College transfer in Japan has increased and differs from that in Western countries. Compared with the United States, fewer students transfer from being a freshman in one college to being a sophomore in another college. Instead, some transfer students in Japan can be characterized as re-entering as freshman in another college by taking an entrance examination again alongside high school students. Although this type of decision-remaking of college admission, the so-called “masked-examinee (kamen ronin),” might have critical implications to a researcher of higher education studies, little attention has been paid to this topic, even in Japan, because of its peculiarity.
This paper explores the norms of the educational selection that affects Japanese college admission by analyzing data from interviews with masked examinees in Japan and focusing on their motives regarding the choice of decision-remaking of college admission. Therefore, the semistructured interviews were mainly conducted with 17 masked examinees enrolled in colleges in Tokyo between August 2015 and November 2017.
In conclusion, an argument could be that the choice of masked-examinees not only illustrates the drawbacks of the college transfer system in Japan but also particular norms that place a higher value on passing the entrance examination than entering college. Namely, students chose to re-try for the college entrance examination because they believe that assessment is the only objective and justifiable means to evaluate ability. This perception could be caused by the particular norms on educational selection and meritocracy in Japan.