Maybe you’ve heard of a “ronin” when learning about Japan. Normally, we hear the word in a historical context. Masterless samurai who roamed Japan in olden times. But don’t be misled by the use of the word Ronin here. Yes, Ronin are samurais without masters, but in Japan this word can also mean something different.
Kanendosei (過年度生) or informally, Roninsei (浪人生), are terms used to call a person who has failed to pass their first try at a university entrance examination in Japan. Passing an entrance examination is a very crucial part of a student’s life. Once they fail, they have to wait another year to take the entrance exam with the same school. Not to mention the long wait and pressure that a person can feel. While it is true that a person can take entrance examinations from a number of universities, some people would still prefer to wait with hopes of getting another chance with their first choice university.
But before taking the examinations these people make a big effort to study. And one noticeable thing about Japanese students is their motivation. They buy study materials, books with past entrance exams, and spend a lot of their time at cram schools. Some students even put motivating words on paper and stick them on their walls like 頑張れ！(Do your best) or ○○合格する! (I will pass ○○!)
But when all of these efforts fail and they have to wait, these people go back to study and prepare again for the next examination. One option they have to help boost in their studies is to enter a yobiko. Yobikos are similar to prep schools and tutoring centers, but they have more specific courses that cater to the needs of certain people. Take note that yobikos are not only intended for roninsei but also for those students who want to pass a certain university exam, but who have not graduated high school yet. Also, not all people are able to enter a yobiko due to the high cost.
Aside from a person’s own motivation, external motivation plays a major part in the lives of Japanese exam takers to do their best on their tests. These are some of the hardships that young people encounter in Japan, but these ordeals will help to become a stronger person.