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2014年4月 7日 (月)

香山リカのココロの万華鏡:6万人の大学中退者 /東京

February 09, 2014(Mainichi Japan)
Kaleidoscope of the Heart: University dropouts may be another social issue
香山リカのココロの万華鏡:6万人の大学中退者 /東京

Every time there is a faculty meeting at a university where I teach, we are informed about students who have taken semesters off or left the education facility. I recognize some of the names that appear in reports that get collected after the meeting. Although reasons behind leaving the university are not explained in detail, my heart aches when things like "financial reasons" are mentioned in the papers.

University dropout rates at private schools are estimated at around 3 percent, which means at least 60,000 college students give up on their studies each year. The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology recently decided to investigate the reality of university dropouts at public and private schools.

I'm not saying that all students who leave universities are problematic. I have had a student who chose to quit college because she wanted to study confectionery in France. I tried to persuade her to stay at the university, telling her she still had time to pursue her dream after graduation, but she was so sure about her decision and didn't want to waste any more time now that she had found what she wanted to do in life. It would be senseless to tell her that a university diploma might come in handy if things didn't go as planned.

In reality, however, such a positive case is rare. In most cases, students have no choice but to quit university as they can't pay for tuition or they have to take care of their family members. Others decide to drop out because they can't keep up with classes or they are no longer motivated to study.

The latter group especially will likely have a hard time moving forward with their lives and some may become hermits. I often see patients in their 20s who claim to suffer from depression write down "didn't complete university" as their educational background in pre-clinic evaluation questionnaires.

Universities now offer services to prevent students from dropping out. In some schools, teachers call students who continue to miss classes and even visit their dorms. It has come to a point where it's no use preaching about how university students are supposed to be adults.

Some people say that taking care of those students like they are little kids would only interfere with their independence. I sometimes see patients in their 40s and 50s who have never been independent from their parents. The parents, meanwhile, have continued to take care of their children, thinking they would snap out of it someday.

Until what age should a person be treated as a child is an everlasting problem that is unique particularly to rich societies. People around those who are thinking about leaving university need to encourage them to keep attending classes -- at least for the short-term. Finding out ways to reduce the number of university dropouts is yet another social puzzle that Japan must solve.

(By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)
毎日新聞 2014年02月04日 地方版


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