Waseda University: Classes

Hi hi~ remember when I said I was going to write this post in Japanese? Totally forgot that before I wrote it. Oops.

In this post I'm going to talk about the class system at Waseda, signing up, how classes work and ultimately how the system ends up failing the student if they change their mind. If you're interested in attending Waseda, or just like reading about how classes work, this is the post for you. 

The first thing I will explain is the level based system in which classes operate. 

There are levels from 0 to 8, 0 being the level with absolutely no Japanese knowledge, and 8 being on par with a native Japanese speaker. I'm currently in level 4, but I take some classes that are for both 3 and 4. Waseda gives students the freedom to choose their level, though they recommend you take the J-CAT and use your score to pick your level. The J-CAT is an online test that's essentially a JLPT you can take in the comfort of your own home, in about an hour. 

Next: Let's talk about schools. 

I am in the CJL school of Waseda, which means that all my classes are about learning the Japanese language and are held in Japanese (I'm not sure about below level 2 if they are held in Japanese or not). Each class is worth 1 credit because they only meet once a week, except for Comprehensive courses which are held three times a week and are worth 5 credits. 

My advice? If you can, do not take the CJL route when attending Waseda. I'm currently taking 9 classes this semester and only earning 13 credits for all this work. If you choose another program (like SILS, which has classes taught in English and lets you take classes in Japanese as well) you can earn more credits and not overwork yourself.

Sign Up Process:

The sign up process is completely online. At the orientation for international students they give out a book that contains courses along with a short explanation of what the course is about, along with how its graded. From that catalog you choose your classes, and then enter it in the online portal at MyWaseda. The sign up process was strange at first but my advice is to keep the list of classes you'd like to take by your side and then search by date in the signup program.


Waseda offers courses that specialize in a specific skill, so if you want to hone in on improving your reading, you have the option to take only reading classes, which is awesome! Waseda also has a type of class called a 'Theme Course' which can implement the use of unconventional teaching methods like 'Learning Class Through Anime' or 'Learning Japanese Through Blogging" (I'm taking the second one!) These theme courses usually don't require a textbook.

You also pick courses based on your level, however you have the freedom to take classes above your level. If I wanted to take a level 5 class, I could sign up for it. I would just have to ensure that I could do the work, because one lovely thing about Waseda is, after the sign up window, you cannot drop classes.

No Dropping Classes

This is where Waseda fails their students. The sign up period for Waseda classes consists of the week of Orientation and sometimes the first class. However, as a student, there is no way to tell what the class will be like after one class since that class mostly consists of the teacher and students introducing themselves. 

Because of this, students get trapped in a class they don't enjoy and are forced to take it for the semester. Sadly I am a victim of this. Classes which sounded amazing on paper turned out to be something I really didn't want to take, and I only realized this after the second class, when we actually began to do work and the teachers teaching methods were beginning to show.

Some classes, especially theme courses, end up being courses where the teachers don't teach you, but instead you come into class and present things you learned independently to the class. While some may enjoy this, I thought I was signing up to be taught, so I felt a bit jipped. 

Class Periods

Class periods are numbered 1 through 7. Here is a little diagram of all the class periods and their timeframes!

I've personally never had a class that's later than 6th period, but they do exist. Common classes for the CJL school (Comprehensive courses, Kanji courses) mostly take place during the 1st or 2nd period. I usually wake up at about 7:30 so that I can make/eat breakfast and arrive to class about 20 minutes early. Classes start pretty much on the dot, so don't be late! Teachers like to give quizzes during the first 10 minutes of class, so try to show up way beforehand and have some time to study.

I hope this post was informative~ Thanks for reading!