Students seeking to pass the rigid entrance exams of top universities in Tokyo and Osaka now take studying to the next– and better– level, thanks to Dojuku, an online “cram school”.
The pressure that society puts on Japanese high school students to enter the university has led to the growing popularity of ”cram schools”, which provide intensive review materials and strategies. Along with the convenience of online access, Dojoku teaches students how to study effectively and provides mental conditioning, through the free internet chat features of Skype.
It was a significant life experience that prompted Yuhei Baba, Dojoku’s founder, to embark on this venture. He had discovered the wonders of the Internet at 14, and dropped out of high school after being obsessed with online games. It took a while for him to realize that getting into a university was the only way he could get his life back on track. But he didn’t know where to start, since he hasn’t been studying for a long time.
So instead of playing games online, he then started to use the Internet as a research tool to create his own strategy, which involves memorization and time management, to pass the university entrance exams.
He aced the tests 6 months after that.
During his freshman year, he started writing about his original methods on a public web board. “Big thanks to the Internet!” he exclaims on his blog, where he dishes out tips to students. It was during his repeating year at the university that he then started to think of making profit from his cramming strategies.
He needed no funds to start– all he needed were his computer and his methods. By turning his blog readers into customers, he got 200,000 yen (approx. $2,000) a month in his first year. He decided to form his own company two years after.
As of last semester, Dojoku, with its 60 teachers–mostly university students– have helped 350 registered students review for the entrance exams.
What started as a simple method to help students prepare themselves mentally and psychologically for the exams has inevitably involved into a business that sees passing rates as benchmarks of success. Now, Yuhei is trying to go back to square one, as he believes that providing kids the opportunity to accept their individuality and motivating them by talking to their teachers goes way beyond passing any entrance exam. Through this movement, he believes he can aid underachieving students more by transforming their views on education.
Yuhei says he is constantly motivated by his colleagues as well as his passion to help out students who are unaware of their own capabilities. “I take it as a common obligation for those who have the experience to help students who need help to find themselves,” he adds.
Indeed, the Internet gave him that opportunity to fulfill that mission.