The Sophia University of tomorrow and the future beyond will be shaped by our current students and graduates as well as future students. Sophia University’s Vice President for Admissions Affairs, Shigeru Nishizawa, in charge of liaising between Highs School and the University, will share his thoughts and ideas on student recruitment strategies.
Achieving a campus rich in diversity through the admissions process
As Vice President overseeing the relationship between high schools and the University, I am focused on how to best attract and match prospective high school students with the spirit of our University. What type of students will be able to develop their potential and hone different talents within Sophia’s unique educational environment? We are constantly thinking about how our admissions policies and strategic communications convey Sophia University, especially at the critical juncture of high school to university.
Sophia University conducts various types of admissions screenings, with the requirements for each entrance examination representing the type of students we wish to have enrolled at the University and how we view the personal and educational development of our students.
For example, the University’s decision to introduce TEAP, an exam to evaluate a student’s English listening, speaking, reading and writing skills (jointly developed with the Eiken Foundation of Japan), was rooted in the globally minded educational spirit of our University and encourages high schools to reconsider their role in the future of English education in Japan. Incoming students who have taken the general entrance examination (TEAP type), established in parallel with the launch of the TEAP test, have shown a steady improvement in their English skills post university enrollment- a positive impact on the student body as a whole.
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly accelerated the development and use of online communication technologies. These technologies have not only improved global connectivity, but they have shown us the importance of being flexible and approaching challenges with an open mindset to “accept and try” new ways of interacting. The future of Sophia University’s admissions will be to seek out students who possess this type of mindset to create a diverse campus that is understanding and accepting of individual differences.
In an effort to admit the most diverse student body possible, Sophia University has implemented a new selection method for test results of the 2021 Common Test for University Admissions, resulting in an increased number of accepted students hailing from areas outside of Tokyo, which the University regards as a successful outcome of the new selection method.
Additionally, the University is considering introducing a system which selects students based primarily on the documents and interviews provided for entrance exams. Overall, changes to the University’s selection process are aimed at creating a system that identifies and accepts outstanding students who have utilized academic and extracurricular activities to discover their future goals and have the drive to pursue them.
A University where high school students can look forward to their future
In order to target this group of prospective students, we must cultivate broad interest in Sophia University. Until now, Sophia University has relied on its traditional brand power, and therefore, our promotional activities may have been insufficient in comparison to those of other universities. If there is a chance that, due to our more limited promotional activities, we may have missed out on the opportunity to provide a student with great growth and opportunity, it is time to review our communications strategies.
My first project after assuming my current position was producing “Learning at Sophia,” a video in which students and faculty members introduce their faculties. While orthodox introductory videos of each faculty’s curriculum already exist, “Learning at Sophia” provides unique, unfiltered insight into the challenges and opportunities for growth that students have within their respective faculties, as well as honest opinions from faculty members about what their departments have to offer. We believe hearing from students and faculty in this fashion embodies the appeal of Sophia University where your peers and those who came before you inspire you to grow through trial and error to build life long, unwavering confidence.
The Sophia University website has also undergone a renewal which focuses less on providing information from the university’s point of view. Instead, the new website offers an experience from the perspective of high school students, displaying the Sophia University of today and tomorrow. The site’s key word is “Inspire Learning” and will be home the interviews of about 500 faculty members and researchers on the future of their research, allowing a wide-angle view of the university so that high school students to independently discover which department may suit them best.
Sophia University’s Approach to Supporting Students Post-Graduation
In addition to student recruitment strategies, I am also responsible for Institutional Research (IR), where the University uses data to improve our management strategies. On the teaching front, the University is currently surveying and analyzing the results of class questionaries to establish a hybrid system that leverages the advantages of both face-to-face and online education.
Additionally, the University has begun surveying alumni to determine the usefulness of their studies in the “real world” and the adequacy of the University’s diploma policy. When an area in need of improvement is identified, the University will address such areas earnestly, and possibly make revisions to the curriculum and policies to increase their usefulness post-graduation.
With the unpredictable nature of the future and the everchanging set of skills demanded by society, Sophia University aims to establish a system that actively supports the learning of those who have already graduated so they can maintain a competitive attitude and set of skills, even after entering the workforce.
To continue being a university that is chosen by high school students and teachers, and that is relied upon by current students, alumni, and the community, we will never stop challenging ourselves. The history of our university can be traced back to St. Francis Xavier’s desire to establish a university in the then unknown Japan, in other words, with a spirit of challenge. I hope that Sophia University remains a place where students can build confidence in their individual skills and continue to strive through companionship with their peers.