Preparing for College

College: Getting In vs. Graduating

Here's some information for all you rising high school seniors. A while back, there was a network news story about Japanese high school students preparing for their graduation exams. Their performance on these exams determined what level of university they would get into. Pressure to perform was intense because graduates of the most prestigious university virtually were guaranteed a prosperous life's work and other perks. Sound familiar? There was one crucial difference, though.

The news report showed one particular densely populated apartment complex in Tokyo where many high schoolers lived with their families. It looked like any other big-city, high-rise except for curious and conspicuous heavy metal canopies shrouding the sidewalks in front of the buildings. A convenience for rainy or hot sunny days? No, these steel roofs protected passersby from the falling bodies of distraught high schoolers who had not fared well on their exams. The suicide rate was so intense that city officials felt duty bound to protect pedestrians with this shielding. Incredible.

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