The transition from high school to university life can be quite confusing for a freshman. The new academic environment, unfamiliar social atmosphere and newfound freedom combined together make for a daunting experience. The University of Tokyo has maintained a very systematic culture called “Class” that provides students with the necessary support they need to to understand and tackle the various complexities of university life. Class culture in University of Tokyo aims at promoting collaborative learning and collective growth so that classmates can mutually help each other and overcome all the challenges they face along the road to graduation.
What is a “Class” at the University of Tokyo? Unlike pre-university students, university students have the privilege of choosing whichever classes they are interested in but at the same time there are certain mandatory courses assigned to each student.
How are the classes divided?
For the first two years of enrolment at the University of Tokyo, every student is admitted to the General Education Department (Junior Division) before they decide their major. All of the students in Junior Division are divided into classes so that they can they take these mandatory classes together with the same classmates. Since mandatory courses vary according to the department (Science or Humanities), your department is the first criteria. Every student has to choose their third language from Spanish, French, German, Chinese, Italian, Korean and Russian, before entering the University. The students within the same department are further divided based on their third language. The students are then automatically enrolled in the mandatory courses based on their class.
Being a part of a “Class” doesn’t simply mean you only take classes together for a year, class community is an important part of University of Tokyo life. The first event that any University of Tokyo student attends after being admitted to the university is the Class Camp. The Class Camp is organized by the second-year students belonging to the same class. It is typically a two day trip. The second years and the first-years stay the night at a nearby Ryokan (traditional Japanese hotel) where they play different games and socialize with each other. The sophomores also give a detailed orientation about the basics of the university life and course selection. Class Camp also provides an opportunity to introduce yourself and get acquainted with your fellow classmates. It could be considered the unofficial beginning of the university life for any student at University of Tokyo.
Class community is an indispensable part of your life as a University of Tokyo student. Any University of Tokyo student can attest to the significance of this community. Classmates provide each other with important information about courses and extracurricular activities on a daily basis. In case you miss any classes, they can provide you with the notes. Every class also prepare the “Shikepuri” at the end of each semester which contains solutions to past exam paper, a resource more valuable than anything for students during exam season. Furthermore, every class opens up a stall or organizes an event during University of Tokyo festivals (May festival and Komaba festival). Many consider these festivals as the highlight of their university life. In addition, every class organize several parties and gatherings throughout the year too. It is not too difficult to understand why University of Tokyo students value their class community so highly.
Class culture means a lot to students in University of Tokyo. It forms the foundation of your social and academic life. You make many friends and have lots of fun. Moreover, you learn the importance of collaboration and how to be a part of a bigger community, lessons more important than any course you take in university. Thus, class community is indeed the soul of university life.