Japanese and U.S. academic calendars do not have a good fit. The Japanese calendar starts in April and runs through late February. The U.S. calendar starts in late August/early September and runs through early May. Thinking of this in terms of a calendar year yields the following comparison.
|January||Middle of second semester||Start of second semester or special J-term|
|February||End of second semester/Break||Middle of second semester|
|March||Break||Middle of second semester|
|April||Start of first semester||End of second semester|
|May||Middle of first semester||End of second semester/break|
|June||Middle of first semester||Break|
|July||End of first semester||Break|
|August||Break||Break/Start of first semester|
|September||Break/Start of second semester||First semester|
|October||Start of second semester||Middle of first semester|
|November||Middle of second semester||Middle of first semester|
|December||Middle of second semester||End of first semester|
Colleges and universities have approached this challenge in various ways. Students directly enrolling in a partner institution for a semester or year often simply accept an unusually large break either before or after their time abroad. (Those on the quarter system have somewhat more leeway in this regard.)
Some institutions have taken advantage of this long gap by offering bridge programs to incoming students. Some use the gap for special short-term programs. In addition, some Japanese universities (such as Nagoya University and Sophia University) run programs for U.S. students that fit the U.S. academic calendar. And a few have adjusted their own calendars to better match their non-Japanese partners.
Another calendar issue:
The recruitment season in Japan
Another timing consideration for Japanese mobility to the United States concerns long-standing recruitment processes by many Japanese businesses. The hiring process for new university graduates is long and complex. It starts toward the end of the second semester of the third year and runs throughout the fourth year, with numerous interviews and points of contact between students and potential employers. See the CULCON Educational Task Force Report for more details. While there is pressure for businesses to change this cycle, many still follow it. U.S.-Japanese partnerships should keep this process in mind when scheduling mobility programs.
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