Meiji University has that tendency. Students should, instead, study “main subject classes” like at American universities.
I think extracurricular activities are perfect at Meiji University! I don’t think you can get a lot of social experience at the university itself. Most students get social experience from their part-time jobs.
Q: Could you tell us a little about yourself? What are your plans after graduation?
I study in the School of Commerce, majoring in Finance and Insurance. I am drawn to corporate evaluation and investment in stocks and bonds. I think insurance is indispensable for risk management.
After graduation from Meiji University, I would like to join a company where I can work in business and finance, such as a security company or bank. I would like to contribute to the economic development of Japan and the world through the stock market.
Editor’s note: As part of his studies at Meiji University, Kohei Nagaoka did an internship with us at Real Estate Japan Inc. and wrote this Kokubunji Area Guide. Everyone at Real Estate Japan would like to thank him for his hard work and wish him all the best in his future endeavors.
For more information about studying as a foreign student at Meiji University, please visit the official site at: Meiji University Admissions (in English)
Top photo: Meiji University, Surugadai Campus in Chiyoda campus